I have seen some complaints in the past about the earpad/headband quality of Sennheiser's electrostatic headphones.
The big problem is the black vinyl used on those parts, which are very susceptible to flaking.
This is more evident on the HE60 (please refer to this thread), which has worst quality parts compared to the HE90.
I thought this problem wouldn't happen with the HE90, but my headband pad started cracking and is slowly flaking now. When I gently press the earpad with my finger, I can also see some cracking areas on the vinyl that covers its side surface. Luckily, I've noticed this right after receiving brand new replacement parts from Sennheiser.
But the original replacement parts are very expensive and will suffer from the same problem after a few years, no matter how carefully you treat your headphones. My HE90 is from the 2005 batch and I bought them only two years ago. (I always have my hairs clean and dry before wearing it. I use it less than 1 hour/week and it's always resting on a Sennheiser-provided hanger when not in use, protected with a Stax dust cover.)
I could buy new replacement parts every 2-5 years, but this would be very expensive. It's also a risky option, since Sennheiser's stock is limited and these parts will likely become unavailable soon.
Which brought me to the idea of ordering custom earpads/headband pad made with leather instead of vinyl. Now, this would be a reasonable investment. We are talking about decades of durability.
After an extensive research on leather specialists in and outside Head-Fi, I've became aware of Jeremy from JMoney Audio and his work. He has been doing an amazingly high quality job on manufacturing earpads and headbands with lambskin. Please look at these Denon pads he has made:
I've contacted Jeremy and he seems to be very confident and willing to make custom HE90 earpads/headband pads.
I asked him to make the parts as near to the original ones as possible. It should not alter the sound, nor the design of the headphones. The looks/comfort/sonic characteristics should remain the same. The only improvement will be on the quality of the material used.
I'm sending my earpads/headband pad to Jeremy and he will perform the needed measurements.
Now to the problem. Jeremy needs to make at least 50 sets of these parts. The reason for this is quoted below:
"(...) you can't really tell that they are handmade, in my opinion. Don't want to sound too confident but that's how I feel about what I have come up with. But, there is a reason why they look so good. It's because I use high end equipment that involve molds that help cut the pieces perfectly. Then I proceed to assemble everything by hand as they don't get pumped out of some huge machine.
That being said, is why I only would like to work in largish quantities because I must buy a mold. I'm not too interested in just providing a crappy looking pad as I want all my products to be first rate."
Which is basically why I'm starting this thread. I'd like to know how many of you HE90 owners are insterested in this project.
You may be asking about the price. We are not sure how much it will cost yet, but telling from the price of current JMoney Audio's products, it will probably be cheaper than a set of replacement parts from Sennheiser.
I'm waiting for your inputs. =)
* * * * * * * * UPDATES * * * * * * * *
07/19 - I've just got a price estimate from Jeremy. The total for a set will be around $100-$120, depending on materials and construction time.
07/20 - The original parts have been sent to Jeremy for detailed inspection and measurements.
07/23 - We need your opinion on the material to be used for the earpads. Please see post #39 for details.
07/28 - Jeremy has kindly agreed to use velour on the earpads (post #51).
09/07 - HeadRoom will possibly stock the leather parts (post #74).
09/09 - Listing for extra sets have started in order to reach the target of 40 sets (post #75).
09/16 - Final price estimate (buying from HeadRoom) is $120-$130.
09/17 - HeadRoom has accepted a 30 sets pre-sale (post #91).
09/22 - HE90 leather pads are a go!!! Need a volunteer to lend his HE90, preferably in Canada (post #94).
10/01 - Some difficulties with JMoney Audio are holding the project back, but Jeremy claims to be commited to make it happen (post #207).
Edited by HugoFreire - 10/17/10 at 8:37am