Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 12.2), PureMusic 2.04, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, COS Engineering D1, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, SOtM dX-USB HD w. super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, S.A. Lab Lilt [on loan]
Preamplifier: COS Engineering D1, Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X, Vinnie Rossi Lio (Slageformer AVC)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8, FirstWatt S1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [on loan], Vinnie Rossi Lio
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Sounddeco Sigma 2; Eversound Essence; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Gallo Strada II w. TR-3D subwoofer
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event MkI and MkII; KingRex uArt double-header USB; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s and subwoofer
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves and Krion or glass-based Exoteryc stand/s for amp/s
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces (pictorial tour here)
Review component retail: €9'200/pr in standard high-gloss black; €8'750/pr in special-order wine red

One could easily labour under a misapprehension. To wit, that Fostex are a small cottage industry player who service DIY with unusually styled wideband drive units; and hifi retail with exotic super tweeters and a few luxury headphones. After all, that's exactly what most of us in this home hifi hobby are exposed to. But a glance at representative Yuji Bamba's email signature would broaden our view. In his address, it says Fostex Company, a division of Foster Electric Co. Ltd., 1-1-109 Tsutsujigaoka, Akishima Tokyo, 196-8550, Japan. Who then are Foster Electric?

As it turns out, a rather bigger Japanese conglomerate or keiretsu established in 1949 and on the Tokyo stock exchange since 1962. In their corporate time line, one sees the formation of offices and/or factories in China (Changzhou, Chingzo, Gaozhou, Guangzhou, Heyuan, Nanning, Shanghai), Indonesia (Bintan), North America, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam (Bac Ninh, Da Nang) and Germany; mergers with Tonegen Co., Fostex Corp. and ESTec Corp.; and a takeover of the micro audio transducer business from Star Micronics.

To translate that into more appreciable scale and attendant product mix, Foster today employ more than 20'000 people across 9 different countries. Products from Foster include loudspeakers (active portables, PA, TV, hifi, PC, car, gadget, vibration actuator), headphones (IEM, waterproof, balanced armature, clip-on, dynamic, active noise cancellation, hands-free for car/PC/game, microphones), ODM/OEM services for the automotive industry, and magnetic sounders and buzzers.

2015's Q2 ending June 30th showed corporate net sales of 47'092'000¥. Those were up by 11.3% over 2014's second quarter. Clearly these basic facts and figures make Fostex anything but a cottage industry player of limited resources. Rather, they are part of a large network of interlinked firms of significant globalization and diversification. To be blunt, it's precisely that which finances the more exotic hifi products for our niche markets.