Welcome to My Pad


Until I started to read some of the technical stuff on Inner Fidelity, I never gave much consideration to the earpads on headphones. It was a matter of comfort, or dealing with sweat on a hot day. Then I read that there was often an audible pad bounce in the 100-200 hz range on some headphones.

Next I see different measurements, particularly with Grado on-ear models using different pads. And theories of why tape along the circumference of a foam pad might make a difference. And modifications using silicone sealant instead of tape. Shades of Carol Doda!

Maybe I’m going down a rabbit hole, but I spent $8 on some “L-Pads” to try on my entry-level Grados. The S-Pads (more comfortable) don’t have a good spot to place tape . . .

Would be interested in hearing others experience with pads, and any actual science and/or measurement difference. Unlike cables, I can easily believe that pads affect seal and position, and therefore sound.


Pads make a huge difference.

The results are easily seen in measurements and at levels that will most definitely be audible.

Differences can be down to how well the pads seal, their compliance, how they change the volume of the cavity between your ears and the driver, their absorption or reflectivity for sound at varying frequencies, their shape (and how/what/where it reflects or absorbs) and how they sit on your head.

And those differences can be down to shape, material, design (e.g. vents vs. none), and even their age - since they tend to compress more with usage which changes the volume and shape of the air cavity.

The above FR plot shows the Elear with different pads in use (since all the Focal pads fit all their models). The output level of the source was not changed between pad-swaps, so you can see exactly what frequencies are elevated or attenuated with the different pad options.

And this is just an example where the pad dimensions/shape are consistent.


My AQ NightHawk Carbons came with two sets of pads: vegan leather/pleather and mouse fur/alacantra. They were shipped with the pleather pads in place. And they were BASS MONSTERS. They sounded Beats-like broken, and also required a 100+ hour driver break in per the instructions. So, I ran them for a week with the pleather pads.

After that, they were still really bass heavy and I got around to using the mouse fur pads – much less over the top bass to my ears. Chart of the measurable differences at Head-Fi:


By now I’ve outgrown the headphones, but the in-the-box options makes the impact of pads quite obvious.


I’ve listened more to my old Audio Technica ATH-2’s recently, and I find that I like them more now that I have the xDSD driving them. However they always were bass-heavy, and they do have foam filled pleather pads. Relatively flat ones (well they are from the 70’s, and even I am in a less ripped state than I was back then). editorial note: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahaha

The pads are stuck on with some still sticky stuff. I wonder if I should look for some velour or make some - did you say mouse fur? - pads. (no glue traps, too much cleaning needed).


The Focal Elex is essentially the (bass-heavy) Elear with less bass-heavy Clear pads:

A simple pad change (and price cut) greatly increased interest in the model.


Seriously is mouse fur even a thing. I can’t tell if you guys are kidding or not. I have honestly never heard of mouse fur being used. As a Hamster lover this makes me sad. :hamster:.



Mice do indeed have fur – otherwise they’d be very cold and likely freeze to death.

“Mouse fur” items are available on Etsy too:


Now, I’m sure that any mice raised for their fur are treated as other fur animals: placed in cages to prevent injury, fed nutritious foods so they grow high quality fur, and then executed during the cold season in a humane fashion (electrocution).

AudioQuest tried to innovate in all ways with their NightHawk headphones. They used natural and sustainable products, to include recycled wood pulp for the ear cups and bio-cellulose drivers. Mouse fur ear pads would be a logical addition.

You will be relieved to learn that my use of “mouse fur” is just (narrow?) slang for synthetic fabrics that roughly resemble mouse fur. These fabrics are not velvet and not fleece, but soft and a little fuzzy like a mouse. They are almost certainly some type of synthetic microfiber – or they may be the product of the dystopian Umbrella Corporation in Raccoon City where living mice are placed in vats to generate pelts that are periodically removed for automobile upholstery, soft sweaters, and headphone ear pads.


I ran a search for their products. The only dystopian umbrella I could find is here:

I did see a bunch of surreal umbrellas, possibly made by the competition Surreal Umbrella Corporation in Mousefur Point, Wisconsin. And I found a book titled The Umbrella Mouse.



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I’ve never heard of a seal eating mice …

Saw one eat a duck once.

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I’ve seen a large mouth bass eat a duckling once…mildy horrific…like a scene from Jaws…but on a much smaller scale lol

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Grado L-Cushion electrical tape mod

After reading about this a few days ago, I thought I’d try it. Ordered the L-Cushion (bowl style) pads for my base-level Grado SR-60i. They come with the comfy S style ones, the L’s are sold with SR-225s and up.

At first, I did not care for the L pads. The S sit over the ear and are extremely comfortable, even if they don’t (deliberately) make any seal. The L cushions are larger, and while on the ear, have more of a specific placement, and feel quite different, as they sort of make the feeling of a seal, having that inverted bowl shape.

However, the sound was slightly different, but not much of a change overall.

Then I took some 1/2 inch plastic electrical tape and wrapped the outside edge of the L cushion, applying enough pressure to reduce the overall diameter and slightly compress the foam, but not enough to cause the foam to crinkle. I took care not to get the edge of the tape over the foam so it touched my ear. Probable came within 1-2 mm generally of the edge.

RESULTS: First, the L-cushion is much more comfortable. This was not an anticipated result. Probably an artifact of my ears. Or maybe of the slightly smaller diameter and the compressed rim of foam.

Second and more importantly - Bass is MUCH better. There is - dare I say it - almost a bit of bass punch. (Listened to some Reggae and the esteemed George Clinton’s R&B Skeletons in the Closet)

Bass appears to extend deeper, with deep and low mid-bass getting the most effect. I need to listen more to hear if there is an effect on midrange and higher frequency. It still sounds pretty Signature Grado, but the lower range creates a better balance than stock.

Inner Fidelity did measurements of this mod and others on an SR-225 back in 2011

I can report that the tape is well worth the minor effort.


Yeap! I often do this to what ever grados I’ve got

Really makes a difference, I’ll also say the older vintage Grados REALLY sound nice with some L-Cushion Tape modded pads! I deeeeply regret selling my RS-1 Button’d with TapeModded Pads…

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My hamster and I thank you for the clarification.:grin:. It’s good to hear that we aren’t sitting around with mouse fur earpads warming our ears.

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Any thoughts about these pads and or a possible replacement?

This is the old Audio Technica Ath-2. Pad seems to be leather, not pleather, just under 3 inches round, relatively flat, with a center hole about 7/8 inch. Although it fits on-ear, it does provide some sealing due to the flat, wide design.

The pad appears to be attached with mid 1970s stickum. Can be pulled off, but is relatively tenacious.

The phones as they are, seem generally too bass heavy. With a little volume, the mid and treble really comes alive and is extremely fast, as these were the precursor of a planar-magnetic. I’ve seen photos of these taken apart, and the transducer is not much larger - if at all - than that center hole.

They are not uncomfortable, but the pads are quite old. And with the technical talent here, I’m wondering if there is a better choice to try.

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