This week, I was presented with the Fostex TH909. I’ve been a huge fan of the TH900mk2, so I was thrilled to get a chance to check out its new sibling. But was this open-back flagship as impressive? Today I’ll answer that question with this Bass Head Heaven – Fostex TH909 Review.
In the Box – Bass Head Heaven
-Fostex TH909 Headphones
-7N-OFC cable with 6.35 mm connector
-Protective leather pouch
Specifications – Bass Head Heaven
-Driver: 50 mm diaphragm, dynamic, Neodymium magnet
-Impedance: 25 ohms
-Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW
-Maximum Input: 1800 mW
-Frequency Range: 5 Hz-45 kHz
-Weight: 390 g (excluding cables)
-Cable: 3 m, Y-type, 7N-OFC, 2-pin to 6.35 mm with rhodium plating
Design – Bass Head Heaven
The headband of the Fostex TH909 is flexible. It has a thin layer of padding on its underside which is coated in leather. And while the padding isn’t particularly soft, it provides a solid amount of support for the headphones. The headband connects to a metal (perhaps aluminum) base. The base attaches to the metal extenders which attaches to the Y-shaped yolk via a sturdy pin. The yolk rotates modestly at an angle. It attaches to either side of the earcups, letting them rock 20 degrees or so.
The earcups of the Fostex TH909, like its closed-back sibling the TH900, is special. It is made of Betula grossa, or Japanese Cherry Birch. Its texture is rigid and dense. As a result, it is often used as an exquisite wood for furniture making. Additionally, the wood is coated in a Bordeaux-wine colored lacquer, designed to not only look pretty, but to protect the wood. The Fostex TH909, in a measure to disperse potential resonances, uses a two-layered grill. It looks gorgeous against the slick red of the earcup, and gives these headphones a classy look.
The earpads of the Fostex TH909 are thick and comfortable. They seem to be made of memory foam and are coated in the same leather as the headband. They’re slightly asymmetrical. They are thicker in the back than in the front, and as a result sit with the earcup at a particular angle on the head.
The 7N-OFC cable of the Fostex TH909 is a bit bulky for my taste. However, I will keep in mind that since this is an open-back headphone, it is reasonable to work with a cable this size. The cable is coated with cloth and feels extremely well made. Additionally, its plug cases are made of duralumin, specifically designed for durability.
Sound – Bass Head Heaven
The low frequencies of the TH909 remarkably extended, especially considering they are open-back. They seem to reach from beneath the headphones themselves. As a result, they produce a feeling of naturalness to the low-end. Meanwhile, the sub parts of the low-end feel boosted. The drivers seem to handle these frequencies easily and with clarity. As a result, low frequencies contribute to songs’ emotional impacts, especially for hip-hop, pop, and electronic music. In reality, any song that uses low end as a tool for emotional impact benefits from the TH909. Additionally, the lows come through with quickness, so they come across as punchy and active. I wouldn’t describe them as dancy, but their level of quickness is both impactful and tasteful.
For example, when I was listening to the song Prince Johnny by St. Vincent, the kick drum came in with lots of big power. The low end extension of it allowed for big fullness without the risk of it masking other frequencies. When the bass entered, it felt solid and weighted downward. In the mix, this bass sits below the kick drum frequency-wise. Because of the enhanced and clear sub energy, it not only felt clearer pitch-wise, but also came through with the physical feeling of big bass in my chest. Especially in the choruses of the song, the kick and bass, along with the thick and deep staccato synth, supplied groove to the song, making me nod my head to the music uncontrollably.
The midrange of the Fostex TH909 marries thickness with spaciousness. The low-mids have emphasis and as a result, synths and electric guitars come through with heaviness and weight. On the other hand, the high-mids have a bit of a dip. As a result, the body of vocals sits lower in the mix than usual. As a result, vocals feel less thick. However because of a boost in the lower treble region, they come through with articulation and presence. Additionally, transients in the midrange come through quickly and energetically. As a result, drums come through with impact and zest. There’s a sense of realism I hear from the immediacy of the hits, Additionally, the quickness contributes to the groove.
For example, when I was listening to the song Roll with the Punches by Dawes, the guitars felt thick and harmonically rich. Their staccato parts in the verses, due to the quickness of the Fostex TH909, had a sense of danciness to them. Taylor Goldsmith’s voice came through with more presence than usual. It didn’t sound thin, but just seemed to sit slightly differently in the mix. The fullness of the middle part of the midrange kept it from falling in level in the mix, along with the clarity of the boosted lower treble.
The high frequencies of the Fostex TH909 come through with quickness and clarity. They’re not perfectly even, and as a result, high frequency rich instruments sit slightly differently in the mix, with an emphasis toward the upper range of the treble. Additionally, the top part of the octave seems to have emphasis. As a result the TH909 seems to have a sense of airiness and lift to its signature. And like the rest of the frequency response, the highs come through quickly. As a result, cymbals, guitar strums, string sweeps, and other high frequency rich transient sounds feel energetic and lift the whole mix upward.
For example, when I was listening to the song Carolina in My Mind by James Taylor, the attack of the acoustic guitar felt light and expressive, while maintaining its tonality. Additionally, James Taylor’s voice seemed to sit slightly higher in the mix with an airy texture, more so than is typically audible, particularly with his voice
The soundstage is expansive, with detail in all three dimensions. Perhaps the most impressive of the three dimensions is the sense of height. The low frequencies are extremely expansive downward and highs are wonderfully airy upwards. As a result, especially with mixes that utilize the full frequency spectrum, the sound of the Fostex TH909 feels extremely tall, detailed, and spacious. Additionally, the sense of width shoots outward from the head. However, I was particularly impressed because even with this expansion, vocals panned in the middle still maintain a sense of intimacy. The sense of depth, perhaps the most subtle of the three dimensions feels detailed and nuanced. It feels natural without having too much emphasis. Additionally, mixes that utilize midrange room mics and reverbs for the expression of depth work well with these headphones because of their full mids.
For example, when I was listening to the song Don’t Take the Money by Bleachers, the kick drum and the bass synth anchored the tune downward. It felt super low, like they were coming from my gut. Additionally, the wide synth arpeggios, pads, background vocals, seemed to expand outward from my head, creating a wide and immersive experience of the song. Lastly, the vocal felt close and intimate. It contrasted with the snare drum which seemed to sit way back in space.
Overview – Bass Head Heaven – Fostex TH909 Review
Overall, the Fostex TH909 is an extremely fun headphone! It has a quick and active dynamic range, has a wonderfully deep bass response (especially for its open-back design) and has an expansive soundstage. For bass heads out there looking for headphones in this price range, you would be missing out if you didn’t take a look into the Fostex TH909!
The Fostex TH909 is available right here at Audio 46: https://audio46.com/products/fostex-th909/