Originally Posted by bowei006
i'm a faint of the heart person when it comes to mods X(
I'm the nervous/careful/paranoid type as well, but the most common mods are pretty tame to be honest: Slip the stock pads off and better ones on (optionally stuff some toilet paper or whatever between the felt part and the pad part), open up the cups, stuff some modeling clay in various crevices, apply some adhesive damping material like Paxmate, optionally apply Dynamat under the Paxmate, optionally mess with the felt on the bass port, optionally fill the cup with cotton balls, optionally tape over the vents, etc. (Dynamat can be a little tricky to use without damaging the wiring, but fewer and fewer mods seem to be using it anymore anyway.) Overall, these mods are nothing to be afraid of.
Some of the really adventurous people go the extra mile and do drilling, cutting, ripping, tearing, replacing the white felt on the back of the driver, etc., but the general consensus is that you don't have to do anything destructive or irreversible just to get a good sound out of these. For instance, LFF's [secret sauce] mods are all reversible, yet his modded T50RP's apparently sound better than the > $900 LCD-2's.
Getting complete flagship-level quality like that might require a lot of patience, creativity, tweaking, or luck, but the general sentiment seems to indicate that you reach the mid-tier ballpark pretty easily with only the most common mods in around an hour (see this post for a basic summary and this wiki for specific mods). By mid-tier, I'm referring to the $300-400 range, which includes the Denon D2000 and traditional giants like the Beyer DT770/DT880/DT990, Sennheiser HD600/HD650, and AKG K701. The headphones in that range are simply a class above entry-level audiophile cans like the M50 and HFI-580, although bassheads might still prefer the HFI-580.
As others have said though, the T50RP doesn't sound very good stock. The stock flaws can be largely alleviated with very simple modding, but that doesn't mean the flaws are so minor that you can just skip the modding part: The stock bass is weak, the highs are rolled off, and the lack of damping and such creates resonances, reflections, etc. If you're totally unwilling to mod, look elsewhere: Almost any other headphone will be a better choice than the stock T50RP, unless you want deeply flawed headphones with only mids, mids, and more mids (actually, the mid-bass is pretty good in stock configuration too, but the sub-bass and highs are very rolled off).
If you want relatively balanced (or modestly colored) headphones, and you're at all willing to do some basic mods, I think the T50RP should be a much better value than the M50. I haven't modded mine yet, so I'm not speaking from personal experience, but I haven't read anything that would suggest otherwise in the least. (The T50RP costs less by itself, and it should cost about the same once you factor in Shure 840 pads, materials, etc.) The HFI-580 is a somewhat more interesting alternative, because it's a totally different type of headphone from the T50RP. The HFI-580's main draw is epic amounts of bass, and I'm not sure if the T50RP can get quite that bass-heavy or not. Even if it can, it would probably take a lot of experimentation and creativity, given most people are aiming for relatively balanced headphones with their mods. Therefore, the HFI-580 is probably a more reliable option if you're a basshead. (In contrast, the T50RP is all about excellent mids, and the modding is about bringing the bass and treble up to the same level, while eliminating resonances/reflections/standing waves.)
Edited by SobbingWallet - 12/5/11 at 6:24pm