Even if you’re sitting at home reading this through a pair of Superduper High-End Headphones, we reckon you might enjoy having a pair of these $249 Fostex T50RP mk3s around — they’re just so much fun. They bounce with life, their sound is far above their price, partly because these — like the Beyerdynamics here — are another contribution from the studio side of headgear. Studio headphones seemed expensive only a few years ago, but now that consumer headphones have gone bananas with audiophilia, studio models can seem a positive bargain.
So the T50RP will look familiar to many studio users — they use a semi-open design and the proprietary ‘Regular Phase’ driver system that Fostex began using about 40 years ago (along with RP microphones as well), the driver being flat compared with a traditional, speaker-like conical driver; the original T50 patent diagram from back in 1975 is shown below (by the specifications), with the diaphragm cut away if you scroll down a bit to show the underlying magnet system.
Fast-forward 40 years and the modern design boasts flamboyantly bright orange external highlights and also an orange cable with minijack for portable use, plus a more serious and longer black cable with a full-size quarter-inch plug. Your choice of cable pushes unusually horizontally into the left earpiece, turning until it enters fully, then twisting to lock. They provide a good feel, nicely light, comfortable, a little pressure to hold their position firmly on your head, but no problem with longterm listening. And the head-band extension is one of the longest we’ve ever encountered — they’d fit over a Conehead.
One important caveat — these headphones have relatively low sensitivity, and they are quiet on the end of a portable device, lacking level for a commute or office to our tastes, and besides, they spill sound because of their semi-openness, if not as much as many open designs. So home use (or the studio) with a headphone amp is the thing for these.
As for their sound balance, a studio heritage often comes with a sonic balance that is, like their drivers, relatively flat, and certainly not all puffed up in the bass like some modern street designs. But flat certainly doesn’t mean dull. The T50RPs deliver a great sound for the money — immediate and powerful, with a rich bass underpinning the higher action. They had their limits — vocals can be just a little boxed, and kd lang’s high notes on The Mind of Love sounded somewhat under pressure, but at the same time the bass was gorgeously rich, with quite a thump to it, and the jangle of the guitar swipes throughout this album were just lovely.
Quite the bargain for stationary home use, then, and despite the level limitation we found ourselves using them for local wandering on the end of the iPhone too. With 40 years of pro users behind them, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Fostex TR50RP mk3
Type: semi-open, on-ear
Driver: Regular Phase type, size not stated
Impedance: 50 ohms
Sensitivity: 92dB (1kHz, 1mW)
Contact: BusiSoft AV
Telephone: 1300 888 602