Fostex T50RP Closed Ear Stereo Headphones

Hunki Chunki

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Very nice sound, good tight bass. Very comfortable
Cons: Oh you are going to need a good amp for this...
At a relatively low price you can enjoy really good sound with these headphones.
It is so popular for good reason, you could customise it to your personal taste, I just swapped out the cables to the Vmoda cable, and swapped the pads for Shure pads.
The FIIO E10K is not able to drive this headphones well.
The SMSL M3 and Grace Design M9xx is able to drive it well.
The sound is very balanced and neutral. Very pleasant headphones to use all day.


New Head-Fier
Pros: Fast, detailed, crystal clear, great bass quantity and quality
Cons: Midrange is recessed, mid bass a little light,
This is a quickie review... not the standard head-fi thing.
I've been listening to the Mk III T50RP for a week now and I've been able to compare them directly to Sennheiser's Amperior and HD580, Fidelio X2, Grado SR125, Meelec A151, and DreamEarz VOX3 CIEMs. Source is a Fiio X5 HO or LO feeding a Schiit Asgard 2. 
The X2 has been my reference for a year of listening now, and the first time I picked up the T50 I knew I liked it better. Crazy!
I have a thing for fast, neutral headphones. My previous favorite was the Ety HF2, but I no longer have them. I switched to Meelec A151, which are great, but are now just for listening off the phone. Those single driver BA IEMs just have magic in them... the T50 is the closest dynamic headphone I've heard to that single BA sound. There's just so much more bass. Compared to the X2, they're faster, lighter, and have more slam in the bass. Going from the famously veiled (and slow) Senns to the X2, I noticed a slight change in smoothness- the X2 picks up some clarity, speed, and bass extension, which are all great, but wind up being harsher than the Senns. I liked them because they had a similar sound sig to the HD580, just better all around. The T50 has a radically different sound sig, but it's just so fast and clear that I fell in love immediately. The bass extension is like nothing I've heard from headphones except maybe in the VOX3s and those have a whole host of problems. Even the insane bass of the Amperior doesn't come close. These cans are fantastic.
What I'm not sold on is the mids. I like my midrange warm and sweet, but these are a shade too recessed to be called flat, and it's definitely dry. The treble leans closer to the "boom and tizz" side of the spectrum than the hifi slant. From what I can tell, there are mods to "fix" these little issues even if they're designed for the MK II. I can't wait! 
For the price, there's nothing like the T50RP... now to start my mods :)
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Are the mids more recessed than the X2?  I find the X2 mids slightly recessed, so vocals are not as engaging as I'd like.


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Mod-able, cheap, good driver, PLANAR MAGNETIC
Cons: Not comfy stock, too midcentric stock, reverby stock, stock stock stock.
Well, this will be my first review at all on head fi, but the t50rp is not my first audiophile headphone. If one considers the sennheiser hd558 and audiophile headphone, then they would be. It is my first planar magnetic headphone, though. I noticed the enthusiastic modding community of head fi's past and I really got hyped about these headphones. I listen to classical, jazz, progressive rock, and blues almost spread out evenly. I don't touch electronic and seldom listen to hip hop or country. I did most listening out of a creative soundblaster e5, but also tried them on a McIntosh MHA100 amplifier, hifiman ef100, audeze deckard, and auralic tauras, each fed by a sonos connect that cleaned a PC usb output. I listen to high bitrate spotify when I want to listen for pleasure, but critically listen to flac files of songs that I know inside and out on many different rigs. I compared to the hifiman he400i, the grado rs1i, my own sennheiser hd558, and philips fidelio x1s. I bought them for 140 usd shipped and new, but spent around 60 usd in modding materials:
Mrspeakers comfort strap
shure srh840 pads
DBV3 modding materials
I was set on modding them to my hearts content, but I did give them around a weeks worth of listening, and here are my impressions:
The stock Fostex T50RP are a fairly underwhelming, but not insulting headphone. They are midcentric, but I did not notice it too much initially; rather, I remarked at the ethereal black background and transients that stomped on my newly purchased grado sr60. They were surprisingly fast and it struck me as a very beautiful and addicting characteristic. I probably could've been happy with how these sounded stock for 140 usd; they didn't punch too far above that price(I have auditioned a few headphones in my time with the T50RP), but they are totally acceptable at their price point. They sounded much more clear than my sennheiser hd558s, but I never liked the sennheiser house sound anyway: they were always much too veiled and slow for my tastes. They also sounded fairly thin, though, in comparison to the sennheisers. Out of the box, these headphones measure atrociously, and it will show with any listening devoid of the planar wow factor:5e70a82f_T50RPAllStockLeftDriver.png
As you can plainly see, and as I heard, the bass is not only rolled off at the end, but pushed down even in the lower mids. Not only is the bass subdued to the point of nonexistence, but the lower high frequencies roll off VERY early and have a massive dip in the lower treble. The dip surprises me because I found the stock T50RP very forward sounding in the upper mids. I guess it's because the mid range is so accentuated in comparison to the bass and treble. It sounds really weird with most rock music because the percussion is completely gone and taken over by the vocalists and guitars. There is no thump of a kick drum or slam of a snare, cymbals are thin and not impactful either. Not only is the stock frequency an oddball, but the decay of the headphones is nowhere near its potential. I was really impressed with the decay stock, but by the time newplast was mass loaded into the baffles, the speed was unreal at the time. 
So now let's take my impressions of the DBV #3 modded T50RPs on my head playing some sleeping with sirens right now:
The DBV #3 modification aims to raise the bass response into a flat, audeze lcd like bass response, all around fix the treble, and reduce resonance(this will provide quicker transients and a blacker background). Most of these are achieved with the mod. I guess I will start with the bass response, which is absolutely insane to my ears. They are like the audeze lcd line in the sense that it is a very, very linear bass response. It is one of the smoothest progressions I have ever heard out of a pair of headphones, rivaled only by the truly high end planar magnetics. The he400i does not even come close with weaker, more erratic bass. The he400 gets a nod from me simply due to the visceral bass it can produce with truly wonderful extension and a slight midbass hump. When I say midbass hump, do not think dynamics like the hd650, though, it is better supported by the subbass region. Back to the T50RP; they are short of the lcd line in impact. I do not know how or why, but even the audeze lcd 2 will smack these modded T50RPs in bass response. There is just such an impactful weight that is exemplified in every pluck of a string bass and strum of guitar that brings it to a whole other level. No headphones I have demoed come close to the lcd line, but I haven't tried the he-6. Regarding the mid band of the modded T50RPs, they are wonderfully obedient. I say obedient in the sense that they become forward with the demand of the song and lax when the song calls for a laid back presentation. I do not know how exactly, but I suspect it is the relatively linear mid band as well. Brass instruments are fast, a bit too fast for the lower brass IMO, but perfect for the higher registers of a trumpet; I would love for trombones to have a more dramatic and impactful presentation, but their uptight presentation is not something I resent too harshly. The hifiman he400 and 400i impressed in this regard, as well as the lcd 2. A pair of headphones that I find have this issue as well is the philips fidelio x1 due to its mostly recessed mid range. Not only is it too recessed for me, but it is nowhere near as effortless as the planar magnetic mid range of the T50RP. The treble region is the area I have a bit of issue with. It will not extend. Flat out, I will admit that my babies don't do it for me in treble extension, and I think this will be a popular consensus among owners of DBV #3 headphones. They still lack impact and shimmer in cymbals, bells, and chimes. They do wonderfully for full range instruments like the piano and trumpets; their high registers are free of sibilance and still give a properly bright presence. The strings are a different story: I find them very unbalanced. The meatier frequency range of a violin is accentuated because the more nimble bite will not register. If only these had better extension, the frequency response would be nearly perfect for me, but maybe I am a treble head. The upper mids do have proper bite and forwardness, though, so grado lovers rejoice. I would like to end my impressions with the overall presentation of these headphones. They are closed back, and so they are small. They have proper layering and exemplary imaging in the small space that they possess. I am entirely confident in the fact that they image well enough to wipe the floor in an fps, but the soundstage congests seperation in large hall pieces. I find myself gravitating to small ensemble jazz with these headphones. I would love to gravitate to small orchestral pieces as well, but the violins are too dull for me. Cello soloists are meaty and gorgeous, though. The lower register of the cello rumbles with body and it is the one lower mid instrument that portrays emotion extremely well on these headphones. The smaller soundstage is also helpful in preserving the energy of my progressive rock favorites, so the presentation has its ups and downs. I am totally fine with the soundstage tradeoffs considering these are closed backs and don't leak too bad at all. In comparison to the grado rs1, these have a much wider genre bandwith, smoother presentation, less leakage, and similar soundstage. The avid rock and blues listener would no doubt choose the rs1, though, as their forward mids are much more suitable for these genres. It is much more harsh than the T50RP with jazz and classical though, very wrong with large concert hall music. The T50RP also benefit fairly greatly from amping. While the creative soundblaster e5 is suitable, the deckard achieved quite a synergy with these and definitely transferred some of the lcd line's impact to the T50RPs. My conclusion will be short. If you have the money and want to have some modding fun, just buy these. Even if you have your hd800s on your head plugged into the wonderful soloist, just get these. You will appreciate how much potential the driver has to offer and will have some fun on the way to unlocking its potential. I hate that I have to say goodbye to them, but I had to get Mr. Clark's revered Alpha Dogs with these ridiculous prices. Thank you for your time, hope I can write for you again soon.
Thank your for the exhaustive review.  Could you please give a link to your preferred instructions for the DBV #3 mods? 
Pros: Awesome value for money with the sound it produces for its price. A more transparent and clearer tonal signature compared to it's predecessor.
Cons: Treble sensitive audio listeners could find it a little "hot". Still lacking in sub bass.

Thanks You's

A great thank you to Fostex Japan for graciously passing me this T50RP Mk3 and giving me the opportunity to write this review. Further a great big thanks to @Wallabee for loaning me his T50RP Mk2 for a comparison.


Fostex T50RP models actually require no introduction as it's been a running model since 2002 (with a revision around 2007). And in 2015, Fostex has done a 3rd revision of the T50RP. The RRP in Japan is 20,000 yen (equiv to USD$161).
Unlike it's predecessor, the Mk3 is more easily identifiable with changes to the text & colour of the labels, a padded headband. Strangely just such tiny little changes does make the headphone look more fashionable. Internally however, the Fostex has made some changes that does make the headphone sound like a different model altogether. The diaphragm is still the same but the ventilation portion and the baffle has been re-designed.

There are a few traits that keep that "Fostex T50RP" house sound however the tonality of the T50RP has changed significantly. But more about that later.

Package and Ergonomics

As with the Mk2, the T50RP Mk3 includes a 3m long black cable terminated with a 1/4" plug. In addition, it comes with a shorter 1.2m orange cable terminated with 3.5mm locking plug. The shorter cable is actually more practical for portable use.  Ergonomically the Mk3 is just as comfortable as the former. Despite the headband being padded, personally for me it hasn't really made much of a difference from the former in terms of comfort. The Mk3 weighs at 316g and is about 10g lighter than the Mk2.
T50RP Mk3 Headband
The headband differences between the T50RP Mk2 and Mk3
T50RP Mk3 earpads

The firmness seems to be very similar but design-wise has changed. The Mk2 pads were made from regular urethane whilst the newer is made of low repulsion urethane. Design-wise, notice how the flange of the older (right) goes over the rim of the up of the cup, whilst the newer (left) is more like the TH-900/TH500RP style.


As always, this is what we're here for. Firstly my setup is having Audirvana Plus 2.1.1 running off my iMac USB3 into my Aurender Flow. There I have a splitter to run both versions of the T50RP concurrently. Although there's been criticisms about the T50RPs needing amping, I've actually managed to drive the Mk3s (and Mk2's) reasonably off the iPhone 6 whilst the iPhone 4s may seem to struggle just a little bit more. Further with the tonal differences between the Mk2 and Mk3, the latter "feels relatively easier" to drive at least to my ears. However, I've been accustomed to using my Aurender Flow included as my base reference recently and continue to do so with the impressions of this Fostex model.
So tonally, to my ears, the T50RP Mk3 feels more natural than the Mk2. It's reminiscent of the Alpha Dogs although there's sufficient differences that gives the T50RP Mk3 its own identity. Comparing directly to the Mk2, the newer Mk3 seems to have a tighter bass, a veil lifted in the midrange to lower trebles range, and the transition from the upper midrange to the lower treble range feels more uniform whilst the older Mk2 seems to me to have a little treble rolloff. There is one common feature in the treble range of both the Mk2 and Mk3 that reminds me they're both from the same Fostex family, and that is a bit of a 10kHz hump/spike. This is more noticeable in the Mk2 as the treble is more rolled off, then an unexpected "spike" around the 10kHz range. The Mk3 also seems to have that but as the trebles aren't rolled off, the spike isn't as obvious.
The midrange of  the T50RP Mk3 also isn't as prominent as the Mk2. In fact comparatively the Mk3 feels there's a slight dip to the midrange. However this makes the Mk3 signature to be an overall easier signature to like.
The bass is part that I do like in the T50RP Mk3, where I feel Fostex has taken the effort to clean up the bloom that the T50RP Mk2 had. The midbass bloom seems be tighter and the speed of the T50RP drivers is more noticeable. The sub bass is lacking however I don't personally don't really miss it.
Aside from it's tonal signature, it provides a decent soundstage. It's not as wide as it's TH-900 cousin however does give the perception of a wider soundstage than it's predecessor Mk2s. Similarly for it's depth imaging. I can't help to think (and having experienced the Alpha Dogs) the cup size and dampening used of the T50RP plays a part in how it presents the stage. However again, the Alpha Dog is a complete rework and a further 3x the cost of the T50RP Mk3s.
Detail retrieval to me is one of the most I've personally heard in a $200 (or even $300) headphone. Of course there are other headphones with miro detail-level retrieval performance however those headphones are priced rather differently. This is where I feel the T50RP drivers do really reveal their capability.


I think Fostex has done a fantastic job in improving the long running T50RP name. This is a marked upgrade (and probably a long overdue) over the T50RP Mk2. I can't help to speculate that Fostex has been sitting on the sidelines a little too long watching what other makers could do with its T50RP drivers and selling their versions of the headphone at 2-4x the price.Now the T50RP Mk3 can get a piece of that action too without increasing its price line too differently. Whilst I'd dare say the Mk3 still isn't an Alpha Dog, they are tonally closer than the Mk3 is to the Mk2; yet price wise it's much closer to the Mk2 sibling than the no longer produced Alpha Dog.
For the price and the sound quality it produces, T50RP Mk3 stands on its own. Should any maker decide to continue using the T50RP drivers, they'd need to consider how to keep their mods more competitive.
Hi, have you had a chance to compare these with the HiFiMan HE400S?
Sorry I don't have access to the HE400S.
Thanks for the review. I just got these. Comparing them to my HD 600 they are definitely an improvement in soundstage, imaging, and bass response. But also quite a bit less comfortable, more of an on-ear design for me rather than over-ear. They are also brighter. A bit much for my liking. Mids are still better on the ol 600. Nice cans though overall, especially for the price. But the search for dethroning my HD 600 continues...


New Head-Fier
Pros: great sound after pads replaced with better ones
Cons: stock sound is boring but not bad, need to replace the pads
The stock sound is boring. Now discontinued and newer revision coming out.
Replaced the pads with HM5 pads and modded the ports and internals. Got an OCC angled cable from VMODA.
Result: great headphones for the price when I bought them, considering the total. Gave them as a gift and he who got them was very happy. Still using them.
They survived being thrown! Not most comfortable headband unless you have large head. New pads make them quite comfortable.
There are much more impressive mods out there. Changing the cups and the cables and pads and these can deliver great sound. They are boring with stock sound, but not bloated. They have reasonable detail for the price <200$.


New Head-Fier
Pros: To mod them is to love them.
Cons: Even at $90 they suck out of the box. Can't fix ugly.
Buy it, mod it, slip on a pair of alpha dogs, smile.
Not worth owning if you don't mod.  I got maybe a half hour on them unmodded just to satisfy my curiosity.  I own better cans that cost more and less, so pretty worthless to me until modded.
Ratings are based on modded cans including comfort strap and alpha pads (comfort and sound).
You will forget they are ugly as soon as you put them on your head.


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Good midrange, low price, quite easy to drive, surprisingly detailed
Cons: Very uncomfortable, mods are a must, treble
OK cans for price when modded, but certainly doesn't deserve the attention it recieves here.
Unmodded sound lacks bass (rolof starts at 200Hz !!), is very mid-centric, highs and upper midrange is attenuated. It sounds cavelike, honky, and hollow - takes a lifetime to get used to it. :) The headband is extremely uncomfortable to me, earpads are thin, but comfort is good.
When modded the bass is much better (the old earpads are thin), quite linear but still nothing special. The upper midrange and treble have more power, but it still sounds somehow cavelike, honky and hollow. Overally much better than original T50RP.
For the price it's barely acceptable. When modded it's OK for the price.
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bucket indeed
bucket indeed
That last bit looks sooo sarcastic, and I can't edit it...  I would actually like to know which cans you're talking about for $100.
ATH-AD500 are on of the many examples. To my ears even the cheap AKG K77 sounds better, mainly because listening to them doesn't make me feel like being in a cave.
Spot on.
Fisher Price could turn out a better set of cans.


500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Highly Modifiable, low price, smooth sounding
Cons: Lacks sparkle in treble, ugly
These headphones are great in the sense that they are the ultimate modding headphones.  You can adjust the sound to almost anything you want with a few relatively simple mods.
Before modification, the resonance is horrible, the headphones are all mids, and nothing else, but the sounds is smooth.
After modification, the sound remains smooth, but there is an obvious increase in treble and bass to balance out the sounds.  The treble does not have the necessary sparkle that I would want from it, but it is a matter of skills, I am sure someone out there has the ability to mod these things to provide smoother and better sounds.
The headphones are relatively ugly (nothing you can do about this), and is quite uncomfortable unmodded, but you can increase the mods (change the ear pads, add comfort strap) to significantly increase the comfort.
Overall, a bargain of a buy, and it forced me to learn more about how sound works in headphones and in the orthodynamic technology.
What kind of mod have you tried???


500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Modder's dream w/ incredible potential, easy to mod, cheap
Cons: Must mod them, cord connection issues, kinda ugly?
If you don't plan to mod these, then you shouldn't buy them. My ratings are based upon the state of my pair after modding, which I believe is fair because most of my mods can be cheaply and easily replicated.
However, everyone should buy one and mod it. These are by far the best value headphones I've tried. For about $100, you can get these headphones, upgraded ear pads (Shure SRH840 are good), and the materials to do basic mods. If you are willing to put in a couple hours, pretty much anyone with patience can perform the necessary mods to make these shine and compete with headphones that are much more expensive. These are now competing (and receiving about equal playtime) with my Markl modded Denon D5000 w/ J$ pads.
The Sound:
Initially the sound on these was mid-centric with bass and treble roll off. I thought sounded thin and tinny as well, though my point of reference at the moment was my D5000. However, post modding these are completely different headphones. The sound seems fairly neutral with a couple dips and peaks in the treble. Very impressed by the amount of detail and clarity these now have.
The soundstage is good for a closed can. I am sure that there are different ways to mod these to further improve soundstage, but I don't feel like the sound is cramped or stuck inside my head. The separation is also very good.
Isolation is excellent on these and leakage is minimal. The stock pads are quite poor in sound and comfort, but there are a number of much better pads that improve both of these aspects. The headband is alright, but for longer listening sessions, installing some sort of padding is a smart choice.
EDIT: I changed out my Shure 840 pads for the J$ pads from my Denons. The J$ pads are super comfortable, and once a new headband is added, these will be one of, if not the most comfortable headphones I've had!
It is also important to note that these require some power. They need an amp to get up to good volume levels
The one real issue with the T50rp IMO is the cable. The angled plug and locking system seems nice, but I had many issues with one of the sides cutting out if the plug wasn't in just right. I tried a different cable and it worked just fine. I've since cut the proprietary pieces off of the angled plug so that it is free to rotate in the plug and the issue seems to have been solved. The other thing I am not a fan of is that the cable terminates into a 1/4" plug and no adapter is provided. I enjoy using the 1/4" plug when I have an input for it, but when I have to use a 1/8" adapter, the plug becomes bulky and heavy. I am a much bigger supporter of 1/8" standard termination with a 1/4" adapter.
Buy these and set aside an additional $30 to try your hand at modding them. It is a fun learning experience, and with all of the great resources here on Head-fi it is pretty easy to end up with a very impressive headphone.
PICS (more to come soon):
This pic shows the Denon J$ pads that I added, and the liner on the underside of the headband is some Silverstone acoustic foam. It's a temporary help on the comfort side until I get a HD580 headband.
I now have my new headband padding and I can say with the padding and the J$ pads, these are one of the most comfortable headphones I've ever used.
Here are the three different pads I've tried (Left to right: Stock T50rp, Denon J$, Shure SRH840):
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Denon or Shure pads???
I wrote Shure and Denon, the pics seems of Denon.
Shure 840 are what I had at first. I now have Denon J$ pads which would be similar to the Stax O2 pads.
I prefer them how they are now becaue the soundstage is a bit bigger and they are more comfortable, but getting J$ pads is near impossible, and Stax O2 pads are $120-$150
All photos of the mods I've done are now uploaded. Check them out!


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Good SQ even when unamped, sturdy, nice aesthetics
Cons: Hard, unforgiving headband, Sub-par detachable cable
Prior listening experience: Audio Technica ATH-M50, AKG K240 Studio
My time with these headphones was limited, as I bought them for a friend who lives far away. 
The overall sound signature isn't overly bassy or dark, but there is more bass than treble. Good imaging, sound feels like it emanates from nowhere as opposed to from two distinct spots over your ears. Soundstage is slightly better than most closed cans. Bass is really good and tight, though it rolls off a bit. Mids seem very slightly boomy. Very smooth treble. Isolates very well and little sound leakage.
Heavy and sturdy. Feels like a tank. Mostly ABS construction. Metal headband with a rubber sleeve and no padding. Matte copper-finished yokes. Free-motion, non stepped headband adjustment.Pivoting earcup design helps ensure proper fit. Detachable 10-foot cable.
Not very comfortable. Earpads are very soft and encompass your whole ear, and not overly heavy as to cause neck pain, but for a headphone this heavy to have an unpadded headband makes me wonder what Fostex was thinking. After about 20-ish minutes of listening the headband begins to feel like it's digging into the top of your head. It's very unpleasant and usually results in needing to remove the headphones.
*Amazing build quality, very sturdy
*Isolates well
*Great sound quality out of an iPod, sounds many times better when properly amplified
*Sound quality rivals $600 headphones with proper modifications
*Headband is hard and unforgiving, I expected comfort to be better for a headphone of this caliber
*The detachment method for the cable could be far better
*Sometimes hard to adjust
That sums up this review. At this price, there's no contest. Definitely go for these, Fostex doesn't disappoint!
How much did that cost, out of curiosity? Haven't heard of that mod myself.
140.- US.....a STEAL for what it is!
Where can you get them though? I cant find them anywhere..


100+ Head-Fier
gr8 sx s
good review, but a bit long winded. I got a little bored halfway through reading all that.
...too much information!
I'll fix that
Pros: Clarity, looks, natural sound
Cons: Potential comfort issues, flat sound might turn some off, no 1/4'' to 1/8'' adaptor, needs amping


Pros: Clarity, looks, natural sound

Cons: Potential comfort issues, flat sound might turn some off, no 1/4'' to 1/8'' adaptor, needs amping




MacBook Pro->FiiO E7->Fostex T50RP


Much thanks to Fostex for the review pair.





No frills here. The T50RP come packaged in a cardboard box in-which the style seems a bit dated. There's nothing to catch the eye really. The color scheme I'm not a fan of, the red background displaying the black T50RP just doesn't appeal to me. T50RP is in big white letters on the front and below that is a quick blurb about the RP (regulated phase) technology which is patented by Fostex. I'll get more into that later though. On either side of the box it simply says "Fostex Professional Headphones." On the back some product information is given. Inside the T50RP are wrapped in plastic with a piece of paper which has some product information.


As I said these are no frills. This doesn't bother me though as what really matters is the sound primarily. I do take points away from Fostex though for not including a Stereo to 1/8'' adaptor.


Design and Build Quality



Right away these things impressed me for build quality. They made my Superlux HD668b look like plastic toys and they feel more solid than my Audio Technica Ad900. I am very impressed. The cups are made of durable feeling plastic, the pads are soft pleather which are easily removed. The pads are much better quality than the 668b, not only are they more comfortable, but they look better built and stitched. Connected to the cups are bronze colored metal guides that allow the headphones to be adjusted up and down. Connecting both cups together is flat metal with a rubber Fostex imprinted headband around it. On the left cup there is a high quality looking and feeling locking removable 3.5''mm plug. The cable feels solid, not stiff at all and terminates to a thick professional feeling 1/4'' stereo plug.


These definitely feel solidly built in every way. They have a nice heft to them that adds to the durable feeling. No creaks anywhere.


When worn they feel nice on the ears. I found the 668b to clamp far too much, and the Ad900 to feel a bit loose. The T50RP feel perfect clamp wise and the pads are soft to keep comfy. The headband is my gripe though. These are heavy headphones and the rubber doesn't do a great job keeping the top of my head from feeling the metal bar it's surrounding. This causes discomfort on the top of my head for long listening sessions unfortunately. This can be easily modded though, which many users have been doing with much success.


Overall these feel professional. The look, build quality and features are fantastic. The comfort is the only thing I can gripe about, thankfully it's an easy fix.


Sound Quality


These have been left burning in for at least 50 hours, more likely closer to 100 hours with music I personally listen to playing through them while at work and sleeping to give maximum amount of burn-in time.


There's been a lot of hype about orthodynamic drivers lately, I'm personally not knowledgable enough on the subject to know what makes these different than dynamic drivers unfortunately, but these do present music differently than even the 668b, despite them both being studio monitors. Before I go further into the sound though I did mention Fostex's RP (regulated phase) technology, I'm also not highly knowledgable on what this means, but on the Fostex website they have this to say,




Key to the transparent sound reproduction is Fostex’s Regulated Phase Technology, a proprietory transducer and diaphragm design that has earned Fostex more than twenty international patents and has been successfully applied to microphones, headphones and loudspeakers used and relied upon in professional and commercial sound installations worldwide.

This technology has been enhanced still further in a new RP Diaphragm (now standard across the range), which uses copper foil etched polyimide film to provide excellent resistance to high level input peaks of up to 3000mW (T50RP), ensuring an accurate sound regardless of the volume.



I'm still not sure exactly what it is, but I will say these have the clearest background I've ever heard. I read in another review on these about the "black background" and wasn't really sure what the reviewer meant by that until I had put these on. There is basically no grain, the background simply doesn't exist, all your hearing is the music. I love that. It allows me to hear everything with the maximum clarity these drivers are able to provide, and I must say it makes a difference.


Now onto the sound. Overall the sound won't appeal to everyone, these are after all studio monitors. That doesn't mean these aren't fun to listen to, but they certainly won't appeal to all. I do find myself reaching for these very often though despite owning my Ad900, while these have made my 668b obsolete. The sound is natural, fast, balanced, and spacious. There's not a huge soundstage, but the headphones have good instrument separation. As for speed, this is one of the key reasons many Ortho fans like their headphones, for the speed in which the drivers are able to present music in. I must say, I'm impressed. From fast paced drum and bass, to alternative rock, to metal, these things have kept up in every department. From 140bpm+ double bass in metal to guitar shredding, to fast triplets on the hi-hat I never feel behind.


Since these are studio monitors, the goal is to, ideally, have a flat sound. I must say that these do a good job being balanced, though I feel that the mids are slightly above the rest. The highs do sound slightly rolled off, though I feel they're accurately presented. The lows are good, they have good impact and the extension is decent. I don't particularly feel the sub-bass, but I can hear it. The mid bass though has nice impact. The sound signature really works with any genre, but it doesn't stand out with any genre either. It's an inoffensive sound, but it doesn't overly impress either to my ears. Let's try it with some songs though!


Rubblebucket - Came Out Of A Lady


I chose this song because it absolutely gives any headphone a work out. From the funky bass line to the wonderful horn section, intimate vocals and huge energy, it makes a great song to test overall. First there's a lot going on here, no less than 4 different horns, a Roland Juno 60 synth, percussion, drums, bass, guitar and vocals. Never once did this song feel congested, I was able to pick out every instrument with clarity. The vocals are wonderfully intimate sounding, I've seen Rubblebucket live no less than 3 times and it sounds just as good through these headphones. The horns come through with excellent authority and clarity. The percussion and rhythm guitar are easily discerned despite being a little lower in the mix than the horns, I'm easily able to figure out what's being played and play it along with them. The synth has a nice warm fuzzy analog sound the Roland Juno is known for. The drums have a nice sound as well, the kick drum sounds wonderfully fantastic.


Overall every instrument is very accurately represented. The song feels and sounds energetic and honestly it's hard to write this as I want to shake my rump along with the kicking melodies. For a song with a lot going on, which is rather fast paced, these headphones handle it with ease. Compared to my Ad900 the T50RP feels less energetic, but mores accurately represents the sound as the Ad900 lack some bass and are a bit brighter, which causes a focus more on the horns. Both headphones play these back fantastic though.


Amon Tobin - The Lighthouse


I chose this song because of the creepy atmosphere and chaotic sound it has. Those who've played Splinter Cell Chaos Theory have heard this soundtrack. The scratchy bassline is haunting. The various sound effects in the background and foreground are causing shivers. Everything sounds wonderful and clear so far, much better than I thought on my Ad900, which aren't particularly known for being the most clear headphone. The jagged cut up beats are hectic and the T50RP keeps up with ease while allowing the other sounds to be heard, rather than drowning them out like the Ad900 slightly do. Both headphones are equally as fast though, but it comes down to a more accurate sound in the T50RP vs a more energetic sound of the Ad900 again.


James Blake - Limit To Your Love


If you've read my past reviews you know I love this song to test for bass response because of the deep, fast, bass. James Blake's soulful vocals sound beautiful, the piano has a nice acoustic sound to it, both linger beautifully. When the bass comes in, the vocals and minimal drum line are actually slightly higher in the mix than the bass. It feels like the vocals and bass melody are sitting on top of the bass line actually. As if I were looking at an aquarium and the bass line were the hectic water and the vocals and bass are sitting on top of it. Now this is how I've always perceived this, but there seems to be clear separation here as if the bass wasn't strong enough to bleed into the vocals. 


On my Ad900 imagine the same perception, but the bass line splashing up into the vocals and drums getting them wet, slightly drowning them out. Yes, weird right? The Ad900 is actually more bass heavy than these for this track. The bass on both of these headphones is fast, the T50RP extends well and keeps up with the over 200BPM fluctuations in the bass, as fast as the Ad900, but the T50RP just doesn't have the authority unfortunately for me to feel it. The mid bass of the kick drum has more authority than on my Ad900 though. The Ad900 though actually rattle my ears on this, believe it or not.


Though the T50RP portrays this song beautifully I feel that the bass is supposed to leak more into the vocals and absolutely rattle everything for symbolism purposes. For this song I actually prefer the Ad900, and for bass response at that.


Feist - The Water


I chose this as a sibilance test and to see how intimate the vocals would sound. Good news, no sibilance at all and holy cow, Feist's voice is giving me shivers. They sound absolutely beautifully smooth, as if I were in a small acoustically tuned room and Feist were singing in 20 feet in front of me. The stand up bass and piano sound beautifully haunting, but Feist's voice steals the show, especially as she belts out her notes. The Ad900 present Fest's voice a bit too shrill for me, so the T50RP wins here.


Radiohead - Jigsaw Falling Into Place


I chose this for some alternative rock. Great energy, great balance, the vocals sound intimate and smooth, the instruments have great separation and balance. I prefer my Ad900 because of the more energetic sound, the guitars sound more lively, but I'm definitely digging the T50RP on this song. 


Bob Marley & The Wailers - Is This Love


Bob Marley had some amazing production value and the version I have is the Barry Diament re-master from 1990, arguably the best version of this and boy does it sound good. There's a decent amount of instruments and vocals in this, and everything sound beautifully mixed. Bass is hugely important for Reggae and unfortunately it sounds a bit flat here, the Ad900 had more authority actually. Overall though this song sounds great, very clear, I feel as if I'm in the studio with them. 





For the price these headphones are absolutely wonderful, especially if you consider modding them in-which there's a huge community for it. These cans stock have a fantastic accurate sound to them and I feel they should be in everyone's collection as a pair of flat headphones. My biggest complaint with these is the lack of authority in the sub-bass, I just couldn't feel it, but thankfully you can mod these to fix that if you're handy. These are quick headphones able to keep up with any music, seriously, try it. The "black background" is something I never would have understood until I heard these, but boy it makes my Ad900 sound grainy.


Compared to the 668b, well there's no real comparison. Spend the extra money to buy the Fostex T50RP. You're getting better build quality, a bigger community and a slightly more detailed and clear sound. Compared to the Ad900 it's tough. Stock the T50RP just don't have the energy compared to the Ad900 and surprisingly the Ad900 has more sub-bass. Both are fast though. I'm sure I'll find myself reaching for both for different occasions though.


Pick these up if you have the money and can find them, I don't think you'll be disappointed. One drawback though is that I do recommend an amp for it, my E7 can power them just fine though. I only consider this a drawback though because it's my belief that no sub $100 headphone should require an amp. Great offering Fostex, what an excellent intro to orthodynamics!

Question? But first I like to say how much I enjoyed your review and the different perspectives in music you used to analyse the Fostex. It seems we maybe coming from different ends of the spectrum when considering the T50RP. I am just getting back into hi-end audio, my headphone (that is of any significance) is a Stax SR001 MKII, electrostatics. The Stax in my experience are unparalleled in the mids and vocals but fall off sharply on the bass, so much so that I have a real love and hate relations with them.
It sounds like you are an owner of a AD900, I suspect having auditioned headphones of this brand and price range, this has a much fuller bass vs Orthodyamics type of devices.
In reading about Ortho's, I understand they sit between electrostatics and the armature type of drivers, bringing elements of both, these being more bass but retaining the electrostatic clarity.
Question: you mentioned the lack of bass on the T50RP vs the AD900, I am curious on quantifying better what is "lack". For example, your comments on Bob Marley that the bass was flat yet you seem satisfied with the sound. This is quite a statement where reggae is fairly bass oriented. Does this then imply that the T50RP has good enough bass but not to the level of the AD900?
Certainly my Stax would not even play this of music with any degree of competency and an improvement in the bass would be the deciding factor for the T50RP.
Your comments would be appreciated. Regards, Allen


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Absolutely great Mids, Great Detail, Fun to Mod
Cons: Dull at first, takes a week to learn to love
I'll be posting a thread reveiw for these later, but here's the short:
Amazing Mids - beats out $500 headphones
Great Highs - Close to Grado, about Sr80i
Good design to play with
Bad design - can be fixed with mods. Cups and headband would be a dream.
Bad cup design - play with it for a while and the sound improves
1/4inch without adapter. Not much of a problem, but at this price I expect a 3.5mm jack with an adapter
Get these headphones if you love Acoustics, Classical, Some rock, Metal, older music and you like to mod.
I've already stuffed the cups with blutack and made new, larger earpads. Both have solidified the sound and made them more comfy. Personally, I'm afraid these monsters might become too good one of these days and beat out my other headphones.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: neutrality, chameleon, smooth midrange, detail and speed, crazy good deal.
Cons: Needs solid amping, can sound a bit flat, takes some getting used to
The orthodynamic club at Head-fi probably feels a little outspoken at times. They have a less common headphone technology that they believe very strongly is fundamentally superior to the traditional dynamic drivers that we see so often. The dauntingly enormous orthodynamic roundup thread is a testament to the dedication and passion of this Head-fi subculture. To make matters worse, there are very few companies still producing orthos. There are some hugely expensive offerings, but only one brand making affordable offerings. That company is Fostex, though many consider the new flagship T50RP to be inferior to some of the vintage orthos from the '70s.
I am not an expert on orthos by any stretch of the imagination, but I was intrigued by the discussions in that thread. The Fostex T50RP are not really that cheap, so I decided to give them a shot.
I'm glad I did.
Some of the rumours about the T50RP are true. They don't have strong bass, and they are very neutral and balanced. Anyone who is really into the Grado sound or any other hi-fi sound signature can just stop reading now. For those who like a more neutral presentation, however, these really do offer something special for a bargain price. I've been putting mine through their paces for a few weeks now, and I'm driving them from my Yamaha Home Theatre receiver, and custom built Texas Instruments DAC/AMP.
Ask any ortho fan what makes them better than dynamic headphones, and they will talk about the smooth, beautiful midrange and an incredible transient speed. This is the paradoxical mystery of the T50RP, because they manage to be capable of enveloping warmth, but also painstakingly detailed and precise. Jeff Buckley's Lilac Wine is one of my main test tracks for vocals, and I've rarely heard him sound better. The T50RP brings out the tone of his voice beautifully, and places it just where it should be in the soundstage. That midrange does stunning things for guitar and piano as well, where the speed and accuracy create some truly beautiful music.
Of course, at this price we expect some compromise. In this case, that stunning midrange comes at the cost of some extension at both ends of the sound spectrum. With the new earpads (replaced in the lineup a couple years ago), I wouldn't call these bass light compared to a few of my cans, but they lack the punch and depth I've found in my DT990s and DT150s. Massive Attack's Angel does have a reasonable amount of bass, but it is genuinely balanced and never threatens to overwhelm. It lacks definition, though, and doesn't have the velvety texture of the DT990s.
The same is true of a rolling off at the high end. Treble is certainly present when it's found in the recording, but cymbals don't have the sharp sizzle that Beyerdynamic cans demonstrate. For people who hate sibilance more than anything else, this is a good thing. It takes away some of the space in recordings, though, and although Buckley's voice sounds spectacular on these cans, the track doesn't have the air around it that it does on some of my other headphones. It's overall fairly forgiving on harsh recordings, though, which is more than I can say for my Beyerdynamic cans. As a side note, the same is not true of low bitrate recordings, which sound terrible on the Fostex headphones.
On Head-fi, we often talk about headphones that melt into the background. The Fostex T50RP are the best cans for this I have ever owned. If I feed them with bright Queen recordings, that brightness comes through with speed and energy. If I toss some Chemical Brothers at them, they push out a bass sweep that never stops dipping lower. Rock music has punch, Soul is laid back and groovy, jazz recordings are light and airy... these work pretty well for almost anything. The first time I put these on, everything felt strange and a bit different. After some time adjusting, though, everything feels just about right.
There are times that I'm in the mood for other things, and that prevents the T50RP from being my ultimate headphones. Sometimes, I want more bass than I can get from these things stock. There are other times that I want something a bit more musical and aggressive. Still, if I want to hear what a track really sounds like, the T50RP is the headphone I reach for every time.
Of course, there's more to a pair of headphones than just the sound. These are also some of the most comfortable headphones I own. Once I found the right adjustment with the headband, I find the fit of these is just about perfect for me. There's a point of contact at the top of my head that holds them in place, and since it's rubber, it never slips out of place. There is very little side pressure, just enough to get a seal over my ears. I can wear these for hours without any discomfort, which makes them even better as professional audio tools.
With the T50RP, it is important to talk about driving them as well. These are not easy cans to drive. Looking at the specs (50ohm impedance and sensitivity in the high 90s), these shouldn't be especially hard to drive, but they sound terrible without plenty of juice. Portable players are right out, and they don't sound good out of my Hotaudio Bitperfect, either. The good side of this is that they will take an astonishing amount of power if plugged into an amp that can supply it. Another peek at the specs reveals that these are rated to handle up to 3000mW, which is borderline absurd. While you would never actually want to put that kind of current into a pair of headphones, it means that these drivers will not distort, even when pushed past what any headphone should be asked to dish out. Of course, that doesn't mean I recommend playing these at 130dB, but apparently they can do it if your ears can.
I can see how many people have been unimpressed with these headphones during an initial audition. They didn't sound right to my ears, and I find I still have a five minute adjustment period every time I put them on. Once my ears adjust, though, I really enjoy these headphones with almost any music. That, alone, makes them well worth the asking price. If you haven't yet dabbled in the fringe Head-fi experience of orthodynamics, it just might be time you did.
I am so glad I am not the only one.
Every time I put mine on they dont sound right.  Even after months of listening to them I still need to adjust every time.
I have never had another headphone like it in that regard.
"Anyone who is really into the Grado sound or any other hi-fi sound signature can just stop reading now.."
this comment baffles me as the one thing i love about my Grado's (from the SR60i to the PS500e) is the beauty of the forward midrange.
how is the midrange on the T50RP different? or was something altogether different meant by that comment?