Looking at the picture above, some of you might guess that these Somics recently took a quick trip to Minnesota... and you would be correct. :)
When they returned home, I put my 840 pads on them and for sure, recabling gives you everything you would expect: Stronger bass, a fuller mid range and a wide sound stage where all the vocals and instruments are just where you expect them to be, side to side and front to back.
But when you put Hifiman pads on, the real magic begins!
But first, those of you with 840 pads, if you hold them up to the light, you will notice that that the dampening material is quite opaque, the light passing through is pretty dim. In the same way, this material allows the lower half of the frequency band to pass through directly, but the upper half is significantly attenuated, or "dimmed".
On Shure 840s, I would assume that the naked output of their drivers must pretty bright, with very strong highs, so this material is necessary to tame the highs, resulting in a more balanced presentation. However, it would seem that the Somic drivers are nowhere near as bright as the Shures. So when we listen to the Somics with 840 pads, we notice a very full and lush lower mid range and bass, but I have also noticed that the highs and upper harmonics are too muted. As delicious as the vocals were, cymbals never sounded right to me.
I don't know how much credit to give to the engineers at Somic, but it is not unreasonable to believe that the dampening cloth glued onto their drivers was selected to provide a relatively balanced frequency spectrum. I would be willing to bet this is part of the reason why some people prefer pads with no dampening material, such as the Philips CitiScape Uptown pads, and using the stock dampening material, to the 840s.
So now, back to the magic... Take the 840s off, put the stock dampening material back on, and then the Hifiman pads. First impressions, you will likely think something is missing. And something is missing! That overly lush mid range is gone resulting in a much more balanced presentation - which might sound too thin at first...
Give yourself a few days to allow your mind to wrap itself around this new sound. Listen to all your favorite music, and I think you just might be as stunned and pleased as I am now.
Recabling plus hifiman pads have transformed these headphones from very good to AWESOME! :)