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How to Replace Your Headphones’ Earpads (and Our Favourites to Buy)

No, you probably don’t need to buy a new pair of headphones just yet. Here’s everything you should know about swapping out your old earpads

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Whether you’re working in the studio or working out at the gym, padded headphones keep you comfortable while playing your favorite music, podcasts, movies and more — sometimes even just to block out noise. Over time, padding breaks down. It loses its cushioning, the material begins to crack and things fall apart. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to drop money on a brand new pair. Instead, you can replace the padding for a fraction of the price, making your headphones as comfortable as the day you bought them. Read on for everything you need to know, from the features to watch for and our picks for the best replacements.

Headphone Earpad Replacement Buying Guide

For replacing over-ear headphone padding, we’ve got you (and your favorite headset) covered with these points to consider ahead of your purchase.

Size: It can be difficult to find a replacement that fits your brand and model, since not all manufacturers offer them, and relying on third party sites is a gamble. But a too-big pad can slip off and slide around, while a too-small one is going to get overstretched and torn. It may take some extra effort to track down the right size of replacement pad, particularly if you have a less common type of headphone, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.

On the other hand, if your set came with sub-par pads to begin with, replacements can be an upgrade for both better sound as well as comfort, ones that won’t get all hot and sticky with heavy usage.

Material: Just like with size, one material doesn’t fit for every ear. And while important, comfort isn’t the only thing to consider about material, since this can actually affect the sound you’re hearing too.

Microfiber or velvet, while soft and breathable, can feel thin when it’s actually on your ears and compressed against your head, lacking some low-end but actually ideal for gamers. A large, deep pad made of a material like leather will remain thick, and can often add some extra echo and bass to what you’re hearing.

Even if a seller has the shape and size for your exact set, the material may not be as durable and resistant to rips as the original was, so be sure to check and compare.

Density: Especially with foam, this can control the amount of sound that escapes rather than resonates, changing the entire sonic signature. Depending on what you want, density can also instantly fix an issue you’ve been dealing with. For example, a denser foam holds in bass and treble tones for longer, while thinner pads let them slip through and give off a brighter tone.

Style: Sound may be what’s most important here, but because these are most likely traveling everywhere with you, be sure you’re happy with the color and style before making the final purchase.

How to Install Replacement Headphone Earpads

Once you have your replacement cushions, make sure they are indeed the same size and shape as your originals. If that looks good, gently pop off the old pads and fit the new ones on carefully. These should be a snug and taut fit without overly stretching the material, which can lead to new rips and tears.

If your ear cups flip around, the replacement process is going to be way easier, since you have clear access to the pad from the outside. Gently pull off the old pad, making sure the surrounding lip comes out from under the cup’s edge.

Installing the new soft padding may take some patience. When hooking the new pad over and onto the earphone, it’s better to go from top to bottom (or bottom to top) rather than side to side, making sure you position the inner speaker as central as possible, close to where it was with the old pads. Slowly and carefully make your way around the entire edge, making sure the lip is secured.

Keep working your way around. Don’t put your fingers inside the new pad to keep it centered on the inner speaker either — though it may sound like a faster way to get the job done, the material inside is thinner than the bulky padding outside, and a finger can easily rip through your brand new replacement.

The Best Headphone Replacement Pads

Looking for a pair of replacement cushions for your headphones? Here are three of our favorites to consider.

1. Brainwavz Sheepskin Leather Angled Memory Foam Earpad

Brainwavs makes a bunch of different types of pads with a variety of soft, thick materials. This pair, made of real sheepskin leather, are designed to be a universal fit, strapping on to most brands of cans.

The memory foam inside makes it extra comfortable to wear for long stretches, and they’re angled for a more ergonomic fit.

They’re nicely fat, at 40mm x 25mm, with a height of 110mm and an 80mm width, contouring to your head as soon as you strap them on.

Brainwavz Sheepskin Leather Angled Memory Foam Earpad


Brainwavz Sheepskin Leather Angled…

2. Dekoni Audio Replacement Ear Pads

Dekoni makes replacement pads for specific brands, but there’s a bunch to choose from, including multiple Audio Technica and Sony.

These are lined with smooth Velour, not just for comfort, but to retain bass and the lower end of the sound spectrum. It’s comparable to leather, but way softer and without the stickiness.

Installation is made a little easier too, thanks to the elastic lip around the edges.

Dekoni Audio Replacement Ear Pads


Dekoni Audio Replacement Ear Pads

3. WC Upgraded Replacement Ear Pads

For those with Bose headphones, these are an extremely comfortable replacement set of silicone pads, with the durability to stand up to years of constant wear.

They do a nice job of enveloping your ear, and further isolating the sounds around you, making any noise-cancelling headphones even more efficient. Perimeter stitching that’s reinforced with glue makes sure that these don’t rip, split, and over-stretch, and some users are so satisfied with this one they say it even beats the original manufacturer’s pads.

WC Upgraded Replacement Ear Pads for Bose QC15 Headphones


WC Upgraded Replacement Ear Pads

From Rolling Stone US