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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. Grumpy Old Git
    You're not the only one who has not been blown away by the performance of the 300 Ohm 540's. I think if you get a really good pair of 300 Ohm cans you won't be disappointed.
    It would seem that the 600 Ohm version has more consistent sound quality.
    trellus likes this.
  2. jon parker
    Here is my usual go to collection of tracks that I listen to when I get a new headphone. Not necessarily always true reference tracks but they have some particular quality that helps me take a measure of what the headphone can offer
    Interested in what others listen to :)
    Ive only noted some of the more obvious ones.

    Natalie Merchant - Ophelia.flac [CD 16-44] - drums / vocals
    Nick Drake - Pink Moon.flac [vinyl 24-96]
    Gillian Welch - Scarlet Town.flac [vinyl 24-96]
    Stevie Wonder - Too High.flac [Sacd (Flac)] - IF the cymbals sound true to life then the treble is spot on !
    Joe Walsh - County Fair.flac [Sacd (Flac(] - Each drum is different - HOW different gives a good indication of the low end
    Right Away, Great Captain - Right Away, Great Captain.flac [CD 16-44]
    Elliot Smith - Somebody That I Used To Know.flac [vinyl 24-96]
    Lorde - Royals.flac [HD 16-48] - Great for low to sub harmonic tests
    Billie Holiday - Stars Fell On Alabama.flac [Sacd (Flac(] - vocals
    Janis Joplin - Summertime.flac [vinyl 24-96] - instrument positioning
    The Civil Wars - Talking In Your Sleep.flac [vinyl 24-96]
    Sparklehorse - Spirit Ditch.flac [CD 16-44]
    Fleetwood Mac - The Chain.flac [Reel to Reel 24-96]
    Radiohead - Identikit.flac [vinyl 24-96]
    John Marytn - Solid Air.flac [vinyl 24-96]
    Jimi Hendrix - Machine Gun.flac [vinyl 24-96] - low end
    Joni Mitchel - Blue [HD 24-96]
    Kim Janssen - II..flac [CD 16-44]
    Crosby & Nash - Wooden Ships [HD 24-96]
    The Beatles - Getting Better [Reel To Reel - 24-96]

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
    SSandDigital and Malfunkt like this.
  3. Grumpy Old Git
    A few tracks that I use for evaluation.......CLICK
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
  4. WilliamLeonhart
    So I bought the pleather pads that you guys suggested. In June or July or something. Got home 2 weeks ago and didn't bother to change my HD540 until yesterday.


    It was much better than the "velour" pads I've been using for so long. The added low-ends and the toned-down (and more refiend) high ends immediately made my HD540 a much better listening experience. There are traces of the HD800 sound even. The soundstage on this ancient pair...

    I FEEL UTTERLY STUPID. I bought my "velour" pads from the same ebay seller, thinking to myself, the original were velour, so velour pads would sound better than pleather. Well now it still doesn't sound like original pads but it's definitely much better than with the velour pads.
    trellus and sennsay like this.
  5. sennsay
    :) :) Haha, awwww, no need to feel so stupid, although now you can hear for yourself what you've been missing. You've described the improvements very well and you may even find a more refined sense of naturalness as time goes by, as well as the extended bandwidth - especially so with Mogami cable. Great stuff :)
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
  6. swagadelic
    So which version is the best? Is it agreed upon beyond any doubt?

    I had a pair of ref 1 300 ohm,, with no inner foam padding left, and velour original pads. I still thought they sounded gorgeous.. The best I've ever heard actually. I'm looking to buy these again at some point just not sure if I should be looking for ref 1 or ref 2 or gold
  7. dakanao
    I definitely like the sound of the pleather pads more than stock pads.
  8. jon parker
    Impossible to say which pad is best - depends on the version of the 540 + your DAP / Source + personal sound signature preference etc etc
    Although the best pad by far I found is an original Ovation HD 560 grey pad. The Ovation 560 V2 dark grey pad is also very good
    I was surprised how good a thick velour pad was with the 540 Golds
    Basically, you just never know what will work until you try it!
    I tried the thin ribbed velour pad from the company that also sells the velour and found the sound to be dreadful - Took them off after 20 seconds!
  9. jon parker
    Thank for sharing - superb selection of great reference tracks :)

    Hopefully others can add there own
  10. lantian
    Having owned all of them and owning 3 of them still I would rank them like this:
    HD 540 reference gold600ohm version (be warned needs tons of power)
    hd 540 reference gold 300ohm
    HD 540 reference 1 600 ohm version(a lot easier to drive than 600ohm golds)
    HD 540 reference 2 300 ohm version

    These are my personal thoughts YMMW.
    trellus likes this.
  11. jon parker
    I should add - what can make a MUCH bigger difference than pads is using after market cables
    Im using some humble 4-core OFC cables and the difference between them and stock cables is amazing !
  12. swagadelic
    Damn.. So the ref 1 300 isn't even worthy of your list :frowning2:
  13. jon parker
    Thats what great about this hobby - My list would be the opposite !
    I have found though that sometimes you find a specific headphone that can sound much better than another that 'should' be exactly the same!

    For me
    1, HD 540 reference v2 300 ohm
    2, HD 540 reference v1 600 ohm
    3, HD 540 Reference Gold 300 ohm

    Technically the Gold surpasses the others and the [2,] 600 ohm Early version has much bigger and better low end but...
    there is something exquisitely sweet about the 1st one. There is something about its specific pads that gives a superb synergy
    Talking of synergy - my list order here would change depending on which Amps /DAP I was using !!
    lantian likes this.
  14. Grumpy Old Git

    It really is a case of 'suck it and see', Any permutation of the mentioned 540's and various ear pads needs to be auditioned with your specific DAC/amp.
    I have yet to hear a pair of so-called 'bad' 540's, my present setup of early mk1 600 Ohm 540's (Chinese pads) and the Marantz HD-DAC1 sounds superb. Actually better (if my memory serves) than any of the Golds I have owned, and they all sounded VERY good to me.
    Needless to say, a different DAC amp might favour the Golds.
    I have tried some Chinese velour earpads with the 540's, they looked very similar to the originals and certainly performed no worse. They were quite cheap as well, £2 - £3?
    sennsay likes this.
  15. WilliamLeonhart
    Hmm would you happen to still keep the link to those velour pads?
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