Review: Fostex T60RP

The music unfolds

Whether it is because they are semi-open is not known, but the Fostex T60RP has cleaner sound than most closed in the class.

Fostex T60RP oppslag
Karakter
Fostex T60RP
We think
Great resolution, rich bass and large room. Very musical presentation.
Very heavy duty! Forget about using these with your mobile. Slightly reclining treble. Looks like industrial hearing protection…
Specifications
  • Type: Semi-weapon, over the ear
  • Principle: Plan magnetic
  • Collapsible: No.
  • Microphone / remote control: No / no
  • Cable: Detachable 1.5 m, 3.5 mm (6.3 mm adapter)
  • Elements: 40 mm square
  • Impedance / sensitivity: 50 ohms / 92 dB
  • Frequency response: 15-35,000 Hz
  • Weight: 380 grams (without cable)
  • Color: black with mahogany watches
  • Web: fostexinternational.com
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Fostex started by supplying speaker components to self-builders (1973), but eventually started with complete speakers and later also recording equipment. They were perhaps best known for their cassette and reel-to-reel tape recorders.

But microphones and headphones were also something they started early on, with the T20RP becoming one of the most popular studio headphones in the United States in the late 1980s. Its speaker elements were unique, with a principle Fostex called orthodynamic. Today we know it best as plane magnetic. The speaker element is not that big, only 40 millimeters and square.

The Fostex T60RP has inherited both appearance and mechanical principle from the older T20RP, only with thicker ear pads and more massive watches. Which is now in mahogany, for a natural timbre and solid build quality. In appearance they are reminiscent of industrial hearing protection, but in contrast to these, they leak a good deal of sound. They are not completely closed, but semi-open. This means that they are built as closed, but with inlaid ventilation grooves to compensate for under- and overpressure that prevents the speaker elements from playing with maximum dynamics.

It comes with a 1.5 meter cable with 3.5 mm plug and transition to large 6.3 mm. This is detachable, and Fostex offers both balanced and unbalanced alternatives.

Fostex T60RP
Watches in hard mahogany are both durable and sound good. Photo: Fostex

T60RP in use

I have to admit that the look gave me some prejudice, and I expected to be served a mushy soundscape with way too much bass. Instead, I got an absolutely beautiful rendition of Susanne Sundfør’s Undercover from the live album Music For People In Trouble (Live from the Barbican). Yes, it is both full-bodied and hot, with a little extra meat on the bone in the bottom octave of the piano. But the deaf as the voice of Sundfør sounds good! That lady has a push in her voice, and can quickly sound very sharp and loud, if the headphones have too much distortion. But here it just sounds beautiful. The same with the double bass solo at the end of the song: lush without being excessive, detailed without being aggressive.

It should be said that there is a dip in the present range (around 3.5 kHz), which makes voices a little laid back in relation to the neutral ideal. It probably also does its part to ensure that it is never experienced sharply. At the same time, it will never be completely aggressive enough, if you first and foremost dig dynamic recordings with hard percussion. It can be a little kind.

Fostex T60RP side
The slits on the underside of the earbuds provide ventilation for the best possible dynamics. This also means that the Fostex T60RP can be considered semi-open. Photo: Fostex

Larger sound image with half open

The sound picture is larger than with normally closed headphones. And the headphones breathe more, so you can wear them longer before you sweat in your ears. On the other hand, you do not get the benefit of the passive noise reduction that completely closed headphones provide.

Another disadvantage is that the headphones are very heavy-duty. You can never play loud enough straight from your mobile, here external amplifier power is required for it to entertain. Where we recommend amplifier with other headphones, we will claim that these require it.

And, no matter how powerful an amplifier you have, the bass drum on rougher music is never quite hard hitting enough. The headphones are compressed, even with the powerful Auralic Taurus we did not get enough life in them.

Still, I think the sound is so addictive and musical, that it’s sad to send these back.

The headband works in good quality, upholstered in leather. Also the band on the underside that rests against the head is genuine leather. Photo: Fostex

Conclusion

As the test’s only half-open headphones, the Fostex T60RP has the advantage of sounding more dynamic and large than closed headphones. At the same time, they have the engaging bass reproduction we mostly only experience from closed watches. Let go, you will not get the full impact force in the bass drum when you raise the sound level and expect proper physics. But at normal listening level and a little higher than that, there is really good sound we are talking about here.

Piano has a beautiful sound base. The sound picture is larger than usual for headphones. Singing voices sound really nice. Slightly restrained where they should be aggressive (the lighter chest sound area), but this is addictive listening.

That they are very heavy-duty pulls down.

Fostex T60RP frequency
Fostex T60RP measured with miniDSP EARS and REW. Compensated for what miniDSP thinks is subjectively linear.
Here we have an example of how measurements do not always support the subjective perception. The dip around 3.5 kHz seems real here, as we missed a bit of aggression in this area.
Furthermore, the bass from the graph seems quite focused around 100 Hz, with a steady unrolling below this. In our ears, however, there was plenty of richness in the bass tones. The peak is distinct up to 10 kHz, but drops quickly after this.

Also in this test

Hifiman Sundara

Test winner in open class

Hifiman Sundara is not only the best buy in this class, you also get the best sound.

Perfectly balanced sound with potent bass and buckets of details. Super-defined sound image with almost complete qualities.
The size and weight can be inhibiting.

Audeze LCD-1

High-end headphones for your smartphone

Audeze LCD-1: There is no better sound for portable use in this price range.

Compact, light and perfect for mobile. Glass clear and neutral sound, with live bass reproduction.
The bass rolls off early and the soundscape is not as fine-meshed and refined as the reference.

Neumann NDH 20

Non-engaging first attempt

Legendary microphone manufacturer fails to grab us with its first headphone model.

Appealing appearance, great aluminum finish and decent comfort. Seems to be a comfortable load on amplifiers, does not change sound very much from amplifier to amplifier.
The sound is dark, with too little detail at the top. It also sounds too sharp for our liking.

Sennheiser HD 660S

Classic in renewed costume

Sennheiser's best in the 600 series is the safe choice in this class.

Silky smooth sound rich in details, beautiful vocal reproduction and warm, full sound.
Limited sound pressure and deep bass.

Denon AH-D5200

Fabulous closed headphones from Denon

Denon AH-D5200 is among the very best closed in its class.

Super nice and detailed sound image with lots of timbres. Nice workmanship and nice comfort.
The treble reproduction could have been a little more fine-grained.

Beyerdynamic Amiron Home

The most sensible choice

The Beyerdynamic Amiron Home is an exceptionally successful all-round headphone.

Detailed, warm and open sound image with very potent bass. Excellent wearing comfort and high quality.
Requires a serious amplifier. May sound a little too soft for someone's taste.

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

Sharp analyst

The studio qualities are the strengths and weaknesses of Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro, must be tested before purchase.

Super resolved and analytical. Steel control in the bass, very open and detailed sound, and excellent wearing comfort.
The analytical grade gives sharper, and less listening-friendly sound.

Sony MDR-Z7M2

The entertainment is saved

Sony has improved its premium model Z7 with technology from the flagship Z1R. The result is even more striking.

Extremely comfortable ear pads. Great quality feeling, a lot of metal. Hefty bass, very entertaining listening.
Dynamics could have been more outspoken, and the bass faster. Takes some focus from the overtones and air in the music.

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