Fostex TH500RP Headphones

Some of the very most affordable versions we've found in recent times from Fostex, the TH500RP signifies the beginning of a move towards more consumer-friendly headphones while utilising its extensive studio experience as a much respected pro-audio brand. And the TH500RP manages to seem like a studio headphone with a blend of black and silver styling that is not a bit useless, lacking the luxury flair of some the models on test.

Despite the slightly understated looks, building is exceptional and robust, as you'd envision from a brand that's used to making models for studio life. Attention to detail and the good usage of quality materials throughout finds the open-back layout adopt a housing that is unique with perforated metal grille-plate that's been adapted from the company's original professional studio headphone models.

The TH500RP is among the most heavy here, but comfort levels are great and its weight is evenly distributed over the padded headband. There are some small black marks from the plan, though, for the usage of captive cable as it enters each earcup. Although clearly designed for home use, it could have been nice to see interchangeable cables or at least a jack adapter to convert the larger plug into a 3.5mm one. It is a bit of an oversight at the cost, and like the Audio-Technica ATH-W1000Z offering it is among the few versions here that doesn't cater with the popular smaller output for kit.

Sound quality

The TH500RP is one of the least sensitive versions here, and takes a bit more driving than lots of the others to accomplish listening levels that are similar. With the amounts set it gives a strong presentation that's immediately likeable for its smooth and well-balanced sound. It appears to be perfectly comfortable with the lively performance and is one of those models as the cans magically vanish from the audio image where I'm able enough to appreciate the performance itself.

Everything feels right and that I get a genuine awareness of the time the engineer has taken to get everything balanced and also the recording quality. However, pretty much everything played on the Fostex feels managed. There is no hint of colouration across the frequency range, and it manages just about everything that's thrown at it.

The female vocal on Craig Armstrong's Strange Type Of Love has clarity that is special and is convincing in its intimacy it feels as though I'm truly in the studio listening to the artist at the recording session.

The Fostex achieves a remarkably solid soundstage that efficiently creates the spaces around the instruments as well as in doing so places them far outside of my head that I almost forget I am wearing it.

The utterly engaging performance only lets music stream. Bass is tight and has lots of power and drive and keeps perfect time with the pacey drum beats on Laura Mvula's stunning That Is Alright, from her debut record Sing to the Moon. It injects a degree of pleasure and excitement to the performance that has me jumping from track to track, compelled to hear more.

Fostex TH500RP Headphones photo

Review price £529 / $793.5