We are following on with our latest articles on some of the best sounding premium closed-back headphones such as the Sennheiser HD820 and Focal Utopia; how could we possibly not do a review of the Fostex TH900 MK2. It is an extremely popular headphone from a brand with a real depth of heritage in the audiophile worlds in both its speakers and headphones. It has developed a cult following since its release and having owned one for the past five years, and it’s time to write an update on how they perform in the current landscape.
Fostex TH900 Mk2 – Build Quality
The build quality is fantastic, but despite the high price, these are not to be considered as luxury products. The build quality is focussed around performance, and as such, the materials used are high quality. Fostex wants you to have these headphones for a long time and given their popularity in professional circles. The headphones might be considered as one that straddles a line between a fancy toy and a workhorse.
The headband is exceptionally sturdy and well built with good resistance to the slide, allowing for a small, easy adjustment of the reach. The swivel points of the arch are smooth and free-flowing, allowing the TH900 Mk2 to conform to your head, but the use of metal at this notorious stress point gives confidence over long-term durability.
Sadly the cables are not detachable, and they are built into the headphones with an enormously over-engineered stress relief system. The cable is excellent quality and mine over the years works as well as ever. After the initial month of use, it relaxed a lot, and I now find it free-flowing and unobtrusive.
Styling-wise you can’t get away from the big, bold lacquered wood earcups that are the headphone’s signature calling card. The Fostex doesn’t look modern, but they don’t look dated, mainly because of the cups’ deep red contrasting with the other black hardware. I was initially worried that this finish would pick up a lot of scratches but keeping them stored on a stand has prevented this, and the good thing is that if you ever do pick up blemishes, you can buff them out with a mild abrasive finishing polish and they look good as new.
Fostex TH900 Mk2 – Comfort
Yes, I would say they are relatively comfortable. When I first tried them, I was shocked at how light they were given the size and materials used. Furthermore, the weight is distributed well thanks to a slightly above average clamping force applied from the headband.
The headband and the earpads are covered with plush well-padded leather that I love. While this adds some bulk to the head look, they are designed for home or studio use, and if I am working with my headphones, I appreciate this extra padding in exchange for style points.
One thing to note is that the TH900 Mk2 is a closed-back headphone, and as a result, you still suffer from heat build-up over time. The large earcups do go some way to preventing this, but it is still an issue somehow.
Do the Fostex TH900Mk2 Sound Good?
Absolutely. The sound is excellent, and they work very well with a wide range of genres. They are not too fussy about what format your music files are in, and they don’t punish you fr not using the latest and most excellent codecs.
Tuning is towards the warm side with powerful bass and treble presence complimented by smooth mids. Yes, you probably guessed that it’s a bit v-shaped, and that’s a sign that I like. As a result, it is best to use an amp and DAC unit with a flat balanced response and let the headphones handle the coloration.
The soundstage is large for a closed-back, and while not on the level of the Sennheiser HD820 and Focal Stelia we mentioned earlier, one must remember that these are significantly cheaper. You still get plenty of space and air, though, in which you can easily place instrumentation through the headphone’s strong imaging qualities.
Bass is strong and capable of producing a lot of sub-bass when needed, yet the upper part f the lows is fast and textured with a lot of depth. The midrange sits back from the low end, but it isn’t swamped and sounds composed and intimate in all scenarios. Detail retrieval in the midrange isn’t as sharp as the others we mentioned. Still, ultimately, it’s a more engaging natural presentation, mostly if you listen to a lot of acoustic music.
Final Verdict: Fostex TH900 Mk2 Review Conclusion
They may be one of the older premium closed-back headphones on the market, but they are just as good a listen now as they ever were. Looks are slightly dated when you compare them to other brands’ futuristic stylings, but it is a design that I know from personal experience holds up very well over time. With a lower price than the HD820, these should be considered if you are in the market for closed-back premium headphones in the 1-2 thousand dollar range.