Out of Stock $ 1,299.99
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The Fostex TH-900 MkII closed-back full-size headphones are slowly, painstakingly manufactured in Japan in tiny batches by one of the most exacting headphone companies in the industry. Fostex are the folks responsible for several category-leading headphone designs marketed under other brand names including the superb line of DENON cans they manufactured back in the late 2000s. The inaugural Fostex TH-900 model vastly exceeded the sound quality of any of their previous nomenclatures and was among the first audiophile-level, dynamic-driver sealed headphones we found capable of delivering reference performance and both its sound and price were eye-opening achievements at the time. In the years since, several other closed headphones have appeared offering stratospheric levels of acoustic performance - along with commensurately sky-high prices - so although some of the initial sticker shock has slowly worn off over time, the newest TH-900 Mk II model remains one of the most expensive sealed headphones currently in the business. As with many of the best things in life, you get what you pay for.
The Fostex TH-900 MkII is basically identical in all respects to the original ‘Mk 1’ version except for the addition of a detachable high-quality 7N-OFC 10-ft cable. It’s the same cloth-braided cord as before now made quick-detachable via sturdy 2-prong one-way connectors into the earcups. The same sumptuous burgundy Japanese ‘Urushi’ lacquer earcups softly encase the ears with an extremely light, comfortable weight distribution that make these one of the most cushy wearing experiences we’ve had with a full-size can. The ambient noise isolation ability stays decent despite the featherweight clamping force, but folks with smaller heads may want to take note; the headband is so light on the ears it may be difficult to achieve a secure seal without the headphone tending to slip off the noggin. Average-to-large headed wearers may actually forget they’re wearing big full-size headphones at all. The Fostex TH-900 MkII earpads complete the luxuriant feel with a synthetic protein-leather material that is supremely soft, supple and long-lasting as well as less warm on the ears than real lambskin.
Sonically, the Fostex TH-900 MkII also presents the same signature sound as the original with a warm, burnished tone that is colored in the lows with some extra weighting in the deep bass that gives it a bit more forthright kick than some other sealed-back models. The lowest octave sounds deeply rooted with great extension but also exhibits a vague trace of boominess that could benefit from a touch more control at times. However, that’s basically an audiophile quibble because the curvy low-end also brings a luminous warmth and authority to the bass response that’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen to with well-produced rock, jazz and soul recordings. Midranges are ultra-smooth without any sense of etching or vocal grain while the highs soar clean and unfettered sans harsh edges. There is, however, a splashy edge to the uppermost highs that can sound a bit sparkly, most notably on cymbals and hi-hat work. Using a lovely tube amp or judicious EQ might help to effectively tame those lofty head-for-the-hills frequencies. Voices sound full-bodied and well-meshed with a pleasing amount of air but the vocal space can occasionally become slightly recessed with some recordings. The Fostex TH-900 Mk II soundstage is narrower when compared to the best open-back designs like the Sennheiser HD800S but the imaging remains simply layered with an appropriate sense of depth and instrumental placement. Overall, the TH-900 MkII has a highly energetic presentation with an upfront, ‘front-row’ sense of perspective and a tactile punch that many listeners will find likable and exciting.
The Fostex TH-900 Mk II is highly efficient (25 ohms/ 100 db sensitivity) and will work fine direct from portable players, although only the tip of the performance iceberg will appear until the headphone is properly driven via a quality headphone amp. The large 50mm dynamic neodymium/Nd magnet transducers will plainly benefit from the added control and detail resolution afforded by a nice amp and the TH-900’s slightly wayward bass will also audibly tighten up. The circumaural Japanese cherry birch wood earcups are enshrined within protective layers of classic ‘Urushi’ lacquer expertly applied by specialist artisans, ensuring the perfect beauty of these headphones for many years to come. The peerless fit and finish of these headphones is genuinely special and you’ll clearly feel and see the intense quality of the Fostex TH-900 Mk II, as well as hear it. A 10-ft detachable headphone cord comes terminated to a beefy stereo ¼ plug and the headphones also arrive with a very sweet headphone stand included in the box, a nice plus from Fostex.