Full disclosure: I received two pairs of Dekoni Elite Earpads in exchange for my fair and honest opinion, with no expectation of a favourable review. The views expressed are my own, based on my personal sound preferences and taste in music, which may well vary from your own.
I was first introduced to Dekoni Audio products when the fabric earpads on my newly-acquired Focal Elear fell apart. Little did I know at the time that replacement earpads made from genuine sheepskin leather could not only make the headphones sound better than the original pads, but also cost half the asking price of new Focal pads.
Then this happened: the pads that I considered the finest ever made for a headphone – the premium brown leather lambskin pads of my Audeze LCD-3 – were accidentally nicked and torn when I set them down on my desk, much to my shock and dismay. After all, how could such a quality pair of pads that were still in as-new condition be so easily damaged?
Not one to panic, I coolly remembered a recent announcement from Dekoni on their new range of Elite pads for the LCD series, and rushed online to find out more. A few weeks later, my previous favourite pads were replaced by my new favourite pads – the Dekoni Elite Sheepskin for LCD – and my LCD-3 has never sounded or looked better.
Unboxing and first impressions
Having already bought my first pair of Dekoni earpads, I knew what to expect when the new LCD pads arrived: a set of well-crafted, tastefully decorated and labelled glossy boxes, complete with a magnetic latch and ample room inside to house two pads without damaging them in transit.
Compared to how Massdrop shipped me a pair of Elex pads – in a flimsy plastic packet stuffed inside a cardboard envelope without any markings, branding or (more importantly) protection – Dekoni’s approach is a step above, and most welcome. Not quite an Apple-esque experience, but as close as you can get for a set of replacement headphone pads.
Removing the enclosed pads, I was immediately struck by how soft they were. Coming from a pair of ultra-soft lambskin pads on the LCD-3, the Dekoni’s sheepskin is perhaps not quite as soft to the touch, but certainly softer than some other lambskin pads I’ve used (including ZMF’s Ori, Auteur and Eikon pads), while still appearing appreciably thicker and therefore stronger.
Compared to the original LCD pads, the Dekoni pads are notably thicker on the rear side of the angled exterior, by a good half centimetre or so. The memory foam appears to have been cut in multiple layers, with the divide between layers visible through the leather, but you wouldn’t know it unless you look at it closely in the right light. This doesn’t affect performance or appearance, but it’s something I picked up so worth a mention here. The foam itself is firmer than the non-memory foam used in the original LCD pads, so compresses less and retains its shape more when worn (more on this later).