Handy features include
auto-on when a signal is detected, auto-standby power saving mode; and a useful ‘fade in' function that gradually increase the output to a pre-set level upon power up. And a quick word regards build quality: I expect you could drive a Mack truck packed full of gold bars over these little guys and still expect to get music out of them. Quite amazing—and not just 'for the money' either—these speakers really are beautifully put together. And proof, if it was needed, that Chinese manufactured goods can impress every bit as much as those from their oft lauded Japanese neighbours. Aesthetically the look is rather functional, a little old-school even. The wood veneer, though perfectly executed, isn't quite as iCoordinated as some other manufacturers' offerings.

Most of my listening was carried out using my Mark Levinson N°.390S CD player, either directly connected via balanced XLR interconnects and using the 390's onboard analogue volume control or in tandem with the company's N°.326S preamp. And with a nod to the PX-5HS' desktop-friendly dimensions, I also switched source to a MacBook Pro + Audioquest Dragonfly ver.1.2, listening to a selection of full-fat FLAC files via iTunes as well as a healthy dose of Spotify, internet radio and YouTube. Also deployed were IsoAcoustics finely wrought and highly effective Aperta stands. Not only do these look the business, they successfully added another dimension to the already impressive sound, particularly in terms of separation and bass definition. And handily too, atop my Track Audio stands, they successfully raised the speakers to the optimal height.

If it ain't broke... At left, an ad for Fostex 6301 from 1982. And proof from Akihabara circa 2015 at right that this is still a current model in the catalogue, 33 years later.

Fresh from the box the mid band sounds thin, the bass wooden and the top-end severely limited in extension. That's the bad news. But the good news is that following even a modest 24hrs break-in, the speakers begin to sound much better, filling out in all regards. And after a week, I felt their true character had more or less emerged. Certain makers (take a bow, Esoteric!) have an unfortunate knack of delivering products that take an inordinate amount of time before even starting to approach their peak. I'm glad that Fostex showed that not all Japanese manufacturers share this frustrating trait.

Sometimes it's the qualities that hit you straight from the get-go that subsequently transpire to be the ones that linger in the mind long after a component has exited. When I think of Krell or PMC for example, the aspect that first grabbed me by both ears—the bass—is still the quality I associate most clearly with either brand. The Fostex calling card however undoubtedly lay in the impressive midrange. Unusually spacious, with a very broad left to right sweep, it possessed an intelligibility that I simply don't expect to find at this price. David Bowie's Nothing Has Changed is a compilation comprising a mighty 39 tracks covering all the bases right up to his excellent latest release The Next Day. And captured in sharp relief were all the various production techniques employed throughout this famous sonic chameleon's career as he shifted through styles and producers. The Scary Monsters album emerged as arguably the best original recording; the energy rush of Fashion positively hurdled into my listening room. Throughout I was impressed by the ease with which I could decipher lyrics that other speakers simply buried in these very dense mixes.

And the Fostex continued to impress with a cornucopia of carefully crafted 80's pop & electronica: Prefab Sprout, Thomas Dolby, ABC, Scritti Politti, Kraftwerk & Japan were all dispatched to the boundary with consummate ease. I was having fun because this was the kind of music I grew up listening to. Yellow Magic Orchestra's Solid State Survivor illuminated the PX-5HS's core strengths. Thanks to fast bass, unusually vivid mids and a smooth top-end slightly on the tame side of neutral, tracks like the iconic "Rydeen" had great presence and sweeping attack. This accentuated the group's optimistic bounce yet was free from any of the ragged edginess in the higher frequencies I've previously heard rather spot-lit by other speakers (ironically, often particularly those brands bearing a similar studio heritage). Instead the PX really tempt you to keep increasing the volume until you hit party levels. In fact it's worth noting that despite the relatively modestly rated amplification, I've never heard another speaker of this size successfully reach such high SPLs minus even the vaguest hint of compression or break-up. Okay, this particular talent might not be particularly high up the priority list of most of our readership but at £650/pr, I could picture these speakers turning up in a few better-off student accommodations where I am sure this facet could be a very real selling point.

With a broad spectrum of contemporary styles, the presentation was very much of a piece majoring on coherence and good old-fashioned boogie-factor. Beck's The Information (a test-staple) was as enjoyable as I've ever heard it. These speakers have an exquisite way with leading-edge attack, meaning that all the energy and drive of the title track was captured to absolute perfection; frenetic yes, rushed no. And up next, my go to bass monster test—Darkstar—demonstrated what great articulation and texture the PX-5HS possessed in their lower registers, cleverly contriving to cover up the lack of ultimate depth to an impressive degree. Miles Davis' We Want Miles sounded every inch the macho fusion blow-out. The brash attack of Marcus Miller's slap bass combined seamlessly with Al Foster's seismic drums and Mino Cinelu's veritable wall of percussion. It's a record I've heard overpower a lot of speakers as the crunchy dynamic energy of tracks like "Jean-Pierre" quickly become asthmatic and grey sounding but here the electric atmosphere was perfectly preserved.