Man, am I incredibly excited to get to write this post. A number of absurdly fortunate events conspired to allow this to happen - in the end of my time in China this summer, my friend (Kyle, actually! An editor here) and I have been traveling miscellaneously, a bit. The penultimate stop before heading back to the States was Shanghai.
While we were in Shanghai, we got to wandering. There's a lot to the city, not even a small percentage of which we explored during the short, three-day trip. On one outing, our first day, we walked past a very large, reasonably well-known hotel in the city - The Peninsula. As we circled around it, I looked across the street and saw, in their lobby level, a Sennheiser store. What a coincidence! We decided to stop in.
As I walked in, directly in front of me are not one, not two, but five HE-1s. All in glass cases.
I've been waiting to get these in for review ever since the HeadFi meet back in the fall of this year. I came into that expo with Taction marked as a stop, since they had claimed quite a lot about their products on their website, and I wanted to briefly put them through their paces. I'm fully willing to admit that after having heard many "bass boost" headphones, the only commonality between them being their almost-universal terribleness, I was skeptical, at the outset.
Fostex sent me a pair of their newly released T60RP to test out about a month back. This is the next iteration in their RP (Regular Phase) series, following the famous T50RP, which I have only heard as modifications. This employs some of the same orthodynamic technology that has served Fostex well in the past, and I'm glad that I was able to take the time to really put them through their paces.
After coming home from school for winter break, I found waiting for me this package. I’ve seen a lot of prior attempts at multi-driver over-ear headphones, but in full candor, they mostly suck. The drivers always seem haphazardly and nonsensically arranged in some arbitrary geometry, and that randomness is usually reflected in the acoustic qualities of the headphones. But, I’d heard a lot from 1More in the past, almost entirely good, so I suspended my prior experience as best as I could and went in with the clearest head that I could muster.
ZMF made its name in modification. First of the T50RP, which is one of the most commonly modified headphones in existence, they eventually made their move into wholly custom products. Although I haven't had the opportunity to hear those yet, I hope to in the future. But, I have had the time to listen, extensively I might add, to Zach Mehrbach's modification of the T50RP Mk III - the ZMF Classic. Having heard Cascadia Audio's Talos, a modification of the same headphone, this made for a great comparison.
Sony sent me their reasonably new portable offering, the MDR-1000X. It occupies a section of the market that is relatively saturated at this point, although the man contenders right now are Bose's QC 35 and Sennheiser's PXC 550, both of which I have to hear. These make a great bang-for-the-buck in the wireless, over-ear, noise-cancelling category, and man was that a lot of words to get out. They've got a killer, unique feature-set that offers great ease-of-use, with a sound that falls right in line.
After reviewing their flagship, the TH-900 Mk II, Fostex followed up with another of their biodynamic closed-backs, this time the TH-610. It occupies a much lower price bracket, at around $600. With a very much different style, but a somewhat similar sound signature, I think that these could be a great deal at the price.
I had a lot of trouble writing this review, but not for the usual reasons. I wasn't ambivalent, nor did I find myself struggling for words to describe my experience. It was that I knew that as soon as this posts, I'll have to put these back in the box they came in, and ship them back off to Fostex.