OK, the headphone pads have arrived and I have been using them for about a day with mixed content. You can treat this post as a preliminary review if the subject has ever crossed your mind.
Headphones - AT m50x
Replacement pads - Wicked Cushions - https://www.amazon.com/Upgraded-Replace ... =8-2-fkmr2
Firstly, the pads cost over triple that in Canadian (22 > 69) not to speak of the increased taxes. Canadian sellers are fucking insane and don't deserve your money.
The pads are very well rated and many reviews claim they do not effect audio balance. Given most people listen to music through youtube from their iglasses I'm not surprised they can't tell the difference. Nonetheless, I couldn't afford gambling to replace the headphones themselves. Also, I was curious how well replacements actually worked. Well, it technically wasn't my money I was spending, so I took the opportunity despite my reservations.
The pads arrived friday (about 10 days ahead of schedule) but I wasn't made aware of this until two days ago. Amazon didn't notify me where the pads were left off, or who left them off - only that the American shipper delivered them. As it turns out, packages tend to get handed to Canada Post when they cross the border and it was left at the community mailbox (aka the "legalized theft" outlet). Since Amazon didn't say any of this or offer a convenient way to access the shipper's website anymore I had to go through everything by hand.
This lead to me walking through -10 ice wind in early morning since I really wanted to get the ball rolling on these. The package was pretty small, a cardboard envelope containing a small black bag with the two pads in them and the same 20% coupon the manufacturer sells on their website. The bag is just some plastic thing, nothing to hoot about. The thing that concerned me immediately with Wicked Cushions physical merchandise is the incredible amount of bad grammar and English, commonly having spaces before periods in multiple sentences. Nothing sets off a red flag like someone selling English-translated content without proof reading it.
The bag contained a small paper foldout with drawings and instructions for replacing the earpads. Some of the arrows are not oriented correctly and point to the wrong part of the image. Extremely unprofessional.
The pads themselves are basically fake leather. They're deeper and bigger than the stock versions (as the photos on the Amazon page show). Removing the stock pads was difficult because the fake leather on them was hard as rock. No covering on the originals remained, they were just foam pads now. Some articles read that the foam in headphones absorb sweat and tend to stink. That was never the case for me. They were, however, always too small for me, crushed my ears and pushed my glasses into my skull hard enough to bleed. My AT m50x headphone is also deformed and the left cup requires me to wrap a cord around my right shoulder to hold it against my head properly. I hoped the larger earpads would fix that.
To remove the old earpads, you have to put a finger under the foam and pull rather hard to get the hard leather out of the inset they're dug into. I heard a few snaps and had a few snags as I pulled them - I presume small dabs of glue or whatever from being machine pressed. It took me a total of about 6 minutes to get both pads out once I figured out how. The first one had begun to rip inside because they clearly weren't very durable. Investigations of the earpads themselves yielded they were tearing up inside the foam from rubbing against my ears for so long - the stock m50x is right up against the inside of my ear and was extraordinarily uncomfortable.
Getting the new pads in was a lot more difficult. Due to their larger size, you're inclined to think you can kind of slide the new edges into the insets and be on your way. You can't. The instructions were actually pretty useful here, since they tell you to use your finger inside them. They are pretty vague on the actual process, so it took me some trial and error. About 10 minutes were spent flailing around until I discovered you use your finger to lead the lining while holding the "finished" inset cup with the back of your hand so it doesn't move.
Make note this review is after only a day of using them.Comfort
I'd rate the stock M50x pads at -4/10. Between the deformation of the headband and holding a cord under my arm, to pushing against my ear, to crushing all sides of my ear, to pushing my glasses into my skull, the tiny stock pads lost 99% of their leather covering in about 3 months or less. Of all the headphones I've worn these were by far the worst.
The Wicked Cushions I'd rate at 6/10. They don't smash my glasses, but they don't fix the headband deformation either. They're larger, but the weight is not much more. I can feel that sweat may be a problem in summer, but there's not much I can do about it. The pads themselves are larger, but still crush the sides of my ears very slightly - not enough to be painful. The headband is now a significantly greater presence with these pads since I have short hair and is rather distracting.
I don't like leather at all, but I read the other variants of these brands weren't even made by the same company and were terrible, so I stuck with these anyways.
As long as they don't degrade like the stock do, I'd say on a comfort level they are a big improvement but I would prefer softer materials.
During a long DDDA recording session I always felt conscious of the presence of the new headphones. Isolation
They halved the sound of my own voice. I don't know about the environment yet, I'll do a fan test sometime. This can probably be attributed to the tighter fit.Sound
Anyone who claims earpads don't effect the sound probably listens to music on youtube on their iwatch.
My first reaction to getting any new headphones is immediate dejection. They always sound terrible. This is because your ears aren't accustomed to the sound. The myth of "burning" is just a myth and that's that. It's all down to how your ears adapt.
Currently, the earpads are giving me the exact same result. The lows were totally gone and the highest ranges on Garnidelia's Color
were irritatingly distorted when I first used them. I was pretty close to screaming in frustration but I accepted that the problem was most likely my ears and not the pads and I needed a few days to get used to them.
The biggest issue with the m50x is their sound isn't entirely neutral. Both the bass and the highs are altered, which is a huge no-no for audio hardware. The fact these are getting changed is attributable to the deeper cups, since I noticed the speakers in the headphones are on an angle. The distance and accoustics are a big part of sound stage for headphones, it seems, and anyone who claims they sound "better" is full of shit, period - something that dramatically changes how a product was designed to sound doesn't necessarily improve it, it changes the device and creates a new product. Whether or not they sound better doesn't matter - this isn't a first-party modification so it's no longer a first-party device. And, currently, they absolutely do not sound better. Do they sound worse, though? I have to wait for my ears to fully adapt, but this morning they sound alright if not flat.The sound stage is totally different
Because the speakers are more distant I had to greatly elevate my volume to get the same base response. After my ears adapted through some hours of DDDA and I returned to Garnidelia and various Nasheeds, I felt the base response was returning to me. It's less pronounced, and thus more neutral, than the m50x - but how close to neutral is too difficult to objectively address without a lot of hardware at my disposal. My greatest fears were that the high range would remain unpleasantly distorted and force me to return to my old pads.
I feel a physical sensation when switching audio environments. My ears feel "full", as if I have an ear infection, and become sore after a while. The sound will be flat. That is currently what the headphones do with many tracks, such as the Neir orchestral recordings. Other tracks that occupy largely the midrange actually sound almost identical, though. Due to the increased speaker distance, the audio sounds more "encompassing" - it isn't being forced into your ear, but rather is surrounding your ear. This has consequences on tracks with stereoscopic presence such as many jpop tracks like Garnidelia Blazing
in which the initial twinklers tend to push out to the sides more often than they used to. I would personally consider this an improvement, but it does diverge from the original device so that's a subjective opinion at best.
My voice in Scourge Project sounded very flat when I first began, and the base was largely absent. Right now, it's more like I remember, though it still sounds more distant due to the accoustics changes.
Currently, I no longer hear distortions in the high range.
What surprises me most is how midranges are basically unchanged. The camrip of Heavens Feel II is basically identical to before, and many electronic tracks in my CPGA collection are subjectively similar to previously. Preliminary Conclusion
Make no mistake, changing earpads is basically getting new headphones unless you exactly replicate the distances and accoustics with stock replacements. Even when my ears get fully accustomed to the sound the headphones will never sound the same and I'll probably have lost some of their fidelity in the low and high ranges. Whether or not that is an improvement, by pushing me more towards a neutral response, or not, is beyond the scope of my resources to review.
$22 is far too much for headphone pads. Such a product should be closer to $5. In general, replacement hardware is stupidly overpriced and the entire market is out of control. In the subjective sense, the price for escaping the pain of the previous headphone pads isn't too high (especially compared to new headphones entirely, especially ones of comparable quality), but comparing apples to oranges headphones should never have gotten so expensive to begin with.
I expect my ears will fully adapt in around a week or so. If that gets rid of the discomforting pressurized feeling I get from new sound systems and levels out the flatness I'll consider it an acceptable middleground.