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Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 Review

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by jude, Nov 24, 2015.
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  1. Mach3
    From the graph, the purple heart is more U shape. Would seem like it too bassy to my taste.
  2. Pahani
    Ohh, new measurement graphs? Or the same one I briefly saw on the Purpleheart drop discussion?
  3. jude Administrator
    @Pahani, I haven't previously posted our measurements of the Purpleheart version, but I did send the measurements to Massdrop, so it's possible they did.
  4. Change is Good
    Thank you for posting those graphs. Really helpful.
  5. chry5alis
    Jude, do you have any plans for putting the eMu teaks up for comparison? And how are you finding the RNHP?
  6. jude Administrator
    @chry5alis, I'll see if I can borrow or buy a set, and, if so, I'll be able to do that, yes.
    Regarding the Rupert Neve Design RNHP: With my travel schedule since its arrival, I haven't had as much time to listen to it as I'd like, but early impressions are that it's excellent at its price. It found its way into our measurement system (which I'll talk about in greater detail soon) when I noticed that the RNHP's channel matching (and it has an analog potentiometer for volume) was superb throughout its range--perhaps the best I'd seen from a headphone amp with an analog pot. (In this regard, it measured tighter than even my Benchmark DAC 2 HGC fed through its analog inputs.) The RNHP's other measurements were also fantastic, and I'll post them in an appropriate place soon.
    Simply put, @chry5alis, subjective impressions of the RNHP will have to wait a bit (from me anyway), but, at its price, I feel confident saying it's worth the risk to pick up (even if the measurements don't mean anything to you, perhaps on Mr. Neve's reputation alone). Since the first RNHP we received ended up married to the Audio Precision APx555 to drive headphones (at least until our production Audio Precision APx1701 Transducer Test Interface arrives), we picked up two more RNHP's to use for actual music listening.
    Sorry, I'm off-topic now... Back to the Fostex TH-X00.
    chry5alis likes this.
  7. ashmodai
    With these kind of differences is it not safe to assume that this is more due to the normal variations of the measurement conditions AND tolerances of the drivers... 
  8. jude Administrator
    With our measurement setup, the headphone samples we have of these models, and the the number of measurements we've done of the samples we have, I think it's safe to say you're looking at measured differences largely attributable to the two models and their different tunings.
  9. ashmodai
    Thanks for clarifying. As far as I understood massdrop/fostex did not do any further tuning except changing the cups' wood ? It would be really interesting to look at the measurements with the EMU cups. 
  10. musikaladin

    Correct, an optical illusion. I myself needed to double check whether it really were the genuine standard pads, also because the picture gives the impression as if the pads were quite glossy, whereas the standard ones are matt. But that is only due to the flash I was using. I have the same picture without flash, and there you much better rcognize the standard pads.
  11. musikaladin
    ... image.jpg

    The X00 at my desktop rig...
  12. musikaladin

    Just shortly after I ordered my X00 mahogany, the purpleheart was announced. I was a little angry, since there was a chance that I would like the purpleheart better.
    But then, later, I had the chance to compare both of them directly. Then I knew, that luckily I picked the right one for me. All over the FR I found the Mahogany more balanced, still with enough bass to give music via headphones that extra bit of substance to make it sound live-like and engaging.
    Your graphs well reflect why I prefer the Mahogany!
  13. FaezFarhan
    You've listened to the Purplehearts yourself? Can you confirm that it is more V-shaped than the Mahogany? How far off is the difference?
  14. jude Administrator
    @FaezFarhan, yes we have both models here. To my ears, the Purpleheart's increased richness in the bass and mids is more noticeable than any lift in treble, so I'm hesitant to describe its sound as V-shaped. Personally, I prefer the original mahogany TH-X00 to the Purpleheart we have here.
    sheldaze likes this.
  15. jude Administrator

    Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00 Ebony

    Of the countless things Massdrop sells, it's their direct manufacturer collaborations that interest me the most, as they're enthusiast-driven, and often enthusiast-co-designed. In their audio collaborations, this model has proved very fruitful, with the AKG K7XX, Grace Design x Massdrop m9XX DAC/amp, and, of course, the Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00. As if I didn't buy enough gadgets and gear from Massdrop, today they're releasing the latest (and last) installment in the Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 series of wood headphones--the TH-X00 Ebony--and it's the best in the series, in my opinion.
    (Above, left to right) Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 Purpleheart, TH-X00 (original), and TH-X00 Ebony. (Click on photo to see larger version.)
    Remember that Massdrop's Will Bright wanted to work with Fostex to create the dominant price-to-performance closed-back headphone in the $500 price range, based on the TH-600/TH-900 driver and frame, but with an adjusted sound signature. With the original TH-X00 (with earcups crafted of mahogany), I do believe they've cooperated to do just that, providing one of the best sub-$500 closed-back headphones on the market, and with $100 to spare.
    The second in the series was the $450 TH-X00 Purpleheart. With the TH-X00 Purpleheart, Fostex x Massdrop changed the earcups from mahogany to purpleheart wood, and the change had a noticeable impact on tonal balance, its most pronounced effect (to my ears) being a richer overall tone, with stronger bass and midrange presence than the original TH-X00. While I wouldn't describe the TH-X00 Purpleheart as a basshead headphone, there's no missing its more full-bodied flavor. My personal preference between the two? The original.
    This latest (and, again, the last) variant in the Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 series--the TH-X00 Ebony--has more in common with the original TH-X00 (mahogany) than the Purpleheart, and is, for me, the best of the three. To me, the TH-X00 Ebony is a refinement of the original TH-X00--if you love the original TH-X00 (and I do), I'm dang near 100% certain you're going to love the TH-X00 Ebony at least as much, and probably at least a bit more. Why? To my ears, across the audioband, the Ebony is like a fine-tuning of the original. The Ebony's bass pulses a bit more cleanly, quickly; its midband presents with more resolution, lifting a gauzy veil that only surfaced in direct comparison. Perhaps most impressive to me, though, is the Ebony's improvements in terms of treble refinement. Shimmer? Check. Air? Check. Was the original TH-X00 unnaturally sibilant? I didn't think so; but, still, the Ebony manages to clean up that all-important most-of-us-are-really-sensitive-to-it area of the treble region quite nicely. In terms of sonics, the Ebony (compared to the original)--to my ears--presents no tradeoffs at all. What sonic differences there are, are all in the Ebony's favor, as far as I'm concerned.
    (Above) Frequency response: Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 Mahogany (brown), TH-X00 Ebony (black).
    (Click on image to see full size.)
    There are, however, some non-sonic tradeoffs. For one, the Ebony is $100 more expensive than the original TH-X00--$500 versus $400. The Ebony is also 3.5 ounces (100 grams) heavier, weighing (with cable) 20.5 ounces (582 grams). Those gained ounces are a result of the ebony wood's denser nature--I suspect, though, that ebony's increased density and rigidity have something to do with this version's sonic improvements. Does it feel heavier on the head than the original? Yes. Is the headphone's design adept at making the weight comfortable for long-term listening sessions? For me, yes, and I have no problem wearing the Ebony for long session. However, if you're super-sensitive to headphone weight, know that 582 grams is a heavy headphone.
    (Above, left to right) Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 Purpleheart, TH-X00 (original), and TH-X00 Ebony. (Click on photo to see larger version.)
    Do I want one? Oh yeah. And if you want one, be aware of the fact that this drop is limited to 1000 units due to difficulties sourcing ebony wood suitable for the purpose. In fact, Fostex and Massdrop aren't yet certain they'll be able to source enough suitable ebony to produce more than 2000 units, period. You can check out the TH-X00 Ebony drop at the following link:

    (Above) Frequency response: Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 Ebony. (Click on image to see full size.)​
    (Above) Total harmonic distortion (THD): Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 Ebony. (Click on image to see full size.)​
    (Above) Frequency response: Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 Mahogany (brown), TH-X00 Purpleheart (purple), TH-X00 Ebony (black).​
    (Click on image to see full size.)​
    (Above) Total harmonic distortion (THD): Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00 Mahogany (brown), TH-X00 Purpleheart (purple), TH-X00 Ebony (black).
    (Click on image to see full size.)
    NOTE: The measurements reflect diffuse field correction applied via the APx555's input EQ.​

    Audio measurements were made using:
    1. Audio Precision APx555 audio analyzer
    2. G.R.A.S. 45CA Headphone/Hearing-protector Test Fixture
      1. G.R.A.S. KB0072/KB0073 small pinnae; G.R.A.S. RA0045 IEC 60318-4 ear simulators including G.R.A.S. 40AG microphones; G.R.A.S. 26AS 1/4" microphone preamplifier; G.R.A.S. 12AP microphone power module
    3. Rupert Neve Designs RNHP headphone amplifier
    4. Herzan acoustic enclosure (custom)

    RenZixx, AndoH, JBal4 and 2 others like this.
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