Just caught up since I last posted. Boy, does this thread move fast!
5. After (conservatively) literally 100's of individual mods to 4 sets of T50RP's and countless hours of side-by-side comparisons, I have concluded:
* T50RP's can be improved
* Rastapants 2 is very good but I like my BMF's more because they satisfy my preferences just as mrspeakers tuned his to suit his preferences. There is no "right or wrong" way or "best" way. It simply comes down to personal taste, preferences, opinions, equipment, etc. That is why you can read everything about modding and a multitude of opinions but you will never know which is better for you until you try them for yourself.
* As good as I have been able to make them, and as good as they are for < $100 cans, modded T50RP's are no match for Shure SE535's and LCD2's. In my opinion, the LCD2's and SE535 are in another league with superior soundstage, deep-textured-controlled bass, clarity-space-and air, absence of bass bleed into the midrange, to die for mids, and transparent treble. SE535's give the LCD2's a run for the money. It is not surprising to me that the modded T50RP's (mine) have consistently been bested considering the SE535 has 2 bass an 1 treble balanced armatures per side and the LCD2 is open and 4 or 5 times the driver size compared to T50RP's. If I had never heard the SE535's and LCD2's, I would be very happy with my modded Fostex. In fact, I am very happy with them for their low price and very good sound, once modded.
* Simple is better. The easiest mods and best bang for the buck, as far as I am concerned, are Paxmate in the cups, plasticine in the baffles, stock bass port felt intact, Paxmate covering 3 of the 4 bass port vents on the inside of the cups, the baffle vents open, and a Paxmate ring under stock ear pads. For the trouble of putting plasticine in the little holes around the driver, the effort was not worth the results to me. For $15, Shure 840 pads offer a good upgrade (except for the difficulty of putting them on) and keep the total modded price under $100.
* Stiff felt is definitely better than limp felt.
* Stock white driver felt, 2 layers of 3M Transpore tape, and 1 layer of stiff craft felt are too close for me to tell a difference.
* Shure 840 pads are definitely better than stock, cost $15, and are a pain in the butt to put on - make this your last and final mod.
* Music straight from my MacBook Pro vs Dacmini is definitely different, favoring the Dacmini by a wide margin. Still, if I had never heard the Dacmini I would be happy with the MacBook Pro, alone. Yes, it can drive the modded T50RP's.
* Paxmate over baffle plasticine was not better than plasticine, alone, with my mods.
Thanks for all of your time and effort in doing these side-by-side comparisons. I've personally found them very helpful in figuring out where to focus my mods. It's been a great resource to the thread to have someone systematically testing each and every variable.
BTW, as an aside, I found the 840 pads to be much easier to put on, if you roll the flaps over the earpads, put them into position, and then roll them onto the headphone baffle. This way, you have much less chance of the flaps getting stuck between the earpad and baffle.
I just tried it to be sure, and as I expected the RP2 does not work at all with the stock pads. Huge midrange hump, no top or bottom.
I had sent a note to Hennyo predicting exactly this when I found out he didn't have the O2 pads. The phone is peaky and not balanced, with a midrange boost, though Hennyo said removing the ear side phone helped with this...
For those who have the O2 pads, the first time you put them on, you'll hear a big drop in the opposite way, the mids get sucked out. The RP2 was designed to flatten this. It works pretty well with the 840, but the bass isn't as powerful as I'd like and the top doesn't sparkle, though the mids are good. I'd say the 840 is at 70% and the stock pads are not worth considering. Should be easy to fix the 840, but the stock pads won't work with this config.
So PLEASE be clear, if you don't have O2 pads, it's OK but not awesome with 840, and the stock is totally not recommended. I would really only recommend this if you have the O2 pads. The original Rastapants were tuned for the 5000 and 840 pads.
Since multiple people seem to have tried this with the 840 or stock pads, my apologies if I confused people.
EDIT: stock pads were totally in my head, 840 kind of close in. O2 deep and wide. VERY different.
This makes sense. When I switched to the 840 pads, the immediate thing I noticed was that the mids settled into the rest of the spectrum better, which made the bass a bit more commanding and the treble more upfront in the presentation. I can only imagine the O2 pads further increasing this gain, given that they move the drivers even a bit further away from your ears and possibly creating a better seal. On side by side comparisons to the LCDs, I'm detecting a slight upside-down U-shaped curve with the 840. The mids are more upfront in the presentation on the Fostex, while the LCDs have the mids planted more evenly with the rest of the spectrum. I imagine the O2 pads making these perfect with your particular tuning.
I've been listening to the (mostly) Rastapants 2 exclusively for the past couple of days, and I must say I'm thoroughly enjoying them. I agree with what you found in that the mids are slightly more defined. The articulating edges of the notes are slightly sharper than the LCD-2, although it's very close. I'd say if the Fostex is 100%, then the LCDs are about 98%. I'm assuming the difference is even a bit more pronounced for you because you're comparing to the Rev. 1.
I think now we are getting the clash between a lot of people trying to have the best mod, and while we're not all competing, its hard to be passive about the fact that other people are getting stellar results with different configurations.
I'm really glad everyone has put so more work into this, and I get to reap a lot of the benefits just by reading about it and trying it on my own. Thanks to all!
Yeah, I don't think this is the case at all. I feel that this thread for the most part is full of people who are encouraging of each other, and not about any sort of competition.
It's always a sensitive subject when people share their hard work for the rest of the community to try and test, but people have been tactful in voicing any disagreements so far. Also, people have to remember that there are dozens of variables at play that may affect the sound, like gear synergies or even the listener's mood at the time, that don't even have anything to do with the actual mods. Or, maybe a certain specific mod doesn't mesh well with the rest of the mods in another person's headphone (which is why I try to disclose all of my mods when giving impressions of anyone else's ideas). That's why it's so hard to get many universal truths on these things etched in stone. But, still the testing and impressions is very valuable to the rest of the community.