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ATTENTION ALL SENNHEISER HD 438 owners or Potential buyers - A simple mod that actually improves the sound

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

The Hd 438 is a decent can with 1 major flaw.  If your bass is set too high, the earpad material will vibrate violently and tickle your face and your ears to the point of just not wanting to use them anymore or totally removing the bass via EQ.  On my sansa fuze, unamped, with the bass set to about 10%, thats barely anything at all, the tickle factor was pretty significant.


The simple tape mod:


So, I decided to try something.  I couldnt get the earpads off, it gave me a lot of trouble.  I called sennheiser to get some support as to how to safely take them off because it was requiring way too much force to pull off and i didnt want to break it.  So, I was told to pinch one end and pull.  It popped right out easily, thankfully.


I placed a simple rolled piece of tape on the top and bottom of both openings making sure to not cover the holes.  Slipped the pads back on.  



The Result


Oh my goodness the rattling and tickle is almost totally gone.  Perhaps later I would replace the tape with felt or something else that will hold more of the back of the earpad directly onto the plastic driver housing.  This is not just a bass improvement, its an overall sound quality improvement.  That 1/4 inch between your ear and the opening itself ruined the sound quality and produced significant rattle factor.  This simple mod almost totally eliminated it and will improve if i add more stick material to it and make sure as much of the back side of the pad is actually stuck to the top of the inside of the cup.  


The sound quality is actually noticeably increased.  Test for yourself and see if you have a pair.  This mod doesnt void your warranty and can be removed with ease so long as you dont use glue.  Im stunned actually.  Im very happy with the results and this needed to be done, i was really stressing out over that damn rattling.  The backside of the earpads created a small screen effect to the music and after i smoothed it all out, it sounds a little more clear.  This can went from bass light to bass "pretty good"


this mod should be a requirement for this set.  I can turn my bass EQ all the way up and there is no sign of rattling or tickling of my ear and face.  Awesome.




post #2 of 35

Does this apply for HD448 too ?


And by the way, how come you have velours pads ???? I'm jealous !!



post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 

I havent used the 448 but im sure it would apply to it if the 448 had the same bass induced rattling.   Just make sure the flat material on the pads are sticking to the top side of the earcup under there and not blocking any holes


The 438 comes with velor pads, and the 428 and 448 have pleather.

post #4 of 35

Nice mod. You'd think Sennheiser would actually use their headphones before selling them to check for obvious defects like this. I suggest using an amp with your fuze to get fuller sound / bass. 

post #5 of 35
Thread Starter 

Oh ya, the 438 needs amping without a doubt and in my review of it, i compared it to the hd485 which also has a 32ohm impedance


one of the two sets is lying because the hd438 is much harder to drive and plays the same song via the same source much lower than the 485


sennheiser needs to recall the earpads for sure, this is a serious problem

post #6 of 35

Nice mod there! I'll be sure to try it with my HD448 if I ever feel they rattle. Sometimes it seems they have a boomy and resonant tone in the low frequencies. It might just be because of this (not today though, they sound wonderful at the moment.) I must confess that I've removed the pads several times on my and messed around with the insides (there are a couple of mods you can try, check out the HD448 thread).


OTOH, the HD448 have a lighter bass and pleather pads, which apparently make it even tighter, so this might not apply. Will try it and post results.


edit: Not much difference here, I guess the velour pads must be the culprit.

Edited by zmd - 9/16/10 at 11:47am
post #7 of 35
Thread Starter 

The pads ruin the sound quality and the bass heavily.  I suspect it is because of their distance from the driver opening as well as the material used.  It just shouldn't have been used and when its forced to stick to the driver hole itself, there is a significant difference in quality as that material no longer will vibrate violently and it will have no choice but to allow more of the sound waves to pass through, since it is now so close to the sound coming out of the drivers openings.


Big difference.  VERY curious to hear results from the HD448.  

post #8 of 35

There's no real difference for my HD448, having just tried the mod for a few songs. They're light on the bass anyway and do not rattle unless being pushed to unhealthy levels, and even then, it's the whole cup. I guess the pleather does have its advantages, eh? :)

post #9 of 35
Thread Starter 

Well, the pleather and the velor pads are different lol...i mean the mod was for the velor pads and those who use them on the 448.  I've heard no reports of the 448 pleathers having such a problem with rattling and clarity.   However, those who use the 438 velors on the 448 do report the same issue.


so, ya i guess its a great thing that the pleather pads dont have this problem on the 448.  :)

post #10 of 35

This mod is really effective, now I have a lot of bass.. Thank you!

It was a bit scary to remove the earpads, but finally I found some help on youtube, and it worked! atsmile.gif

post #11 of 35

sorry for ressurecting a couple months old thread but for the life of me despite the instructions on how to remove the cups in the OP, cannot seem to get them off, only recently after a month or so of wear-in did they start tickling, and only on loud tracks so far, the last poster said they found something on youtube but I cannot seem to find the same info :(


please help! I'm loving my Sennies a lot except for the current tickling on my louder tracks

I bought two sets so I'll need to learn this for if/when I open those too.

post #12 of 35

ugh, this thread just got washed away by the other threads, I need an answer on this as I listen to my music almost every day for hours on end and this is VERY annoying for me (the tickling)


can anyone please help?

post #13 of 35
Thread Starter 

Sorry, didnt see the bump, replied in an pm to yah :)

post #14 of 35

indeed, as well to anyone else that finds this thread and wants to know, you grasp the inside metalish piece on the inside rim of the earpad and the outside at the same spot, pinching them together then pushing it left or right while pulling with a fair bit of force but not *too* much, be careful. getting them back on so that the entire earpad is on again can be tricky, as well make sure you use a fair bit of tape if you're using cheap tape, using two rolled pieces wasn't enough for my set apparently, will have to open them back up and add more as theres still a tiny bit of tickling, I worry I'm wearing down the earpads part that snaps into the drivers spot themselves so again be careful.

once you remove the earpads once it'll be much easier to do again but that does mean that the metal part wears down over repeated removal so don't do it too much either.


thanks for the help swbf2cheater :)

post #15 of 35

I actually followed the instructions and modded my headphones like you suggested. But i cant figure out any change or improvement in sound. I dont feel an increase in the quantity of bass. Although  i didnt have any problem removing the cushions and putting them back in. Am i dumb enough to do something wrong even in this simple mod??

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