It's time to update this thread. After another series of upgrades to my audio chain (tube rolling, netfilter, battery-powered laptop in stead of mains PC), one evening I took the time to re-evaluate the pad options on three of my favourite cans that have similar earcups and drivers, the AKG Sextett MP & LP and this Sextett clone
, the Philips N6330.
I took a 15 minute set of 4 of my favourite test tracks (classical, acoustic, folk and pop) and played these through these 3 sets on the following pads:
1) strongly flattened AKG pleather pads that came with one of the Sextets
2) slightly flattened but still quite firm pleather pads that came with the Philips
3) brand new AKG pleather pads (all of these with an inner diameter of 59 mm
4) orange genuine leather pads (50 mm
5) blue pads of a slightly different production run than the orange (52 mm
First of all, some words on the topic of comfort. The original pleather pads are indeed softer than the leather ones. But with (1) and even a bit with (2) the ears touch the plastic screen. The pleathers are sweaty, while the leather ones are not. They are literally cool pads. Because the inner diameter of the pleather pads is 59 mm and the leather ones are at least 7 mm smaller, some people (those with relatively big ears
) might not be able to wear them comfortably. In my own case the blue ones are OK, but the orange ones are on the edge. By the way, apparently the blue, red and brown ones are of the same production, and as we will see later, these are the ones you want. The orange and black ones are newer, slightly smaller and don't sound as good. The big advantage of these leather ones is that they hardly flatten over time. In fact, that was one of the main reasons the seller started to manufacture them, for his own extended studio use.
So, how do they sound? The numbering is actually almost in order of preference.
1) The flat ones are just that: flat. They are warm, but messy, fuzzy and plain unpleasant.
2) In my original post I wrote that I preferred these to brand new ones. Now I'm not so sure anymore. I'd say they are on a par, but they do different things. This one is whole. It present a coherent image with a slightly collapsed sound stage, slightly warm, pleasant on the ear, and quite musical. Invites enjoying the music rather than analyzing it.
3) These brand new ones have the most well-defined sound stage of all options. It is also somewhat more transparent than 2, but a bit sibilant, and kind of cold and dry. It is good for an analysis of individual instruments, but not that strong in musical harmony. I have come to appreciate it however and for some music it sounds better than 2.
4) These orange beauties are actually quite similar to the blue ones. The leather used is a bit thinner and harder (according to the manufacturer) than the blue and as mentioned the inner diameter is 2 mm smaller. Either of these things could be responsible for the difference in sound. Still their signatures are more similar than different, compared to the pleather pads. I will save my final praise for the blue ones. I'll just say that the orange ones have a similar tonal signature, but the sound stage is more constricted, I'd say on a par with 2, and the harmonics don't work that well together. It gives a slightly fragmentary impression. Still, I prefer this one to any of the pleather options. Read on!
5) This one is an almost perfect balancing act. It has a coherent and believable sound stage that is only slightly less defined than (3). Compared to the best aspects of numbers 2 and 3, it has a lot more detail, is much more transparent, is cleaner all over the frequency range, has very natural tonal harmonics that resonate in a way that I can only describe as natural and "live"-like. They are so "sweet" yet clear and really involving. Needless to say these are now my favourites.
I have just now ordered another set, this time red ones, and they are indeed similar to the blues with 52 mm and they sound exactly as good. Because I alternate between my MP and Philips, they now both have the best pads they deserve. I'm happy!