Review: Dekoni Audio Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00 Premium Earpadz Lineup with Comparisons

  1. moedawg140 Contributor
    Review: Dekoni Audio Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00 Premium Earpadz Lineup with Comparisons


    TH-X00withsheepskin.jpg


    Before I start the review, many thanks to Mr. Takaichi of Massdrop and Mr. Kocen of Dekoni Audio for arranging and sending the complementary earpads to me.


    Introduction

    It was an overcast, yet warm day at the LA Audio Show a couple of weeks ago, and it was great walking around during the day to try out new headphones and earphones. I ran into my good friend, @XERO1, and he mentioned about how much he really enjoyed the Dekoni Audio Earpadz back at CanJam SoCal earlier this year. I took notice because usually what @XERO1 likes I wind up liking, or found out that we liked a lot of the same product(s) as well. Even though I didn't get to try out the earpads at CanJam SoCal, when they were brought up again by @XERO1 at the LA Audio Show, I took notice, again. Not much that I could do about trying out the earpads, except when I ran into Massdrop's Mr. Takaichi of Massdrop. We talked for a while, and it was great to know that all was good with Massdrop. He got me in contact with Mr. Kocen after we parted ways. Mr. Kocen sent me the TH-X00 earpads lineup, and frankly, I am absolutely floored by not only the supreme quality of the earpads, but how much of a wide range each pair of pads can sound so different compared to each other! If you'd like to read more about my thoughts of the earpad lineup, read on!


    Off to a good start

    When I let Mr. Kocen know how much I enjoyed his earpads, he responded that it made him feel good to have validation - "...that what we are doing is the right thing to do and gives me motivation to move forward and keep on my quest to create the best balanced, most comfortable, and highest quality ear pads in the world."


    Mr. Kocen wanted to make quality earpads. Mr. Kocen goes onto say: "By hearing and, more importantly, listening to our users we can better understand what people are looking for and what they want. It has been very important from the beginning for me to hear what people think so we can adapt."

    I'd say that you are doing well, and wish you the best Mr. Kocen -- these pads are really premium, and it's great the pads are compatible with such a multitude of headphones, also!


    System used to compare

    I listened to the Dekoni Audio Earpadz lineup with the Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00 Ebony (stock configuration), Sennheiser 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter, and the Questyle Audio QP1R DAP.


    Thanks for checking this out!

    An avid wrestler, coach, teacher, father and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.

    Ringing in my ears? Oh, tinnitus? I get that about 2 times a year, for about 10 seconds each time. Other than that, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing. Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, etcetera).

    My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right. I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul. I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.

    Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measurer app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test. Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by. Why? They use them to tune their equipment, and it’s from their own specific parameters. I agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s overall statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):

    “…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.

    In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”


    Measurements are valid to possibly get a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all. Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat. Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel. I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.

    A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."


    Attenuation Rings

    Each Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00 stock earpads use an insert, or "attenuation" ring, and to make sure that the Dekoni Earpadz work to its utmost potential, please make sure to purchase and use the Dekoni Earpadz attenuation rings for the replacement earpads -- not just for any perceptible acoustic differences the rings may make, but the rings will protect the earpads from possible tearing as well. I found that the attenuation rings create a more vibrant, energetic sound presentation, and it’s great that you can use them if you like the sound they create, or forgo them if you really don’t like the increased energy the attenuation rings exude.

    The Attenuation Rings are easy to install, as shown here:

    Take out plastic mounting ring, then insert attenuation ring, like shown
    17.jpg

    Keep inserting the attenuation ring carefully as to not rip the earpad material
    18.jpg

    Make sure earpad and attenuation ring holes line up
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    20.JPG

    Re-insert plastic mounting ring and replace earpad onto earcup - repeat for second earpad
    21.jpg


    Without flash: Velour V2, Premium, Sheepskin, Fenestrated Sheepskin
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    With flash:Velour V2, Premium, Sheepskin, Fenestrated Sheepskin
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    Without Flash: Hybrid
    12.jpg


    Impressions and comparisons

    Premium Earpadz
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    The Premium pads emit boomier overall bass and slightly extended treble compared to the stock pads. Comfort is beautifully soft and very good against the head. The Premium pads use YM80 memory foam, and are just so slightly softer than stock pads. This one would be a direct slight upgrade from the stock pleather pads as overall comfort is slightly heightened compared to the stock pleather pads.

    The overall sound of the Premium pads would be the closest in regards to sound and feel to the stock pads than the other available pads that I compared, in my opinion.


    Velour V2 Earpadz
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    The Velour V2 emits a smoother sound, but all frequencies sound deeper, and the sub and midbass lingers just a bit longer because of that extra bit of depth. Not as bright up top as the Premium or stock pleather pads, but emits just a real, rich sound.

    Comfort is simply amazing. Pretty cool because I've had other velour pads for other headphones and those were uncomfortable enough to where I felt like I had to change those itchy Velour pads to softer pleather pads. These velour pads, however, feel smooth-to-the-touch, feel buttery on my noggin, and are one of my favorite feeling pads, even though these are velour. The Velour V2 is also much cooler-feeling than other velour pads that feel much warmer on the head, as well!

    Love the sound of these pads! - and I feel they are the epitome of the Ebony sound if you are looking for a satisfyingly smooth, warm and deep-sounding signature.


    Elite: Sheepskin Earpadz
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    Immediately I could tell that there was more deliberate bass, and not as boomy as the Premium earpads. I feel this is mostly due to the slightly tacky effect of the sheepskin as it touches your skin - creating the most isolation out of all of the pads that I listened to. Tacky, kind of like how when you receive a new ping pong paddle with new rubber on the blade, the immense "tackiness" of the rubber means it can grab the ball for a bit longer to help induce extra spin to the ball. The tackiness of the Sheepskin allows the pads to stay in place on your head better, and with the most isolation as well, leading to that increase in sub and midbass along and around your face.

    The treble is extended to my ears as well. The sound as a whole is slightly more focused than the Premium and Velour. Spatial capabilities are very good as soundstage and imaging is impeccable compared to the Premium and Velour earpads. The sound reminds me a lot like the Purpleheart headphone - a glorious, hard-hitting V-shaped sound. If you want the most overall perceived bass, these are your answer.

    Comfort is very good but is more "business-like" as the leather is supple, but not as buttery smooth in texture and overall feel as the Velour V2. The Sheepskin, sound-wise, are my favorite earpads of the lineup, and are the apogee of effortlessly tight, extended bass, a shiny, yet invigorating treble, with a forward, yet clear sounding midrange as well.


    Elite: Fenestrated Sheepskin Earpadz
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    This earpad is the best of all worlds. Nothing is too boomy, nothing is too smooth. This would be the Goldilocks - just right. Lovely bass, extension from lower frequencies to the highest frequencies, and overall depth is superb as well. The sound is focused, with just a hint of smoothness. The Fenestrated Sheepskin sounds like a tamed down Sheepskin, or a jazzed up Velour V2. It is quite literally near the center of sound signature for me compared to all of the Dekoni pads - albeit leaning towards the Sheepskin's sound than the Velour V2's, in my opinion. No issues with any possible smudging or strong smell - as I do smell the process of the Fenstrated Sheepskin, but I can’t smell mine unless I get close to it and smell it like a piece of fruit.

    Comfort - simply amazing. Love these earpad's comfort so much. It does also help that when I saw the earpads and put them on my noggin that I am always reminded of the MSRP $4,000 Focal Utopia, as that headphone uses Fenestrated Lambskin as their stock pads. If you want the fancy, highest upscale look, with a feel and just-right sound to match, look no further than the Fenestrated Sheepskin earpads!


    Elite: Hybrid Earpadz
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    I've never seen an earpad created like this! You've got every single pad material of the Dekoni Audio Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00 series that is cut and stitched to create the Hybrid Earpadz.

    The Hybrid Earpadz consists of:

    · Sheepskin material on the outside wall
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    · Velour V2 material on the side that touches your face
    · Fenestrated Sheepskin material on the inside wall
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    · Premium material on the backside that touches the rings and earcups
    16.JPG

    Dekoni also made it so the highest third of the Velour V2 material of the earpad slopes down abruptly, then continues in a downward sloping fashion (more so than the other earpads) as shown here
    15.jpg

    Comfort-wise, the Hybrid is very similar to the Velour V2 (very comfortable) since the only earpad material of the Hybrid that touches your head is the Velour V2.

    The Hybrid is more vibrant sounding than the Velour V2 - there is more energy in the sound as a whole, especially in the lower and upper registers comparatively. Midrange is just slightly more forward with the Hybrid than the Velour V2.

    The Hybrid is not as pinpoint in sound and energetic as the Sheepskin - the Sheepskin is still the Bass quantity king. The Hybrid smooths out a lot of the sound of the Sheepskin but not as much as the Velour V2 does. The Sheepskin is more vibrant in the midrange and treble areas as well in comparison.

    The Hybrid reaches lower registers and holds them longer than the Fenestrated Sheepskin. The Hybrid has a smoother midrange as opposed to the more energetic midrange of the Fenestrated Sheepskin. The Hybrid is not as crisp up top as the treble is just slightly de-emphasized than the Fenestrated Sheepskin to my ears.

    The Premium is more balanced in sound compared to the Hybrid, but doesn't have the depth of sound, particularly in the midbass and subbass areas. The Hybrid's midrange is slightly more forward-sounding than the midrange of the Premium. The Premium smooths out the treble slightly compared to the Hybrid Earpadz.


    Are these earpads worth the price of admission?

    Simply put: of course, and then some!


    Summary

    In the end (or beginning for that matter), these earpads are simply sound signature changing beasts! For the fraction of a headphone's price, you can purchase all of the pads and experience a different sound signature based on your mood that day, or time of day! I can not advise to purchase only one pair of earpads -- even though each earpad pair can be purchased based on what you'd like to experience in sound and comfort, but all of them are seriously amazing enough to collect them all, just to experience many different sound signatures and comfort levels with a simple twist of each earpad!

    The Dekoni Audio Earpadz are very highly recommended. Coddle yourself with the goodness of the Earpadz, and love the way you listen!


    Ordering info

    You can purchase the Dekoni Audio Earpadz from Massdrop.com.

    The drop page is here: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/dekoni-premium-earpads-for-fostex-th-x00 (search "Dekoni" in the Massdrop site to find it in case the link doesn't take you straight there)

    Here is the note about ordering info (base price is $31.99):

    Note: This drop is for one pair of ear pads. The Massdrop-exclusive TH-X00 ear pads come in premium memory foam (base price), Elite Velour (base price), elite sheepskin (+ $13), fenestrated sheepskin (+ $38), or Elite Hybrid (+ $20); the T50-RP ear pads come in premium memory foam (base price), Elite Velour (base price), and elite sheepskin (+ $13); and the TH-900 ear pads come in elite sheepskin (+ $13) or fenestrated sheepskin (+ $38). At checkout, you’ll have the option to add the attenuation ring for the TH-X00 ear pads (+ $8). Just slip it into your pad right behind the attachment ring and make sure the holes align properly.

    Compatibility

    TH-X00 ear pads: Fit Massdrop x Fostex TH-X00; Fostex TH-500RP, TH-610, and TH-900; Denon DX000 series; and EMU Teak

    T50-RP ear pads: Fit T50-RP MKII and MKIII, as well as T20-RP and T40-RP

    TH-900 ear pads: Fit Fostex TH-600, TH-610, TH-900, TH-900 MKII, TH-X00, and more
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
    kadrian, canali and headpfizer like this.
  2. Ra97oR
    I have tried the TH-X00 Sheepskin on my Purpleheart and loved it. Would love to get my hands on the Fenestrated Sheepskin pads over in UK.

    Shipping from Massdrop is very expensive however, group buy anyone? hint, hint
     
  3. Mark Up
    That was an amazing review. It's rare I can read a review that makes my mind up on the sound of something here one way or the other. Keep up the good work as always.
     
    moedawg140 likes this.
  4. headpfizer
    I Really like the th900 sheepskins on my he-560. So much better than the hifiman pads.
     
  5. ElectroMod
    Hi Ra97oR,
    We are launching Dekoni Products at Canjam London and therefore you will be able to purchase them in the UK from then on.
    Mark
     
    headpfizer likes this.
  6. guisess93
    which one is more durable between hybird and velour? And which one is more comfortable between velour vs fenestrated sheepskin? Thanks
     
  7. canali
  8. moedawg140 Contributor
    Thanks @canali!

    The Elite Hybrid picture on the Massdrop page currently looks identical to my Elite Hybrid pictures. Please upload pictures of the pads that look different from my pictures for better understanding.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
  9. canali
    I was probably not looking at the proper ones.
    Btw have you considered the Lawton level 1 mod with their angled pads?
     
  10. moedawg140 Contributor
    I haven't - I am not looking to deviate very far from the house sound -- the Dekoni pads are a very good way to change the sound and have a different feel on my head based on my current mood.

    Maybe if they attended a CanJam or exhibited at Cali-based shows that I attend like The LA Audio Show, T.H.E. Show (next year since it was cancelled this year), NAMM, SF Meet, etcetera, and I can test different versions of modifications out that way, I would be up for that. Other than that, I'm currently very happy with the Dekoni pads with attenuation rings lineup.
     
  11. canali
  12. moedawg140 Contributor
    I’ve heard of them - you can also try Darin Fong’s software as well.
     
  13. EasyEnemy
    @moedawg140, or anyone with experience with the dekoni pads.

    Hi, would you kindly share the diameter of the dekoni pads? hoping they would fit my audio-technica's (ad2000, ad2000x and w5000, all 105mm diameter earcups).
     

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