Okay, I'm about two hours in with the new pads and I have to say that I'm really impressed with the improvement in sound quality. Here is what I hear:
Sound stage is even bigger-goes beyond shoulder width and now has a somewhat 3d sound. I can hear and locate each instrument and listen to it individually. It's also more layered. I don't want to oversell this really. I just didn't expect much from a pad change.
Bass-was expecting a fairly good drop of here. Nope...not at all. No loss of impact and it goes just as low. The only difference is that the bass is just a little tighter. Now I'm a self professed bass head trying to be an audiophile. So I wasn't excited about giving up any bass. With that said, I have no issue with the change here, it is actually better for me.
Comfort-The velours are a nice upgrade on the comfort. It's softer on the ears and now less fatiguing for longer listening. These pads do not however seem to breath as well as the Beyer pads. Not bad but just a little stuffy compared to the Beyers. The velours are about 1/4 thicker so they move the driver that much away from the ear. This is probably where the improved sound stage comes from.
Then there was one thing about the change I couldn't quite put my finger on. Something familiar now about the way the he400 sounds after the pad change. Then as I was writing this it dawned on me...the he400 now sounded reminiscent of the he500. With the stock pleather, they had more of the american signature sound with a bit more bass. But now the "quality" of the mids and highs reminds of when I owned the he500. I would consider this a complement for what it's worth.
Very intriguing pad impressions. Might try a pair in the near future too.
In terms of pad depth differences, from the photos I've seen of HE500 unboxings the velour pads seem to be rounder but less deep than the pleather pads. Are you sure they are physically deeper and not just have stiffer foams propping your ears out more?
Edited by jerg - 4/21/12 at 3:27pm