Dekoni x HIFIMAN Cobalt (Tour info here)
Sep 19, 2023 at 1:39 AM Post #16 of 17
Why Dekoni Cobalt?
HiFiMan’s produces the Sundara, the best performing open back headphones one can purchase at $300. Dekoni Audio is famous for custom aftermarket earpads. What do we get when these two companies collaborate to produce a new headphone? We get the Dekoni Cobalt. A new closed back headphone that melds cues from both companies.

Some have a problem with open backed headphones since they let sound escape into the room. If one seeks a headphone that has sealed back cups that keep most of the sound in, there are few good choices at this lower price bracket. So, when I heard out about the Dekoni Cobalt, I was excited to hear what these closed headphones might do.


Day-one was spent listening to various tracks from many genres.

Day-one Preliminary Sound
Dekoni Audio Fenestrated Sheepskin
When the Dekoni Cobalt first arrived, it sounded strange. Something was off. A quick investigation revealed that they had arrived with Fenestrated Sheepskin earpads installed backwards. After reversing the earpads to their intended orientation, everything sounded much better.

First important note, is that these pads are proprietary as they require a built in proprietary attachment ring. The Dekoni ring snaps on and off as intended with no issues swapping earpads off and on throughout the week that I had the Cobalt in my possession.


Day-one Amplifier pairing
Pairing with my Schiit Jotunheim 2 yielded piercing highs due to poor amp synergy. Different yet sort of reminiscent of Beyerdynamic DT-880 on a bad amplifier. However, when paired with my Singxer SA-1 piercing highs disappeared. Continued to amp-swap by listening to Dekoni Cobalt on Quicksilver Headphone Amplifier, Ray Samuels Audio Emmeline II The Raptor tube amplifier, and Questyle CMA Twelve. Dekoni Cobalt sounded enjoyable. However, I wanted to invest more time listening to the Dekoni Cobalt in order to solidify stronger opinions on the performance and sound. Also, I had yet to try the Dekoni Audio Elite Velour earpads which also came in the box.


I achieved satisfactory results pairing the Dekoni Cobalt with my Questyle CMA Twelve. Then I decided to roll the earpads to Dekoni Audio Elite Velour earpads. Velour combined with memory foam hugged my head with a soft contoured sensation that further accentuated the lightness of the headphones. I preferred this feel and fit over the Dekoni Audio Fenestrated Sheepskin earpads. On solid state amplifiers, I immediately enjoyed the novelty of this new sound much more over the sheepskin earpads. Dekoni Cobalt with velour memory foam also became listenable on the Jotunheim 2 amplifier retaining a treble forward presence but earpad reduced enough to appreciate them. Novelty eventually wore off. Eventually, both earpads were equally enjoyable to listen with on the Dekoni Cobalt.

Grabbing the Focal Elegia, $400 closed headphones (which also utilize a dynamic driver), I wanted to make this comparison as a few online headphone enthusiasts had been contemplating both of these closed back, dynamic driver headphones because they were both within the same ballpark of price range. Direct comparison, demonstrated that the Cobalt demonstrated improvement over the Elegia’s muffled treble that I often find too boring, dull and muffled. However, there is always someone out there that may find enjoyment for Elegia’s reserved upper treble. Perhaps those that are treble sensitive require a relaxed muffled treble delivery. I decided that I was not a fan of either presentation. Both might be categorized as niche headphones that fit the bill for someone seeking each of their unique signature characteristics. For the Focal Elegia, this would be a recess in the highs For the Dekoni Cobalt this would be a spike in the upper mids or lower treble region.

These comfortable pads had me revisiting the build and comfort. These headphones are extremely light and in conjunction with the memory foam, I absolutely love the comfort. Less hug than the Elegia but a greater overall lighter reduced light clamp sensation.

I brought out a few headphone amplifiers over $1000. I began plugging in and out a small selection of closed back headphones. On this day, the Focal still retained its muddy dark muffled characteristics. The Dekoni Cobalt once again was earpad rolled to return to the sheepskin pads in which the novelty of these caught my attention again. However, the peaky treble frequency degraded the sound while simultaneously creating a sense of clarity.

Comparing other closed headphones
I grabbed my inexpensive Beyerdynamic DT770 which seemed more tonally balanced but lacked the sensation of hearing more details of the Dekoni Cobalt.


Monoprice M1570C plugged in blew all of these closed back competitors away. M1570C especially excelled with great imaging over the others. However, the heavy weight of the M1570 is a drawback many are not willing to accept. Additionally, Monoprice’s non universal cable proprietary pinout is a complaint that is expressed often.


Suddenly, I had an epiphany to bring out a pair of closed back headphones that I rarely listen to. Were the Stellar Labs HC-5985 able to compete with Dekoni Cobalt? These inexpensive under $50 headphones are extremely low budget headphones that perform just okay but rely on pad upgrades in order to achieve just okay-ness. I placed the Stellar Labs HC-5985 on an amplifier and the Dekoni Cobalt on another for some direct comparisons.

Unfortunately, results were less than Stellar. My hunch was wrong as the Dekoni Cobalt was definitely on a higher tier of performance in terms of clarity. However, the HC-5985 with the pads that were on did have more bass. But just in case you are starting to form ideas about the Stellar Labs HC-5985, don’t. The Stellar Labs HC-5985 is not worth anyone's time.

Day-four Verify conclusions
My preference which would likely vary, may very well differ from yours and others:
  1. Monoprice M1570C
  2. Beyerdynamic DT770pro 80 ohm
  3. Dekoni Cobalt
  4. Focal Elegia
Singxer SA-1 listening commenced. Listening revealed violins and guitars were clear. There was a lack of sound stage and ambiance compared to the presentation found in Monoprice M1570C. Instead, the Dekoni Cobalt seemed to bring attention and focus to vocals or violins. There was some of the in your face akin to the Grado effect going on with Dekoni Cobalt. Perhaps due to the upper frequency spike. Under these characteristics I might summarize the Cobalt as a headphone that lacks warmth that produces a narrow in your face stage.

Revisiting bass
So I wanted to listen to a closed headphone that would contrast these to determine just how severe the shallowness of bass was. Reputed to be bass heavy and low budget, Beyerdynamic DT770 80 ohm was again plugged into the system. Analytical High energy presentation flows through the Dekoni Cobalt where one would clearly make out the succinct clarity of vocals and instruments. But comparisons still demonstrated that Dekoni Cobalt are definitely lacking the full bass sound of the DT770.


Revisiting Focal Elegia
Focal Elegia returned to the bench. Back to Focal Elegia lacking high frequencies or Dekoni Cobalt lacking bass? Sometimes I actually preferred Focal Elegia and other times I preferred the Dekoni Cobalt. Uncertainty for certain.

Revisit Dekoni Audio Elite Velour earpads
Okay, The velour earpads did warm up the sound. However, sibilance in high hats created a sensation of high frequencies sounding crushed and unrefined. No, to velour.

Day five Last minute playtime
Found some improved synergy with Quicksilver and a little bit with the Schiit Jotunheim 2. However, there was nothing else for me to discover. So, I packed the headphones up and off they went to UPS.

Thank you very much for reading my adventure.

A big shout out and thanks to Dylan Scarzafava of Dekoni for allowing me to experience the Dekoni Cobalt.
Last edited:
Sep 19, 2023 at 3:04 AM Post #17 of 17
I really like the CMA 15. Great hardware, if you can get it around $2000.

You are overdue for dust cleaning o_o

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