More coherent sound, Greater bass extension, A lot deeper for wider eared listeners
Reduced transparency and balance, Quite firm with thin sidewalls
The YAXI HD6XX pads suit buyers searching for greater comfort and a warmer sound with greater bass impact.
YAXI are an innovative ear pad manufacturer that you might not have heard about. They lack the Western presence of brands like Dekoni and Brainwavz, but they have a loyal following in Asia and a drive to gain more international traction. What differentiates them from the majority is their use of Alcantara; a synthetic suede originating from automotive upholstery designed to be both comfortable and hard-wearing. This makes it a perfect candidate for ear pads due to its supple feel and sweat repellent properties. Their HD650 pads are just one of an extensive line-up covering headphones of all shapes and sizes. You can read more about YAXI pads and purchase a set for yourself here.
These pads are nice. No, they’re not as supple as lambskin leather, but they’re unique in feel and very consistent in their construction with even padding and precise stitching. The HD650 pads vastly differ from the originals in design, in turn, transforming their fit. The YAXI pads have a considerably larger opening and far more depth than the originals.
As a result, the YAXI pads suit those preferring no part of the headphone contacting their ears. However, this comes at the cost of thinner side walls and slightly higher clamp force. As such, they lack the immediate plush comfort of the stock pads but remain comfortable over longer listening sessions.
The pads have a firm sponge padding as opposed to slow-rebound memory foam or plush cushioning on most pads. This keeps the drivers a certain distance away from the ear, prioritising sonic qualities over comfort.
Isolation is noticeably enhanced. Of course, they still don’t isolate well given that the HD650 is open by design, but some may appreciate the slight bump in noise attenuation, especially good for blocking out fan noise when gaming.
The HD650 is one of the most highly regarded headphones out there, a staple amongst open-backs with a tuning beloved by many. That said, no one signature is for everyone, and the ability to swap pads opens up a range of possibilities for those searching for something a little different.
The YAXI pads immediately provide a warmer sound with smoother high-end. Their increased midrange body lends the impression of a bassier sound, however, bass is not hugely elevated but further extended, thereby remaining tight, well-defined and controlled. As such, the earpads smoother signature stems from attenuation of treble and a more robust lower-midrange.
For those seeking greater bass presence, the YAXI pads are for you. Bass quantity isn’t overly increased, but sub-bass extension is hugely improved, creating a markedly more physical low-end presentation. This produces greater solidity and impact to every note, great for electronic, hip-hop and R&B. Mid-bass also receives a hearty increase in emphasis, instigating the pad’s warmer tone throughout in addition to larger bass notes. On the flipside, upper-bass isn’t overly affected, helping to maintain bass/midrange separation. Bass retains excellent control and speed despite increased emphasis and a less neutral tone, perhaps due to the use of Alcantara which reduces resonances. The result is a notable increase in bass slam while retaining definition and articulation.
Lower-mids receive a notable increase in quantity which provides greater body to vocals and instruments. Though negatively impacting transparency, male vocals sound full without coming across as chesty or congested and female vocals become smooth and organic, if slightly less extended. This is combined with a notable attenuation of the centre midrange producing a more laid-back vocal presentation which saps some intimacy and clarity, but grants the impression of a larger soundstage without sounding distant or diffuse. In fact, subjectively staging properties are enhanced, retaining defined layers and respectable separation, but with each presenting with greater body and richer texture. As such, I find the midrange to be just as immersive as with the stock pads, just pushed back in quantity and leaning towards the warmer side.
Highs will likely be the most polarising aspect of this ear pad, with a distinct attenuation of lower and middle-treble. Extension isn’t affected, nor is resolution, but as with mids, highs become more laid-back and clarity isn’t as pronounced. The pad’s more restrained middle-treble is probably most immediately evident, with less air and shimmer. However, in return, the headphones sound cleaner and more composed up top, and they remain just as linear, producing accurate instrument timbre. Lower-treble is also attenuated, and details can lack some edge in their attack as a result. However, though not as crisp, the HD6XX/YAXI Pads combo is still well-detailed and resolving. It doesn’t excel with air and sparkle, but provides a clean, smooth and extended presentation that better suits longer listening sessions without sacrificing too much clarity.
The YAXI pads produce a noticeably larger soundstage than the stock pads. This may seem counter-intuitive as they negatively affect treble air, however, their more laid-back vocals and highs contribute greatly to dimension, especially width, in addition to being physically wider. Moreover, the more richly bodied YAXI pads create more immersive imaging as their stage is more coherent and layered. Separation is the main downfall of this approach due to larger bass notes and fuller mids reducing the empty space between each element. This is only exacerbated by their warmer tone that reduces transparency. However, as the pads offer larger stage dimensions, their presentation still sounds defined and delineated, if not to the extent of the stock pads. Still, I find the YAXI pads to find a nice balance between space and coherence.
YAXI’s HD6XX pads may be on the pricier side, especially for a headphone with such wide aftermarket support. However, in return, they offer a hard-wearing Alcantara construction, considerably expanded internal dimensions and a more coherent sound with greater bass extension. Not everyone will love the sonic changes incurred, but that’s the beauty of options, there’s something for everyone. The YAXI HD6XX pads suit buyers searching for greater comfort and a warmer sound with greater bass impact.
The YAXI Pads can be purchased here for ¥6,260. I am not affiliated with YAXI and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.