Installation and comfort
Audeze weren’t too smart when designing their headphone pads. Given the superb quality and materials used, the complete absence of a removable mechanism for the pads – be it a lip for the pads to wrap over, or holes for disc to slip into – the LCD pads are crudely glued onto the metallic headphone cups.
This means that removing the pads also destroys the pads – or at least, it destroyed my pads. The glue is so strong that the entire top layer of prized lambskin leather on the back of the pads came right off as I slowly and carefully pulled and removed the original pads from the headphones. Not only that, but a layer of leather was left behind on the cups! I would include a photo of what they looked like after all was said and done, but it’s probably too distressing for a PG-rated site like this one and is strictly against Head-Fi’s zero tolerance for gratuitous violence.
So, before you rush out to buy a set of replacement pads for your LCD headphones, just know that it’s a one-way trip. Once they come off, they stay off, unless you’re willing to stick them back with foam exposed to the elements.
Despite the trauma of the pad removal, once removed, the new pads were a pleasure to install. Each Dekoni pad comes with a pre-installed ring of 3M translucent double-sided film, and all you need to do is carefully lift off the paper backing, align the pads correctly, and carefully press them down against the cups (I suggest you watch thisYouTube video to learn how to properly remove and install LCD pads). 30 seconds is all it took to fit the new pads.
Of course I’m jumping the gun a bit here; having received two different sets of pads, I didn’t want to ruin them by permanently installing and then removing one to test the other, so before deciding on which of the two pads I’d ultimately use for my own headphones, I used removable double-sided tape on the three sets of pads (the two Dekonis and the original pads) to easily switch between them and test for fit, comfort and sound.
Speaking of comfort, the solid Elite sheepskin pads felt the most familiar, coming from a similarly solid pair of lambskin pads. It definitely isn’t as soft as the original pads, but that’s likely more a factor of the firmer foam Dekoni uses. The leather itself is supple and soft, but smoother and less creased than the Audeze lambskin, most likely due to lack of any wear on the Dekonis.
Both the sheepskin and fenestrated sheepskin pads were cool on the skin, although the fenestrated pads remained cool after a lengthy listen while the sheepskin pads became and remained warmer. Being leather I expect both will get warm on warmer days, but the fenestrated pads will likely breathe better and remain cooler for longer. The heat-activated memory foam of the Dekonis will also get warmer than the foam in the original Audeze pads, so if you live in a hot and humid environment you might want to keep a facecloth handy for the occasional wipe down.
Fortunately, being leather, with proper care and maintenance these pads should last many years, unlike Focal’s material pads that disintegrate a little too quickly when exposed to heat and moisture.
One other note worth making: the thicker pads and firmer foam could spell trouble for those of us with larger heads. I never considered the LCD-3 to have a particularly strong clamp, probably because the pillow-soft pads completely enveloped and collapsed around my ears, cushioning any effect of the headphone’s hefty weight. With the Dekoni pads, you may initially feel the stronger clamp, especially if using the new Audeze suspension strap.
I have a relatively large head, but even so the clamp wasn’t uncomfortable, just noticeable. Luckily, I still had several rungs of extension left on the headband yokes, so increasing the yokes one click loosened the clamp closer to what I was used to with the stock pads. Also, as the foam gets ‘activated’ by heat from your face, the pads will conform and distort, making them more comfortable for extended listens. With extended use the leather will likely soften further, transforming the Dekoni pads into the comforting cushions I know and love.