Originally Posted by Bill-P
I had a bunch of pads lying around, and seeing as the HE-560 is so sensitive to pad rolling, I thought... why not?
Here are my impressions on numerous ear pads I have that fit the Hifiman rings, in no particular order:
Beyerdynamic stock white velour ear pads: Obtained from a trade. These... are something to behold. The soundstage opens up and extends to infinity. It is so massive that in some recordings, there are sounds that are pushed far into the distance, and they become almost too faint to notice. Had I not known the recording well enough, I would have overlooked such details. As a result, I had to push the volume up further than my usual comfort zone, but that resulted in some sibilance as... you guess it, the stock white Beyer ear pads sound almost like how the Focus Pads sound. Only... they push a lot more treble in there. The soundstage is impressive, but the occasional sibilance and overly bright sound is not something I was willing to put up with. For those who have an overly warm and mellow amp that rolls off the high end significantly (as in... you think the HE-560 sound "dark"), I think these ear pads are the right fit for you guys. Oh, talking about "fit", they are more comfortable than the Focus Pads, and even more than the Focus Pads A, which are padded too thick.
Audio Technica ATH-W1000's original protein leather (pleather) ear pads: bought an extra pair for my W1000. I figured... why not put them on the HE-560 and see how the HE-560 would behave. Wow... before we even go into sound... I'd just like to say... the comfort shoots right through the roof. The W1000 ear pads are extremely soft, so the clamping force of the HE-560 is no longer felt. The leather material is smooth to the touch. Pretty much the only thing left I can complain about comfort is that there is possibility of the pleather making me sweat after a while, but that's a minor problem. Okay, as for sound, the W1000 ear pads seems to contain some Audio Technica magic, so the whole presentation is smooth and very liquid even though I'm driving the HE-560 with a solid state amp. It's like attaching a tube to the HE-560 permanently. And yet clarity is improved. It's like lifting a veil. The Beyer pads do lift a veil but they are too bright for me to notice the extra clarity. I haven't heard anything quite like this since auditioning the Zana Deux. It's quite amazing. How about soundstage? Just a smidge less than the Beyer pads, and is generally either on par with or better than the stock Focus Pads. Until I find something better, I think these will stay as my main ear pads. Here's the only drawback that I noticed: the HE-560 sounds slightly thinner with these on compared to the other ear pads. I think that's due to the slight recession in the lower mid region. Nothing a bit of EQ (hardware... since my McIntosh has EQ knobs) can't fix, though.
Beyerdynamic stock protein leather (pleather) ear pads: ripped off my good ol' DT770 that I broke. These are the second step below the velour ear pads, and IMO, they are just the right balance of sound. Soundstage is only slightly behind the velour ear pads, and treble is sweetened up a notch. Basically, they sound like a blend between the Focus Pads and the Focus Pads A, only with more upper midrange. I think these have the velour pads beat in terms of sound quality. On that note, their drawback is that they are very stiff, so they can get a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps even more so than the Focus Pads. Their sound is just so right, though. It was a toss up between this one and the W1000 pads for me, and then I went with W1000 pads, but I think many will prefer this one.
eBay pleather ear pads for Beyer DTxx0 headphones: well, just something I bought a while ago for fun because... $10? Why not? These actually turn out to sound quite nice with the HE-560. Treble is rolled off in a polite but obvious manner, and yet upper midrange is still preserved. With these on, the HE-560 strongly reminds me of the LCD-2, except that the soundstage is still slightly open, and with some air. I think those looking for a sound that's obviously darker than stock will love these. They're $10, so the damage is very minimal compared to the other offerings mentioned here.
Yeah, the HE-560 is very sensitive to pads rolling, no doubt. For now, I am happy with the W1000 ear pads. I get the feeling they will absolutely love the L3000 ear pads (even more rolled off treble, stiffer so more bass), but I don't have a pair to test as of now. Perhaps someone who has them can chime in.