Long story short
I’m going to fast forward a bit now, to the part where I take hold of a brand new, beautifully packaged pair of shiny new Dekoni Audio pads of the fenestrated sheepskin variety. To cut a long story short, having decided to rid myself of the gunky stock earpads, I first ordered a set of Dekoni’s Elite Sheepskin pads, but for some reason the sound wasn’t quite right. They looked the part, and the leather was oh-so-much better than the suede (I guess that’s why you pay the big bucks for the Utopia, right?), but the sound, it just wasn’t Elear. Being leather, and solid, they were also a touch too firm and ‘hot’ on the ear, although this is probably more a factor of the Elear’s pad size and design, because all my other headphones have generously large and plush earpads that don’t suffer the same downsides.
So I got in touch with Tal Kocen from Dekoni, told him my story, and for the price of shipping alone, he was kind enough to send me a pair of fenestrated pads. A few weeks later, and here I am, happy as someone who just had a lightbulb moment. I knew it from the minute I opened the very Apple-like display box and held the new pads in my hand. I expected them to be softer than the solid pads, and indeed they were. They were also much cooler on the ear. Whatever formula they used to make these pads, it works. But best of all, my Elear was my Elear again – playing back every note the way I knew it should be.
Yes folks, it’s true: Dekoni’s fenestrated sheepskin earpads ‘fix’ the Elear, just not in the way you think!
Have an Elear? Get new pads.
About a month ago, having spent a few days with the new pads and working through my library of familiar tracks, I wrote the following on one of the Head-Fi Focal Elear Impressions thread:
I’ve just ‘upgraded’ my Elears with the Dekoni fenestrated sheepskin pads and I’m more convinced than ever that these are some of the most underrated headphones around. Yes I know they were hyped to death at launch, but mainly for their punchy, dynamic sound. With the new pads I’m finding them just as suitable for just about any genre – from classical to light acoustic to female vocal to folk to rock.
The imaging and layering is superb, the bass is never overwhelming and perfectly weighted, the detail is exceptional and the soundstage is perfectly spacious and airy.
I think the original Elear pads – however comfortable – are also its downfall. Poorly made, mine have already degraded considerably, and as can be seen with the Elex, a different material and design makes this headphone feel completely different.
And so I’ll say it again, these pads fixed the Elear for me because they made them a pleasure to wear, and a pleasure to use. Comfort and looks might not be important to some, but when you’re buying a premium product like the Elear, you want to be proud to look at it, show it off, and wear it. Of course the most important thing about a headphone is how it sounds, and if anything, these pads make the Elear sound as good if not better than the original pads. If there was a slight dip in the mids or lower treble, I’m not hearing it, and possibly hearing it much less than I did with the stock pads.
The bass is there, oozing detail and full of dynamic punch – almost as punchy as my closed back ZMF Atticus, may I add; the mids are there, sweet, accurate, not too forward and definitely not recessed; the treble is sparkling without ever being bright or sibilant. It’s just a brilliant listen, and with good files, a good amp and a good dac, the Elear is probably the best all-rounder I’ve ever owned.
And in no small part, that’s because of the pads.