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Superb Audio for Cheap - Sennheiser PC350 Bass Boost Mod

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Now, before I start to talk about it I do want to say this. When I first was looking into this mod, I was kind of skeptical. At the time, I didn't really know much about headsets and I was afraid that I would screw something up. I also wasn't sure how the results would be. I'll assure you, this mod is VERY easy and straightforward. And, the results are more than you would expect. The amount of bass these things produce now bring them up to top of the line audio quality cans. So, if you're looking for a new, cheapish headset and don't mind doing a simple mod, this is definitely for you.

Sennheiser PC350

If anyone here has the PC350s, they can contend that they have pretty flat bass. Which is kind of expected since they weren't really designed specifically for music, as they are a gaming headset. Lots and lots of bass may not work on Teamspeak tongue.gif. Hope lies though in the fact that, at it's core, the PC350 is basically a restricted HD595. You can research more of the specifics, but there's a simple mod out there that unlocks loads of potential in these headsets. I've done this mod myself, which is why I'm making a thread here, backing it up. This mod works EXTREMELY well. There are lots of talk about it in the threads I'm linking here, and everyone supports it.

The mod!

What you'll be doing is giving the driver some airflow. Stock, the driver is in a sealed case, with no holes for ventilation. This sealed case is an easy and efficient way for Sennheiser to flattened out the bass for whatever reasons. Drilling holes in this case gives ventilation and a significant improvement.

Materials Needed:
PC350
Drill and Drill bits - Will be using from 2-2.5mm drill bits (around 3/32")
Cotton Balls
Bright Colored Sharpie

NOTE - If you buy a PC350 just to do this, test it out for a couple weeks (really test it) to make sure it isn't faulty. Because this will void your warranty.

There are a lot of tutorials out there, but some of them are better than others and harder to find. I'll show you the best and easiest instructions I found.
I believe this - http://www.head-fi.org/t/406187/modding-the-sennheiser-pc350-headset - is the first thread about it. I'm not sure, though as there are other threads out there.

And, this is what I found to be the best guide. http://www.head-fi.org/t/406187/modding-the-sennheiser-pc350-headset/135#post_6348990

I'm adding my comments to the guide in blue.


Quote:
Did the mod last night. The sonic results are very good so far! These actually have a proper transition across the center of the soundstage now, before they sort of "jumped" from left to right without a clean transition during sounds that sweep evenly. Bass is definitely improved, and the lower midrange is much more articulate. The "congested" feeling has gone away entirely, and the upper mids are smoother. Female voices in particular are now much richer, I tested using Diana Krall's Live in Paris DVD and was much happier with the "honey and bourbon" tonal quality of her voice, which didn't come through well at all prior to the mod. Once they finish breaking in, I think these (modded) cans are going to be very capable on music.

I did the mod slightly differently... in looking at the driver enclosure, I realized that the area where most people are drilling the holes sits in very close contact with the outer shell of the headphones, which may be the reason some people are reporting "chuffing" after the mod... the clearance is almost nil there. I chose to vent from the top end of the enclosure, or the "side" if you have the driver sitting face down, directly into an open void area around one of the screw standoff columns.

To take off the cuffs, pull firmly. They take a bit of effort that can scare you, but they pop right off and pop right back on. Also, the screws you have to take out are under the cuff. On the can with the microphone, there are 2 hidden screws under a piece of fabric.

Pic 1, you can see where I drilled at the top end, with two 3/32" holes (2.38mm):

443

I used silver sharpie to make the positions of the wholes based off pic2.

You do not HAVE to use 3/32" drill bits. And, you don't HAVE to only use two holes. The more holes you have, the more bass. However, 2 larger holes would be better than more of a smaller one. I made two 2.3mm holes in the same spots as this guy. And mine have more than enough bass.


Pic 2, you can see the area where the holes vent, I have indicated with the red arrows:

456

The blue arrow points to the edge of the cosmetic shell that covers the center area of the main housing. I didn't realize at first, but the outer cosmetic shell of the headphones isn't attached by anything other than double-sided adhesive tape, which you can see in the photo is a sort of reddish-brown color.

I figured this out inadvertently when I overpacked the cotton in the middle and popped one of them free. I'm going to have to go back in and superglue it in place, it doesn't seem to want to hold well now and separates slightly at the top edge.


Pic 3, showing the cotton batting that I used to fill the void space in the headphone:

460

The cotton balls can make the headset not fit together. I would pull them apart into very loose pieces and pack it. It won't take more than a few cotton balls.

I used too much cotton between the driver housing and the shell area of the face of the main housing, as you can see in the photo... my final result has a much thinner layer of cotton in the center area compared to what you see in the photo. The most important areas for damping seem to be the void spaces around the edges, especially if you vent directly into the open space like I did. I filled in those areas pretty well with cotton, not packed tightly but enough to fill the space completely.


I am concerned slightly by the thin cosmetic shell that is "stuck" in place, it seems less than ideal construction. Once I superglue the shell in place I may use some very small/thin pieces of Dynamat to damp the housing further. An alternative to that might be to experiment with some sort of fine grating material to replace the cosmetic shell entirely, to convert these to semi-open cans? Running without the shells on temporarily to see what the result is like would answer the question without actually fabricating anything first. I'm not sure if I'll get around to that sort of experimentation or not, because these do sound significantly better already.

Anyone else experimenting?

I hope some of you find this helpful.

ADDITIONALLY
Once you do this mod, you have to consider that these now require a bit of power to produce its potential (like normal good audio).
I did this mod and just ran them on my laptop audio for a while and thought it sounded good. Then, I bought a Fiio E10 DAC and Amp and the difference is staggering still.

Fiio E10

I did a lot of research, and this is the best bang/buck laptop amp. The E17 is coming out soon, but will be more expensive. This amp really made a difference. The bass shakes my whole head. So, worth it.

There you go. For $230, you have what can be compared to $500+ gear.
Edited by Contagion - 4/2/12 at 4:56pm
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post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 
Just got bored and drilled a third 3/32" hole in each one. Slightly noticeable more bass. 3 is probably all you need.
Edited by Contagion - 4/6/12 at 3:01pm
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post #3 of 8
I followed your guide and it went smoothly. Everybody should try this, it's easier than you might think and the sound improvement is dramatic. Thanks for the helpful writeup sir!
post #4 of 8
How necessary are the cotton balls?
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
They can clean up the bass. There's a lot of empty space back there and all that bass hobbling around can sound a bit muddy. The cotton balls just clean it up a bit, but they do take away a little bass. I didn't have a need for them at 2 holes. After the 3rd, I felt the bass was just too everywhere and the cotton balls dampened it down.
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post #6 of 8
great little mod! thanks for the info.
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post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by D1G1TALD3ATH View Post

great little mod! thanks for the info.
Old thread but some extra info is always nice regardless:

Before you put the drill in your PC350 and stuff it with cotton:
They have an impedance of 150 ohm so they do benefit from some amping, doesn't matter how many holes you drill. (I know impedance is only half the story but for simplicity's sake ...)
Considering this is a gaming headset: I wouldn't rush out and buy a FiiO E10 just yet. It's a decent piece of equipment with a decent enough amp but it has nill support for surround. It's pure stereo.
I'd rather suggest the Xonar DG(X) or Creative Z. The amp in the DG isn't amazing but it should be a nice step-up regardless. Can't comment on the Creative Z but from what I have seen Creative uses the same amp in the whole Z - line which is supposed to support HP up to 600 ohms ( hmmm rolleyes.gif probably fine for the PC350 though )

If you don't feel like buying a soundcard or if you bought one: EQ that thing. If you don't like the sound of something, use an EQ BEFORE you start voiding warranties and risk destroying rather expensive equipment. It can make a huge difference, you can always change it back (or switch between profiles for gaming, different music styles and movies) and it's free ! thumb.gif

Now, in regards to the OP: I'm rather skeptical about the claim of sound quality up to par with $500+ cans. And when I say skeptical, I mean: BS!
Comparing audio equipment is very very hard. And, don't take the wrong way, you can listen to whatever you like, I don't care, the fact that I see Dubstep club in your sig I can kinda guess what you needed the bass for. IMHO, dubstep is a smear of bass and sounds that's absolutely the worst style of music ever to base audio equipment performance on. I'm not bashing dubstep (Ok, maybe a little) but rather thinking of dubstep as a means to judge headphones.

An other thing: my brother has the PC350, I bought him a DGX for christmas, it responds very well to EQ changes.
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post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloitz View Post

Now, in regards to the OP: I'm rather skeptical about the claim of sound quality up to par with $500+ cans. And when I say skeptical, I mean: BS!

Exactly my thoughts.

What you are doing here is letting air from the drivers 'escape' through those holes, and simulate boomier bass as sound is coming also from the back of the drivers. You are also increasing driver travel speed, which doesn't mean an improvement. You might notice some deeper bass, but is it really better? You are most likely killing bass definition in favor of punch by doing this.

Adding cotton to 'smoothen' the bass might just be the icing on the cake. My thoughts is you're simply making the bass less 'hissy', as the air coming out of those holes WILL hiss inside the cans. That's why you feel it sounds cleaner.

To sum it up, you're adding boom AND hiss, then reducing the hiss, so you end up with boomy, dirty (because the added punch comes from a less than optimal area, which is inside the cans and not from the drivers) bass.

Sure Dubstep might sound better, as it is mostly bass and electronic noise, but go listen to some metalcore, or to some black blues. That's where you will see what I mean.


All of the above is based on deductions and on my own experiences modifying cans (never expensive as these ones, though), not scientific facts. Feel free to correct me if you have evidence! thumb.gif
   
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