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View Full Discussion I received my HE4XX a few days ago and I thought I would post some thoughts about it.
Right out of the box they sounded good (although this was a honeymoon phase for sure, I tend to get wowed by a headphone right away and more critical listening time I start seeing some flaws) with my little e10k (my work setup) although I had to turn on the bass boost switch to get the bass to a reasonable level. I thought it was just a shortcoming of the amp and that at home on my much more powerful IFI iCAN SE (which sounds amazing with my HE-400). Took them home and plugged them into my iCAN and very lackluster bass (even with the bass boost switch turned on) and harshness in the treble. I figured something was going on that was killing the bass since all of the descriptions and frequency response graphs don't make it look super bass-light.
I noticed that whenever I would go to remove the headphones the bass would increase dramatically (like 10-15 dB) and after some experimenting I found that if I added a gap behind my ears it would greatly increase the bass. I think this is caused by the shape of my jaw/neck in relation to the pad cavity. So even though I found the Focus-A pads very comfortable I'm going to have to change the pads, unfortunately.
I pulled out my box of pads last night and did some experimenting.
I tried my old HiFiMan velour pad first (not the angled velpad, but the standard round one that people buy just for the rings).
-Immediately I noticed more bass and separation detail
-Still some harshness in the treble
-Bass, even though it's better, is barely adequate
-Adding a gap behind my ears still yielded better bass response
-These pads are woefully uncomfortable and rock hard
I also tried my stock HE-400 pads (pleather donut pads) since I had upgraded my HE-400 to Focus Pads long ago.
-Bass is the best yet and pretty much where I like it
-About the same detail and separation as the Velour Pad
-Still some harshness in the upper mid and treble
-Softer/more comfortable than the Velour Pad
-Pleather is unpleasant for me, however
-Adding a gap behind my ears still yields more bass but it's almost too much with these pads
After reading some of the mod tips on Super Best Audio Friends I decided that the shelf liner mod might help out the harsh mid/treble.
-Shelf liner makes the headphone darker (in line with other comments)
-Cleaned up the harsh upper mid and treble
-Still plenty of treble detail and crispness to keep me engaged
-Makes the overall sound much smoother and refined
I have more pads I could try (by removing them from other headphones) but I ran out of time last night. The other hopeful candidates would be my Brainwavz oval Hybrid, Shure 1840 velour, and my HE-400's Focus Pads (not the A). Although, I have expectations that everything that's wrong with the Focus Pad-A will be wrong with the Focus Pad. I'm a little tempted to try the Velpad because it's cheap but reading what it does to the 400S I'm thinking it will kill the bass. I'm also worried that pads that seal too well will kill the bass for me.
I know some used the Dekoni Beyerdynamic leather pads but I would prefer velour (velour > leather > pleather) and I know Dekoni has a regular velour and elite velour Beyerdyamic pad options but I don't want to kill the bass. Has anyone tried any of the other Dekoni Beyerdynamic pads besides the leather? I have also seen the Ori suggested and I might be interested in the suede option when it comes out but that's getting to be a lot of money for a non-returnable pad. I know Brainwavz also has a round velour and sheepskin pad that would fit HE4XX, I think. Also, has anyone had a similar bass experience as me with the HE4XX? Or do I just have a weird head/ears?
Anyway, to sum up, after doing some tweaking/pad rolling, the HE4XX is a great deal for $169+pad cost. Lots of detail and clarity with some good speed and nicely textured sound. If I was given them without knowing anything about them I would probably put them $250-$300 after a pad swap. I paid $300 for my HE-400 and have zero regrets, despite its flaws.
Anyways, questions are welcome and any pad advice would be appreciated!
I totally forgot about this post. I was going to update it when I found pads that worked. I had Focus Pads (not the A) on my HE-400 so I ended up putting the Focus Pads on the HE4XX and the Focus Pads A on the HE-400. This gave the HE4XXs much better bass for me (I don't have to add a gap to increase the bass like the A pads) and it didn't ruin the sound for the HE-400 either, although, to be honest, they don't get much head time since the HE4XX is pretty much better than the HE-400 in every possible way. At ~$200 ($169 + pads) I feel these are the best deal in headphones right now. So, to sum up, I put shelf liner in mine and changed the pads to the Focus Pads and that fixed the harsh treble and lack of bass respectively. The Super Best Audio Friends post with images of both version of the Focus pads as well as how the apply the shelf liner is on this page (about 2/3 of the way down the page).
Nice review. Thx! Do you own Senns HD6XX/600/650, and how do these compare to those headphones if you do?
I do own the HD6XX but I don't know if I'm the right person to ask for a comparison because I'm not a big fan of the HD6XX. It has better mids and smoother highs compared to the HE4XX but the bass reaches down lower than the 6XX (after I monkeyed with the pads and/or swapped them) and the treble is much more crisp and lively. I really don't understand how a "reference" headphone like the HD6XX can be missing bass below like 50hz... but I digress. I would say that the HE4XX sounds more exciting and engaging. I find the HD6XX rather boring. So much so, in fact, that they are getting virtually no head time lately.
As with all audio advice, YMMV. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Thx very much for the reply. About what I was expecting to hear from what I read so far. I am on the fence because I'm not sure if I want crisper highs. These seem to be about a step below the Monoprice 1060's at $100 less. Makes them intriguing at this price.
The M1060 have their own problems. They do offer a richer sound but I really disliked them stock. They had a harshness/distortion in the uppermids that made them hard to listen to stock. The headband also caused a hotspot after about an hour. I also HATE pleather so the stock pads had to go anyway. I got Audeze Vegans for mine but unfortunately you can't buy those anymore. After padding the headband and swapping pads they are the most comfortable headphone I have and they sound really good. A lot of people have no problem with the stock sound or comfort. But, just either be prepared to buy some ear pads (there are several options out there that fit) and/or pad the headband. I wouldn't consider the M1060 a $300 headphone, more like $365 for me after modding. With that being said, if you buy those be sure to listen to them extensively BEFORE you go about modding them because you may love them stock.
With all of that being said, I think the HE4XX is a better buy over all due to the law of diminishing returns (unless you are a total bass head, then the M1060+EQ=Killer Bass). Is the M1060 worth 2x the price of the HE4XX? Not in terms of raw sound quality.
No bass below 50hz?! Bummer. That has definitely never been my experience with any Senn HD. What amp?
50hz may be an exaggeration but it has zero subbass thump. I've tried the 6XX on all of my amps. Magni v1, IFI ICAN SE, Bravo Audio Ocean, Yamaha receiver, e10k, and a vintage Technics amp. None of them gave me subbass thump, even the ICAN with the bass switch on. It just starts to distort. It feels like a limitation of the driver. Makes listening to electronic music pointless. The rest of the frequency sounds pretty good though. Not nearly as dark and laid back as the reviews made me think.
I actually like the hd650 on electronic music... but I like the ad2000x on electronic music too......
guess I'm not much a basshead lol
Hey, I would like to apply the shelf liners on my HE4xx but have never done any headphone mods prior to this. There happen to be any sort of tutorial outlining how to apply the liners? I checked out the superbestaudiofriends thread you referenced but I can't seem to find much. Any help would be appreciated, thanks.
What did you use for the headband padding? These things are heavy and I'm bald so it feels like I have a brick on my head.