Fostex have been in the market for more than 4 decades and are making some of the best headphones and speakers. Audiophile community is more familiar with their T50RP and TH series headphones than their earphones. They do have a couple of earphones under their belt too but recently they too have ventured into the wireless audio market with the modular TM2 stereo wireless earphones.
The TM2 is not an orthodox TWS earphone. Unlike most TWS IEMs TM2 is a modular TWS unit with an over the ear Module which comprises of a connector cable and the receiver unit which houses the battery, one button and touch controls. The TM2 has 3 primary parts and has a lot of modularity at its disposal. It is not limited to the default earpiece as it can be used with most of the popular earphones with a bit of extra help. It is priced at $299 and comes in only one color. It does not have any direct competition as of now.
In their words:
TM2 Stereo Earphones
“TM2 is the Fostex’ first and the next generation TWS earphones that consists of a pair of main receiver unit with touch-sensor and multi-button, detachable flexible short cable and detachable 6mm dynamic driver unit. The latest Qualcomm chipset QCC3026 allows left and right independent connection with a True Wireless™ Stereo Plus ready device.
In addition to the supplied MMCX short cable, using optional cables allows various third party IEMs to be TWS.”
Get one for yourself from here:
WHAT’S IN THE BOX:-
The TM2 comes with a generously large carry case with the BT module and earpieces inside it. One can find a draw sting carry pouch, two pairs of silicone tips, a micro USB cable, a Fostex sticker and some documentation out of the box. There isn’t anything fancy here.
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE:-
These earpieces are tiny. Really small, there is barely any in ear (ergonomically) feel to these except the ear tips. The TM2 is more about the on-ear feel. The modular connectors are flexible and can be shaped as per preference, the receiver module weighing at 11g do weigh down on the ear a bit but thankfully they are not heavy and unlike most of the TWS IEMs (thanks to the over the ear design) it does not feel insecure (the ever so present fear of the IEM falling out of the ear) inside the ear.
The whole module has 3 units.
1. Earpiece (The TM2 comes with a decent earpiece but you can use yours)
The earpieces are made out of metal and feel solid to the hand. There is no weak part here, drop it on the floor and these feel like they will survive without any problem. If you want to use your IEM, feel free.
2. Connector cable (These are available in 4 trims, you can buy them separately as per requirement)
These cables are made out of rubbery material and can be shaped as per requirement. They are flexible but I will not advise against twisting them a lot.
3. The Receiver/battery module.
Made out of plastic it feels acceptably good on the hand. The only button is placed on the back of the Module which functions as play/pause and pick or end calls. The faces (fostex branding) are touch sensitive and can be used to control volume.
The Tm2 uses a QCC3026 in each module. Both the modules can be used with separate devices at the same time and each module can be paired with two separate devices at the same time. Both the sides can be the master or follower. It is a BT 5.0 class 2 (2mbps) FHSS type chip with support for most of the popular wireless codec.
The Earpiece houses a 6mm dynamic driver with a range of 10hz-40khz while the BT module has a range of 20hz-20khz.
OPERATION AND CONNECTIVITY:-
The Module powers on once it is taken out of the charging cradle. Pair it with your device just like any other Bluetooth device. Take the other side out and it connects automatically. If you do not want to use both, leave the other module inside the case. Take the first module away from the other and pair it with another device.
TM2 has an official range of 10m but unlike other TWS IEMs (who are unable to maintain good connotation with some obstacle in-between) the TM2 manages to provide very good connection even with some obstacle (walls) without any problem.
Sound quality at the other end is fairly good and can be adjusted with the application using the landscape audio slider.
The single button is slightly on the stiffer side and is fairly hard to press but it is the only button to take or end calls, play and pause music, double tap to forward and triple quick press to go back. Placing it on the back makes it difficult to operate as may push the module undesirably forward without registering. It would have been nice if the button was placed at the center of the touch sensitive area. One would be pressing against the skull without any instability.
Even though TM2 comes with its own earpiece it can be easily used with 3rd party earphones without much problem. It doesn’t drive demanding earphones like Shozy Pola to their potential but are able drive the less demanding IEMs with single dynamic driver and basic hybrid setups without much problem.
The TM2 ships with MMCX connectors by default but one can buy additional 2pin, fitear 2pin and A2DC connector cables from the store. They cost $20 and make TM2 a lot more versatile.
Anyone can be deceived by the large carry case. Even though it is large, it has no battery inside to charge the modules when on the move and micro USB in the era of Type-C feels out dated specially when the price is much higher than most of the TWS IEMs.
Thankfully the modules can deliver very good battery life. I was getting around 8-12 hrs depending on the earpiece and volume. Charging speed is decent, it takes 90 mins to charge from 0-100%.
“Fostex TM” app can be downloaded from both apple app store and Play store. The Biggest plus point of the App is its ability to provide a bit of control over ambient sound. It can be controlled using a slider. The app shows exactly how much battery left in each connected module. The app can be used to upgrade the firmware too.
Fostex has informed me that a newer update for the app will bring a lot of changes with an EQ but it seems like that will take some time.
Sound and comparison in the next page…