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Wow! Sennheiser HD 540 Reference are so good.

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by hairspray, Jun 29, 2013.
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  1. WilliamLeonhart
    My pads nightmare continue... After I got the Burson Play for a review I thought I can re-live some of the old time greatness that I USED TO hear on the HD540 - mainly it fixed the mids. There's this "euphoric" sound somewhere... Then I turn on some Metal track and my HD540 immediately turns into a mess. And the more I listen to it the more I realize that the soundstage is really, really off. It's too closed in.
    I'm not a good DIYer, but I'll need to try. Can anyone tell me what ebay pads they start with and what mods would be needed to make it really close to the stock pads?
  2. sennsay
    I would agree with you, there is definitely something going on, re cables, burn in etc.
    That's terrific that you've had that marketing experience, it all adds to what we can share here and that's what I truly love about Head-Fi and this thread in particular. Haha, the more I listen to other newer sets of cans, the more passion I have for the ones we discuss and love so much here :) I haven't heard the Utopias yet and from the reviews and comments I've read, I would probably much prefer the Focal Clear. Since I have just spent my available $$$ on the a-gd and a brand new set of Yamaha HS8 studio monitors for my (I should say OUR) lounge system, including the new stands coming next week, I won't be investigating any more exy new headphones for a while :)
    Malfunkt likes this.
  3. sennsay
    If it's the stock pads that won't do Metal for you, maybe you need to try another type? Just a thought. Metal tracks have a soundstage .... ? Just kidding ...... mostly, I s'pose Tool has a pretty good soundstage on 10,000 Days. Hmm, maybe you can try some pleather/leather pads, or hybrids there-of.
  4. dakanao
    Hey sennsay, can you tell me how you removed the original pads, and installed the pleather pads? Would really appreciate your info
  5. sennsay
    Sure, mate. The old pads have the plastic rings glued on, I cut them off with a scalpel, since the pads were knackered anyway, then just slipped the rings inside the back of the new pads. Done. The pleather pads are easy to slip the rings into, some of the pads I've bought recently are far more difficult, having the back 'pocket' for the ring come almost all the way out to the ear opening. Any probs just give me a hoy :)
    One thing I've only mentioned very briefly earlier on is that the pleather pads I use are not quite as comfy as the better velour/cloth pads, they are a little firmer.
    However, and it's a biggie, the extension of the bass and sheer linearity of the sound spectrum are superior to any other pads I've used and it's the pleather pads I'll stick with here. This could be different for someone else with their own set-up. I was listening to the beautiful album by Passenger, for the last two nights, "All The Little Lights" which is a 2 CD set, the 2nd of which is all acoustic, just voice and guitar. It's magnificent! The Ref1s as I have them here really shine with this album, a showpiece for having the voice live in and around my head, backed by the guitar well separated from the vocal, yet not so much in distance, more as in a living instrument in it's own space as an accompaniment. His voice is forward yet so utterly devoid of any artifice that any sense of fatigue is not even an issue. It's this ability of my Ref1s that makes them stand out above all other headphones I've ever heard. It's not that they mask and smooth bad recordings, they just seem to keep the humanity behind the over-compressed blech that passes for many recordings these days, or certainly did.
    I played some of the same tracks on the HD250 Linear 1s as well and although the vocal is extremely clear and focused - not as big an image as the Ref1s - and the guitar has a little extra focus with the accents on strings, they just don't do the vanishing act of the Ref1s, where the headphones and electronics have just .. gone!
    Same for the HE400S, very nice, yet I'm still aware of something between me and the musical experience.
    GU1DO and dakanao like this.
  6. GU1DO
    Passenger - All The Little Lights
    nice track , i like it very much ..
  7. sennsay
    Indeed, nicely recorded. The acoustic album is a really excellent addition to the studio album.
    GU1DO likes this.
  8. The Neverhood
    Does anyone have a spare HD540 driver they don't mind selling?
  9. dakanao
    sennsay was totally right about the pleather pads, they gotten quite a bit smoother now, and the vocals are very lovely upfront.
  10. dakanao
    I'm using the standard foam of the pleather pads, and they're just smooth enough for me at the expense of a clear loss of clarity. If I'll put the thinner DT 880 covers in, I fear they'll sound slightly edgy sometimes again. since right now it's on the perfect line of smoothness with those edgy sounds I heard on the original pads.

    That said though, the Sennheiser HD 650 is definitely more refined in the mids and highs in my experience, but I think I'll keep the HD 540, because I like the fit of the round earcups and headband more than the fit of the HD 650.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
    sennsay likes this.
  11. sennsay
    Don't be afraid :) They help really open out the soundstage and allow the clarity of really tiny sounds to be suspended in space. It will also depend on the purity and smoothness of your source, the QP1R is very pure and clean without edge ... unless the recording is as such. I have not the slightest edge/harshness/sharpness in the mids and highs with the system as I have it, so the vocals can be incredibly intimate yet I can be relaxed and non-fatigued at the same time, it's a rare experience and one that I truly treasure. It's why the Ref1s and the Schiit stack are my goto system. Even if the HD6xx has a little more mid detail and top end air, what the Ref1s DO bring to the top end is a sublime instrument and harmonic focus suspended in a dark background that is so immersive, any thought of listening to hifi is banished and I'm no longer aware of listening to headphones ... unlike with the HD6xx/HE400S etc, as good as they may be in some areas they just don't disappear!
    The Ref1s put me in touch with the heart of the musicians, their sheer humanity and the overall rhythmic integrity of the music they are playing. Instantly. They were like that even when they didn't sound this good or this refined in their earlier days (years!) of life. Now they just get right out of the way and there is only music, not hifi gear.
    All credit to the Mimby/Magni 3/QP1R and the fabulous Slinkylinks interconnects as well. And that's with AIFF files and not DSD and to only a slightly lesser degree with good quality mp3s.
    The HD6xx are better with the a-gd R2R-11, but still don't just disappear. They come to life with more weight and fun, but will still project the mids forward with some sharpness that is not relaxing or intimate when the going gets ... going. Unlike the Ref1s, which maintain their poise even while telling you that the recording is not the best sometimes. I still suspect that the HD6xx deserve/need a good tube amp to show their finest.
    I agree about the space around the ears. You will have even more with the DT880 foams :)
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
    dakanao likes this.
  12. dakanao
    My HD 650 sounded more refined and textured in the mids and highs through the same Geek Out 450, as my current HD 540.

    It could be that the HD 540 is more revealing of imperfections in my dac/amp, which is why I'm looking to upgrade to another portable dac/amp these last few days, that is smoother and more refined in the upper end than the GO 450.
  13. dakanao
  14. sennsay
    Mmm, I can't really say without using my own Ref1s into the amp. The Magni 3 has quite a bit more power into 600 ohms than the Neco Soundlab amp and I'm running the very organic and smooth Mimby into the M3 via really good cables, which also provides plenty voltage into the amp, so dynamic range is excellent. It's taken me years to find the right combo for the Ref1s and oh, has it been worth it! The GO 450 looks like a good bet for the HD250s as well.
  15. dakanao
    My HD 540 is the 300 ohm version. The Magni 3 and Mimby are too big to use with my laptop, I need something small like the Geek Out or Neco Soundlab, and so far the Soundlab seems like the best option amp wise, but I'm wondering if it will be enough as a stand alone amp on the 540, because it doesn't come with a DAC included...
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