My experience has been very different than yours. I've owned three HD540 I (which came with steel cables) and four HD540 II (which came with copper cables). I've tried these headphones with at least half a dozen sources, including both tube and solid state amps. In every instance using either of the stock cables on either model of headphone, I found the steel cable to sound too harsh, and in every instance, I preferred the sound using the copper cable. I've also used these headphones with a bunch of aftermarket cables, including ones that I've built myself. And again in every instance, I found the sound of the steel cable to be the least desirable.
Interestingly, one of the best sounding cables I've found to use with the HD540 II is the stock cable from a Denon D7000 (with the Sennheiser ends added, of course). With the HD540 II, I even prefer the sound of this Denon cable to that of a Stefan AudioArt Equinox and a Cardas smurf blue, both of which cost more than the headphones.