I imagine some of you may have skipped to this section first, so let me get straight to the point before diving deeper into specific examples of how the LCD-3 sounds with the Dekoni pads: the Deskonis DO change the sound of the LCD, very slightly and positively in the case of the sheepskin pads, more obviously in the case of the fenestrated pads.
To my ears, the fenestrated pads changed the LCD’s rich, deep and layered sound a touch too much for my liking, but that’s not to say the changes were all negative. In my notes below, you can decide for yourself if you think these changes would better suit you, or if you’d rather keep to the tried and tested sound of the original pads and the Dekoni alternatives.
The first thing I noticed about the Dekoni pads was their thickness, and how the memory foam was firmer than the foam in the stock pads. Putting aside the effects of fenestration for now, this meant both Dekoni pads hold your ears further away from the drivers. This theoretically can impact the sound of the headphones, although in truth the extra distance is not substantial enough for a major shift in frequency response. What it does do is widen and deepen the soundstage ever so slightly, most notably with the solid sheepskin pads. I suspect the fenestrated pads filter the sound in ways that also affect soundstage, widening it ever so slightly.
Paul Simon’s ‘Boy in the Bubble’ from his masterpiece album Graceland shows off the LCD-3’s deeper stage with the Elite sheepskin pads, whereas the fenestrated pads sacrifice a bit of depth for more air but also more width and an overall more diffuse sound compared to the heft of the solid pads.
The LCD-3 is often lauded for its fast, clean, deeply extended and perfectly weighted bass, and the Dekoni sheepskin pads further reinforce that impression. Lorde’s ‘Royals’, my go-to test track for upfront bass impact, hits deep and hard with the original stock pads, and even more so with the solid Dekoni pads. It’s as if the room size has increased, and the impact of the drum reverbs hang in the air a little longer than before. Interestingly the fenestrated pads don’t lose much bass impact with this track, although Lorde’s vocals do come across slightly brighter than both the original and solid pads, and also a smidge thinner if I were to be critical.
That added thickness from the solid Dekoni pads doesn’t come at the cost of the natural air and sparkle that I really enjoy with Audeze’s revised (post-2016) LCD-3 Fazor drivers. I certainly wouldn’t want the sound to be any thicker, although fans of the pre-fazor warm-and-gooey LCDs might beg to differ. In fact, I appreciate the extra heft, the slightly longer decay, and the truer tones of bass notes.
Made In Heights’ eclectic electronica in her ‘Wildflowers’ track sounds bigger and bolder with the solid Dekoni pads, with less glare and more focus on her sugar sweet vocals, while the fenestrated pads render the track with a softer sheen, excellent separation and a touch more emphasis in the upper mids.
Voices are better placed in the mix with the solid pads, while the fenestrated pads even out the FR, injecting more air into the midrange and treble than the stock and solid pads. If you prefer your LCDs a touch brighter and cooler, the Dekoni fenestrated pads might just be the subtle tweak you’ve been looking for.