I Investigated The Audio-Technica Pad Mystery(TM)

Thanks to a badly-packaged headphone, I sort of got an answer to a question I had.

A year ago, I wrote about how Audio-Technica says they only make one set of pads for their M-series of headphones, and only sells one replacement pair…even though the pads on all the M-series headphones I’ve used vary in quality depending on the price of the model.

Headphone ear pads are important. They’re the little rooms for your little speakers, and the main source of comfort in the design. I’m firmly in the camp of stock pads or nothing, because I like to hear things the way they were designed.

Recently, I bought the Amazon-exclusive M50XGM headphones, which I’ve also reviewed. Because of the way they were packaged, one of my pads was rather damaged. Here’s a picture. The bottom pad is a squished one, and the top pad is how they should look.

Pretty big difference there in thickness and shape, right?

So, begrudgingly, I ordered Audio-Technica’s replacement part “HP-EP,” the only replacement pair that they sell for the M-series. They came in a box and looked like this.

Turns out, they had the same padding and luxurious soft leatherette feel as brand new M50X pads, confirming my suspicion that Audio-Technica indeed only sells their nicest pad iteration when you buy a replacement.

However, on closer inspection, I noticed that the leatherette was a little more shiny and pristine than I expect from their other products. Does this mean that they make yet one more version of these?

Or have I run across a “we use whatever materials the factory has close at hand” type of issue. Or do the pads lose often lose this shine as they sit around attached to headphones in boxes? New mysteries abound!

Either way, the padding and softness were right in line with what I was hoping for.

New pad on the left with shiny material, old squished pad on right.

So if you’ve purchased an M-series that’s numbered lower than 50, and want nicer pads, consider the HP-EP. They sell for about $25, and although I’m bummed I had to spend extra money on my new headphones, at least I now have this knowledge and working, comfy headphones.

They won’t change the sound, they’re packaged in a way that won’t destroy them, and your leatherette might be shiny?

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