Andy Price auditions three new sets of Fostex ’phones: each offering a slightly different design, and all providing superb comfort…
Contact SCV Distribution
The Fostex TR Series is unusual, in that all three models in the range have the same price tag attached to them. We’re getting used to headphone manufacturers creating ranges that ascend in quality the higher up the numerically listed models go; however, upon first trialling the three models of the TR series, we couldn’t actually discern much in the way of sound-quality difference.
Of course, there is a difference between the three – the most obvious being their designs: the TR-70s are open backed, the 80s are closed and the 90s semi-open. What that means for actual sound quality and reproduction, though, is minimal. However, there’s nothing ‘minimal’ about said sound quality of the TR Series. We were quite frankly astounded by the fidelity of the audio reproduction on offer for this price bracket, and also the overall comfort levels they afforded our delicate ears.
In the box, you get a choice of different ear pads (normal and extra thick), both of which we found to be quite comfortable. However, if you’re wearing glasses (as with any pair of headphones) you might find them pushing the arm into the side of your head.
However, this isn’t a criticism with the TR Series so much, more a whinge about our oversized, bulbous bonces. But yes – overall comfort scores highly for all the models in the range, perhaps more so even than our go-to Audio Technica M70xs. The unique slider bars (which reference Fostex’s previously popular T-RP series) are easily scalable to get the perfect fit.
Going back to that all important sound quality – we tried out a variety of tracks in many different genres, finding that, universally, the Fostex TR Series offered a magnificent and dynamic listening experience, balanced between the weighty low end, detailed mids and sharp trebles. Much of this can be attributed to Fostex’s proprietary 40mm drivers, along with the specially tuned housings of each model.
For this writer’s money, the best ’phones for studio mixing are the Audio Technica M70xs (£299), offering a totally flat response with no additional colouring. The slightly bigger Telefunken EA THP-29s (£129.60) offer more ear cover, but for music listening, there are few rivals to the TRs – though we really enjoyed listening to our tracks through Blue’s Lola ’phones (£220) earlier this year.
When it came to mixing and monitoring, the TR Series generally performed well, although we probably detect some slight colouring going on with the aforementioned weighty low end, especially in comparison to the AT M70xs. At times during our mix session, we’d have liked a little more accuracy with our bass sounds, but higher-end frequency reproduction was spot on and not smothered by the bass at all. In general, sound clarity and mix analysis was top notch.
Although these headphones are marketed as being aimed at production and studio users, we actually prefer them as listening headphones and have enjoyed re-listening to classic records with the TR Series’ extra ‘oomph’ and dynamic clarity; though we feel there are better headphones out there for production duties.
So the TRs are great for listening, but you might be put off by the oversized look, which can feel a bit clunky, especially if you’re thinking of investing in some new headphones for walking around and mobile listening. This is all down to personal preference, though, as some people prefer the clunky look (half of us included!).
● Fostex proprietary 40mm drivers
● Uniquely tuned housings
● Two types of ear pad (normal and extra thick)
● Available at two different impedance ratings: 80ohms and 250ohms
● Three design variants: open (TR-70), closed (TR-80) and semi-open (TR-90)
● Maximum frequency response: 25kHz
● Detachable cable