Headzones at the National Audio Show 2014, Part 2

Show report
Earphones and in-ear monitors,
Headphone amps and amp/DACs
Final Audio Design Ltd. Pandora Hope IV,
Fostex HPV1,
Fostex TH-500RP,
Grado Laboratories PS1000e,
iFi Audio Retro,
Ultrasone Edition 5
Headzones at the National Audio Show 2014, Part 2

This is the second part of our 2-part report on the “Headzones” section of the recent National Audio Show, 2014 at Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire, UK.

Below we touch on highlights and new products from many of the manufacturers represented.

Final Audio Design

Final Audio Design’s Pandora family of headphones is growing with the advent of the new Pandora Hope IV (£399), which can be viewed as the lower cost sibling of the Pandora Hope VI recently review in Hi-Fi+. Truth to tell, one might easily mistake the IV for the VI from ten paces away, but from up close one visual differentiator is that the ear cups of the new IV are all black (no relation to the famous Kiwi rugby team of the same name), while those of the VI are silver and black. It’s good to know that Final’s Pandora design know-how is migrating downward to more accessible price points.


The Japanese firm Fostex is best known for its Pro Sound offerings, but as most any headphonista can tell you the company has been making serious inroads into high-end consumer audio with very high performance, top-tier “orthodynamic” headphones such as its flagship TH-900.  

Moreover, a number of talented headphone modification specialists have created a cottage industry by offering extensively modified version of Fostex’s popular, mid-priced T50rp headphones. This fact, as it turns, was not lost on Fostex, who decided it made no sense to allow third-party modification specialist to have all the fun. Accordingly, the firm rolled out at Whittlebury Hall its own updated mid-price headphone called the TH-500RP (£529), which stands as a very strong Fostex update and upgrade to the original T50rp concept (although the T50rp will continue in the product line). Based on a brief listen, I think the TH-500RP will become a major player at its chosen price point. And did I mention that the new TH-500RP is a real “looker”, too?

One further, fascinating new release from Fostex is—get this—a compact, portable, battery powered valve-driven headphone amplifier called the HPVI (£399). Now, you can take the glowing gas bottle experience with you when you’re on the go.

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