Originally Posted by psuKinger
1) Thanks for the EQ suggestion. I have tried several jazz/accappella songs tonight, and I do have to admit that the -5dB EQ from 2 kHz to 10 kHz is an improvement in balance and sound quality.
2) That said, and I am in no way saying "you're wrong," as I:
A) certainly don't have the Dekoni Pads you mentioned
B) probably don't have the same DAC or Amp you do
C) may not be judging by way of similar source material as you
D) Our ears and preferences may be quite different...
But the improvement, while real, wasn't enough to really make me want to reverse field much regarding the overall sentiment. I still think they sound "pretty great (for $170)" for synthetic bass-heavy computer-generated pop/hip-hop... and I still think don't think I'd recommend them for much of anything else. I checked out a few different jazz/female vocals tracks (Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot), one men's accappella track (straight no chaser), and one classic rock track (creedence clearwater revival), FWIW. I definitely prefer my (traditional driver) Sennheiser HD-6XX's by a fairly wide margin for this sort of listening.
;] I'm certainly in agreement with you on the grainy sound quality that they have out of the box. In addition to the EQ, it takes a pad change and the removal of the rear grills to smooth it out completely. The rear grill is easy enough to test the it's just a plastic tabbed ring holding the grill in place.
For the pads, my older pair of he400is had the all plastic yokes and they cracked in 6 places. Hifiman sent a replacement headband, but having taped up the yokes I decided to modify that band to accommodate the Dekoni LCD Velour pads, which are gigantic and due to the way the yokes slide over the pads while wearing I had to bend the headband in above the yoke and remove the headband and add a pad to the top.
These pads though are very thick and the velour material is more tightly knit and manages to form a kind of seal so there's no(or little) loss of bass performance. They have the added benefit of smoothing treble response, being deeper and angling the drivers more, improving imaging, and improving soundstage.
If you're interested, they're currently being used with an Audio-GD NFB-11 with an Uptone ISO Regen connected to a PC via USB, and conditioned by a Topaz 91092-12 Ultra Line Noise Isolator. I use Fongaudio's Out of Your Head to virtualize stereo loudspeaker systems. Normal stereo listening is intensely clean while not sounding etched or lifeless, and the systems ability to render the virtualization is very impressive for the price.
I have a pair of 6XXs as well and they are incredibly smooth and pleasing to listen to, light comfortable, breathable, really an excellent pair to own.