Fostex really needs no introduction. Any DIYer worth his or her salt is familiar with their drivers; headphone aficionados will, at the very least, be familiar with the brand, both “directly” and not (MrSpeakers’ modified Fostex ‘phones being an excellent case in point), and of course, Fostex has been a household name to recording professionals since the ’70’s. Now, however, the brand is heading somewhere new: affordable products for the hi-fi consumer.
Brand new at this show were the PX-5HS powered speakers ($799/pair, according to my notes). This is close cousin to the PX-5, Fostex’s professional reference monitor, but re-imagined for hi-fi. The tuning is reportedly slightly different, and the PX-5’s black boxes replaced with attractive wood. Like the PX-5, these feature 5.2″ Crimson woofers and 1″ Urethane film laminated polyester dome tweeters, as well as a digital amp with 35w (LF) and 18w (HF) output. Tone controls and volume are controlled with a knob on the back, and there’s an auto standby function as well as a gradual fade-in function.
The room showcased a minimalist system, with a tablet running through the HP-A8C DAC ($1,100), Fostex’s new flagship 32 bit DAC/headphone amp. This DSD-capable DAC has USB, coaxial, optical, and analog RCA inputs, as well as a slot for an SD card. Sitting next to it, although I didn’t get to play with it, was the new HP-A4 DAC/headphone amp ($399), which is also DSD capable and is billed as the new and improved version of the popular HP-A3.
I was really impressed with the jump and spark in this room! The liveliness of this little system was really exceptional for its size. I have not heard the original PX-5 speakers, so I can’t speak to how the tuning may have been changed to make them more “home hi-fi friendly,” but I found them quite dynamic and, while not harsh, certainly not rolled-off or tame. Folks who have looked seriously at upgrading to larger Audioengine or to Vanatoo speakers may want to give these a shot. The DACs, too, deserve a close listen, particularly at this price point.