Dekoni Audio Blue Headphones

hfncommendedWith the Fostex T50RPmk3 as its donor chassis, headphone accessory brand Dekoni Audio breaks into the big time with a back-to-basics planar magnetic. It's blue too...

Now where did I put my headphones?' It's not a question you are likely to ask with the Dekoni Audio Blue, as it comes in the associated Japanese company Fostex's signature colour, with a boldly lettered headstrap. It's the first headphone product from Dekoni Audio – a New Jersey company specialising in replacement pads for a range of 'phones – and an obvious step for Dekoni to take.

Debuted at the Hi-Fi Show Live last November and retailing at £240, the Blue is a semi-open-backed planar magnetic design with a rated 50ohm nominal impedance. It's based on Fostex's Professional Studio series T50RPmk3 model, with its RP (Regular Phase) 38mm drivers having copper foil etched polyamide film diaphragms opposed by strong neodymium magnets.

Opening The Window
But here there's a redesigned inner baffle and the Blue is provided with alternative pairs of earpads: Dekoni Audio's Fenestrated Sheepskin, for a claimed 'enhanced mid-frequency performance', and Elite Velour Earpads with high density inner memory foam. These are also available as replacements for Audio-Technica, Audeze, Beats, Beyerdynamic, Focal, Sennheiser and Sony models.

The Blue is quite bulky but relatively light in weight: 320g for the headset only, or 454g with cable. It comes with a relatively thin 2m cable terminated in a 6.35mm gold-plated jack, although there's also a 6.35mm to 3.5mm adapter in the box (eg, for computer use – more on this later). You can detach the cable at the headset, where it twists-to-lock on the left capsule only. As the right-angle jack goes into a recess in the plastic headshell, you might not find a high-end aftermarket alternative cable that would fit.

The Fenestrated Sheepskin earpads have a lined 30x60mm ovaloid cut-out that's 25mm deep and set off-centre in the overall round shape. Anyone with larger-than-average ears might find them flattened by the narrowness of this aperture, but velour facings rest against the head for comfort over long listening periods. Perforations to the inner lining are added to tailor the sound via its internal memory foam damping. Switching to the simpler Elite Velour pads also allows the user to alter the sound balance.

Changing them over is actually a major struggle and I really don't recommend the task, however patient and nimble-fingered you might be! There is ample free sliding adjustment possible via the alloy side-hoops although with our review sample the fit was quite slack on the left side. However, this could be tightened via a screw at the base of the plastic housing.

The leatherette headband sleeve is only thinly padded on the underside. Comfort for this rather utilitarian looking design is only moderate, since the springy headband exerts quite a bit of side pressure on the head – perhaps reflecting the fact that the Fostex T50RPmk3 was originally intended for use in the studio. To some extent this becomes more free over time. However, the ears can soon get hot in those small chambers and that's more of a problem for extended listening.

Overall presentation for the Dekoni Blue is simple. They come in a cardboard box printed with specification notes with the three components (headset, cable and adapter) bubble-wrapped. But there's no carrying case or alternative-length cable. Still, it's good to find that the one provided does not give microphonic effects when brushed against your clothing when in use.

sqnote Peter's Story
The listening tests were done with the Mytek Brooklyn [HFN Aug '17] and original Chord Hugo DACs, Beyerdynamic's A2 headphone amp [HFN Sep '17], which I use with my Beyerdynamic T1 headphones [HFN Aug '13] and which allows impedance settings, and an early – but first-class – Graham Slee headphone amp. High-res music files were played on the first two DAC/amps via Audirvana Plus, while for physical discs, including BD audio and SACDs, I used a Pioneer UDP-LX800 universal player and my trusty Meridian 508 CD player – old, but musical.

The Blue's lower-than-average sensitivity suggests this headphone takes some driving, but with randomly selected tracks on my iMac I was pleased to discover most of them did not require Audirvana's screen 'volume control' to be set at maximum. Nevertheless, the best results, as always, came from a separate DAC/headphone amplifier.

First proper port of call was the Patrick Stewart-narrated Prokofiev Peter And The Wolf [Opéra de Lyon Orch/Kent Nagano; Erato 4509 97418 2] – a test for voice, soundstage and orchestral timbres, as the sections are introduced one by one while timpani and bass drum should make a thrilling impact as 'the rifleshots'! With this 1994 Opera House production the separately recorded narration is fairly convincingly centred in front of the soundstage, with enjoyable focus and venue ambience. You can hear behind the instruments as they play.

Dekoni Audio LLC
New Jersey, USA
Supplied by: Electromod, Bucks, UK
01494 956558