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When you get your headphones pop out the little black ring that holds the metal grills on these headphones. Carefully remove the metal grill and do be really careful because the strong magnets at the back of the headphones will suck the metal mesh right in and you don't want to damage anything removing it. There's a think black mesh on the backside of the metal grill. Peel it off and then put the metal grill back in place carefully. Pop the black plastic retention rings back on and enjoy. After doing this you should be able to see the back of the driver through the grill pretty easily. It's a really easy 5-10 minute mod and trust me just do it and thank me later.
The little filter on the inside of the grill traps sound inside making the headphones sound much more closed in than they actually are. Basically you get really freaking wide soundstage once you peel the filter off without changing imaging in the headphone really. I think it might make treble a little clearer too but I might be imagining that but it definitely makes the headphones sound to my ears dramatically wider in soundstage. They go from medium to soundstage to wow I'm hearing stuff way behind me and to the right or left and you feel kind of like you're in the front row of a concert. You don't lose any vocal intimacy either, which is really nice. It just allows instruments to have a wider range of placement within the soundstage. If you want to demo the filterless sound without removing the filter paper to see if you like it first you can just run the headphone without the grills on at all and you should be able to tell very quickly whether or not you like the wider sound.
Just got the cans, so glad i did too because theyre amazing. Fit nicely into my headphone collection. Im gonna try the mod you recommend. I can hear how the mesh affects the soundstage so what's the best way to pop it out?
Just peel it off. It's just a glued on piece of fabric so it's not too hard to take off.
As far as the grill goes, what tool did you use to pop it out? Also do you wedge it inbetween the shell and the grill? Trying to be as copacetic as possible.
Just tried this on 1 ear. Whoa! It really widens an already airy can (compared to the 6xx).
Ready to peel off the other side now.
Yup lol. Its so much wider and more engaging without those filt isn’t it. Well at least I personally find it much more engaging.
Ripped all of mine all out. Amazing how such a thin piece of cloth does so much.
And i would've thought they'd use acoustically transparent fabric.
I think it is supposed to be acoustically transparent but like you can only do so much. I experimented with replacing the cloth and I just couldn’t find a fabric that didn’t close in the sound. These hifimans just want to be as open and transparent as possible in the back. The front of the driver can be played with a bit more but that back just seems to love being open. I’m still experimenting with different stuff but removing those bits of cloth is such a nice and easy upgrade. Super worth doing.
Have you guys noticed that these cans are a little finnicky, specifically in bass distortion. How do you run these things? Imma try lowering the gain on my mk2.
Did the left side. Wow you dont loose anything just gain sound stage! It's as if i have my hand over my right ear that's how big the sound stage difference is.
Edit: just did the other side in total this tiny change really brings these headphones to life. Even my reference cans don't make seem as if im watching live. Perfect amount of treble for my taste too. Neutral mids with clean punchy bass. May I have found my perfect music profile?
I did love the change as well. I wasn't sure if I was imagining it or not but I also thought I heard a slight bump in treble clarity and the bass felt slightly nicer? I'm not a 100% sure and I could very easily be imagining it. I did some further modifications. I opened up the back of the headphone and cut out sticky felt and placed it over the magnets and around the inside of the cup just below where the grills sit. I also added felt on top of the aluminum baffle ring that the pads sit on. It hasn't hurt the sound in any immediately discernible way which is a very promising sound because it means that you can get away with dampening some bits of the outside and even on the inside of the headphone without losing fidelity. Damping those bits means that sound shouldn't bounce around in the cups and resonate reducing slight distortions. At least that's what my limited audio understanding tells me and from my listening with the added felt I feel like it's become a slightly clearer headphone with slightly cleaner sound. This mod is a really experimental one though and I need someone with a lot more headphone modding experience to do it and measure it before I say it's any good. I like it though and I'll be keeping the felt in them.
Also another fun little thing I tested. The foam that comes in the he4xx is a really really nice open cell foam that lets air move through really nicely. I swapped the pads on the he4xx to a set of ZMF Ori pads with the treble filters off but I found the treble too be just a little bit too hot so I cut out bits of the foam in the shape of the inside of the pads and that seems to have backed off the treble just a bit without affecting anything else in a terribly noticeable way because the foam is so open. You can blow air right through it and hold your hand on the other side of the foam and it feels like there's nothing in the way. I do recommend if you do cut foam inserts for your headphone earpads that you cut it quite a bit bigger than you think you might need and stuff the extra foam into the edges of the pad so that it's held pretty securely to reduce the risk that the foam itself will vibrate with certain frequencies but yeah this little addition has helped back up the treble just a bit to a more comfortable level.
Attached (second picture) is a picture of the cloth that you're removing. There's a fine cloth mesh over the metal circular grill of the HE 400s (Massdrop intentionally masks model numbers to confuse and boost sales, but these are the 400s, not 400i). This mod, while irreversible, is fairly easy to perform once you get comfortable popping out the circular plastic ring around the grill.
Be aware the circular plastic ring around the edge has 4 outcroppings on it designed to snap into cup holes. This isn't complicated, just look for them. This isn't mentioned in the linked head-fi post.
This irreversible mod has NO EFFECT ON THE SOUND of course. Look at the thin fibers over the holes. Obviously these thin cloth fibers aren't causing reflections back into the cups and closing the sound stage. What you lose by doing this mod is removing dust protection offered by the thin, non-audio-effecting cloth cover. You should A/B test using the headphones without the metal plate entirely (not removing the cloth from it), and if you can't hear a difference with the plate on / off, it's not worth removing the cloth from the grill.
These headphones are also sensitive to position on the head, and small changes placing the drivers differently over the ears can change the sound signature, making it extremely difficult to definitively say anything about this mod compared between removing and re-adding the metal grills. Without measurements or a blind A/B test comparing two cans, there's no reason to suspect removing the cloth will do anything.
The only thing this mod showed me is that Massdrop, or maybe HiFiman, doesn't do good quality control, because there was sticker residue left directly on the driver on both of the cups (first picture). I'm grateful I found it and could peel it off.
i dunno man I didn't have any stickers or residue or anything in mine and removing the cloth on the back of that plate has affected the sound pretty drastically for me. In fact, I know hifiman themselves showed us how to do this mod and it's effects on one of their earliest headphone models but I can't find the link to that anymore. I can certainly hear the change in soundstage with and without the grills on and with and without the cloth. The change for me was pretty night and day but I guess your mileage may vary?
I did a simultanious a/b. I can say without a doubt it made a difference. The one side with the mod performed was a bit more open in soundstage with a slight push in treble, breathed much nicer. This mod did exactly what it was intended for.
So I've found another really impactful and enjoyable mod. I mentioned earlier about the positive effects of felt on the sound of the headphone. I did some digging on audiophile forums and stuff and I've found something far better than felt for the job https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B019M3LHXE/ref=cfb_at_prodpg. This material called Sorbothane is a special plastic/rubber thing that's made to absorb shocks and vibrations (including acoustic dampening). I cut out strips of sorbothane and replaced the felt I put on each magnet with sorbothane. I then cut out rectangles of sorbothane and put the squares with little gaps in between each on top of the felt I already put beneath the ridge that headphone grill sits on. The sorbothane had basically the same effect the felt did but instead of being a subtle sort of effect this is a definite significant improvement in detail and it had a smoothing effect on sound signature. I already loved the tuning of the he-4xx but the additionally damping seems to have just levelled out the tuning in a really pleasing manner. It also has another bonus that the grill now sits directly on the sorbothane preventing it from vibrating as well. To be fair I did an absolutely garbage job of cutting the sorbothane and it's in completely inconsistent sizes and strips so I think the next thing to do is to make a template for the cutouts and make it much neater and more consistent and try to cover slightly more area in it. I think I can get away with putting some on the pad side as well and on top of the felt ring that comes in there stock.
If the grill gets sucked in, but you just carefully remove it, what damage does it/can it potentially cause?
(I totally got both grilles sucked in but I don't think it really did anything, just trying to cover my bases. They also do sound better with this mod, thanks!)
So long as the grille edges don't slice up the planars and only hit the magnets, think you should be good to go
Nothing really as long is doesn't slice the thin little wire or scratch the metal bits underneath the magnet. My warning is mostly to be careful because those thin wires are very very fragile. I had the same thing happen to me but thankfully it only stuck to the magnet. As long as the wires and the drivers are undamaged you're 100% okay.
Thanks a ton! Really appreciate the advice
No problem! Enjoy the music :P. I know I do with those cloths out. So much wider and more fun sound.
Follow up on the sorbothane. I added some more on the inside of the earpad mounting ring and I feel like there's another significant bump in quality this time in the treble and I think in the base as well. I also think there's a significant bump in detail now. I listened to Feel Good Inc after applying all the mods and for the first time ever I noticed that song has basically a whole other song playing quietly underneath the main track! I was so weirded out that I looked it up and here it is isolated on reddit. I think I'm approaching about as high quality sound as I can get without doing really drastic changes that I do not have the skill or confidence to make. I wish I knew more about acoustics because everytime I crack these babies open they just seem to keep getting better but at this point I'm at a loss. I think all that's left to do is make a clean template for the sorbothane cutouts. https://www.reddit.com/r/gorillaz/comments/38pe1h/whats_that_sample_in_the_background_of_feel_good/.
Do you use anything to cover the grilles to protect from dust when not being used now that the felt is removed?
I haven’t really bothered. I don’t think you really need to honestly unless you live in a very dusty or sandy environment and plan to use these portable but i know some have run other hifimans entirely without the grill for years
Just chiming in to say that I just tried this and it sounds great, a noticable improvement, thanks for the heads up. There don't appear to be any downsides to it. Although the right grill now clicks when I squeeze it in, but it doesn't cause any rattle and I'm sure I could damp it if I needed to.
You're doing something similar to "fazors" like in Audeze. It helps guiding the sound wave. GJ +1