Fostex T50RP Mods Compendium

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by DEATHxMACHINE, May 10, 2019.

  1. DEATHxMACHINE

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    Howdy everyone,
    So for the last 5 or 6 years I have been collecting collecting T50RP mods. Before I reduce my collection, I thought it would be a good idea to post my impressions and comparisons of each mod. I decided to take it to the next level and have some fun measuring their frequency response. Therefore, I purchased a MiniDSP EARS to perform the measurements.

    For dac and amp setup, I chose the Schiit Magni 3 and Modi 3 (delta sigma). Rather than an exotic pairing like Mytek Liberty and Cavalli Liquid Gold, I wanted a setup that could easily be replicated if anyone wanted to compare measurements. The Magni 3 and Modi 3 are very simple and reliable pieces of equipment which I believe are neutral and transparent enough for this application.

    I plan to measure 19 headphones in the following order:
    1. Umodded T50RP mk3 as baseline
    2. Dekoni Blue
    3. Fostex T60RP
    4. ZMF Classics
    5. ZMF Virbo mk2
    6. Cascadio Audio Talo 2
    7. Modhouse Argon mk2
    8. ZMF Masterclass V2
    9. ZMF Vibro mk1
    10. ZMF Blackwood
    11. ZMF Ori
    12. MrSpeakers Mad Dogs v3.2
    13. MrSpeakers Mad Dogs Pro
    14. MrSpeakers Alpha Dogs
    15. MrSpeakers Alpha Prime
    16. Modhouse Argon mk1
    17. Surprise
    18. Surpirse
    19. Modded T50RP mk3 (Vibro Labs TP1 in progress)

    Yes, the order of these is a little funky. But the idea behind it is I want to measure the unmodded T50RP mk3 as my baseline and compare it to other headphones based on the mk3 driver. I am going to mod them and remeasure as #19.
    Then measure mods by manufacturer.

    I will be posting impressions and measurements over the next week or so in the evening (PDT). Later tonight I will post the unmodded T50RP. I will also periodically update measurements on previous post as I get more acquainted with the MiniDSP EARS.

    Edit/Update: For those interested in my MiniDSP EARS setup. Calibrated the SPL level at 84 db using 300hz sine wave and sens factor of 0.1db. I decided to stick with the MIniDSP HEQ recommended calibration because my unit was not playing well with calibration Marv has tuned.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
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  2. DEATHxMACHINE

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    Umodded T50RP mk3 as baseline

    This one is going to be short. First up is the an unmodded Fostex T50RP mk3 with MrSpeakers Alpha pads. The original pancake pads are complete and utter poo poo. Another popular pad swap is for the Shure 1540 pads but I do not have any. The alpha pads add a noticeable amount of bass to the headphone. Stock mk3 has very forward mids (4k) so vocals tend to be in your face. Not much else to say. Has a tight sound to it. Used a Periapt cable for reference.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
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  3. DEATHxMACHINE

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    Dekoni Blue

    This is also going to be short one. I think the Dekoni Blue is a lesser headphone than the stock T50rp mk3. These are V shaped with very muddy bass. The bass on the Blues is very distracting as it pushes the lower mids back quite a bit. Then the upper mids and highs are a piercing if you are trying to listening to the lower mids. But overall, there is a lack of resolution and the V shape destroys imaging. Its a muddy headphone. Stock pads are also pretty meh. Using the velour and leather hybrid pad. Narrow offset oval that too dang small so 1/3 of my ear is under the pad. Enough weird contact that I find it annoying. Used same Periapt cable as stock to T50rp.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
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  4. DEATHxMACHINE

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    Fostex T60RP

    Now we get to the Fostex T60rp (stock) and if I could also say one statement it would be "A work of art." There is no reason for Fostex to machine African Mahogany to look like the housing of a stock T50rp. But oh lordy the wood crafter gushed when I unpacked these babies. Stock pads are still crap but holy moly did Fostex refined the sound with this addition. Read a reddit post when these came out that perfect describes these headphones in two words, "smooth operator." This is a very natural headphone. Has a lot less bass than the T50rp but I would describe it as more cohesive because it really allows the mids to shine. The mids are very rich and full. The highs can be peaky at times but overall they are more balanced than the T50rp. Imaging and resolution are fantastic. The soundstage ain't bad either. Used stock cable and pads for these measurements. Normally use ZMF lambskin or Alpha pads which increase the bass slightly.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  5. DEATHxMACHINE

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    ZMF Classics

    Now we get to a proper mod, the ZMF Classics. This is a culmination of Zach's experience modding the T50rp using the original housing. It is very inexpensive headphone to experience the ZMF sound. I find the ZMF house sound to be little analytical but still a lot fun and warm. It has a very organic sound signature. Zach really smooths out the frequency response and adds a tasteful amount of bass that does not diminish the mids or highs in any way. Upper mids are still a little forward but not intrusive and the highs are smooth. The Classics have above average resolution with pretty good imaging. Overall for $300 for the unbalanced version, the ZMF Classics are a great closed headphone that I can easily recommend to anyone. Used same Periapt cable as before.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  6. DEATHxMACHINE

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    ZMF Vibro MK2 in Zebra Wood
    The discontinued ZMF Vibro mk2 is a distinctly unique headphone that has a intriguing sound stage. Bass is a little elevated without being over down. Rest of the frequency response is surprising flat. Very similar to the ZMF classics but the highs are toned down significantly. Then there is a unusual dip between 4250hz to 5100hz. The effect of this dip has the sound signature is that vocals are softened and pushed back, Other instruments are brought forward. The focus of the Vibro is definitely its warm mids. This gives somewhat of an illusion of larger soundstage than other T50rp mods. This headphone is the definition of laid back. No way to get fatigued from this headphone. Not too mention it is one sexy headphone. Just waiting for @Elnrik to give in to nostalgia.

    Was a little worried about the unusual dip in the mids but used a tone generator and confirmed there is a noticeable dip.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
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  7. DEATHxMACHINE

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    Cascadia Audio Talos V2
    The Cascadia Audio Talos V2 is a relative new comer on the T50rp scene. I believe is came out almost exactly a year ago. It is a welcome addition but sadly it is a few years too late. I think this would have made a splash back in 2015. The creator Blaine did a brilliant job tuning these. This headphone has fantastic timbre and imaging for a T50rp mod. It also has some of the best hybrid pads (impact pads) period because there is no loss of bass and does not increase the treble. If you are pad rolling, I highly recommending giving the impact pads a drive. I wouldn't call this headphone V shaped but his a very warm headphone. It has a little elevated highs without being overtly analytical but still a little forward. I think is it a more refined ZMF Classics sound signature. Blaine was able to really smooth out this headphone while maintaining great detail retrieval.


    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
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    Modhouse Argon MK2 with Protein Pads
    Finishing off the mods based on the Fostex T50rp, is the Modhouse Argon MK2. This is also a relatively new comer but has made quite the splash because of endorsements by a few popular youtube "reviewers." But its unique sound signature not only makes it a great T50rp but also a fantastic closed headphone. Looking at the frequency response only gives your half the picture. It has significantly elevated bass that is a little bit muddy. Then you have a constant downward slope to the upper mids where it peaks at 4250hz then dips between 4500k to about 7000hz. Then the highs never peak. This makes for a very warm bodied headphone with decent timbre. A side effect of the constant downward slope and dip in the upper mids and lower highs is that it creates a perception of a huge soundstage with great imaging. And that is the selling point of these headphone that allows it be a mainstream success. No other closed headphone has this amount of sound stage (except for maybe the Alpha Prime). If you have the opportunity to audition the Argons, I highly recommend it.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
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    ZMF Master Class V2 with cowhide pads

    The original headphone line that ZMF release back in 2014. Overall it is a pretty decent headphone with some admirable qualities. This headphone has a tasteful minor V shaped sound signature. The low end has great impact and is slightly elevated but not bloated. The mid range is full bodied with good detail. The mid range is not recessed or forward like other t50rp mods. Then the treble is very interesting on this mod. Some places it is elevated just enough to give a good sense of detail retrieval and texture. Sadly there is barely any sound stage with this headphone which is only the real knock I can give it. Overall this headphone has a lot of good texture.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
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    ZMF x Vibro mk1 with lambskin pads
    ZMF's first woody and a good step towards in the right direction (not like Zach has ever made a step in the wrong direction). Zach collaborated with Luke at Vibro Labs to bring a wonderful headphone. A very warm V shaped sound signature on this one. Obviously has great low end with ZMF's signature impact and goes freaking low. Also stays very tight. Nothing special about he mid range with this one. Mid range is there, textured and detailed. Highs are a little forward and want to emphasize little. The mids are so neutral that it makes the increased treble noticeable. But its is not an issue. It also has a surprising amount of soundstage for a closed headphone. Good imaging and overall resolution is good.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
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    Vibro Labs TP1 in progess
    Currently converting the the T50rp mk3 into a new Vibro Labs TP1 in Maple. A little rusty with a soldering iron (ran it too hot) and screwed a driver up. So waiting on another pair of t50rp mk3 to show up. And for giggles I snagged a T50rp mk2 to measure. So for now I thought I would mess around with the one side that works and nail down the sound signature I want. Comes with a similar Vibro concept of plugging ports to reduce bass. I decided to pad swap before messing with ports. These will be sort impressions because the frequency response is all over the place. But I think it has potential to have good soundstage.

    First pads (actually second) I tried were the ZMF Ori perforated pads. I had put some non perforated pads and the bass was too elevated, muddy and sloppy. So the Ori pads really calmed the low end but as result it really brought up the highs. So far this pairing had the best synergy.

    Next up were the Audeze vegan pads and they immediately bought back the elevated, muddy and sloppy base that overwhelmed the rest of the ranges.

    Last swap was a pair of chinese knock off non perforated Ori pads. And WHOO, the bass somehow become even more bloated and sloppy.

    So game plan now is to order Brainwavz hybrid xl pads. I guess Luke from Vibro Labs is fond of them.

    [​IMG]
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    Last edited: May 19, 2019
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