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.

Published 31 August 2020 - 10:24 am
Fostex T60RP
Geir Nordby

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


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.

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…

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