Fostex’s TH900 has received a few notable upgrades since its original release all the way back in 2012. It was followed up with different color variations and tuning tweaks. Then the TH900 was given the proper upgrade with the TH900mk2, a closed-back headphone that proved to be a critical darling, and we at MajorHiFi rated it fairly high. Experimenting with different colorations and tunings now seems to be the life cycle of TH900, as 2020 saw the release of the limited edition pearl white TH900mk2. Usually, it’s not worth reviewing these releases that just see a new coat of paint, but the way Fostex looks to deliver a new listening experience each time they announce a new product, I thought it was worth looking into. So, just how different is the Pearl White edition of the TH900mk2?
What You Get
Funnily enough, the Pearl White TH900mk2 came in the same packaging as the originals, even sporting the former coloration on the front of the box. Inside you’ll find two separate containers, one more narrow than the other. This box contains a stand for the headphones that seems appropriately heavy duty and should serve well showcasing your new set of cans like a trophy. The larger box will contain your pearl white TH900mk2 as well as its detachable 7N grade OFC cable.
Look and Feel
In terms of the architecture and main build of the TH900mk2, the headphone structure is pretty much identical aside from the coloration on the earcups. However, Fostex doesn’t just slap a new coat of paint on and call it a day. Instead, they ensure that each set is crafted to perfection, using their own unique process. The pearl white coloration comes from a custom Uruish Laquer that undergoes special treatment and sits atop of a Japanese Cherry Birch housing. The gold Fostex logos on each cup are also a nice touch that tops off this eye-catching aesthetic. All of this artistry is in courtesy of a 110-year-old artisan group, making each pair of the TH900mk2 feel all the more like a rarity.
On to the fit, the main eggshell membrane holds protein leather earpads that are soft and firm. The size of the pads fit naturally over my larger ears and felt comfy and secure. One of the best attributes of the fit is how well they adjust to your head. Most of the time, I felt like they just sat there naturally with no added pressure.
The pearl white TH900mk2 utilizes the same 50mm dynamic driver as the former models. This system uses a Neodymium magnet that operates a magnetic repulsion system, along with a 1.5 tesla in order to produce the widest dynamic range possible. The driver also contains a Biodyna diaphragm for high-resolution output. One of the main differences you’ll find in the pearl white TH900mk2 is the special “Anniversary” tuning, which aims to smooth out a more focused low-end response.
Even though this is a low impedance headphone, the advantages of an outboard DAC will be useful in ensuring the TH900mk2 sounds as clean as can be. The 25 Ohm impedance will make this headphone send out plentiful signal power to a majority of systems, however, the standard cable is a quarter-inch connection so you’ll require an outboard device for your music player of choice.
For a closed-back headphone, the soundstage here is impressive. The amount of distinct separation and detailed spaciousness here is deep and articulate, with a dramatic sense of width for a closed-back model. The air between sound elements is perfectly displayed while still producing a magnificent image. Layers are carefully organized and given an accurate representation, with reliable positioning and pan movements.
One of the clearest and most dynamically resonant bass responses you’re going to get on a closed-back headphone. The pace at which the TH900mk2 delivers low-frequency information is unparalleled, and the sub-bass is never too weak or overbearing. The original design also had great bass, but the anniversary tuning scales low-end elements up to a subtly more lively response. Metal tracks had such an incredible kick to them, and electronic tracks take you off of your feet.
The midrange is not as clear as the bass, but there are some details to revel in. Low-mids express a natural fullness that steers clear of a warmer tonality but adds an extra lift to certain tracks. The fundamental mid-bands are noticeably recessed, however, there’s a ton of space here. The mids exhibit a much more subdued, but much more pleasant spatial atmosphere for instruments and effects to be more noticeable and tonally distinct.
Treble response offers a generous amount of resonance, and the anniversary tuning will help smooth out those rougher edges. However, it doesn’t sacrifice fidelity, as the highs are still as lush as ever. They’re more concentrated than the mids, but still have an airy quality to them that proved well for ambient music selections.
The TH900mk2 is a beast of a headphone and with the new pearl white finish and anniversary tuning, the spotlight has never been brighter for Fostex. For $1,699 you can get an easy to drive closed-back headphone with incredible bass quality and smooth wispy highs. This model is one of the finest around, and it just got a little bit better.
The Fostex TH900mk2 in Pearl White is available at Audio 46.
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