If you want a review of a pair of headphones, I’m the last person you’d want to hear from. I hate wearing headphones. Back when I was an announcer, I even refused to wear them when on the air. I’d leave them on the counter next to the console and turn up the level just loud enough that I could still hear them when the hot mic muted the monitors. I never liked the confined feeling they gave me.
WAWZ’s David A. Dein wears the Fostex T50RPmk3 headphones. Well, enough about me. Let’s talk about a new offering from Fostex, the T50RPmk3 stereo headphones. This particular headset is one of a line of three: the T20RPmk3, with open earpieces optimized for deep bass; the T40RPmk3, the closed-ear version, optimized for focused bass; and the T50RPmk3. These semi-open headphones claim a “flat and clear sound.”
The T50RPmk3 boasts a 15 Hz–35 kHz frequency range and a 50 ohm impedance. The drivers utilize Fostex’s Regular Phase technology, which Fostex began using about 40 years ago. It is essentially a flat driver, rather than a traditional, speaker-like, conical driver. This eliminates phase coherence anomalies between the edge and center of the driver. They’ve been slightly retuned from the earlier T50RP models for even flatter response. Other improvements include a tighter, yet more comfortable headband and ear pads, and a few aesthetic upgrades. Another feature is the inclusion of two detachable cables; a 1/4-inch TRS cable, and a 1/8-inch stereo mini cable for portable devices. Each cable features a locking connector at the headphone end.
I compared them to two other headphones I’ve used (under duress) — the AKG K141, and the Sony MDR-7506. I’ve always preferred the AKGs for comfort and accuracy. While the Sonys are louder and brighter, great for monitoring vocals over a loud mix, they can be fatiguing. The T50RPmk3s presented a happy medium. Though bulkier than the AKGs, they were very comfortable, even after wearing them for a long time. They were bright without wearing out my ears. Listening to everything from classical to hard rock, I thought they sounded cleaner than the AKGs.
Next, I handed them off to our WAWZ(FM) on-air staff. Each has their own preferred set of headphones, usually Sony MDR-7506s or AKG K240s; and each thought the T50RPmk3s sounded better.
Like the AKGs, they required more level from the headphone amp than the Sonys. One concern was the length of the cable. Some preferred the coiled design of the Sonys’ cable to keep it out of harm’s way, although the T50RPmk3s’ cable looks beefier than most I’ve seen.
Speaking of durability, they look and feel solid; but the DJs were wondering how they’d hold up to months of almost daily abuse. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep them long enough to break them!
But beyond that, even as a guy who doesn’t like headphones, I liked the T50RPmk3s. They were easy on the ears and surprisingly comfortable. A street price of $159.99 puts them in range of comparable professional headphones and definitely worth consideration.
Curt Yengst, CSRE, is a frequent contributor to Radio World.