Ear Pad Rolling For Noobs
Many people buy ear pads from so-called ear pad manufacturers, which sell range of pads and often one pad for many models of headphone. This is bit misleading.
One problem is misinformation.
Many people become misinformed about what 'good' sound is, and are easily deceived into accepting a broken, hard V-shape, + boomy bass sounds great (for example Razer Kraken). Don't get me wrong, sometimes V-shape DOES sound great - when it's done properly.
In this exmaple I tested three headphones with the Geekria Comfort Mesh Fabric pads (for ATH-M50, etc, etc). All of them are similar to the ATH-M50 - medium sized, closed back headphones. Each headphone with the Geekria pads produced undesirable results. • boomy bass • excessive treble • peaks and dips moved to the 'wrong' places
Huge midbass is gross. Treble is a spiky hot mess.
What was once neutral, is no longer. Subbass is worse. New peak at 8kHz.
Too much midbass. Lots of slam but no thunder. Treble is peaky.
Only one headphone I tried them out on gave somewhat 'acceptable' results.
This headphone is already bonkers, so don't pay attention to that, but the pads hardly caused any deviation at all.
So you never know what results you're REALLY getting, unless you can either measure the headphone, or have 'golden ears'... (yeah right). This is only one example, there are countless others out there, some even worse than this.
• Leather pads for Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic and Grado headphones?... just no, don't do it... • Almost any time you see a vastly alternative material to the stock one, just run away. • Planars are usually the exception - they very often tolerate all pad types almost equally - but when chosing your pads, try not to deviate from stock dimensions as much as possible.
CLOSED BACK DYNAMICS:
• Deeper ear pads will often produce more bass and more treble. • Deeper ear pads may increase soundstage, or perceived soundstage. • Smaller pad openings will increase bass. • Larger pad openings will reduce bass. • Thinner/flatter pads can reduce treble. • Going from pleather/leather to velour will reduce bass. • Going from pleather/leather to velour can radically increase treble sharpness horribly.
OPEN BACK DYNAMICS:
• The stock ear pads probably sound the best - very often this is not a joke. • Some of them are however VERY tolerant and going from one velour type to another can yield almost identical results, with little detriment. • Changing from velour ear pad to another with MORE DENSE foam (memory foam for example) will yield more bass. • Changing from velour ear pad to another with LESS DENSE foam will likely yield less bass. • Changing from velour to pleather/leather can lead to boomy bass artefacts and unwanted resonances. • Changing from velour to pleather/leather will almost certainly have a negative effect on the soundstage.
ROLLING PADS FOR OPEN BACK PLANARS: • From my experience, a lot of brands don't have a clue what they're doing with ear pad choice. • Some planars just sound better with velour/soft type pads. • Some just sound better with pleather/hard type pads. So experimentation is recommended. • Try not to deviate from stock dimensions too much. • 'Angled' pads are usually DEEPER than stock donut pads, so expect these types of pads to increase bass. • Don't be afraid of trying alternatives like cheap aftermarket pads for AKG, Beyerdynamic, Fostex etc... as most of these headphones all use 100mm pads which are very often easily interchangeable.