Swapping pads on the ATH-W100
May 19, 2002 at 1:43 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

JML

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 26, 2001
Posts
1,326
Likes
315
I received my AudioTechnica ATH-W2002 leather ear pads from AudioCubes last week, and this morning I put them on my ATH-W100, in place of the stock artificial material pads that came on the headphones.

The W2002 pads come in a flat white cardboard box, and are inside an unsealed plastic liner bag. I don't have a digital camera, and I hope the text gives you an idea of what's involved. From what I can see in the pictures of the other AudioTechnica headphones, especially the wooden ones, the process is probably the same for all of them.

EDIT: The same is true for the ATH-W1000.

The pattern of the two pads is indeed identical. The only difference in materials is the three-piece covering on the padded section, which is a slightly glossy very smooth black leather on the W2002. The W100's artificial material has a more matte black finish, with a consistently pebbled appearance. The W2002's leather is clearly real leather, with a slightly irregular visual texture from the pores on the leather. The difference in feel (to one's fingers) is slight -- the W100's artificial material is actually a bit smoother and softer. The W2002's leather is extremely soft, with a smooth finish; the W100's material almost feels like it has a microscopically napped texture. The piece of material that holds the pads to the earpieces appears to be identical on both (it's artificial and extremely thin), as is the inner gauze/foam fabric that goes over the drivers. The W2002's outer seam is in identical places on both earpieces, but the W100's outer seams do not line up at all (they were on opposite sides on mine).

Once mounted, I found the W2002's leather pads to be more comfortable -- the headphones stay in place better (but I have also changed the fit of the cans by making the twin spring tubes more elliptical than round). It also seems a bit cooler, which I had hoped for, because leather should absorb moisture and permit evaporation, while the artificial material has no pores. I've noticed some moisture on the W100 pads after listening sessions, but I haven't seen any on the W2002 pads.

The swap was easy. Removing the old pads and mounting the new ones took me less than ten minutes, once I gathered the courage (that part of the process took me almost a week!). There are no directions enclosed with the pads, and I'm glad I had already replaced pads on my Sony MDR-V6 (for the Beyer DT-250 pads) -- the process is just about identical, and it was actually more difficult to replace the pads on the V6.

Don't try this unless your fingernails are smooth and short -- you don't want a nail to snag or pierce the leather pad or the inner fabric that goes over the drivers! The part of the pad that is leather over foam padding is uniform in thickness, but the artificial material that goes onto the earpieces to hold the pads on the headphone is "directional," and wider for about 40% of their circumference -- that matches the form of the earpiece once you take the pads off. Do one earpiece at a time. Before pulling off the pads, I marked, with tape, the two points where the mounting form began to get thicker, but that proved to be unnecessary, as the earpiece form is clearly designed to accept the pads as they're cut and sewn.

EDIT: There's usually a seam in the outer circumference of the pads, and that seam goes on the bottom, near the half-moon part of the housing (the cable goes into that part on the left earpiece). The pads will fit on either side, but it looks better to have the seam on the bottom -- my W2002 pads have the seam in that location. Some samples of the W100 or W1000 pads appear to have the seam in another location, such as the top/back of the earpiece.

Pull off the old pad by grasping it along the entire circumference, near the visible part of the metal earpiece frame and pull it off gently and slowly, twisting it a bit. (I used my knee to hold the other earpiece away.) Or you can put your fingers inside the pad, by the driver, over the gauze foam/fabric driver cover, and stretch/lift the pad off the routed mounting slot. Find the thickest part of the mounting form, and line it up with the widest part of the pad's mounting material. Then slip on the pad by putting the pad's mounting material into the routed or machined slot on the earpiece, starting with the widest/thickest part. Once you have the wide part of the mounting material in place, hold it on at the two end points with the fingers of one hand, and then insert the fingers of your other hand into the earhole of the pad, all the way to the outer rim, and stretch it over the rest of the earcup, until it falls into the routed slot all around. Do this gently, and a bit at a time, starting at one point and going around. Hold the pad on with your other hand on as you stretch and raise the pad over the slot (this is just like mounting a tight bicycle tire on a rim -- and the pad might similarly slip off one side as you stretch the opposite side -- but, unlike the tire & rim, there's only one bead to seat and you can push it on from the inside). Try to stretch the pad over the widest area you can, not just at one point. You may have to rotate the pad slightly after it's on, and then make sure that the inner seam, where the leather and artificial material is joined, is outside the hard part of the earpiece (not uneven, with the seamed material sort of half on and half off). Compare it to the placement and fit of the original pad that's still on the other earpiece, and make sure it's smooth all the way around and matches the curves of the earpiece and the original pad. Then repeat the process for the other earpiece.

EDIT: The W1000 has a thin foam surround glued around the driver mount -- be careful to not tear it! The W100 does not have a foam surround under the gauze pad. And as noted above, the seam on the outer circumference of the pad will probably end up at the bottom of the earpieces. The W100 driver mount is plastic, and it might also have some sharp "flash" on it, so be careful. You can remove the extraneous flash (the excess plastic from being molded) with your fingernail, but don't let it fall into the holes around the driver cover.

Do the pads make the sound different? It's hard to tell, because there's no way to do a quick A/B comparison. I believe the imaging and soundstaging might be a bit more coherent, clear, and focused (it was outstanding before, but things seem to be even better now); but of course I could be imaging that (and I've only listened for an hour or two since swapping the pads). I don't notice any frequency response differences. I didn't expect to hear any sonic difference, however -- the pad actually presents very, very little surface area to the driver/ear interface. The AT drivers are mounted at an angle, only about 1/4-1/8" of the pad (at the back of your ears/head) is actually exposed to the driver in anything approaching a perpendicular fashion, and your outer ear is in between the pad and the driver once the headphones are actually worn. These pads are not as anywhere near as thick as the Beyer pads I mentioned earlier, and the drivers on the AT cans get very close to your outer ears, and are parallel to them.

Was it worth it? The differential of the AudioCubes prices is $22 ($45 vs. $23, plus $10 shipping). Well, it was worth it to me because the headphones are now a bit cooler, drier, and more comfortable. I wanted to have one spare set of pads in storage anyway -- and I might even order another pair of leather ones to keep as backup.

(Edited for more detail and clarity, and to add references to the W1000.)
 
May 19, 2002 at 2:48 PM Post #2 of 13

The Quality Guru

Blah! he says.
Joined
Jan 27, 2002
Posts
887
Likes
10
Great instructions, JML. A very handy resource for those who'd like to replace the pads on their W100.

I was considering replacing the pleathery pads on my W100 when they started to show signs of wear and tear, although I think I'm a bit nervous to meddle with the pads that are on them now . . . though I probably will end up doing it at some time.

And JML,

If you do end up trying those Audio Technica open air cans, I'll be very interested in what you think about them!
 
May 19, 2002 at 3:34 PM Post #3 of 13

JML

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 26, 2001
Posts
1,326
Likes
315
Quality Guru, thanks for the kind words. I think anyone who has any of the AT cans -- and likes them -- ought to buy a set of spare pads and store them away. Because these are not officially exported to the US, it probably is not going to get any easier to get the parts!

Pleather will eventually deteriorate and crack as the plasticizers evaporate, and leather can age, too. I'm storing the originals in ziplock freezer bags to keep them away from ozone and anything that would speed up the aging process, and will probably do the same with any other pads I get.

If I do get the open cans, of course I'll post a review. I keep hoping someone else will order them first -- I think Neruda should.
wink.gif
Following Solomon's postings, and after getting news about Tomcat's at-the-time-yet-to-be-released review, I believe I was the next person on HeadFi to take a chance and order the ATH-W100 from Vincent Chan. That's audio adventure enough for at least six months.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
May 19, 2002 at 5:49 PM Post #4 of 13

Tomcat

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 26, 2001
Posts
1,273
Likes
11
JML,
thanks for this very detailed information! I am glad you like the new real leather pads! I am still torn whether to get them or not. I guess being torn means I'll have ordered them by the end of the week, though.
biggrin.gif
 
Aug 26, 2002 at 9:34 PM Post #5 of 13

Tomcat

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 26, 2001
Posts
1,273
Likes
11
Okay, this hasn't been exactly "by the end of this week", but finally, I have exchanged the stock pads of the W100 with the genuine leather pads of the W2002.

The procedure is a little bit tricky, but if one follows JML's excellent description, it shouldn't be too hard. It took me about ten minutes to change both pads and I guess I used more brute force to get the new pads on than recommended by JML, but it wasn't really difficult. And I'd say it was worth it.

JML, thank you! After your "conehead modification", this has been another very fine tweaking idea that you shared with us.

The genuine leather pads of the W2002 look and feel simply luxurious. They are shiny black and a bit darker than the W100's original pads. And their shape is slightly different as well. My original pads have been bowl-shaped, they are a bit thicker around their outer edge, maybe one eighth of an inch thicker there than the new leather pads. My impression is that the new pads which are flatter and have a more even thickness rest more firmly and comfortably against the skin. And the hollow space between the driver's membrane and the outer ear seems to be somewhat reduced with the new pads. Both effects, the reduced hollow space and the firmer coupling to the head, might explain the sonic differences.

Quote:

I believe the imaging and soundstaging might be a bit more coherent, clear, and focused.


I agree with JML's observation. With the new pads, the W100's soundstage seems to be more focused, and at the same time, the width of the soundstage has been slightly reduced. Instruments sound a little more immediate, there seems to be higher resolution and even more transparency. And the W100's bass is a little deeper and tighter than before. However, the sonic differences are very small, and if one wanted to tune the sound of the W100, JML's conehead mod (bending the two tubes into a slightly oval shape in order to achieve more pressure and a firmer fit) will result in a noticeably bigger improvement.

I have had the new leather pads for about a week now, and once again, I agree with JML that they are definitely cooler. Occasionally, on warm days, I have been sweating when wearing the old pads, but I haven't had this problem with the new leather pads at all.

So, there are three things in favor of the leather pads: they look better, they feel better, and they sound better.

JML: cool idea!
cool.gif
 
Aug 27, 2002 at 4:31 AM Post #6 of 13

Dusty Chalk

Head-Fi-holic: With headphones would just be a benny.
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
6,565
Likes
15
I couldn't get mine to fit.
frown.gif


(EDIT: Just noticed there was a "that's what she said" joke in there...leave it...)
 
Aug 29, 2002 at 4:37 PM Post #8 of 13

Dusty Chalk

Head-Fi-holic: With headphones would just be a benny.
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
6,565
Likes
15
Quote:

Originally posted by Tomcat
Dusty,
you couldn't get the headphone to fit on your head? Or the new leather pads to fit on the headphone?


Ha-ha, are you calling me a big fathead?
biggrin.gif
The latter.
 
Sep 14, 2002 at 11:48 PM Post #10 of 13

dr.orange

New Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Posts
16
Likes
0
I've had a completely different experience regarding sonic changes after replacing the pads. The soundstage seems wider to me now and overall the sound has more dimension. I'd say the w100 sound a lot more like I expected them to sound, based on reviews I read prior to purchase. Based on my experience alone, I'd strongly recommend replacement.
The music I'm basing the commentary on is Lauren Hill's unplugged. I've been listening to the cd for the last days so I'm pretty familiar with the sound. I listened to a song, change the pads, and listened to the same one again, followed by the rest of the cd.
 
Sep 15, 2002 at 4:40 PM Post #11 of 13

Dusty Chalk

Head-Fi-holic: With headphones would just be a benny.
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
6,565
Likes
15
One of the reasons for my hesitancy is that I was going to sell the W100's, and I didn't want to sell a ripped pair. But now I'm not so sure, so will give this a try later.
 
Sep 16, 2002 at 2:02 AM Post #13 of 13

JML

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 26, 2001
Posts
1,326
Likes
315
It's not that difficult, guys! Brute force is not really needed, just the exercise of due care and some forethought.

But then again, if you tear something, I'm not responsible.
very_evil_smiley.gif
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top