$ 599.99 $ 999.00
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In our headphone.com review team’s opinion, the Fostex TH-610 clearly punches above its fighting weight and even approaches the performance of some headphones at twice its price. In particular, the balanced unity of the sound from top to bottom is remarkably coherent in the Fostex TH-610 with each instrument remaining simple, distinct and full-bodied in the overall presentation. Voices appear realistic and well-meshed into the production and rarely exhibited recess or darkness, instead sounding pleasantly human and emotional with a wide array of musical genres and studio recording styles. Bass heft and texture is also better than the old TH-600 with a brawny, deeper fullness evident in the TH-610’s lowest register that carries a solid foundational weight along with audibly improved low-end extension.
That seamless extension at the edges of the frequency range is a major sonic strength of the Fostex TH-610 and it plainly bests the more dynamically limited, harder tone of the old TH-600. To our ears, the Fostex TH-610 sounds much more fully detailed with the improved control especially evident at the top of of the range where the presentation seems clear, open and unfettered compared to the less transparent, constricted upper treble of the TH-600. It’s tonally a more laid-back approach to the highs versus the flagship Fostex TH-900 headphone at significantly more expense, but the TH-610 clearly grips the uppermost audio frequencies with an airy assuredness that sounds effortless and unhyped. Hence, the sense of dimension and space in the TH-610 rivals that of many other headphones at more expensive prices and even comes respectably close to its top TH-900 MkII sibling in that regard.
Indeed, the soundstage imaging is remarkably spatial in the Fostex TH-610 with very good layering and instrumental proportion noted even on tightly congested recordings. The Fostex TH-610 has an articulate definition that is evenly voiced throughout the entire frequency range and it is this ‘flat’, easy sense of timing and responsive accuracy to the source that allows no one part of the music to become too weighted or show sharp leading edges. On the rare original Tablighi Records LP of Abdul Rahim Ibrahim’s 1977 spiritual jazz-funk masterwork, “Al Rahman! Cry Of The Floridian Tropic Son,” the oceanic layers of off-kilter acoustic guitar, electric piano, chanted vocals and funky African percussion are crisp and forcefully delineated in the TH-610 despite the murky pastel wash of the production.
On the down side, the Fostex TH-610’s transient attack is not the fastest we’ve heard so it falls behind the dynamic speed and quickness of the bellwether Fostex TH-900 Mk II headphone. Compared to the exceptionally liquid tone of that terrific top-level can, the TH-610 comes up slightly more dry with a bit less meat on the bones of the music and somewhat less lush tone. The Fostex TH-900 has an engaging albeit famously colored sound that tends to add some shimmery sparkle in the upper treble ranges. In contrast, the TH-610 seems to have a less aggrandized tonality in the highs that still delivers great resolution, but with less presence and intensity. At a fairly stiff 25 Ohms / 98 dB sensitivity rating, adding a headphone amp to the Fostex TH-610 can improve dimension and add some drive to the sound especially for listeners using tablets, smartphones or other low-power devices as their music source.
As with many of the full-size circumaural Fostex headphones, the TH-610 fit is geared for slightly bigger heads with a light headband clamping force that is nicely gentle on the head. However, smaller headed folks may perhaps suffer from the pesky headband slippage issues common to the bigger Fostex cans. Good ambient isolation is still there thanks to the ergonomically angled synthetic leather earpads which completely cover the earlobes. The seal won’t completely shut out the world but it will help keep your music from leaking out and potentially disturbing others nearby, meaning the Fostex TH-610 can be used in offices and close quarters with good listening privacy. The earpads are easily user replaceable when they wear out. The detachable / replaceable 9.5 ft Y-type cord has ‘one-way’ 2-prong connectors into the bottom of the TH-610 earcups that slide in with a solid click feel. The cable is terminated to a ¼” gold-coated stereo plug. The real wood matte finish on the earcups resist marks or fingerprints; folks who suffered surface dings or nicks on their delicately lacquered headphones will be appreciative. Fostex offers a strong 2-year manufacturer’s ‘repair or replace’ warranty that remains fully in place with your headphone.com 100% authorized dealer purchase!