Dekoni Audio Replacement Pads for Sony MDR-Z1R Headphones

General Information

Dekoni has 4 Pads to choose from in their Elite series replacement pads for the MDR-Z1R Headphones: (All prices given in US-Dollar)

  • Velour Priced $59.99
  • Hybrid Priced $99.99
  • Sheepskin Priced $109.99
  • Fenestrated Sheepskin Priced $79.99

Latest reviews

Velour pads - comfy, moderate sound impact
Pros: Very comfy, comes with built in attachment ring so swapping them on/off is super easy
Cons: Moderate impact to sound signature, bass quantity reduced
I'll keep this brief since I only purchased the velour pads. Fit is great - they are easy to swap because the plastic mounting ring is already installed on them. The velour and memory foam combo is comfortable and pads are nice and deep, I could see wearing these for hours with no fatigue. But, my reservation is with the change to the sound signature. I tried swapping them on only one side at a time, both on L and R, and comparing with the stock pad still in place on the opposing side. In either case, I felt that the bass on the side with the Dekoni pads was notably diminished. My stock pads are in nice shape, but it's possible they are a bit flattened so this could potentially be a variable to consider. But, I do not think they are far off from their stock position/form. So... A+ for comfort, but the sound change is something I'll have to spend more time with. As of right now the pads are in their box and might remain there.

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DEKONI ELITE Pads for MDR-Z1R
Pros: Great craftsmanship on all pads
Nice packaging
Includes the attachment/Mount-ring to just quickly swap pads on Z1R's
Velour and hybrid nice clean sound with bass punch
Cons: Fenestrated sheepskin kills the bass entirely making the Z1R Harsh sounding
Non-perforated sheepskin has a neutral flat signature, may be con for some
Introduction – About Me:

I’m an audiophile but not the Graphs and number ones, more of a music lover type of audiophile who seeks the best true sound quality.


This review will cover some firsts for mw: My first ever experience with Dekoni Audio, My first full-size Headphone ear-Pad review and therefore my first earpad-rolling experience.

ABOUT DEKONI AUDIO

Dekoni is a company based in the US,, they specialize in Audio equipment, mainly the following: Ear-pads for diverse brands of Headphones like Sennheiser, sony; , IEM tips, earplugs.


I want to thank Dekoni for letting me review their ELITE series of pads for the sony MDR-Z1R, which were recently launched.


DISCLAIMER


I Asked voluntarily Dekoni for a review set of the Earpadz, I’ll receive no financial incentive for my honest review. I am also not affiliated to dekoni in any form, in fact this is my 1st experience with a Dekoni Product.


General Information


The Elite pads for the sony MDR-Z1R come in 4 variants with differing prices accordingly:

  • ELITE Velour – Made of velour “cloth”, priced $59.99 US-Dollar
  • ELITE Hybrid – A combination of velour “cushion” and leather sides, priced $99.99
  • ELITE Fenestrated Sheepskin – made entirely of leather with a perforated surface, priced $79.99
  • ELITE Sheepskin – Made of leather with smooth surface, priced $109.99
Each pair of pads comes attached with the mounting-ring as per sony’s specifications, so there is no need to fiddle and struggle to transfer this part from the original stock to the Dekoni pads.


UNBOXING

Each pair of pads mentioned above came in their individual color-and-design-coded box, all four packaging came sealed with a tape easy to break with a knife. Itself, the boxes struck me with the quality, Dekoni have outdone themselves on this department. They’re not a simple cardboard box, hell, wow, they are made yes of cardboard but they’re hard as if they were made of wood, plus they stay closed by a fancy magnet latch.

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On top of the boxes the Logo of Dekoni Audio is printed big and clear this also has the word ELITE printed on them, under is the bar code and SKU number, sides are blank and the magnetic latch has the model for the corresponding pads, the other thing that varies is the design and color of each box.

  • ELITE VELOUR comes in a turquoise/aqua color, on the magnetic latch side reads “Sony MDR-Z1R Elite Velour”
  • ELITE Hybrid comes in an pastel sea green, half of the design is clear sea green and the other half sea green with mini polka dots in dark blue, it reads “Sony MDR-Z1R Hybrid”
  • ELITE Fenestrated sheepskin comes in a plain pastel sea green design, it reads “Sony MDR-Z1R Fenestrated sheepskin”
  • ELITE Sheepskin: same as Fenestrated sheepskin design but covered in dark blue mini polka dots in it’s enterity, it reads “Sony MDR-Z1R Sheepskin”.
Inside of the four packages is the same, on the bottom the dekoni logo and on the Lid a legend in bold stating their quality and satisfaction guarantee as well as a Facbook url to their FB page.

BUILD QUALITY, COMFORT & USABILITY



The build quality of the dekoni padz is as premium as the sony stock pads, the leather as well as the velour feel soft. The memory foam also feels light yet dense and bounces back quickly to form when squeezed.

The plastic mount-rings also feel pretty sturdy and durable, tried bending them to see the construction quality, with great confidence I can say they’re strong enough that they did not bend with moderate force.

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Usability here perhaps doesn’t play a big role as when testing a DAC/AMP or DAP, but as every pair includes the mounting rings and the fact that sony was smart enough to make the lock mechanism identical on both cups it makes a breeze removing and swapping pads.

To remove the pads from the headphones just turn them counter-clockwise, this requires a bit of force. But once unlocked they come pretty easy off. To place new pads just align the pimple with the dots on the cups receptacle and turn clockwise to lock.

A brilliant move by Dekoni to include these rings attached, as trying to remove them is a monumental task.

Comfort wise they’re great, my ears don’t touch the driver grills anymore, ok, the stockpads maybe already a bit worn as sometimes my ears touch the grills with stock ones.

With all of the pads I had to adjust the headband two steps larger to fit them appropriately on my head.


SOUND ANALYSIS

Sound testing was made using the MDR-Z1R with the four variants of the dekoni elite series and sony’s own stock pads (2 years old or more as I bought my Z1R’s second hand). Alongside this I used a NW-WM1A walkman that has a 1TB Sandisk extreme micro SD.



I only listen to classical music, so the review is based with this type of music, which has been losslessly encoded from my Own CD or SACD or bought online:

  • FLAC 16-bit between 44.1 and 48Khz, Hi-Res FLAC 24-Bit from 44.1 to 384Khz
  • DSD
I am on the opinion that the sound of a headphone gets affected by the implementation as well by different cable materials, this is my first experience with pad rolling. I’ll do my best to try to spot a sound difference.

For this review I will be using the SensMe channels function of my Walkman (mood-based playlists crated by sony’s Mediago 12-tone analysys algorithm)

Dekoni Elite Sheepskin vs sony stock:

The sound comes off as cleaner on the dekoni sheepskin pads vs the stock Z1R pads, I heard as if the slight bassiness of the stock pads is cleared off when switching to dekonis pads, this clean sound can be heard on the Haydn Mass edition CDs 5 and 8 where Kettle drums are used to accompany the chorus and orchestra, the bass of the drums never overpowers the rest of the passages. , this may be due to the fact the stock pads are two years old and were used constantly.

Mid and highs remain almost the same, perhaps due to the perceived slight decrease in bass, it may come as slightly bright, but not an issue, I do note some slight treble sharpness, but that has been the character of the Z1R and also depends on the recording. Treble peaks are a bit noticeable on the track “Badine” from the album Louis Marchand & Nicolas Clerambaut: Pieces de clavecin (Plectra records/Davitt Moroney).

Stage and instrument separation remain rock solid as before on the Album Haydn the complete Mass edition CD 5 and CD 8 (Chandos/Collrgium Musicum 90), the choir is separated from the orchestra clearly, while also hearing the disctinct boices in the choir, stage on this album is big clearly representing the cathedral where it was recorded at.

Another great example of separation is the album Charpentier Musique Sacree (DGG – ARCHIV PRODUKTION/Musica antiqua Koln) in the track “Second air de trompettes, flutes, Violons, Hautbois et timbales H. 547” there is a clear separation of the sounds, one can hear the brass ection separated clearly from the kettle drums which are very powerful at the beginning of the track, in the middle there is a more calmly section of solo violin, flute and oboe where one can hear a cembalo.

Dekoni elite Fenetrated sheepskin

I found the sound a bit more brighter eith the fenestrated pads, but just a touch compared to the normal sheepskin pads. Bass precense is still there, still delivers a nice clean punch but the presence of bass instruments is a bit removed, a seconds version of the air de trompettes from the Album Charpentier musique sacree (DGG ARCHIV/Musica antiqua Koln) gives as if the kettle drums were equalized to sound not too present in the mix. One can hear the bang bang of the kettle drums but not the body of the bass (Mozart finales of symphonies 35 and 41 from the album Symphonies Nos 35-41 (SACD DG/Berliner philharmoniker & H.V. Karajan). Bass organ pipes seem as they don’t reach as deep one can feel this on the album Bach the four Great Toccatas and fugues (Sony classical SACD/E. Power Biggs). While one can still hear their punch, its so clean that may come as brighter sound, at times a mid-centric treble centric. The English suite No. 3 BWV 808 sounds mid and treble centered that the bass is almost non existent (ALBA records/Elina mustonen) at the same time the Harpsichord-solo concerto BWV 975 from the album Concerti arrangements (Hanssler klassik/Peter watctchhorn) the recording quality is cleared up with a nice balanced sound as the bass quantity is diminished (the flaw of this recording uncontrolled bass response due to excessive reverberation of the hall).

Mids and highs gets a boost on the fenestrated pads, some times giving the treble peak of the Z1R a boost but it is not that bothersome with the sony Kimber kable. But this decrease in bass and its consequences of mid and treble increase may be bad for bad recordings examples of this can be the Bach cantatas cycle by Helmuth Rillig on Hanssler that give the details of early cd masters and can be piercing while pushing the kettle drums further away from the song making them disconnected from the melody..

Separation and staging remains as excellent as sheepskin Fuga in C from Krebs die Sämtliche Orgelwerge (label Motette/Weinberger Bros.) you still get the sense of the room where the music was recorded at a big cathedral. The instruments are clearly separated and clearly distinguished, in this example the strings and wood winds with a Bassoon as continuo easily heard through the Symphony No. 38 Perger 30 from the album Michael Haydn Symphonies 34-39 (Johannes Goritki/CPO)

Dekoni Hybrid (Velour faces, leather sides)

The pads have a combination of leather in the sides and velour on the faces, to better clarify the pads are like a donut and the velour is the icing.

These have better bass impact and body as the other previously mentioned pads while still having a clean signature without the elevated bass of the originals but without the almost flat signature of the sheepskins. On the Track Ricercar I from the album Froberger edition volume 6 (AEOLUS/Bob van Asperen) at the end you hear the deep throbbing bass that’s is benefit of DSD recordings and large organ pipes. Revisiting Mozart symphonies Nos 35-41, this time the kettle drums have their body and great bass presence. Cellos now sound gruntier and well extended bass.

Mids and highs remain equally in the mix without being affected, voices and other instrument sound natural and effortless. Revisiting bach’s English suites album the bass is there while mids and highs are sparkly and still piercing but lessened. Switching to the album L’Orchestre du Roi Soleil (Jordi savall/Alia vox) the instruments are perfectly balanced, the drum that periodically kicks slams good and moves air while the other percussions instrument and the winds, violins remain well heard none goes missing. Piano sounds convincing with Robert schumann light hearted pieces (Complete piano works/Brilliant classics/Klara wurtz).

Separation and soundstage are preserved, mixtures of organ pipes are clearly separated as well the different sections of the orchestra. Reverb decays naturally conving (Toccata et fugue in A-moll/Mottette/Krebs- sämtliche Orgelwerke/Weinberger brothers). Rachmaninov’s Piano concerto No. 3 with Ashkenazy (DECCA SACD remaster) the piano at the beginning is clearly heard and then the horn and bass string sections slowly appear thumping and the winds instruments all clearly separated and coherent. On the last movement of this concerto, the initial orchestral strike gives a conving bass thump. Moving more into the song the complexity of the work doesn’t make the MDR-Z1R collapse all is maintained coherently even the soft flutes that appear to give dashes of music, the clarinets with a pianissimo easily heard.

Dekoni VELOUR

These share a timbre with the Hybrids where a balance and good bass impact is maintained.


The bass here, like with the hybrids retains it’s body and fullness, revisiting ricercar I from AEOLUS Froberger edition Vol. 6, at the end of the track the throbbing bass and depth is clearly felt and heard, also revisited the Pachelbel Toccata in C-Dur from CPO’s SACD recording of the complete Pachelbel organ works, here also the deep throbbing punchy bass is heard clearly while maintaining coherency of frequencies. Oh yeah that Jupiter symphony conducted by Karajan, at the final moments of last movement where the kettle drums give their shining mastery are well heard, not only a PANG PANG like on both sheepskin pads but also the characteristic rumble. Unlike stock pads which also give bass body these are cleaner and not bloated.

Mids and highs are like on the hybrid pads well maintained alongside with the bass lines, on Bachs first Brandenburg conducted by Il Florilegium (Channel classics SACD) the horns, the violins and violas are well coherently shown here, also the Harpsichord that gives these dashes if accompainiment is well heard even at moderate volumes. Switching to the 3rd and famous Brandenburg here all is shown in perfect harmony, the violins while the continuo line led by the Harpsichord is not lost when the bass viols enter the stage.

Staging and separation is equally huge as the hybrids and the other pads, this is demonstrated on Krebs Preludium et fuge in C-Dur from Mottete’s Krebs sämtliche Orgelwerke Vol. 2 the size of the cathedral is huge and it is extremely large and decay last a while.

On the symphonic works the instruments are clearly separated from each other and easily heard with the rest of the orchestra.

SUMMARY

Dekoni did a superb set of Replacement pads for the MDR-Z1R, however depending on your tastes you have between 4 options to choose from. The sheepskin pads give a more flat signature, especially the fenestrated pads while the velour gives a nice warm tonality without messing the rest of the frequencies. In a short summary the clean the bass presence natural of the stock sony pads.

Final thoughts:

I didn’t thought before that a worn set of earpads or a set that has not so much stuffing to make the pads firmer could seriously affect the SQ of a Headphone, this was proven with dekoni pads.

If I had to choose my self I would go for the velour or hybrid sets in a heartbeat because they maintain a nice bass body while giving off plenty of details without making things harsh.

From left to right the pads I prefer the most

VELOUR >= HYBRID > SHEEPSKIN > FENESTRATED SHEEPSKIN > STOCK

TL;DR

The working of all the pads, the craftsmanship is superb on all of the pads, also this applies to wearing comfort. Packaging is nice, could be more stylish, f.e the Boxes in black and a bit of gold for the Elite series IMHO.

The pads all clean the prominent bass that the stock sony pads have, but there are some caveats, the fenestrated sheepskin pads kills the bass entirely making the Z1R harsh sounding. The best balance of bass/mid/high detail clarity are the velour and Hybrid. And the Non-fenestrated sheepskin pads give a reference tonality without the harsh character of the fenestrated pads.
gerelmx1986
gerelmx1986
I would choose the sheepskins above the fenestrated sheepskin but both velour and hybrid for its preservation of bass impact. note all pads clear off the muddiness of stock pads
gearofwar
gearofwar
I can expect they are all comfy but hybrid with fenestrated inner rim along with fenestrated sheepskin will keep your ear cooler in my opinion.
kefs
kefs
Going to order some Hybrids in the UK👍

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