Impressions: Fostex TH-900 MkII

Fostex generously sent me their flagship for review, and I was lucky enough to catch them at a time when they had one in stock.

My thoughts aren't too organized as of the two days of listening that I've had thus far, but they should come across with some cohesion. The first thing that I noticed out of the box was how absolutely beautiful the lacquer on the earcups of these headphones is. There's a 5-ish minute video of Fostex's website that shows the full process of lacquering the earcups, and the amount of work, most done by hand, that's put into them shows in the final product.

A 3-meter fabric-wrapped cable is included. It inserts at the headphone with 2-pin connectors that only insert one way, and click in securely. The Y-splitter sits fairly far down the cable, which allows for comfortable use for people with very large heads. The TRS 1/4" connector at the other end of the cable feels solid and premium.

Now onto what actually matters: the sound. I came in with high expectations considering the price of this headphone, and thus far, I have found myself satisfied. The 50mm biodynamic drivers are as responsive and fast as aluminum, with (what I consider to be) the more comfortable sound of paper drivers. Bass is ensconcing and fast, mids are lush, with vocals of both genders presenting as forward and distinct in the mix, and the treble reaches high with ease, without becoming sibilant, grainy, or unpleasant. The soundstage, particularly for a pair of closed-backs, is admirable, with good depth and width. Accompanying this, the imaging is precise, and I've found that with my eyes closed, I can very easily piece together the room that a track was recorded in.

Something that has specifically struck me in listening over the past few days is the detail. Breaths, the sound of a pick resting on a guitar string after striking it, and the details of a bow scraping across a cello string all come across clear as day. To date, I have found details in tracks that I have listened to for years that had previously been lost on me.