Fostex TE-05 - dynamic-driver earphone
Totally understated though it may look, the TE-05 is pretty smashing. Its single dynamic driver engine comes wrapped in a turned aluminium case, terminated with MMCX connectors. Aluminium is a necessity today in the mid-budget earphone category. Its resonant qualities are much better than plastic. And MMCX for under a 100$ USD? Great.
TE-05’s sound is clear, with excellent midrange ring and body. Bass impact is good, but extension to sub-bass frequencies isn’t overly deep. Highs extend to counterpoint bass impact for a well-balanced sound. But mids are king. Guitars are his crown. And Nick Cave is the jewel on that crown. Alternative music from the 90’s straight through to today sounds great, but the overall balanced signature lends itself well to a variety of musical genres.
Typically, I’m a hip-hop, trance, and indy rock listener. Each genre sounds good/great but indy rock really is where the TE-05 best shines. Trance doesn’t push the speed limits of the TE-05, and neither do wide stages nor contrasty dynamic ranges. But a bit more eek in the highs is necessary to really get into or out of the music and into another plane. But trance is an especially hard one to do just right. As long as you’re not too caught up in the duff duff of the typically dynamically maimed hip-hop genre, the TE-05 sounds good indeed. Low end impact is good enough, but maybe a tad too fast, too responsive to really put the lows in the mo. Midrange bite and definition couple with a well-spaced soundstage to catapult indy rock and live to the forefront of OMG good sounds from this earphone.
Fostex HPA4 - 2,8/5,6MHz DSD || 24/192 || USB-powered headphone amp/DAC
I’d like to give a proper field report of this unit, but what I photographed was a non-working box. It’s a good-looking box however. I got a chance to try a working sample at a headphone event and was amazed by the amount of power it put into typically hard-of-hearing headphones like the T50RP. As far as I could tell from the loud event floor, background noise is low. Operation is plug-and-play friendly and should work with an iPad if you have a powered hub. As far as I know, this is the first fully bus-powered DSD-capable headphone DAC on the market. The micro-SD slot is for firmware updates, not direct playback.
I can’t tell you if its selectable phones/RCA button enables the volume pot to control RCA output or not. Certainly, it would be cool as small-box pre-amps are becoming a thing. Tune in to headfi for more reports.
It looks to ring in at around 400-500$ USD.
Disclosure: Fostex is an Ω customer. The opinions in this preview were built whilst shooting some of Fostex’ new audio equipment. They are in no way sponsored nor endorsed by Fostex.