I was one of them :)
I was one of them :)
j$ Beyers equipped! Will give them a good listen, but I'm fairly certain they are already my favorite and will likely not be swapped any time soon. Excellent comfort, excellent sound and makes the HE-400 all the more classy a lady. I used a thinner nylon (looked similar in transparency to the velours, but with a finer weave) and it seems to be a good pairing so far. I simply took a pair of nylon stockings, cut the toe off and slid the ring into them. I then fitted the pad on, and trimmed the second layer off the back, so no glue needed! The nylon fit snug enough for me to make adjustments without it shifting around. I may try the thicker nylon on the upper part of the stocking (similar to the pleathers, but finer weave) but that may not be necessary, as these sound fantastic, and are not noticeably more bright or sibilant compared to pleathers I was previously using IMO.
Got the Beyer J$ pads today.. the comfort is good.. sinfully good. This quality of comfort alone makes them worth their (very good) price. I have not transplanted a fabric screen to shield my ears from the drivers but the ample depth of the J$ pads renders it non-issue. Of course, it would help protect the drivers from dust and other such particles, but I tend to baby my HE-400 (stored in a very clean cabinet hutch) & the HE-400 doesn't leave my living room when in use (working from home has its perks).
My listening up until this point had been with the velours & a stock HE-400 (no mods). The sound with the J$ pads vs the velours? Excellent. The HE-400 sounds cleaner from end to end. Bass has noticeably better punch & texture as it feels more fleshed out & detailed. Relative to the velours' midrange, the J$ pads offer a more forward midrange presentation. I sense more midrange body and warmth with the J$ pads vs the velours. This might be because the J$ pads create a gentle boost around 1K (I haven't measured for verification, just going off of what I hear).. which is kind of pleasant as it presents (male) vocals a with a bit more realism.
Treble sounds smoother, but the HE-400's trademark sparkle & air remains firmly in tact. I never found the HE-400's treble fatiguing (unless I was playing a poorly recorded track/album) but for those who did, the J$ pads do a nice job of smoothing the upper frequencies without sacrificing any significant degree of detail & brilliance. That was a bit of a concern with me and thankfully, it's not an issue.
With the J$ pads, the focus of the sound shifts a bit to the mids.. it's still an airy, crisp sounding phone but not as much as it was with the velours. The HE-400 sounds more neutral with the J$ pads.. but the fun, musical touches in the signature are definitely not lost or buried. The soundstage is a little wider, but looses a slight (perhaps negligible) bit of the depth that the velours possessed. I immensely enjoyed the sound of the stock HE-400, but with the J$ pads, it sounds like a better balanced HE-400.
Right now, the J$ pads are my favorites to use with the HE-400, not only in terms of comfort, but sound as well. The velour offers its own, very pleasant signature (which tends to work with jazz really well), but the J$ feel like they bring out more of what the HE-400 is capable of.
about how much farther do the drivers sit away from your ears with the J$ pads as opposed to the stock hifiman pads?
I've been listening the the he400 while pulling the drivers/earcups away from my ears slightly and it definately brings out the bass more. i think it maybe decreases congestion/improves soundstage a little (not that he400 sound congested at all)
It does add bass (both extension and tactility), no questions asked; the added depth and choice of material ensure that.
However I have to disagree on the "added midrange" part too, voices are pushed back quite a bit with the J$'s, especially compared to pleathers / Jergpads; velour pads are somewhat in-between. In terms of midrange bloom, on the other hand, it is pleather/jergpad > J$ > velours (velours midrange sounds the thinnest even though it is a bit more present in sheer volume than J$s, likely due to overdamping).
J$ treble is, again, between pleathers and velours in quantity. IMO it still spills over the "ideal" treble amount a little.
Imaging capabilities and to a lesser degree soundstaging are REALLY nice with J$'s. Has to do with the combination of added distance from drivers and excellent damping. It might sound a bit too diffused for some tracks though, where you'd want intimacy and engagement.
Tallying all those up, J$'s are easily a cumulative upgrade in technicalities over the stock pads. However they were still not quite "the one" for me, hence I spent many hours recently figuring out a pleather mod to try to push it further.
I don't think the J$ pads are perfect.. they offer some improvement in certain areas.. but they also skew the signature toward the mids. Vocals have better presence, but I'm not entirely sure if I love how the lower midrange & vocals are presented. I'll need to to more listening... but if you want the bass presentation (I noted that) these pads offer, a more forward, full midrange, and a slightly attenuated treble.. the J$ pads deliver that (to my ears). Do note I don't have a fabric filter between my ears and the HE-400's (ear facing) drivers. That's said to be a somewhat significant factor in changing the sound, too. I'm not trying to convince you one way or another, just presenting you with what I hear.
As far as expectation bias and all that, I'm certainly not interested in embellishment, hype (I've been in the hobby long enough & heard/owned enough phones to know better), or trying to convince myself these sound better than they do (cause I bought them with my own money). As I've said before.. I'm perfectly happy with the stock, velour-laden HE-400. I bought the J$ pads out of curiosity (and famed comfort) more than anything.. not to change or improve the sound. Even with the noted improvements from the J$ pads, I'm not entirely sure yet if this is the sound I prefer for the long term. While bass has better presence & the mids are more forward, I'm wondering if a certain part of the midrange is too sweet-sounding, at times.
When I tried my hand at modding a Fostex T50RP (way back when) I splurged on a pair of Stax Omega2 lambskin pads (which cost twice the price of the T50RP itself). I loved the pads for their comfort, but they didn't jive with the tuning I was going for.. so I sold them at a loss soon after.
As has been stated by others, certain aspects of the sound change more noticeably than others with pad rolling..but on the whole, these changes aren't night & day, black & white, "sunshine & rainbows bursting from clouds & thunderstorms" or anything.. it's subtle but distinguishable (golden ears not needed).
My source and amp are an ODAC & a Lake People G109-S, so there's little, if any coloration going on upstream.
I should note that when I say a forward midrange.. it's relative to how the velours presented the midrange. With the J$ pads, the mids aren't pushed forward to the extent they were with the HE-500 or a Grado or anyhting.. just more forward than how the velours presented the mids. Again, it's all relative to my ears. The slight attenuation of the treble also plays a role in why I perceive the mids to be more forward.
People don't realize that soundstage can be quite hard to differentiate from memory(or even in general) and you'd need to actually compare the same songs to notice any changes in mids/highs(with the exception of vocals and sibilance), bass is the easiest to judge. People may disagree with this, but then again how can they tell me it wasn't placebo?
I sometimes try have pad x on left pad y on right, so i can simultaneously notice the difference real time, but even then it's not that accurate as different pads(especially increased driver distance) can impact on the db (loudness) too, so you may think one pad sounds more clear/forward mids when in reality it's just higher db, which tells us nothing since we need to know the relative frequency response, not which one is louder.
Most accurate method IMO is if you have the sound of the pads + song engraved hard into your memory then you swap pads and hear the slight differences. Although most inexperienced users will differentiate only like 50% of the differences if they're lucky (lows/mids/highs/transparency/soundstage), the other 50% would just be a guess/placebo, this is mainly due to them not being able to completely recall the song in a strictly analytical manner and of course because they're just recalling from memory which is never as accurate as you may think it is when attempting to differentiate such miniscule differences.
also, people test it with different genre's of music which is a BIG factor in how you interpret the "differences" that the pads provide. It's not standardized and most songs aren't even capable of clearly covering ALL the sound criteria.
obviously the above mainly applies to miniscule differences, not moderate ones. Although I have to admit, even experts tend to overestimate their sound analysis accuracy, your best bet is a frequency response graph. You won't believe how many times I've read different "experts" contradicting each other, the reason why it's usually a consistent opinion is placebo and the aid of them agreeing with frequency response graphs etc. when in reality they wouldn't notice the difference in a blind test, again I have to reinstate it's much harder to distinguish certain sounds in some genres opposed to others.. so I guess sometimes it just depends on what music you listen to