Our Top Pick for 2016: Fostex USA 25-Ohms TH900 Premium Stereo Headphones
Read our full review.
Audiophiles and bass enthusiasts appreciate headphones that can produce a truly transformative aural experience. Sometimes, even a great pair of stereo headphones will have an amazing sound experience, but will seriously lack that thrumming bass experience that some audiophiles seek. Unfortunately, the standard method of delivering great bass typically involves utilizing a larger speaker, and this is simply not an option in a set of standard headphones. A great set of bass headphones use more powerful drivers to drive home that bassy sound that true bass fans can’t seem to get enough of. Manufacturers have developed several methods that will deliver an unrivaled audio experience to a portable set of headphones; and as a result of this, there are several great models available on the market today. We’ll help you find a device that will deliver that exquisite bass experience, so look at our list of four premium options that will take you to bass nirvana.
Table of contents
- #1 Gold Pick (1st Place Winner)
- #2 Silver Pick (2nd Place Runner-Up)
- #3 Bronze Pick (3rd Place)
- #4 Budget Pick (Best Cheap)
Neodymium Magnetic Circuit
Patented 50mm Dual Diaphragm Drivers
Cables Are Flat, Tangle-resistant
15,000 Gauss Magnetic Flux Density
Clean Deep Bass
Flagship Of Yamaha’s Pro Series Line
Wider Dynamic Range
Unique Cliqfold Design
23 ohms @ 1kHz
Comfortable Ear Pads
Gold-plated 1/8” (3.5 mm) Cable
Japanese Cherry Birch Housing
Award-winning M-class Sound
#1 Gold pick (Winner): Fostex USA 25-Ohms TH900 Premium Stereo Headphones
View it on Amazon for $1,256.46*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Our Gold Pick blends a unique construction with quality components to create a truly stunning aural sound. Manufactured by the Fostex company, a business that specializes in developing high quality speaker components for Japan and other territories, these speakers are part of a long history that began in 1973 when the Foster company (Fostex’s parent company) wanted to begin selling components for speakers directly to consumers. Currently, Fostex continues to sell these components but have also branched into ready-made speakers and high quality headphones.
Constructed of Japanese cherry birch, the Fostex TH900 headphones deliver an amazing feature-rich experience that needs to be heard to be believed. Japanese cherry birch is an extraordinary light, yet strong material that has been used in premium furniture making for centuries. Aesthetically, these bass headphones are coated in a cherry red lacquer that is lustrous and features a smooth yet visually textured appearance. This cherry red lacquer actually was developed by the Sakamoto Urushi Company, which was founded in the early 1900s. These artisans still utilize the traditional wood lacquering technique established by their forebears that is both arduous to create and stunningly beautiful in appearance.
Atop the lacquered ear cups is the Fostex logo. This logo’s placement is actually accomplished through a silk screening process that puts adhesive lettering atop the lacquer. The Sakamoto Urushi artisans then place platinum leaf foil atop the lettering and rub it in, causing the logo to gain an uneven luster that is visually striking.
The ear pads are made of a soft grey material that is very comfortable on the ears and also cancel much of the ambient noise that may be in your environment. The cups are also hinged on a single axle; this allows the headphone assembly to pivot at a far greater angle than is typical of a standard set of headphones. The headband is rugged and nigh-unbreakable and is also coated in the same high-quality synthetic leather that the pads are constructed of. The combination of the ultra-light wood, the synthetic leather pads, and the comfortable headband ensures that these premium bass headphones will be some of the most comfortable you’ve ever worn.
To provide connectivity to these headphones, Fostex utilizes a truly premium cabling system that employs a completely oxygen-free copper core and a 7N construction. The connector at the end looks high-quality and employs a duralumin metal design that ensures thorough durability. With the purchase of this set of premium headphones, comes an elegant headphone stand that is comprised of wood.
External design is one thing, but the reason why you’d want such a premium set of headphones is that they truly produce some excellent sound. The dynamic range on these headsets is one of its most useful features. You hear all of the highs, lows, and everything in between; it all comes in solidly and fully to the ears. Fostex generates this great dynamic range by utilizing a neodymium magnetic circuit. This circuit adopts a magnetic repulsion system that has a 15,000 gauss magnetic flux to achieve a much wider dynamic range.
In addition to this superb range, Fostex also utilizes a biodyna diaphragm to generate the sound. This material is made of a bio-cellulose fiber that is of a low gravity construction, has a high young’s modulus (elasticity and reaction to stress), and also has a high internal loss. These three features allow the biodyna diaphragm to attain a higher propagation velocity and rigidity than the plastic diaphragms that are typically used in the headphone market. The result is a cleaner sound that sounds higher resolution than standard headphone systems.
As with any Gold Pick, these premium headphones enjoy a great reputation with critics and consumers alike. Of the positive reviews on Amazon, 96 percent of the reviewing audience felt that these headphones were worthy of a four or five star rating. One five star reviewer had this to say about the Fostex TH900s: “Comfort-wise, the TH900 is superb, with incredibly soft synthetic leather cups and a spring mechanism that distributes their weight evenly around your ears. Despite their bulk and pressure, they feel light and breathable. I find most headphones exhausting after an hour, tops. But I could wear the TH900 all day long. The wooden cups give the TH900 excellent isolation—about the best you’ll get in a full-sized headphone (as opposed to an in-ear). I can turn up my music to near-piercing levels without bothering the colleague at the desk next to mine.”
For those that might balk at purchasing a set of high-quality bass headphones with a price tag greater than $1000, Fostex has produced a video that truly highlights the skill and artistry of the Sakamoto Urushi artisans. It can be found here:
#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Yamaha PRO 500 High-Fidelity Premium Over-Ear Headphones
View it on Amazon for $319.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
As a consumer electronics, motor, and instrument brand, Yamaha has had a storied history of producing quality products for the more than a century. With a demonstrated dedication to audio experiences, from their instrument lines to their sound system selection of products, you can expect excellent aural devices from the Japanese manufacturer. The most premium version of their Pro line, the Pro 500 offers some great features, elegant design, and robust functionality.
To start, this set of headphones sports a unique, sturdy looking design that has numerous curves and little edges. Yamaha calls this aesthetic “fuel-injected design” as its rounded curves are designed to evoke a feeling of racing and speed. This particular variation also evokes the musical, as it has a piano black finish that’s well suited to quiet digital piano sessions where the sound is purely generated at the level of your ears.
Emblazoned along the outside of the large curvaceous ear cups is the Yamaha triad tuning fork logo; this logo is large and metallic and adds an almost futuristic feeling to the headphone’s overall aesthetic. The ear cups extend into the headband almost seamlessly; where there are seams on the points of articulation, at these points the ear cups can pivot and fold in for easy storage in the hard plastic case that comes with this product. Both headband and ear cups are comprised of a lustrous hard plastic that doesn’t scratch very easily. If you’re concerned about the potential flimsiness of a plastic headband, this isn’t a problem since underneath the headband’s plastic shell, there is steel reinforcement.
The ear cushions are also ultra-comfortable and constructed of a lightweight material that you’ll barely notice; even when the headphones are not generating any sound. Also, they form a fairly tight seal against outside noise via the lightweight material and the headphones own weightiness. Supporting the ear cups is a semi-articulated aluminum base that supplies some stability during wear. Overall, these are very comfortable headphones with one caveat: individuals with smaller heads have noticed a slight amount of discomfort when wearing these as the headband can push down on the crown of the head. This is because these headphones are somewhat heavy; they are a somewhat weighty 13 ounces.
By now, your next question must be, “what about audio performance?” In this area, these Yamaha headphones truly shine. If you’re looking for a deep bassy sound, these could be your headphones as they employ a 50mm driver that provides excellent deep tonality by way of moving a larger amount of air within the ear cup’s main enclosure. Impedance on this model of headphone is also rated at a very impressive 23 ohms. These Yamaha headphones utilize a neodymium magnet structure; this system not only helps produce great highs, mids, and lows, but is also efficient so that you don’t overly drain your battery operated media player.
Our Silver Pick headphones also come with two sets of cables. Each cable is flat in profile and can attach to either of the headphone’s aluminum ear cups. One cable is four feet in length and features a dedicated remote that works best with Apple devices. With this attached remote you can adjust your devices volume up or down, hang up or voice dial, play, pause, rewind, or fast-forward your media files. The other flat cable is ten feet in length and is designed for around-the-house usage. Since there are holes in the right and left ear cup, you can select the cup that’s most comfortable for you or even have a friend attach their own wire to your headset, so that they can enjoy what you’re listening to as well.
78 percent of the reviewers on Amazon gave this set of bass headphones a positive rating of either four or five stars. One person, who gave this set of headphones a five star rating, had this to say about these Yamaha phones, “I have been an audiophile for at least three decades. I care about good music sound. I have owned perhaps half a dozen high-quality headphones over those years, and a good dozen more that were of lesser quality. I might not be an expert in comparing headphones, but I am certainly not a novice. If you want a high-quality pair of circumaural headphones, the kind that entirely surrounds all of both of your ears and thus gives you the best possible sound and the best possible rejection of outside noise, this product, Yamaha PRO 500 High-Fidelity Premium Over-Ear Headphones (Racing Blue), even at its price, is worth five stars.”
#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone
View it on Amazon for $224.98*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Our Bronze Pick comes from the very specialized, audiophile friendly folks over at V-Moda. Almost without exception, V-Moda produces headphones that feature extra bass and are the preferred model of headphone for DJs and dedicated audiophiles. These V-Moda Crossfade M-100 headphones continue the tradition started by the company’s now iconic model of DJ friendly model M-80 headphones.
To start, these headphones sport a unique design that will make them hard for you to pass up. The shape of the ear cups is hexagonal and the shell is comprised of a durable, yet light metal. A great option that’s available for the consumer is the ability to contact V-Moda and have them laser-etch a logo directly onto the metal frame of these headphones. This degree of customizability really shines and helps fully ensconce these bassy headphones in our list of top bass headphone on the market today. Also, rounding out the aesthetics of this set of bass headphones is the red design at the base of the headband; this gives these headphones a noteworthy racing feel.
Another striking aesthetic feature of these great headphones is the hinges that hold the ear cups in place. These are comprised of metal and are almost wire-thin, but are actually very sturdy and road-worthy. The sudden thin form-factor of these structures adds a somewhat otherworldly look to the design of these headphones and is sure to draw favorable comments. While robust while in use, these hinges are also designed to break apart along the seams if you do accidentally drop them, so as not to truly damage the headphones; as a matter of fact, these headphones are rated for up to 70 six foot drops onto concrete floor.
Each component, from the tough plastic ear cups to the metal plating on the outside of these headphones is designed to be able to take an extensive beating; making these one of the most gig-worthy headphones on our list. Couple this ruggedness with the fact that these can also be folded and placed in the included V-STRAP carrying case and you know that you can use these headphones on-the-go. The exoskeleton carrying case even included a carabiner clip for easy storage.
The headband and ear cushions of these bass headphones are comprised of faux-leather and feel immensely comfortable on the head. The ear cushions also take on the hexagonal form factor of the plastic ear cups; and as a result, fit comfortably on almost any shape of ear. This degree of comfort is also aided by the fact that these headphones only weigh about nine and a half ounces, which makes them perfectly suited for extended wear. The hexagonal shape of the ear cushions has another value: it effectively blocks external noise as long as you keep the fit of the adjustable headband tight.
Like our runner up headphones, the V-Moda M-100 has a fully detachable cabling system. Also like the Silver Pick, you can choose between either of the hard plastic ear cups to plug into. These headphones come with two cables: one that’s three feet in length and another that’s about six and a half feet in totality. Each cable is comprised of Kevlar, and along with the plug, can be bent over one million times without degradation. This is over 100 times the longevity of industry standard cabling system. The shorter of the two cables sports a one-button Smartphone remote and microphone that will allow you to control your media and take calls without the need to move your device from your pocket. The second, longer cable will allow you to have greater range of movement as it is longer and also features a rubberized connector that will take longer to fail than standard headphone cables.
Insofar as performance, these are the perfect headphones for the bass line junkie. The beats come in smooth and powerful via the 50mm driver that powers the headsets. V-Moda utilizes a dual diaphragm system to ensure that tones are even, highs are crisp, mids sound smooth, and lows reverberate powerfully. Also, there is a multi-ring system that ensures that the bass doesn’t bleed into the highs. These headphones also feature analog noise isolation that cuts external sounds down to an incredibly low level.
These are very well-reviewed bass headphones. 89 percent of the Amazon reviewing community that have purchased these have granted them at least a four star rating. One review, from a professional DJ featured an excellent testimonial that really summarizes the quality of these bass headphones: “Been a DJ since the late 90’s and have pretty much learned everything I know through ‘trial by fire’. These are the best headphones I’ve ever used.”
Of all the headphones on our list, this set has the best warranty: V-Moda backs these phones with a two year warrant if they ever break. Once that expires, the company will even sell you a new set of headphones for half of the market price.
#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Sony MDRXB800 Extra Bass Over The Head 50mm Driver Headphone
View it on Amazon for $92.65*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
With all of the prior headphones, the price tags have been fairly large. One was over a $1000 and the others were well into the hundreds. These price points are admittedly not for everyone, so what do you do if you need to be more price-conscious when looking to purchase one of these bassy monsters? We’ve found a perfect model of bass headphones that will fit your wallet a little better, especially if you’re ballin’ on a budget.
Fortunately, our budget pick isn’t from some no-name company that manages to produce a quality product with little-to-no name recognition. This time around, the final budget pick on our list is from famous global electronics giant Sony. The MDRXB800 are a set of full-featured headphones that won’t stretch your wallet beyond a reasonable level.
These are some very unique looking headphones. The headband has a strange looking construction that incorporates two rounded L-shaped hinges to connect the ear cups. These hinges are positioned atop the headband and expand to fit the head. The ear cup connection is attached to the joint by a pivoting knob that allows the cups to be rotated a full 90 degrees. These ear cups are sturdily constructed and have a shiny external design that is highly reflective and sleek looking.
The headband itself is constructed of soft, synthetic leather that feels comfortable on the head. Along the base of the ear cups are dedicated bass ports that may cause a slight amount of sound bleed while the headphones are in use. When this happens, people in your immediate area may have a sense of the beat that you are listening to, which can be an annoyance for some.
The bass response for these headphones is fantastic. Like some of the other sets on our list, these utilize 50mm neodymium drivers to move air forcibly in the speaker’s enclosures. The result is a rhythmic thrumming in every bass-laden song that you listen to with these phones; a treat for the bass-happy audiophile. It even has a maximum frequency response of 28 kHz. The cabling for these headphones, while not detachable like some of our other headphones, comes in at a very decent nearly four foot length, and the internals are of a high-quality oxygen-free copper core construction that is durable and suffers little signal degradation. The dynamic range of this set of headphones is also really good considering its budget conscious pricing structure.
With such consumer and critical accolades, this set of circumaural headphones has Gold Pick level status on Amazon. Of the 113 Amazon reviews, a full 90 percent of these proved to be very positive. 20 percent of these were at a four star level and another 70 percent were of a five star rating. One shining five star reviewer’s testimonial summarizes these headphones quality very well: “Best Bass yet. I love bass and these have it as well as shimmering highs without harshness. I own some Beats in the same price range and these are definitely a little more bassy (but not night and day way more bass, but just enough to win the bass contest).”
As we’re sure you’ve noticed by checking out our Gold Pick, these types of headphones can get fairly expensive. Some models put out a strong bassy sound that will be unforgettable as well as immensely enjoyed, but will cost you only a few hundred dollars. Some, on the other hand, will sound even more amazing, but can run for more than a thousand. When selecting a great set of bass headphones, know that these types of devices can run the gamut of expense and make your selection accordingly. You won’t always have to spend an arm and a leg, but then again, maybe you would like a set that’s comprised of rare materials and utilizes a more robust collection of aural experience-increasing features and functions.
This is a representation of the loudest signal that your headphones can generate to the quietest signal that your ears can pick up. Headphones with a better dynamic range produce more aural isolation and effectively improve the listening experience greatly. When selecting a new set, be sure to take dynamic range into effect.
This is the measurement of a headphones ability to manage multiple frequencies at varying rates. For a set of bass headphones, a good set should employ a system that gives slightly more attention to the bass frequencies than the treble. On a sound graph for these types of headphones, where the left side represents the bassier end of the spectrum and the treble is set along the right end of the graph, then the bass end left end should be slightly elevated to indicate a bassier frequency response. You don’t want to have too high a bass response, as that will make your music sound muffled, but a slightly higher bass response will definitely add some thrumming power to your bass headphones. When searching out your next set, definitely don’t forget to take frequency response into consideration as this can have a large effect on how bassy your new phones will be.
The conventional wisdom states that the larger the driver, the better the bass functionality will be in a specific set of headphones. While this is generally the case, there are other factors that affect how well a headphone’s drivers will provide that bassy sound that we all know and crave. Some speakers have multiple drivers rather than a single driver to produce a more bass-driven sound effect. Typically, it’s better to use a single coil system to provide bass as these tend to reach lower frequencies than the multiple driver type, though there have been exceptions.
Larger, singular drivers tend to displace more air in an enclosure; and thusly, provide a bassier sound (woofers and subwoofers displace air to create that thrumming sound that we like to hear in our music). Driver performance also absolutely hinges on headphone design; the enclosure that houses the drivers helps ensure dynamic frequency response and stored energy are managed to produce an even, bass-filled sound. When searching for a new set of bass headphones, be sure to take into account driver size and performance as well as enclosure type and energy management before you make a purchase.
Ideally, all bass headphones should manage distortion products as efficiently as possible. Distortion products are what can happen when headphones use a non-linear system that suffers a slight energy bleed from other frequencies. The less bleed the smaller the harmonic distortion. As a rule when you produce a tone at 500 hertz, harmonic distortion will also add another tone at 1000 hertz, and then 1500 hertz, and so on and so forth. Some of the best headphones on the market today manage these distortion produce the most efficiently by reducing the peaks of the sound wave; and thusly, creating a smoother, less harmonically distorted sound.
While your idea of a bass headphone might be a unit that fully surrounds the ears and almost fully encompasses the sides of your head, this is not always the case. Some feature-rich, quality bass headphones are ear buds and slide nearly-unnoticeably into your ear canals and sound almost dreamlike in quality. Circumaural style headphones are the more traditional style that attaches to the side of your head and uses a driver-based system to provide a bass-filled experience. Which type works best for you will be decided by your own personal preferences.
Noise Cancelling vs. Standard Bass Headphones
When you’re enjoying your favorite tunes, who wants to have what’s going on outside of the music interrupt your dynamic aural experience? Noise cancellation is one of the prime benefits of wearing headphones, as the large exteriors inherently muffle external sound. Anyone that has tried to take a plane flight while listening to their headphones knows that the inherent noise cancellation of traditional headsets doesn’t always work in every situation. This is where headphones with additional noise-cancelling features really shine. In addition to the inherent sound muffling materials, noise cancelling headphones utilize a four step system:
• Microphone – The first step. A microphone located in the ear cup area of your headphones picks up the noise and it is fed to the noise cancellation circuitry.
• Noise Cancellation Circuitry – The second step. Once noise is captured by the microphone, it’s funneled into the noise cancellation circuitry to be processed. This happens faster than your ears can pick up the sound.
• Speaker – The third and potentially most crucial step of the noise cancellation process. For every sound wave, a wave of opposing sound can be utilized to cancel out the original sounds effect. This system creates an “anti-sound” by using a set of dedicated speakers; and as a result, external noises are effectively prevented from reaching your ear drum. With this part of the system, the music or sound being pumped through the main speakers is unaffected.
• Battery – This system requires power. This is called an “active” system of noise cancellation. The whole process requires a steady stream of energy for the noise cancellation effect to be accomplished; as a result, a rechargeable battery is typically employed.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Bassy beats and powerful tones are what make a great set of powerful bass headphones worth every penny you spend on them. If you love hip hop, dance, rap, or rock and roll, then you’d be depriving yourself of the full tonality of these genres if you decided to purchase a set of headphones that don’t have the proper level of bass functionality. When searching for a new set of powerful bass headsets, take a look at some of the choices that we have presented, consider our pre-purchase checklist, and do the remaining appropriate research to find a set of headphones that will deliver the beat.
Discussion and comments
We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?
Do you know of an even better product?
- Asr (forum member), Fostex TH 900, Head-Fi
- FOSTEXjp, Fostex TH900 Making Movie SAKAMOTO URUSHI MANUFACTURINGCO, YouTube, September 2, 2014
- TH-900 Premium Stereo Headphones, Fostex
- Steve Guttenberg, Yamaha Pro 500 review, CNET, February 27, 2013
- Audioholics, Yamaha Pro 500 Headphones Video Review,Youtube, January 20, 2013
- swimsonny, Yamaha Pro 500 Headphone Unboxing and First Look, Youtube, March 16, 2013
- Steve Guttenberg, V-Moda Crossfade M-100 review:A beautifully built headphone that sounds even better, CNET, December 12, 2012
- SFE Music, Sony MDR-XB800 Extra Bass Headphones (Unboxing and Review), Youtube, January 19, 2014
- Sony MDR XB800 Extra Bass Headphones Review, Headphones Compared
- Ryan Waniata, SONY MDR-XB800 REVIEW, Digital Trends, May 27, 2015