After spending quite some time with my modded HE-4, I have to say that I am only slightly undecided between between using a felt circle inside each pad, or using nothing. If I remove the circle from each pad, sound becomes effortlessly open but in expense of very slightly less natural tonality and significantly harsher treble which makes me want to apply some EQing. If I use the circles, sound becomes less open but I have no need for EQing as treble is fine. Note that DAC and amp can make a significant difference here as well - as with HD800, the better gear upstream, the better results ( = less annoying treble, more smooth and even experience).
A complete list of modifications with links and short descriptions of their effect on the sound:
- removed star felt: makes treble somewhat smoother + improves on a sense of openness, imaging and separation
- removed grill, replaced with DIY dust cover: makes HE-4 sound effortlessly open + improves slightly on imaging and soundstage width
- exchanged pads to Hifiman pleathers: makes HE-4 more full in mids and decreases emphasis in lower treble => more neutral
- felt circles inserted directly inside pads (not under them!): slightly corrects HE-4's tonality and helps to mitigate harshness in treble
- using felt inside pads to make them tougher+angled: helps to make HE-4 sound as open and wide as with velour pads + improves slightly on imaging
I am not saying HE-4s are perfect... But I would gladly recommend anyone to mod them similarly like I did because each modification has its purpose and really helps to make the experience complete. As I feel that my job is done in terms of modifying the HE-4, I wanted to sum up what I did and how I feel about it after spending some time with the headphone in an unchanged configuration.
Maybe HE-400i will change my minds... But for now, I haven't heard anything better up to 1000USD and see HE-4 as a spectacular value/performance headphone.
Yup, I've got the LCD 2 Fazor on my head now, and at 65bs it's a step above the HE 4 [and 65 db is a smidge loud for me] how ever if you like to listen at near 50-60 dbs the HE 4 is A KILLER, and even volume matched, for the money the HE 4 gives the LCD 2 Fazor a run for it's money, it should be noted at volume levels below 62-65db the LCD 2 sounds pretty wonky