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Mad Lust Envy's Headphone Gaming Guide: (11/19/2019: Audeze LCD-1 Added)

Discussion in 'Video Games Discussion' started by mad lust envy, Jan 17, 2011.
  1. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    Hey guys, so I finally had the mindset and time to write this up, so here is my impressions on Dekoni Audio's Hybrid and Elite Velour pads! As always, any errors will be patched up as I catch them later. Sometimes I'm completely blind to mistakes until I go through my reviews a hundred times. I apologize in advance.




    Dekoni Audio Pads

    [​IMG]

    Elite Hybrid pads: From $79.99 to $99.99 depending on headphone model.
    Elite Velour pads: From $49.99 to 59.99 depending on headphone model.


    Before I begin, I'd like to give thanks to Tal at @DekoniAudio for sending these out to me for me to try. Also thanks to @Evshrug for getting me into contact with them. Dekoni Audio is relatively new to me, as in I didn't know much about them until recently. What I did know of them was that they offered various ear pads of differing qualities and materials for some of today's most popular headphones. I feel that with the range of sizes and materials, the earpads will likely fit a much, MUCH larger pool of headphones not listed on their website. For example, I asked them for some Fostex TH-900 Elite Hybrid pads to use with my aging Hifiman HE-400, as well as some Elite Velours made for the Beyerdynamic DT700/880/990 line that I'm using for a Beyerdynamic Custom Game (headset variant of the Custom One Pro), as well as MMX300 headset.

    Chances are, if you're well acquainted with a specific headphone, you may find a pair of Dekoni pads that fit them. You may wanna ask Dekoni directly for pad size inner diameter, outer, depth, etc, as well as figuring out if your headphones have easily replaceable pads.

    I say it's worth a try, because these are some truly well built pads that offer a unique presentation of both comfort and sound quality. Mind you, pad swapping may be a simple process, but can have huge effects on sound quality for better or worse. It's hard to critique pads based on sound quality, especially when using them for headphones not originally intended. All one can hope for is that pad swapping leads to better comfort and nearly equal or better sound quality compared to stock pads. There may even be some necessary sacrificing of some sound quality in order to make some uncomfortable headphones much easier to wear.

    Pad rolling can be a definite gamble. A gamble I say is worthwhile if you'd like to experiment or just aren't happy with the pads you use. As someone with a large distaste for pleather and leather pads of any variety, I always look into alternatives that at the very least have a cloth layer where the pads rest on the skin. Velour is the obvious choice, or so you'd think, but velour is a porous material that can be a detriment to headphones (mainly closed-backed) because it allows sound to escape through the pads where it may not have been intended. Thankfully, pads like the Hybrid Velours sold by Dekoni Audio have a velour top layer, while the rest of the pad is leather, allowing it to seal and isolate the sound so it goes straight from the drivers to your ears without unintended venting through the pads, yet have the comfort of velour on the skin.

    Coming back to Dekoni Audio, they do everything from their headphone ear pads, to IEM tips, and even a custom T50RP planarmagnetic headphone, the Dekoni Audio Blue. As for their selection of pads, they have: Fenestrated Sheepskin, Hybrid, Sheepskin, Velour, a "Platinum Series" with Memory Foam and higher quality pleather, and finally the "Standard Series" which are there for those wanting a more basic replacement for their headphones.

    For this review, as stated before, I'll be giving impressions on the Hybrid pads and Elite Velours. Not for their intended headphones, but I'll try my best to give an idea of what to expect.



    Packaging

    I absolutely love the presentation of the Dekoni Audio pads. They each come in a small but handsome box that house the pads, with a word from Dekoni Audio under the top lid, on the inside. You can tell by the presentation that they truly believe in their product. Simple, yet elegant.



    Build

    Elite Velour:

    [​IMG]

    Starting with the Elite Velours made for the Beyerdynamic DT770/880/990. The Elite Velour is a noticeably bigger pad, with considerable density compared to what I remember of the 880/990 velours. Comparing it to the stock MMX300 velour pad, which I have to assume is the same as the stock DT770 velours as they are both made to seal better than the 880/990 velours, I felt the MMX300 stock pads are a bit stiffer with internal material that isolates better and allows for noticeably less leakage. The Elite Velour pads are slightly deeper/taller. The Elite Velour material feels quite different to the velours on both the 880/900 or 770/MMX300. It's more 'cloth'-like? Hard to describe. Less itchy. Comparing it to the Custom Game's pleather pads, well, it's unquestionably night and day, as expected. I'd take the Elite Velours over the pleather any day of the week. Now, the Custom Game's pleather pads are one of the least offensive, and quite comfortable for pleather, but there's no real comparison to some comfy, pillowy velour. No contest.

    Elite Hybrid:

    [​IMG]

    The Elite Hybrid remind me a lot like the Hifiman Focus Pads. Large pleather walls, with a top lined in velour. Unlike the Focus pads, I feel they actually seal well. I always felt that the HE-400 with Focus pads lost a bit of its bass output. I was never a fan of the HE400 with those pads. Not so with the Elite Hybrid, but I'll get to that later. If you want a pleather/leather like seal without the discomfort of having that material touching your skin, the Elite Hybrids are the way to go. They look and feel every bit as premium as what I expect for high end headphone use. I would've loved hearing the LCD-2 and Denon D7000 with these pads. I'm sure I'd have fallen in love.



    Pad Install

    As you have expected, installing the pads on to your headphones is absolutely dependent on the headphone in question. On the Beyerdynamic Custom Game and MMX300, installing pads is a relatively pain free affair. It takes a few moments to slip the pads over the lip of the headphones, and that's it, you're good to go.

    On the other hand, installing pads onto the HE-400 is an exercise of utter frustration. Now, don't get me wrong. This is absolutely NOT the fault of Dekoni Audio's pads. It is completely due to the nightmare that is the HE-400's plastic rings of doom which you must first slip onto your pads, and then manage to get the 'teeth' of the plastic rings to land inside the small inner lip of the HE400's inner mounting 'area' (for lack of a better term). This can take anything from a few seconds if you're lucky to NOT doing it, having broken rings, and lacerated pads. It really is that bad. Anyone with older style Hifiman headphones will tell you. I have owned these for years, and it is always painful when I swap pads. Even with spare rings, I have managed to break every single one. Now, it's not as bad as the HELL that was the even older clear plastic teeth mechanism on the older gen Hifiman headphones like the HE-4, but it's still pretty bad.

    Complaints of the Hifiman rings aside, this made doing quick pad swap comparisons impossible. I honestly can't go in depth between sonic difference (especially) on the HE-400 because frankly, I'd go insane before I could muster enough data.



    Comfort

    Both the Elite Hybrid and Elite Velour pads are humongous step up from standard pleather earpads. Both the HE400 and Custom Game's pleather earpads just don't match the Dekoni Audio pad comfort. The Beyerdynamic MMX300 velours can definitely put up a fight, as they are also quite comfortable despite being more shallow and more dense. Between the Elite Velour and Elite Hybrid, I'd say the Velours have the edge in comfort, if by a small amount. I wouldn't purchase one over the other based on comfort, but more on what sounds better on a particular headphone.



    Sound

    This is something that gave me trouble and I didn't want to spend much time doing, simply because comparing just isn't easy without two identical headphones using different pads to do quick A/B comparisons. What I will say is what I feel was good and bad for the pad swapping with some examples:


    Elite Velour:

    I was able to test these for the MMX300, Custom Game, and even the HE400. What I found for all three headphones was that it gave each a sense of clarity air and detail. I felt it particularly beneficial on the Custom Game which with its stock pleather pads sounds a bit unremarkable in terms of details. It is a well balanced headphone in general but lacked a sense of clarity. With the Elite Velours, it gained noticeably better soundstage, and detail retrieval. The bass output on the Custom Game is more or less completely adjustable via it's adjustable bass port sliders, but one thing is for certain: The Elite Velour noticeably reduces bass output by a considerable amount. The loss of bass is offset by adjusting the bass slider for more bass, so the bass loss isn't an issue, but for other closed headphones using Elite Velours may make a noticeable impact in reducing bass. Just a word of warning there.

    The Elite Velour on the Custom Game is a success. It improves clarity, and despite reduced bass, you can add bass right back in with the bass slider. I also feel it enhances the soundstage, which felt a bit restrictive on the stock pads at times.

    MMX300: Expect a loss of bass energy as it essentially turns the MMX300 bass light. Now, it wasn't a complete alteration of sound signature, but seeing as the MMX300 is tonally v-shaped, with heavy bass and sparkly treble with distant midrange, the Elite Velours reduced the bass to a minimal, tight level, the midrange remained spaced back, and treble remained sparkly.

    HE400: The HE400 isn't overly picky on pads when it comes to most of its bass output. The HE400 will always have a punchy bass, and it's mostly in its deeper levels of bass that may vary depending on pads used. The HE400 is also sensitive to pad swaps when referring to its clarity. It can be dark and zingy, or sharper and airy. It's a weird headphone in that despite it's default dark tonality, has a pretty pronounced treble that doesn't quite match the rest of the sound.

    The HE400 with the Elite Velour pads becomes a slightly more detailed oriented headphone with the same punchy bass. Due to the uplift in clarity and slightly brighter tone, the treble isn't as jarring in terms of emphasis relative to the rest of the sound. It's still crisp and sparkly, but since the rest of the sound is elevated to match it more evenly,

    This gave me all the proof necessary to form a conclusion: The Elite Velours are made for and sound better with open headphones. Now, I'm not Dekoni Audio, and they didn't respond to my email asking them about this, but anyone who knows the DT770, 880, and 990, know that the 770 uses a different set of velour pads than the 880/990. The 770 stock velours isolate well, and keep leakage to a minimum. They are quite dense. The 880/990 velours leak a ton, are super soft and plush, and are obviously not suited for closed headphones. If you swap 770 pads into the 880/990, they become sloppy, overly bass oriented and muffled. If you put 880/990 pads on 770s, the 770s sound bass deficient and overly zingy/treble oriented. So I'm not exactly sure which of the two (open or closed) the Elite Velours were tested with by Dekoni Audio, but I feel they should target the Elite Velours for the 880/990, and not the 770. That is my assumption with no concrete evidence as to the effect it may have on a pair of DT770s, though considering the MMX300 was based off the 770, I'd think it would have a similar result of reduced bass. I'd say the Elite Velours falls right in between 880/990 pads and 770 pads. Not as leaky and open as the former, but not as closed and isolating as the latter. I'd venture a guess in saying these would pair up wonderfully with the DT880. I only wish I had them on hand to test out. Remember, they only reduce bass in comparison to leather/pleather pads that completely isolate the sound. This isn't likely to occur when using these pads on headphones that use velour pads by default.


    Elite Hybrid:

    The Hybrid pads are a different monster altogether. They are very much like a pleather/leather pads that are typically paired with closed headphones due to how well they isolate, seal, and keep noise leak to a minimum. Because of this, I feel that the Elite Hybrids make a better 'direct' replacement for closed headphone pads where you don't want to drastically alter the inherent sound signature but don't want to feel pleather/leather on the skin.

    The HE400 with Elite Hybrids retain their inherent sound signature: bassy, warm down low with a crisp top end. Those looking for the least compromise of the inherent sound characteristics of the HE400, the Elite Hybrids do that, but with better comfort. I really appreciate this setup for when I'm in the mood for that planar bass. This reminds me why I fell in love with the HE400 all those years ago. It is a flawed headphone, but no headphone at the time other than the original LCD-2 Rev. 2 could do planarmagnetic bass like the HE-400.

    I do think the HE400 sounds objectively better (if slightly) with the Elite Velour pads, though ultimately, it's a minute difference. For a long time now, I have used Shure 1540 Alcantara pads on the HE400 as a replacement for the stock pleather pads. I can say without a doubt, the Elite Hybrid pads sound noticeably better at retaining the HE400 sound than the Alcantara pads. I only used the pads because I was okay with sacrificing some audio quality for better comfort. With the Elite Hybrid pads, now I don't have to.

    I briefly tested the Hybrid pads with the MMX300, and can confirm that the pads do the best in retaining most of the sound characteristics of the MMX300. It wasn't exactly like the stock velour pads, but it was good enough to say that I would be happy with either on the MMX300. These particular TH900 hybrid pads don't exactly fit perfectly over the lip of the MMX300 housing, so I would recommend obviously getting the ones made for the DT series.


    Final Word On Sound:

    Take my impressions with a grain of salt, since these pads were NOT specifically made for the headphones I had on hand. What I can say is that the Hybrid pads worked perfectly fine with the HE400 and MMX300, and I have no doubt would on the Custom Game as well. The Elite Velour pads worked best on the HE400, though I would suggest getting Elite Velour pads for a bigger headphone if you want them for the HE400, as the ones I had on hand were for the Beyer DT line which was on the smaller side, and the HE400's plastic ring was bulging out of the pads a little. They also worked surprisingly well on the Custom Game, as long as bass sliders are raised to 2 or 3 ports open (max level). 0-1 port open was a bit bass shy for my tastes.

    I personally advise not to expect major leaps in sound quality or anything drastic. Don't expect miracles. Expect more in the line of quality of life improvements, and not purely performance improvements.



    Personal Recommendations

    I recommend you look into Elite Hybrid pads pads for closed headphones, and the Elite Velour pads for open ones. Even so, I go by the motto: "Don't fix it if it ain't broken." Unless you're unhappy with your current pads, or are just curious, I'd personally stick with what I have. If you're looking to upgrade from an uncomfortable set of pads or just need a replacement, I can't think of a better product line than the one provided by Dekoni Audio.


    Likes and Dislikes

    Pros:
    • Quality
    • Comfort
    • Pad swapping may have positive effects
    Cons:
    • Pad swapping may have negative effects



    Final Impressions

    [​IMG]

    To repeat myself, I think those with closed headphones that want the comfort of velour with the isolation and sound quality retained, should really look into the Elite Hybrid pads Dekoni Audio offers. I can't speak of their other leather/sheepskin pads as I didn't test them, but my choice would always go towards the Hybrid pads. As for Elite Velour pads, consider them for open backed headphones. I think if nothing else, headphones like the DT880 and DT990 would benefit from these pads. In the future, I'll be contacting Dekoni Audio if and when I have some other headphones to try that fall in their line of products to gain a better idea of what Dekoni Audio pads do to headphones they target pads for.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2018
  2. mbyrnes
    Great work one again Mad. Pad swapping is fun. Easy way to improve comfort and modify sound. Hopefully they send you other products to review. It would be really helpful for us all.
     
    Sage Encore likes this.
  3. husafreak
    Most excellent review. I got a set for my MD Fostex TH-X00 and I think they are very comfortable, easily besting the original pads. Sound is the same to me. Comfort can't be beat.
     
    Evshrug likes this.
  4. Niyologist
    Should I replace my headphone pads for the DT990? If so. Which one?
     
  5. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Factory replacement ear pads cost around $35.
    Generic ear pads from China will cost under $10.
    Me, I would go for the factory pads, better quality material (for the feel), then the generic.
    But if you went with generic, it's still a good value for the price, for decent ear pads.
     
  6. ascarf99
    Hey, any plans on reviewing the Sennheiser GSP 500/600? If so, please compare the sound signature to other headphones such as the HD 650 if possible. Thanks :)

    @Mad Lust Envy
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  7. Niyologist
    I meant which Dekoni Pads I should go for?
     
  8. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    The elite Velours. Don't get the other i reviewed as they are made for closed headphones. Getting too much of a seal will make the dt990 very boomy. The elite Velours should be a good mix.
     
    Niyologist likes this.
  9. caenlenfromOCN
    @Mad Lust Envy

    Anymore impressions on Audeze Mobius now that you have spent several weeks with it?
     
  10. Niyologist
    Ty MLE.
     
  11. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    I haven't had the Mobius since that time I gave impressions of it. Audeze hasn't contacted me about any recent version of it either.
     
  12. raband
    Would it be something you'll get for yourself?
     
  13. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    I'm not in the financial position to buy any headphones, but I sure would love to have one as I feel going the wireless/Bluetooth route is the way to go.

    I bought the Portapro wireless because I 100% need something small and portable for work, and got tired of throwing money at KSC75s and Sportapros that kept breaking. Here's hoping the PortaPro by not being tethered to potential yanking/snag points, will keep it from breaking quickly. I still don't trust the cable coming out of it.

    For big boy headphones, I honestly don't really use my big cans at home outside of testing/reviewing purposes. The Game Ones I use once in awhile when I need to chat on Destiny 2/PC, or late at night. My HE400 and everything else literally collect dust. I'm just not into headphone gaming anymore. I do this stuff for you guys mainly.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
    mbyrnes and raband like this.
  14. husafreak
    Avoid cheap pads
     
  15. Acosta1906
    Hi guys, what is the best amp to use with the akg k712? It's to play in ps4, connected to a mixamp.
    The price range it's 200-250 €,in this point I'm between ifi ican and aune s7x, there's a better amp for the price?
     

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