Recently I reviewed the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro headphones. I quickly fell in love with the detail and the way the headphones brought vocals and other instruments to life, but like many others found the highs around 8KHz to be a bit harsh.
That and, while I wouldn’t say the DT 1990’s bass is weak, it’s less than I’d ideally prefer even with some EQ.
I got a few recommendations to check out Dekoni pads, who have a reputation for providing some of the finest aftermarket replacement headphone earpads out there. In this case, enter the Dekoni Elite Hybrid pads.
One look at how thick these pads are and you know they’re going to be comfortable.
They’re every bit as soft and comfortable as the look would imply.
But to me this is not the most significant feature of the Dekoni Elite earpads.
Differences in Sound
You might be surprised to hear how much a headphone’s pads can affect the sound reaching your ears.
In this case the most noticeable change is that the bass is more robust. The sub-bass region is excellent as an extension of what the DT 1990 was capable of to begin with as headphones that could play all the way down to 20hz. But the boost these pads provide make the difference of what you might describe as “present but sometimes has trouble competing against the treble” to that head-bobbing, foot-tapping oomph.
I don’t have the equipment for an exact measurement, but gauging from my experience I’d estimate the pads provide a 3dB to 6dB boost at various bass frequencies. If you like the bass just like it is on the DT 1990 this might be a bit much for you.
But if you’re like me and always wished the DT 1990s had more impact and warmth, this is an excellent change.
Through a mixture of the pad materials and fenestrated design on the inner part of the cups, as well as the thin cloth backing on the rear of the pads that lays across the driver, these pads also smooth out the highs.
Where in the past I’d found EQ damping the 8Khz region by 3-6dB helped avoid harshness or minor sibilance, with these pads I’ve largely been able to keep the EQ at 0 in that same region.
Part of the reason I think this happens aside the actual pad material is the fact that the earpads have cloth backing that goes across the driver, which the stock pads for the DT 1990 do not. (The driver has its own cloth covering.)
This ends up meaning an additional layer of thin fabric over the driver that probably provides some of the damping.
It does seem to me that these pads reduce the sound stage slightly, unfortunately. To me it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for the other tonal benefits, but definitely something worth noting.
Wearing the Dekoni Pads and Comfort
The stock pads on the DT 1990 were comfortable, for sure. Probably among the best stock pads I’ve used.
But between the moderate clamping pressure of the DT 1990 and being a glasses wearer, I did occasionally experience some discomfort on the sides of my head on longer sessions with the stock pads.
These Dekoni pads help with that a lot. The ample padding totally absorbs my glasses so that the headphones can disappear while listening, which is great.
The leather siding of these pads can get a little hot sometimes, which is normal for leather pads.
I appreciate that the hybrid nature of these pads means the tips that touch the sides of your head are velour. This avoids that cold feeling leather can have when it’s been sitting on a cold desk and you first put them on, and gives the pads a nice, soft feeling.
Conclusion / In Summary…
These are the most comfortable headphone pads I’ve worn.
The tonal changes they make to the DT 1990 are in my opinion exactly what they needed. The tamed highs and the extra bass take headphones that were already pretty great and make them truly excellent.
The pads are a little pricey, but in my opinion are totally worth it.