Much more comfortable than stock pads, More balanced sound, Cleaner tonality, Much wider soundstage, More breathable construction
Reduction in mid-bass punch, Reduced warmth and coherence, Slight reduction in isolation
Should you want greater balance and comfort, the Yaxi pads are a treat.
While they weren’t always one of the big names in earpads, Yaxi has become quite ubiquitous and a common recommendation for those unsatisfied with the sound and comfort of their headphones out of the box. With an ever-growing range of supported products, there’s a high-quality option available for the majority with specific sound tuning guided by community feedback. The company has long supported the popular HD25 and has since launched new colourways to match the equally fruity designs the company has launched to date. Such includes the Adidas edition HD25 with its unique blue theme which Yaxi has now adopted to match. Of course, the pads are far more than a cosmetic flavour, let’s dive in.
The HD25 Comfort Blue Pads including headband padding and filter are available for $50 USD. You can read all about it and treat yourself to a set on Yaxi.
I would like to thank Mia from Yaxi very much for her quick communication and for providing me with the HD25 Comfort Pads for the purpose of photographing and review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review.
As usual, the earpads come packaged within a thick plastic bag which provides a bit of support during shipping, so the pads aren’t deformed on arrival. There is no splash art here unlike the newer pads that said. Inside are the two pads alongside two adhesive headband cushions with matching colour, material and stuffing. It’s considerate of Yaxi to include both as it provides a more uniform visual and ergonomic experience.
If you’re at all familiar with Yaxi’s earpads you’ll find a familiar experience replicated here, albeit miniaturised for the HD25’s on-ear form factor. Compared to the stock Sennheiser pads, they represent a radical redesign with a much wider profile and a more squared-off side-wall that both contribute to a better sealing and more comfortable fit with the outer ear. The plasticky vinyl of the stock pads makes way for a far more premium and supple faux leather with soft Alcantara on the face. As you’d expect from Yaxi, the dimensions are perfectly matched for the headphones and they fit snugly with no issues or concern for detachment during use.
Inside, the stock pads use regular sponge while the Yaxi pads contain memory foam that better conforms to the shape of the head. Indeed, combined with the added thickness of the pad, they have a lot more squish and ability to accommodate different ear shapes. The HD25 is renowned for its strong isolation which is a result of its sealed design and strong clamp force which also means it never gained a reputation for being especially comfortable. The thicker, flatter Yaxi pads do much to append this here with substantially improved if still not perfect long-term comfort. Isolation remains strong, perhaps a hair reduced from stock but not to the extent that it would be a deal-breaker.
Similar comments extend to the headband which sports an identical construction and strong adhesive right up to the edges to prevent peeling – just be sure to remove all old adhesive if any remains and remove skin oils and debris with some isopropyl alcohol for the best adhesion. I also appreciate how the rich blue colour of the pads and headband are perfectly matched and a close match to the blue Adidas branding on the collaboration model. It demonstrates that the company put in the extra hours to achieve a coordinated look and finish.
The HD25 is a well-liked product out of the box that most users didn’t have a complaint with. The stock sound is a warm bass biased W-shaped signature with a good mid-bass whallop, a clean, clear midrange and energetic treble. Altogether, it’s a solid sound all around with a nice bass boost suitable for portable use. The Yaxi HD25 pads don’t produce the radical change that some of their pads do, instead, it is a subtle shift towards greater balance and cleanliness. The most notable change is a slight evening of the bass range with less mid-bass dominance in favour of a flatter, cleaner albeit slightly less present low-end overall. This caries through to the midrange which has less warmth and appears slightly more present by comparison. The top-end is also similar and not overly boosted so the pads avoid skewing bright. There’s a slightly sharper leading edge that gives the presentation greater acuity and detail density.
Stock lows are warm, punchy and well-controlled, sitting just in front of the rest of the sound. Notes aren’t overly rounded but certainly have a thickness to them that is quite typical of Sennheiser headphones of this era. The Yaxi pads provide a cleaner bass with less mid-bass bias. The note presentation remains on the fuller and warmer side but sits one step back, giving the mids and highs more room to breathe. In turn, the tonality is cleaner and the headphones have perceptibly better separation. The Yaxi pads sound equally well-controlled and a bit faster in terms of note attack. Notes are overall cleaner and more defined but this impression may simply be due to the reduction in mid-bass rather than a modification to attack and decay or resonances. Extension and sub-bass slam remains similar to stock so rather than increasing dynamics, these pads serve more to clean up and tighten the presentation.
By comparison to the slightly reduced low-end, the midrange and top-end appear more forward. This isn’t to an excessive extent but may be something to note if you prefer a bassier sound. Immediately, male vocals are quite a bit cleaner, with reduced warmth and a nigh neutral tone. They aren’t cool but have just a slight thinness and enhanced clarity in turn. Separation is much improved over stock which gives the impression of greater definition. Alternatively, the stock pads do offer better coherence and a richer expression for those preferring. For those wanting a more neutral-leaning tonality and clearer vocals, the Yaxi pads deliver this in tasteful proportion. They also aid the separation and spatial properties by a very noticeable degree giving the HD25 a more dimensional expression more akin to an over-ear. While they won’t match a good over-ear, I was surprised by the jump in layering and width here.
Subjectively, I perceive the top-end as sitting in better balance with the midrange whereas on the stock pads, they do stand out slightly in front. This gives the HD25 a more balanced character in summary. The stock pads have a bit more vibrancy due to greater contrast between middle-treble and upper-midrange. By comparison, the Yaxi pads provide a more even transition into the treble. Accordingly, the lower-treble responsible for the leading edge of percussion comes across as sharper and more defined. This comes at no loss to instrument body as the midrange is also more present. In turn, timbre is slightly improved compared to stock and the presentation is more stable and more defined if less energetic. Air and extension are similar but the foreground, in particular, has greater detail density that will appeal to fans of acoustic. At the same time, I cannot say there is any increase in brightness as treble doesn’t sit in front of the midrange. This makes for a more focused, nuanced listen and a more balanced one at that.
The biggest difference overall is surely the jump in soundstage space with a substantial jump in width and a good depth increase too. The stage is more ovoid and width biased but this gives the headphone a far more open impression despite not being much brighter in the treble. This works in tandem with increases in separation throughout, giving the headphone more ether/space around each element. Imaging isn’t diffuse but similar in acuity to stock. Layering is much improved as aforementioned due to the increase in separation and foreground focus. Altogether, the staging is transformed for the better with the wider pads and Yaxi has done so without upsetting coherence either.
Yaxi reviews are easy to write, they make quality, comfortable pads and the sound changes are rarely polarising. This rings true on their HD25 Comfort pads too which represent a big comfort improvement over stock alongside offering customisable aesthetics. The sound changes are easy to enjoy as well, most notably the much wider soundstage and cleaner tonality. If you do prefer a bass emphasis, then perhaps the warmer stock pads will appeal more to you. However, should you want greater balance and comfort, the Yaxi pads are a treat.
The HD25 Comfort Blue Pads are available from Yaxi (international) for $50 USD at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with Yaxi and make no earnings from purchases through these links.