The combination of Brainwavz HM5 with Audio Technica ATH-M50X is very popular. So if you search for ‘earpads’ on Amazon, the Brainwavz HM5 are going to be on top of the results, and I’ve seen many YouTubers and just random people who have these headphones on internet, using these pads to replace the less than comfortable stock earpads on the M50X.
The stock pads start flaking off after around 1 year of use, and become compressed, so they need replacement to keep your headphones comfortable.
These pads come in many colors, shape, and material choices, and cost $22.5 on Amazon.com and around Rs. 1500 on Amazon India.
The most important feature here is that these have memory foam which adjusts to the shape of your ears better, so will be more comfortable. Memory foam takes more time to return to its original position than the regular foam in stock pads.
Removing the stock pads is quite easy, just pull it from one of the sides and it will come off easily. Now putting on these HM5 pads isn’t particularly easy, but if you’re patient with it, it would take a maximum of 10 minutes.
I have to say that these feel a lot different than stock pads, these are like shifting from a small room to a big hall for your ears. Still, they are aren’t as soft as this reviewer says:
For me though, they got hot within 10 minutes, but I’d still consider them to be more comfortable than the stock pads.
But there’s also a very dramatic change in sound. After doing many A/B listening tests, I can confirm that these pads totally change the sound of M50X, so much that I’d highly recommend that you stay away from these.
I was expecting that the only negative effect will be the bass reducing, but that’s not the only problem. The problem is that these take away the clarity, representation, and the detail in the sound in a very bad way. There were some parts of the music that I just could not hear while using these HM5 pads. The lack of bass may not seem to bother you as M50X have a little more bass than neutral headphones, but it will make you miss many things in your audio like distant gunshots while playing games like Crysis 3.
Someone in the Amazon reviews said that they add an echoing effect to the sound, and I think that’s unfortunately true. The ‘speed’ of these headphones is really taken away with these pads.
This really becomes an unavoidable problem if you plan to do any kind of monitoring with these headphones, because the sound signature gets so messed up that you won’t be able to adjust the levels in your audio to a balanced level.
Because the cloth between the drivers and your ear is so thin compared to the stock pads, these also add some harshness to the highs which can be reduced by using an equalizer. But even EQing the bass along with that doesn’t make the sound same again.
Audio companies work a lot on designing the perfect earcups for their headphones, and the structure of these earpads is really not suitable for M50X. they are more comfortable than the stock pads, but not as much as what the reviewers made me believe, and I cannot compromise with the deterioration in the audio for this comfort.
These pads are really designed for the HM5 headphones, which are, as you can see, very different from the M50X. The reviews even said that these open the soundstage of these headphones, but that’s not true, they just make them sound more distant than the original pads and the soundstage is actually reduced as you can’t make out between the differences in the position of sounds as well as the stock pads.
I’d say that by reading reviews on Amazon, I was convinced that these earpads would increase the comfort to a great level, without changing the sound significantly. 9 out of 10 reviews would tell you to just order these without a second thought, but one of them would tell you that these aren’t a good fit, sonically, for the M50x, and surprisingly, that one person would be correct.
Different people obviously hear differently, and to some people these may sound fine, but for me personally, they sound unacceptable. I think that even if you moderately care about your audio, you should skip on these, and get the official earpads from Audio Technica.