Fostex: it all starts with loudspeakers…


After Naim, Chord, Lotoo and Meze, the Japanese Fostex is now joining the ranks of our beautiful showrooms! And believe us, we haven’t finished making you happy: many prestigious brands will still be on offer by the end of the year… Here’s a little history lesson to keep you waiting 🙂

It all starts with speakers…

Fostex was founded in 1973 by Foster Electric, one of the world’s largest loudspeaker and enclosure manufacturers. The purpose of the Fostex branch was to distribute loudspeaker components to Japanese individuals and professionals. The loudspeaker component market was then (and still remains, to a lesser extent) highly developed in the land of the rising sun, with enthusiasts building custom-made loudspeakers themselves to meet their expectations. Fostex components won acclaim as the brand developed Regular Phase (RP) technology early on. This was capable of producing sound of incomparable clarity, while offering high sensitivity and a wide dynamic range. This technology is also widely used today, not only for speakers, but also for microphones and headphones. So much so that the Fostex T20RP headphones have become the most used headphones for studio monitoring in the USA.

In 1978, Fostex began to develop loudspeakers for the professional field, and exported them all over the world. This has the effect of taking the brand out of the relative confidentiality in which it found itself: Hi-Fists and professionals around the world then discovered Fostex. One of the most popular powered loudspeakers in the world continues, 20 years after its release, to conquer the hearts of the most demanding studios: it is the essential Fostex 6301B, which you must undoubtedly know! Fostex launched into the professional recording industry in 1981. This sector was then focused on a point which seemed essential to them: denigrating Home Recording. Fostex therefore launches three recorders, with the A-2, A-4 and of course A-8. This was the first device to offer 8 tracks on 1/4 inch tapes. It is also with the Model 350 and Model 250 that the Japanese manufacturer has established itself as a true pioneer of Home Recording. It is in this positive momentum that the first American subsidiary is born in LA!

Fostex, at the digital turn…

Innovations follow one another under the impetus of the Fostex development team. In 1983, the X-15 was the first tape-based portable 4-track recorder. It was battery operated! Its size, weight and functionality quickly earned it the nickname “musician’s notepad”. It’s the world’s best-selling 4-track recorder to date! The same year, the B-16 was born: a pioneer, it offered 16 recordable tracks for the first time, and Dolby C noise reduction technology. The B-16 was such a success that the tape manufacturer Ampex could not not to cover all requests! This recorder was respectively followed by the E-16 and G-16S in 1986 and 1990 (the latter integrated for the first time the Dolby S system derived from the professional standard Dolby SR). The latest model to be born during the reign of analog multitrack recorders is none other than the G-24S. Fostex manages here to fit 24 tracks on a 1-inch tape. The sound quality was so good, that the engineers transported them from their house to the studio, without resorting to the slightest transfer.

In the mid-1990s, it was impossible to escape the digital revolution that was now underway. In 1995, Fostex launched an 8-track digital recorder called DMT-8. Crowned with success, he knew how to seduce guitarists who, at the time, could not imagine having recourse to a computer. This recorder paved the way for a whole family of digital recorders, which used hard disks and Zip disks as storage media. Others, more recent, like the MR-16HD and MR-8HD, integrated digital effects and a CD burner! It is, however, the MR-8, battery-powered and recording on Compact Flash card, which will really replace the famous analog X-15. At the same time as the transition to digital, Fostex continues its path with rackmount digital recorders intended for studios. The D-80 was released in 1996, offering a system of removable hard disks, and being able to record up to 8 tracks simultaneously. This format of recorder continues today with the D-2424LV which can support the recording of 24 tracks in 24/96 on hard disk.

From DAT recorder to DVD-RAM

Originally designed to replace the analog cassette for the general public, the DAT will never impose itself because of its too high price. On the other hand, this format is gaining popularity with professionals. Fostex was one of the first manufacturers to see the enormous potential of DAT as a format for high quality mastering. The manufacturer then thinks that it would be useful to add SMPTE timecode to it. The Japanese develops a timecoded DAT format, as well as the first recorder of this type, the D-20. But Fostex is also well known for its portable DAT timecode recorders. The PD-2 is followed by the PD-4, which will become the device of choice for creators of soundtracks for the film industry. From James Bond to Titanic, the PD-4 is now used for the audio recording of many films!

In 2001, the DAT was coming to an end, and Fostex once again proved its desire to innovate with the DV-40. This product embodies a real turning point in the world of audio, thanks to its ability to record in .WAV on DVD-RAM. Faithful to its first love, Fostex offers this technical solution in a portable format. The PD-6 was born in 2006: it offers the recording of 6 tracks on an 8cm mini-DVD. This new workhorse saves hours of time spent importing and processing data. For example, Fostex DVD-RAM solutions will be used for Star Wars Episode 3!

More than 35 years of passion

Today, Fostex still designs high-end equipment for professionals. But the firm is also recognized for the exceptional performance of its headphones, DACs and headphone amplifiers, which we warmly invite you to discover in the BH stores in Paris and Boulogne.


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