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Dekoni Audio Blue Review: Official Fostex T50-RP headphones

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by bowei006, Feb 23, 2018.
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  1. bowei006 Contributor
    Hello all, I wanted to make a thread about a new set of headphones from Dekoni Audio that I came to enjoy.

    https://dekoniaudio.com/product/dek...oration-audiophile-planar-magnetic-headphone/

    It seems Fostex officially collaborated with Dekoni, a company known for making quality headphone pads, on a version of the T50-RP now called the "Blue".

    I got to listen to it and received a sample pair from Dekoni and I'm liking its imporvements on the original T50RP quite a bit.

    To my knowledge, the modifications to it include the color scheme, custom Dekoni pads, and general tuning/modifcations of various aspects of the headphone. Dekoni has a suite of headphone measurement systems to test with and did lots of them to come up with this set it seems.

    The biggest things I have with it are that the comfort are upgraded from cringey to heavenly now. My biggest problem with headphone pads are that they are either:
    • the stock hard ones that leave sweat and oils on it
    • Way way too soft that I start mentally feeling uncomfortable like I'm sinking into them. Also builds up heat and sweat
    • Mediocre material that irritates my skin and doesn't work for long sessions.

    So far, I haven't had any of those issues with the Blue's. For some reason, the pads are "solid". I don't have other words to describe them but that the foam is stiff but also moldable to your head without the same icky sinking feeling I get with other pads. The base material that touches the surrounding of your ear has a slight grip to it and feels dependable as well.

    I'm also a fan of the sound. It has less surging energy as the stock unit has which made it 'hot' and 'bright' after a while and sounds much more 'tamed'. Mid-range background instrumentals were stronger and much too apparent/forward on the stock units and that has been 'rectified' as well with the vocals taking a higher priority this time around. The bass has also been brought to life in this variant as well :)


    More on it will have to wait until the review is out :p

    Anyway, just wanted to share my thoughts on these with y'all.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DEKONI BLUE REVIEW:

    To read the FULL REVIEW in its original glory. Click Below:
    http://headphone.guru/dekoni-audio-blue/

    [​IMG]

    It wouldn’t be a lie to say that the Fostex T50RP are the most well known planar magnetic headphones on the planet and probably account for most enthusiasts first foray into this driver technology. The T50RPs are legendary in our world for being an affordable behemoth and for having insane modding ability. We have seen this time and time again with thread after thread on Head-Fi as users keep finding new ways to get the sound and quality out of this headphone. Mr. Speakers is also famous for having his Mad Dogs which were an unofficial production of a T50RP already modded.

    Today, I have the Dekoni Audio Blue (MSRP: $299) which is a collaboration effort between Dekoni Audio and Fostex to produce this official T50RP MKIII ($160) modded unit. Dekoni Audio is renowned for its high quality aftermarket ear pads and has even partnered with a plethora of companies to develop pads for them as well.

    The Blue starts off as a base T50RP MKIII before the engineers at Dekoni get their hands on them and customize it. The primary differences are the outer color scheme, Dekoni custom hybrid pads for comfort and sonic tuning, internal driver housing modifications, and cabling. It may not seem like much at first but believe me when I say it changes the playing field completely.

    Usability and Build:

    The outer color scheme was revamped from the original black and dreary look. Whereas the original was more suitable for a studio professional closed off to the world, the new units have a mid blue color scheme with a modern take on design. A sound wave adorns the outside on both sides giving them a look that is more ‘hip’ and contemporary. The new appearance essentially changes the ‘idea’ of where these headphones should or could be used from a production studio to being worn outside or at cafes.

    Let me just say that the box the Blue’s came in look wicked. Great use of ‘white space’ (blue in this case) around the two collaborative logos in a central alignment before we get the sound wave with the Blue model imposed in between it. It’s an exceptional design to be honest. Everything inside was packaged compactly and I was able to get it all out without much hassle which is a big thing for me. If I have to bring out the knife and scissor and carefully slice my way to get to your product, you’re doing it wrong. Dekoni passes this test with flying colors.

    To align with this idea, Dekoni has given the Blue’s a new 2 meter cord, down from the unmanageable 3 meter one that comes with the stock T50RP MKIII; both are still detachable. It currently terminates directly to quarter inch with a beefy housing and strain relief. A quarter inch to 3.5mm adapter is included with the package.

    [​IMG]
    Without a doubt, the biggest change to the Blue would be the headphone pads. They are the most comfortable pads I have used ever. They have endured multi-hour long sessions without needing to be taken off thanks to their plush but supportive high-density foam and light clamping pressure. Dekoni notes that their hybrid pads are made up of a combination of three materials. The pads have “sheepskin on the outside, velour on the face of the ear pad for comfort, and Dekoni’s Fenestrated Sheepskin on the inside of the ear pad for a smooth transition of sound from speaker to ear”.

    [​IMG]

    The pads have a dual purpose functionality with the Blue. They aren’t just for comfort but also have a unique shape to tune the sound of the headphone. The changes I can see that would affect sound include:

    • Overall depth of the pad which affects sonic travel was elongated
    • The rear section is asymmetric in material length from the edge which allows it to cover portions of the driver and direct sound.
    • The center of the headphone pad is shaped like an oval with precise packing of material to expose only certain parts of the driver and its port holes.
    These pad modifications from Dekoni along with their internal changes (most likely to damping material and porting) have created a completely new sound signature than the original base T50RP MKIII. Every single change to the Blue has increased the level of personal usability, comfort, and sound from the originals to a new plateau. They are on a whole different level.

    [​IMG]

    On the top of the headband, the Blue’s also sport the words “DEKONI” on it. It’s a popular fad that headphone manufacturers do to market their company when others see you using it. One problem though, the words are upside down when you wear the headphones around your neck. I’ve confirmed with Dekoni that this is how it will be in the production version as well. So close Dekoni!

    Sound:

    The sound of the Dekoni Audio Blues is deeply warm, dark with a slight mid recession, featuring a desirable amount of bass, and a slightly narrow soundstage. It’s most suitable for listening to modern pop, hip-hop, EDM, jazz, drums, and other harder hitting genres that aren’t reliant on blistering mid frequency clarity or performance.

    [​IMG]

    Just because the Blues are ‘most suitable’ for those genres doesn’t mean it doesn’t sound great with clean and classic types of music. If you have ten headphones to swap around with to get the best reproduction out of an album then sure, but I’ve still had a respectable experience using the Blue’s for everything I’ve thrown at it.

    [​IMG]

    I selected the track “Katawaredoki” by RADWIMPS which is one of the titular songs from the hit animated film “Your Name” by Makoto Shinkai to demonstrate this. The song is exceptionally light with an emphasis on a clean and slow piano while accompanied by string instruments before hitting into a strong symphony of instruments coming together at once for a finale. The Blue, even on the quiet and solemn sections, reproduced the mid range instruments with ease and good texture. It was missing some of the upper frequency extensions of the piano and were not as forward as I wanted them to be, but was adequate for the price point. Whereas some headphones with good bass have a low frequency section that often intrudes into the mid frequency realm on quieter songs, the Blues ran a tight ship and kept its bass in check. One aspect I enjoyed heavily was that the planar drivers gave each key press of the piano a solid pressure and weight behind them. It sounded realistic and improved the song’s energy.

    [​IMG]

    The next track up was a live recording of “Theme of Laura” which is a popular song from the video game Silent Hill 2. The first thing I noticed was how prevalent and proper the guitars sounded. I expected a duller response after hearing that the Blues were modded to decrease high frequency brightness and had coverings over certain portions of the driver. Instead, I was greeted with a reasonably clear, albeit slightly recessed, guitar riff playing the song’s main theme. The sound was mellow and comfortable but lacked some of the sharpness I would have wanted. Detail was above average and clarity was fair. The Blues are somewhat narrow in their soundstage, the sound is pretty much piped to you like a standard earphone is. But hey, did anyone not expect this? It’s a closed headphone with internal modifications, thick pads, and with an oval shaped pad center for sound delivery. I did not mind this honestly, as a wide soundstage isn’t everything to a headphone. It’s something lots of audiophiles look for in a TOTL headphone, but who said anything about reviewing one of those today. It’s a fitting sound for a modern and pop oriented headphone. It seriously works with everything I’ve thrown at it.

    [​IMG]

    Lastly, I listened to “Witchcraft” by Pendulum on their last album Immersion. This is perhaps the best genre for the Blue. The slight v shape melds very well by putting the bass, drums, and rhythm of the song at the forefront and the accompanying vocals in the rear. The only word to describe this would be “experience”. Rob Swire’s soft vocals before the track enters its actual heavy introduction was an experiential moment of hearing a performance akin to a feather and hammer clashing together. It was strong and featured just the right amount of proper bass backing when the song desired and none during portions without.

    [​IMG]

    Comparing the Blues to the original T50RP is like sitting on a LAZBoy sofa versus a public park bench. The T50RP was more bright and had better upper mids but it also had a more fatiguing signature. That’s without even mentioning that the pads on those are like sleeping on cardboard. I wouldn’t be able to wear those for more than half an hour. The sound signature between the two are polar opposites. The T50RP were cleaner but also thinner sounding whereas the Blue’s have a very thick tonality to it with a stronger bass response.

    Conclusion:

    [​IMG]

    Despite being based off the T50RPs which were famous for studio use and analyzation, I found the Blues to have little of that trait remaining. It’s a modern headphone with a contemporary take on its sound signature. I found it to be similar to the Focal LISTEN in regards to the market its sound is designed towards; poppy, and deep bass with a non fatiguing vocal range.

    I wondered to myself many times if this headphone wouldn’t be more suitable for use on the go. It’s compact and light enough to do so and is also attractive looking. Thus the Blues seem to me, at times, to have a small identity crisis in this matter. Its design screams that it is targeting a younger demographic that doesn’t want a the bleak look of the T50RP and won’t be using it in the studio. It also has the sound signature and forgiving sonic quality of a headphone you can take on the go like the Focal LISTEN. Yet it comes with a 2m cord ending in a quarter inch jack. I personally would have preferred the Blue to have a 1.2 to 1.4m cord terminating in 3.5mm. Thankfully this is possible as the headphone, just like the base T50RP, comes with a detachable cable mechanism. A popular mod is to use the angled Vmoda cable or the one officially from Fostex ending in 3.5mm.

    The Blue is a complete redefinition of the T50RP MKIII. It’s stronger in every department and this time with a sound signature that is fun and more mellow for long term listening. That’s without mentioning the comfort which is out of this world; godly is one way to describe it. The Blue is $90 more expensive but characterizes its value in its considerably more balanced sound production and tri-material hybrid pads. Fans of the T50RP series or those that want a pre-modded Fostex official variant should definitely give the Dekoni Audio Blue’s a try.

    To read the FULL REVIEW in its original glory. Click Below:
    http://headphone.guru/dekoni-audio-blue/
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
    jinxy245, DekoniAudio and volly like this.
  2. FastAndClean
    :p
     
  3. GivenTheOkiDoke
    Looking foward to some compairason reviews between these and stock. I love the look of these in a 90's cartoons and sugary cereal kind of way.
     
    DekoniAudio likes this.
  4. stellarelephant
    Awesome.
    To me, this is the most promising bit:
    "the addition of the Dekoni Hybrid Ear Pads and other proprietary changes makes this headphone a better version of the original by being less fatiguing and smoother all around with an extended bass response."
     
    DekoniAudio likes this.
  5. GenEricOne
    DekoniAudio likes this.
  6. MrPanda
    DekoniAudio likes this.
  7. GenEricOne
    Any impressions so far?
     
  8. nicdub
    Yes, would definitely like to hear some impressions before the $50 coupon goes away.
     
  9. MrPanda
    These are really initial impressions since I just got them Friday afternoon. I had originally intended to do a comparison with the 1more Triple Driver, so I might touch on that here and come back to it. I've tried them with a few DAC's, Chord Mojo, Bifrost Multibit/Asgard 2 combo, and a Dragonfly Red. The headphones really made a good impression from the start, I had heard them at CanJam NYC a couple of months ago. First thing to say is that they are a really comfortable headphone, the Dekoni pads have just the right amount of foam to be comfortable and isolating enough. I have big ears and they fit over them completely. They have a substantial amount of bass, but it's not unnatural. I think it will tame as they burn in a bit. The surprising thing is how good the treble is, how clean transients are, and how wide the soundstage is considering the limitations of the design. Usually I'm more of a classical listener, but the combination of the Chord Mojo and the Blues kept bringing me back to studio jazz, particularly John Scofield. There's a nice impact on the drums, and guitars, cymbals, and organ are rendered well. The weakness is that there isn't quite the instrumental separation you find on phones like Focal Clears, but if you can live with something not too far off from HD650 you're fine here. I prefer them to the HD650 so far. The subbass isn't as deep as Audeze's, but it's a planar bass you'll recognize and enjoy. But the surprise to me is how good the highs are, the tuning here makes the midrange come up just a little from the other phones I've heard with this driver. These are a really enjoyable headphone - they're involving in a way that the HD650 doesn't reach for me. Mojo is a good match. These will run from my iPhone with the lightning cable adapter, but really shine with more power. Very recommended. These are going to be my new office headphone.
    At a similar price, you get a very different sound altogether from the 1more. There's more treble and midrange energy and they're very clean in this range. The bass is really good, although to my ears, the soundstage just doesn't get wide enough. That's because this really isn't an overear phone, it's an on-ear design. They sound great, and are very efficient, they ran fine from my iPhone, but smoother from the Mojo. The integration of the drivers is really good, it's hard to tell at what frequency the switch happens. However, the lower frequencies have more dynamic impact and punch relative to the upper mids and highs, so they're just a little artificial sounding way up at the top. I have to say these phones are even less broken in that the Dekoni's, and I'm spending more enjoyable time with the Dekoni's. These make a great commuter phone. while they're not noise-cancelling, the snug fit on the ears and close proximity of the drivers helps keep outside noise away. They're a secure fit, but not a great gym phone since they also tend to keep in a lot of heat. I think these excel at rock -- the dynamics are right for it, and they have great punch and impact in the bass. They're not basshead phones, but they do have a bass radiator that makes them output bass in a quantity that's surprising given their sise. Maybe this psychologically gives you a sensation of extension that's not quite really there. I haven't listened enough to really analyze that with confidence. I like them best with the Mojo also, it's the best balance of high/midrange to bass of the DAC's I tested with. Packaging and build are great. The Dekoni's are more Fisher-Price, but that's part of their charm also. ... More later when I've listened to both pairs more.
     
  10. nicdub
    Thanks for the impressions! Sounds like they are a solid headphone, although I'm a bit worried about the Fisher-Price comment :wink:
     
  11. MrPanda
    lol the Fisher-Price comment was just a send up of the styling, which looks a little retro... but sounds great. Dekoni did a great job with this headphone. I'm really liking it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
    DekoniAudio and nicdub like this.
  12. GenEricOne
    Your impressions and the $50 off intrigued me enough to get me to order one. I don't listen to the same music (mostly EDM for me) but the characteristics you described seem to be what I like from headphones with my music. Will hopefully have some of my own impressions this week.

    Feel this may be a bit of a fool's errand for me as the TH-X00 PH I already have are basically perfect for me, but I'm not against having a stable of other headphones.
     
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  13. MrPanda
    I think they're going to really be a terrific phone for EDM, since the bass is more palpable to me than the TH-X00 -- they're both terrific headphones, but the presentation of the bass is quite different. It's an awkward analogy, but the TH-X00 is more or less a conventional headphone, the Dekioni is more like a big set of speakers in a case that could have been designed by the team that did the "Speak and Spell"
     
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  14. GenEricOne
    Got mine earlier today and have given them a few good hours of head time. They're really, really good. Probably my second favorite EDM headphone so far (see signature for what cans I use, note that I haven't had a chance to use my SR-404LEs yet).

    That said, they aren't dethroning the TH-X00 PHs for me. They almost sound like a junior version of them, with more similarities than differences.

    As much as I like them, here are some nitpicks:
    Blue's highs aren't quiet as bright as the TH-X00 PH's and probably wouldn't need any adjustment on the Loki. LSD by Ghastly is one of the most treble-harsh songs I know and the Blues handle it well, presenting most of the energy without harshness, but there is some veil. TH-X00 PHs have noticeably more energy but border into harsh without some Loki tuning.

    Bass on the Blues is emphasized, extended, impactful, and fast. That said, I don't love it. I'm not sure I can describe this well, but I think there's two main issues with it: 1) the Blues sound like a sub near your ear rather than just consuming you with bass, and 2) it sounds a bit mechanical at times...the oscillations in some basslines are almost too clean and fast, like I can count the Hz instead of just experiencing the sound. The basslines in Stay For It by RL Grime (ft. Miguel) and Loco Ono (Jayceeoh Remix) by Bassnectar are good examples of both of these behaviors.

    Lastly, I'm particularly sensitive to "ess" sounds in vocals, especially higher-pitched vocals. Most headphones hold/ring the sound too long and sound harsh to me. The Blues are not an exception. I expect most headphones to struggle with Yael's vocals in Body and Soul by Borgore (ft. Yael), but the Blues also struggle with Charlie XCX's vocals in Love gang by Whethan (ft. Charlie XCX) and I even catch a tiny bit of it in Miguel's vocals in Stay For It by RL Grime (ft. Miguel). It's not a matter excessive vocals either, the Miguel lets it rip in Stay For It with the TH-X00 PH's but he's a bit more subdued on the Blues in addition to the hiss ringing.

    The soundstage is a little better than on the TH-X00 PH, but not a ton. It's mostly moot for what I listen to, but Yosi Horikawa songs struggle almost equally on both. There's almost no layers of depth like there are on my HD700 or HE-400i. Imaging doesn't seem that bad though.

    The Blues also respond really well to the Loki, which is a nice plus. My Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro and Monoprice M1060C can't cope with much of a bass boost so having so much flexibility is nice with the Blues.

    Nitpicks aside, if I weren't already enamored with my TH-X00 PH's, these Dekoni Blues would probably be my daily driver.

    EDIT: They also flare up the hotspot on the top center of my head. But basically every headphone I have except the HD700 and HE-400i do that at least a little after a couple hours.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
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  15. MrPanda
    Really glad you're enjoying them! I pretty much came to the same conclusions you did, but really found them better in mids and highs after breaking them in for a few days. They're a fun headphone, and really non-fatiguing to listen to. For my purposes, which aren't critical listening with these, but hiding out from general office noise and confusion, they're great. They need some decent power to run at their best, they're not the most efficient phone out there. I'm really liking them...
     
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