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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. myusernameislove
    I'll elaborate later. But it all depends on cushions. One headphone, two cushions and the sound is completely different (less or more amount of certain frequencies, muddiness vs clarity etc). On HD540 I have original cushions those with white tops where pleather used to be, and I exchanged the inner foams and stitched it back up. With HD560 I have currentlz Brainwaz memory foam pads, those are very comfy and sound fine. I tried cca 5 different cushions, but I need to bring it back as I was comparing it on a lot headphones lately. New HD430 pads were very good in terms of clarity and detail retrieval, but brighter. Not sure when I will compare it all again. Probably sometimes around christmas, then I may let you know here.
     
  2. myusernameislove
    Yes, that was my impression initially, that HD540 is better in every way, except timbre. Wider and more even soundstage, better pronounced notes, increased separation, clarity and detail. But things changed somehow over time with my view of HD560 as being inferior and too bright headphone. Maybe its because of the current pads I have on HD560, but even initially I noticed that HD540 are more neutral and a lot hard-notes sounding, which leads to less enjoyment. HD560 contrary to that has perfect balance between soft and hard sounds, and that leads to better timbre (which matters most for music listening if you are actually listening music and not technicalities of recording). From my memory as I do not want to start comparing them now, I guess the bass slam on HD560 is softer, HD540 hits harder and there was a little more of bass on HD540 (when I did not have Brainwavz on HD560). But with these pads HD560 is not bright, and still it is clear sounding. I simply find it perfect to even try to swap back to HD540.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2018
  3. dakanao
    So the HD 560 has softer attack on the notes compared to HD 540?

    And do you mean by ''better pronounced notes'' that the HD 560 is more laid back/not as intimate sounding as the HD 540, or that the decay is shorter on the HD 560?

    I just had a listen again to my regular HD 540 with chinese pleather pads and 2 inner foam pieces, and I like that intimate, more vocal forward and neutral bass sound signature more than the HD 540 Gold w/ velour pads, which has slightly south of neutral bass and is less intimate (although more refined)

    If my right ear wouldn't get fatigued by the shallow depth of the chinese pleather pads, I would use them on the HD 540 Gold and call it endgame, but unfortanetly I need deeper velour pads for my right ear to not hurt after I've listened to them.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2018
  4. sennsay
    Your experience is noted. With the exception that in my own 'best results' system: QP1R as source, optical out into the Schiit stack, pure silver ICs, pleather pads and Mogami cable my Ref1s are never hard. Hardness, grain and edgy sound are anathema to me ... unless I enjoy the recording so much that I put up with it and in those cases it's only the Ref1s telling me - as a Reference - that the music was created that way, or reproduced by inferior electronics. If I can listen to Lorde or Ricki Lee Jones and only hear uniquely beautiful female voices no matter how much they soar into the higher realms (just listen to RLJ's Coolsville from the stunning Naked Songs live album and be gobsmacked at the power and control of the jaw-dropping high notes! No edge, no harshness, just a transparently organic human voice that thrills me every time.) and be both relaxed and utterly focused in space, unaware that there are electronics in the path, then I figure I have nothing to complain about :) They are not 'soft', however. They may not have the sheer levels of fine detail of some modern cans, even the HD6xx in some ways, but are streets ahead in so many other ways.
    While testing out some other supposedly highly regarded cans a while ago, I was horrified at the sharp and exaggerated hifi sounding examples, with bass that did not sound alive and truly organic whatever amount of impact and apparent detail they might have had. The HD540 Ref1s as I have them here just sound "right" and I enjoy them as musical gems, with their superb timing and rhythmic skills that defy so many modern examples as a complete unit.
    I must say that the Sony MDR-1R's also share some of those timing and rhythmic qualities, are fun to listen to - especially now that they are 'Mogami'd', it's why I continue to like them a lot and more so than the HD250s - and are extremely comfortable to boot. Like so many others, they just lack that vital organic realism that for me define the Ref1s as being in a class of their own.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2018
  5. myusernameislove
    There is one album i prefer Hd250 with - Dire Straits On the Night (Live). That clarity of Hd250 makes it perfect. Sound goes effotlessly very tall. Hd430 pads from Thomann for even more clarity. It is super clear, super cold sound. It does justice to that concert. I know Shanling M0 can not make them sound good enough, but in fact it does. Lower amount of bass, zero hiss, and “neutrality” of the dap itself even increases the clear sound experience. It is something. My R2R-11 goes somehow against the sound of HD250, but it suits very well HD560, as it gives the sound thicker body and it supports the timbre thing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018
  6. myusernameislove
    Ok, I tried The Brainwawz oval memory foam pads from HD560 also on HD540 and the result is superb. HD540 are clearly in different technical league than HD560. It is that good. But ... HD560 gives more relaxed musical experience, a softer attack of notes and therefore sweeter timbre. HD540 sound more present, HD560 are similar to AKG K240DF in that manner - relaxed sounding. I will need to order 2nd pair of these pads, as it is a winner, better then refurbished stock pads - those sound bright and thin and have much less bass body.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018
    dakanao likes this.
  7. dakanao
    -
     
  8. dakanao
    Would you say the vocals and bass are more present on the HD 560 or HD 540, with Brainwavz Memory Foam? And so I guess the sound is more natural and smoother on the HD 560 (yet technically worse)?
     
  9. myusernameislove
    Same pads, same cable (very nice one actually). HD560 has a little brighter tonality and noticeably less bass-body sound than HD540. Voices and everythin is more present on HD540. HD560 sounds come from a further distance. The detail retrieval is simlar due to the fact it is brighter, but I give it to HD540 it gives even more detail and without sacrification of bass. HD540 gives not just detail but also texture of instruments. Both tonalities may suit different genres, but HD540 is closer to perfection. HD560 is relaxed, further distance, brighter, less bassy, less body, less present, a little less detail, a lot less texture, softer attack sounding. So HD540 are superior. I can hear why. BUt what about well recorder classical or acoustic music? Does this genre suit HD560 more? Bela Fleck playing on Banjo instrumental songs (album Perpetual motion). HD560 = Sweet sound, emotional and yet calm. HD540 = perfection. It gives different result, it takes you to different places. HD540 = admire technicality and finesse of Mr. Fleck, and piece of music itself. HD560 = taste emotion of that piece and forget about such details as in which room it was played, what was the shape of musician that day etc. If the microphone was closer to one instrument or the other, what kind of wood is that second classical guitar made of. Your head will be inside in the guitars with HD540 and Bela will be telling you to get it out because he wants to continue playing, that good HD540 is. HD560 = inferior yet musical. HD540 = da beast.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018
    dakanao likes this.
  10. dakanao
    What cable are you using?

    I got this new thin one (link below), and its a bit brighter and more unrefined than the Mogami one, but the headphone doesn't slide off my head directly anymore.

    I'm wondering if there are cables that are this thin and flexible, but with better than average quality (refined/smooth sounding)?

    https://www.ebay.nl/itm/Replacement-Audio-Cable-Wire-For-Sennheiser-HD25-SP-HD420-Headphones-1-2m/182972326875?_trkparms=aid=555018&algo=PL.SIM&ao=1&asc=20140122125356&meid=10116c68290f4953a4290a40793a0229&pid=100005&rk=1&rkt=12&mehot=pp&sd=162965577886&itm=182972326875&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018
  11. dakanao
  12. myusernameislove
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018
  13. sennsay
    I can easily understand the balance of the HD560/R2R-11 combo. The HD430s sound brilliant with that DAC/amp, as long as there is not too much bass to overload the drivers. Transparency is fabulous!
     
  14. sennsay
    The latter set of pads may be an antidote for a completely stock pair of 600 ohm HD540s with standard steel cable, to offset the upper-mid forward and slightly steely edge that comes with hot recordings. I haven't tried this as such - I'm commenting purely from more recent experience only - as the Brainwavz pads weren't around at the time I ran my Ref1s stock. Why you would continue to use the stock cable with it's thin and sometimes hard sound these days is beyond me though :) Far better cables are available now and I have swapped the Mogami for the old stock cable just to hear the difference. To be completely honest, I prefer that old stock steel cable to the new el cheapo plug in cable that Sennheiser and others supply as a stock replacement (not the HD650 cable!). That basic cable just lost something, it was a bit bland and boring for me and I would go back to the steel cable for some life and much better bass.
     
  15. dakanao
    That cable I bought isn't actually the stock steel cable, but a copper made one (not OFC) that looks like the original cable. It's also 1.2m long instead of the original 3m.

    I bought it purely from a comfort standpoint; the Mogami and the Canare ones definitely sound more refined, full bodied and smoother, but in the end drag the headphone just too much down, which in turn make my right ear hurt a bit.

    I'm wondering the stock HD 6xx (1.5m long, 3.5mm plug, NOT the 3m HD 650) cable would be better than this one, since it is thin as well..
     
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