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Over-Ear item created by LazBro123, May 1, 2013
Pros - Neutral & Natural, Fostex Signature Treble, Sound-Stage & Instrument Separation
Cons - Recessed Mid-Bass, Tangling Cable, Lack of Accessories, Could be more Analytical
Experience: Right off the bat I am going to say that I don't own any super high-end summit-fi level headphones or equipment. My experience has mostly been in the ᴍɪᴅ-ғɪ range and my testing ᴅᴀᴄ is a modest FireyeDA. I frequently visit Head-Fi, and have gained an abundance of knowledge about this hobby and sound quality in general. I will make it very clear that I am a lot of things; I am a prosumer, I am a technophile, I am a music lover, but I am not an audiophile*.
Packaging & Accessories: Unlike the older generation of the TH-series the newer models (TH-7BB, TH-5BB) come in a standard black card-board box with the average photograph of the headphone placed on it. Compared to the original series plastic casing and crazy Japanese artwork, by D[di:], the newer packaging can be seen as a little underwhelming. The only accessory packaged with the TH-7BB is an extension cable ending in a 6.5mm jack; I would have preferred a velvet carrying bag as the headphones did not come with any sort of carrying case.
Build Quality: My initial impressions of the headphone's build quality were bleak. I didn't believe that they could survive a year's worth of normal usage, let alone a week of my insane regiment. I'm not the most gentle of people when it comes to my technology and I am very pleased to say that even through the bends and head-bops the TH-7BB managed to impress me with it's overall stability. Fostex wrapped the set in a very durable black plastic with a nice solid piece of metal going through the frame to allow for size adjustments. The headband is a nicer leather (pleather?) piece with--what feels to be--memory foam stuffed inside that can comfortably rest on your head. The hinge mechanism to hold the ear-cups to the frame is, like the rest of the set, well designed. My only issue with build quality would have to come from the cable. The cable is prone to twists and can be a hassle when you just want to throw the TH-7BB on and go.
Drake - Hold On, We're Going Home, Ed Sheeran - Give Me Love, Florence & The Machine - Shake It Out, Katy Perry - Dark Horse (Ft. Juicy J), Lorde - Still Sane, Michael Buble - Feeling Good and Stardust (Ft. Naturally 7), Counter Strike: GO
Nexus 5 > USB OTG > FireyeDA
Lenovo Y400 > FireyeDA
Sound Quality: The headphone's were given 60 hours of Burn-In or until no changes were noted.
The TH-7BB has the ability to produce a 3-dimensional image that rivals the best headsets I've auditioned; the Fostex sound-stage is wide and extremely deep thanks to its sᴇᴍɪ-ᴏᴘᴇɴ nature. While playing Counter-Strike: GO I felt enveloped in a world of gun-play and could distinctly make out which side an enemy's gun-fire was coming, while also accurately hearing footsteps from other players. When listening to Micheal Buble's Stardust I could separate the vocals of every member of the Naturally 7. Nothing ever felt to congested, everything was given proper space to develop on it's own.
Drake - Hold On, We're Going Home: Right off the bat we get hit with a nice kick & clap that sends shivers down my spine. The kick is so detailed and crisp that I felt like I was the one pressing the drum-machine's buttons. Around the twelve second mark the "oohs" start coming in from the back of the track. They take no time making their way to the center stage of this sound signature blending effortlessly with the the back-beat. When Drake's vocals and the nice sub-bass finally come into the picture we get hit we a perfect blend of sounds. Nothing is out of place, the drums are still kicking, the sub-bass rumbles, and Drake's vocals are buttery smooth, well, as smooth as his nasally voice could be. Ode to the instrument separation when at 0:35 you can hear the beginning of the drum-roll with pure accuracy. I always thought the drum-roll started at 0:36 and on my L1's it did.
Ed Sheeran - Give Me Love: One place I originally thought the TH-7BB was faulty was the lower mid-range spectrum. The mid-range does a great job being present but in comparison to female voices, male voices always sounded a little pushed back. After the 60 hours of burn-in I feel that the spectrum has balanced itself out a bit and when Ed voice comes in, after the impressive 36 second instrumental, it comes across as clear and pronounced; no longer is this voice stuck behind the guitar rifts and beautiful bass line. As we approach the chorus we start to hear the power and emotion of Ed's vocals as they come a wee-bit forward to give it that extra push.
Florence & The Machine - Shake It Out: This song takes no time to show off Florence Welch's beautiful singing voice and why should it. She can hit from the high mid-range all the way into the low-treble. Shake it out is actually one of the smoother songs in her arsenal and the second you hear the word "regrets" you'll understand that this sound signature works best with the smokiness of her vocals. Everything sounds smooth, smoother than I've ever heard this song sound, there is a bit of pitchiness when she she heightens the octave but it never verges into sibilance. Instead the treble sounds sparkly and detailed. It extends extremely well rolling off just before the 20khz mark. This song is where the TH-7BB reminds me of the T50RP the most because it showcases Fostex's signature treble sparkly. What is great is that even though the treble is sparkly it never feels out of line with the rest of the sound-stage; IE it never makes the mid-range or bass signature sound recessed.
Katy Perry - Dark Horse (Ft. Juicy J): Okay, after all that hype I am going to have to attack the TH-7BB's main weakness. Remember when I said the kick's were crisp and detailed on Drake's track? Completely the opposite here. The Mid-Bass lacks any sort of punch in Dark Horse. It feels absolutely absent from the track. During the main beat you'll get a nice stream of sub-bass and a crisp clap floating around in the background, but there isn't any hit with that sub-bass and it can come across as muddy without the right amplifier. On another note Katy Perry sounds great in this song and the reverb right before the chorus hits really works. You can hear the separation of her vocals as it bounces back. Ode to the sound-stage; due to the lack of mid-bass the song actually works to the advantage of the massive sound stage allowing you to have a more pronounced understanding of where each spectrum begins and ends. I also think this track might be poorly mastered because Juicy J doesn't sound muddy but he does sound a bit recessed like he was just placed onto the track. . During the chorus the mid-bass can be heard thumping in the background as Katy's vocals are pushed forward along with the main (dreamy) break-down. Still, Katy's voice, the sub-bass, and the brilliant imaging make this song a great head-bobbing listen.
Lorde - Still Sane: aka "that-cross-fade". The cross-fade is going to be my main point of interest with this song because with the TH-7BB's it just comes alive. I thought I knew what to epic coming from the L1's which also have a moderately large sound-stage, but I wasn't prepared for the amazing transition between left and right. Still sane is my second favorite song on Lorde's album, second only to Glory & Gore which has an amazing bass line in the third stretch of the song, and it is possibly the most engaging song on this list. We open with Lorde's voice circling your head slowly while a gentle beat starts to come forward from the background. 16 seconds into the track we start getting a nice slow clap that crawls forward until we hit the 22 second mark where BAM, like magic, everything balances itself out. Lorde's voice is still a bit forward but it's intentional to give the song that special 3D effect as her vocals keep swaying from side to side. She's not to far ahead that she seems out of place, but instead just far enough that she feels like a spirit astral projected on to the music. It's magical.
Michael Buble - Feeling Good: Entering with a subtle violin/viola mixture that is quickly followed by a very forward Michael Buble I wanted to include this track due to the wide-range of instruments used. While Michael is singing the intro to the song we can hear the bow scampering across the strings on the violin. I won't say these are the most detailed headphones, but they definitely have a nice clarity to them. Michael vocals are silky as they follow him up and down as he adjusts the tone before the big punch of brass and bass kick in at 0:48 and the song truly begins! Due to the combination of bass and brass the punch is a lot more pronounced on this track and the first time I heard it I actually had a hard time making out all the instruments used. Sure enough after a few times I could start to separate the saxophones and french horns from the large bass and viola combinations. Sure enough the spectrum remains balanced with nothing really popping out, with the exception of Buble's vocals in the intro, and even with such a large amount of instruments behind him at 2:02 to 2:07 you can hear the balance of the spectrum as the all collide with each other. This song is also another great example of the sound stages width. Nothing ever sounds to close to each other, nothing sounds claustrophobic. The pool of sounds just jive into each other. The final note for this song is Michael's deep note at 0:24 is just spectacular! Literal goosebumps.
Overall: I feel that while the headphones are lacking punch in the bass department they more than make up for it in a more neutral & smooth sound. If you're a basshead I would someplace else because the sub-bass extends deep but not as deeply as some of you may like. The Mid-range is neither forward, nor back, it just simply exists in the line of neutrality. The treble is sparkly without being to pitchy and doesn't have a problem with sibilance. Plus that instrument separation and sound-stage just make this pair a "must buy" from me. Is it a mini T50RP? No, It has it's own strengths and unlike the T50RP you don't need to spend the extra time modding it before you listen to them.
P.S. This headset has an impedance of 70 ohm and really comes alive with an amplifier. Without an amplifier the mid-bass will not only sound recessed but also muddy.
Heey Head-Fiers ! I will be reviewing the Fostex TH7BB! If you have never heard of them then give them a chance because they are good and really they impressed me! And I would like to give Fostex a big thanks for sending me a pair of these! So lets get started !
Isolation & Comfort: These are Semi-Open cans and before I got them I expected tons of leakage and mediocre isolation, But thankfully is was the not like that at all! I was surprised that they were semi-open because of the leakage, they seemed closed. Along with the isolation, although it does let a fair bit of sound in , in places like the train, bus and school. I am giving the isolation/leakage an 8/10. The comfort is not as impressive unfortunately but I have big ears so this whole part on comfort may not apply to you. Memory foam pads and urethane filled headband though. So keep that in mind well I talk about the comfort! At first they feel like clouds sleeping on your ears and an angel resting on your head, but for me, in about 1 hour it is like thunder and lighting on your ears. The top of my head stays very comfy for hours! They have fluffy fur on the inside of the pad and I like that!
Build & Accessories: They didn't come with that much but I didn't expect a whole lot from a $70 can. Only a 1.5m cable/adapter with a 1/4" at the end. The ones I got come in a black box and the other ones come in a purple container. Black cable with 1/8" at the end ,quite short and is nice and rubbery/tough feeling! Great for the daily commute ! The headphones themselves are built with high-quality plastic, metal, memory foam and urethane! Metal inside the headband covered in urethane. The pads are probably going to need to be replaced within 1 year of use. They feel very sturdy and kind of heavy in my opinion.
Bass: The bass reminds me of a kid punching a pillow, slow and soft. Goes very deep! Nice and balanced but i'd have to say that they have more sub-bass then mid-bass. The bass is soft and balanced, not basshead, but not even close to bass light. Before burn-in, the bass is distorted and kind of muddy, but after burn in, it tightens up! Very clean but lacks a little in control. They handle dubstep very well! House and Trance is also done superbly. Rap is almost perfect and R&B as well! Not trying to be discriminating or anything, but they accent a black mans voice very well !
Mids: The mids are natural, separate really well and aren't that muddy. They could be a little more clean and refined though! Pretty balanced until about 6Khz when they dip a little. Natural timbre and soothing voices. Not too forward and not too laidback. Bass is very far away from the mids and equals for no bass bleed what so ever! They handle jazz , folk, grunge, rock and country almost perfectly! If they were just a little more refined, then they would be one of the best headphones I have ever heard , In terms of mids! Metal and alternative sounded a little boring. Vocals are just so realistic and that is why I love these cans so much, I think they follow behind their big brother, the T50RP !
Highs: The highs are detailed and clean! Rolling of right before 20Khz . I know this sounds cheesy but I heard things I have never heard before! They are not bright and not dark, just in between! Very controlled and really image well! They are elevated around 8Khz which gives guitars a life like feel! In terms of highs, better then SR80s ! Jazz is again, very elegant and beautiful! Classical is surprisingly amazing with these, because the highs only come out when needed! Unlike most Ultrasones which make classical sound fatiguing. Again, like a mini T50RP !
Soundstage: The soundstage is tall and deep but lacks width and openness. Makes symphonies sound like they are above you ahaha! Imaging is amazing ! It makes the guitars come to life! It helps them sound natural and real! It sounds like your in front row , looking above at them and cheering, and the sub-bass really adds well to imaging and sounding natural!
Overall/Summary: I really suggest these to anyone who listens to a lot of different genres! Very comfy, light, sturdy and very beautiful looking Sound is close to perfect in all categories ! I really hope you go and buy a pair right now !