Introduction to the Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt Review
Even if the reviewed Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt isn’t the first headphone that, what you would call, an accessory company made in history, it might be a shock for some to see their logo on headphones. In fact, their main product are earpads which are one of the greatest if not the best on the market. You can find many options on their website, made specifically for some headphones or some universal ones. My favorites are Elite Fenestrated Sheepskin, but of course, you can find full leather, velour, and hybrid ones.
Well, if you know Dekoni, because I am sure you know Hifiman, you know that you should not be worried. It is always nice for me to see two such great companies working together on some product. This time they made a headphone that looks very similar to Drop + Hifiman HE-R7DX, but of course, the color of Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt is their classic baby blue. I’m a big fan of that, as it is something else compared to the rest of the market.
I have to admit that I was a little afraid, same as Paweł, when we saw a frequency graph of those headphones. It didn’t look the best, so I expected them to sound different. Well, yet I prefer to listen to the music instead of looking at graphs. And I don’t regret it, but you will acknowledge everything after reading the whole review of Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt.
Paweł got the Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt during his visit to Munich, at the show, so we didn’t get the original box. Yet, we have everything that is included with the headphones themselves. Inside you will find one cable 3.5 mm to 2 x 3.5 mm and two sets of high-quality earpads. The ones that are fitted are the Elite Fenestrated Sheepskin, which are my favorites, as I mentioned before. Second ones in the box are Elite Velour. It’s more than you will need for those headphones, so I can’t complain at all. Well, okay, I would love to place the original box on the bookshelf that I am planning to hang above my desk. Keep in mind that Elite Velour earpads are available only for the first 1000 units sold.
Design, Build and Comfort
Reviewed Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt are not the most typical headphones when it comes to the look. That’s all thanks to the baby blue color, which I really love. It makes them unique compared to all the black headphones on the market. Of course, many of them look fantastic, but it’s the color that stands out on my desk. Luckily, right now we can choose between some colorful headphones, like Hifiman Sundara Closed which were reviewed by Michał.
At first glance, the headphones are made exactly like the cheaper Drop x Hifiman HE-R7DX. And well, it’s true at some parts. Yet, earpads and headband make a huge difference. Beginning with the headband, it is covered with skin that feels like genuine leather, but I think it is eco one, well-known from other Hifiman products. Under the lower part, we will find a vast amount of soft foam that provides a nice comfort.
Even after long sessions, I don’t feel them on my head, but I am used to wearing Audeze LCD-X, so you know. I also have to admit that reviewed Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt is pretty light, so you do not have to be worried about your neck. The part that might concern some people is the earcups. They are made of matte plastic, but they feel pretty good. It does not feel cheap, it’s pretty thick and isn’t too soft. But well, at this price we can get many options with wooden earcups.
The adjustment is clicky and tight, there is no option that it would dislocate itself. Also, the sound is very nice for my taste. You can easily adjust the headphones to fit on any head, so they should be comfortable for many people.
Let’s move to the best part, in terms of build quality, which is the earpads. Dekoni is well known for its premium earpads, so it’s no surprise that they are of the highest quality. To the reviewed Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt, the producer attached two sets, Elite Fenestrated Sheepskin and Elite Velour. Just trust me, using them is a blessing for your head. I’m a fan of lower temperatures, it is the best for me when it’s like 18–20 degrees Celsius in my apartment. During the testing period, it was over 30 all the time. Even if I was all sweaty, my ears remained pretty cool thanks to the perforation on sheepskin earpads.
Also, the earpads are very soft. I am wearing eyeglasses and the Dekoni pads don’t bother me at all. Also, the inner part is rather big, so the eyeglasses can easily fit and even if mine don’t, my ears are fully inside.
This part isn’t my favorite, as I’m not really into that stuff. But well, many of you really like this part, so here it goes.
Reviewed Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt is powered by a high-end dynamic driver that’s set in closed-back earcups. It was made with brand-new technology and then tuned by Dekoni’s engineer. According to their words, it should be the culmination of everything that makes listening great. The diaphragm is carbon-coated, which allows for a more accurate tuning of the driver, which sets the perfect starting point for the whole design of Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt, which is the main subject of this review.
Dekoni experimented with placing different materials in the earcup, behind the driver. The results were interesting, as the headphone was responding strongly to any changes. It was a choice between a deeper bass response and a better soundstage.
The earpads were also a heavy choice, as they experimented with multiple styles. Many members of their team had their own opinions, but in the end, they chose Fenestrated Sheepskin pads. A unique set of Elite Velour offers enhanced comfort and an alternate tuning, but they are included only with the first 1000 units of Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt.
Sound of reviewed Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt
As I mentioned before, those headphones might look not really fascinating when you check their frequency graph that’s provided by the producer. It looks pretty bad with this peak at 10 kHz, and well, the reviewed Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt has an inverted U-shaped sound signature. It means that they focus mainly on the midrange, with not much subbass and the highest treble. It can be likable, but to my taste, I would prefer more of the lowest bass.
The producer also says that they had to decide between a better bass response and a larger soundstage. The final result is very safe, so it is not going into one way more than the other. That’s pretty sad, because now the headphones are not unique and kind of boring, as everything is fine, and nothing is outstanding. It is like an iPhone, where everything works great, but nothing is really better than everything else.
In a few words, the sound we get is rather calm, a little warmish, and sounds the best within small squads, some jazz, but I also like it with pop music, as well as calmer hip-hop. They are not the best fit for online games, as the soundstage in those might be confusing.
The bass performance of these headphones is rather intriguing, offering a rather soft and delicately relaxed bass experience. While it may not deliver an abundance of sub-bass, it compensates with a substantial presence in both the mid-bass and kick-bass frequencies. The kick bass, in particular, stands out as it doesn’t assert itself as the driving force behind the rhythm but instead contributes a pleasantly immersive touch. It is nice, especially when you seek to disconnect from your surroundings without entirely losing yourself in the music.
The mid-bass, with its richness and warmth, adds depth to the overall audio profile. It provides a certain fullness to the sound, making it especially enjoyable for genres that thrive on pronounced low-end elements, such as hip-hop. The delicacy and control exhibited by these headphones in handling the bass frequencies ensure that it never overwhelm the rest of the audio spectrum.
If you’re in search of headphones that offer a nuanced and easygoing bass experience, these may be the ideal choice for you. While they might not cater to the most demanding bass enthusiasts, their well-balanced and relaxed bass presentation makes them a solid option for anyone who is seeking a calmer playstyle.
The midrange of the reviewed Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt offers a subtly warm character that deserves attention. It confidently steps to the forefront, accentuating male vocals with finesse and precision. However, when it comes to female vocals, especially artists like Taylor Swift, there’s a touch of nasality that may catch your ear. You can hear that with many other artists that have a higher voice.
When you listen to classics like Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” the headphones unveil the subtle nuances of his velvety crooning, making it feel as if you’re right there in the recording studio, catching every inflection and breath.
Switching to a contemporary artist like Adele, known for her powerful vocals, you’ll find that the headphones capture the emotional depth in tracks like “Someone Like You” exceptionally well. Adele’s heartfelt delivery is vividly conveyed, offering an immersive experience that tugs at your heartstrings.
Furthermore, for fans of rock music, when you crank up Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” the midrange reveals the crunch of Jimmy Page’s guitar riffs and the raw energy in Robert Plant’s vocals. You can sense the harmonious interplay between the instruments and the vocals, adding a new dimension to this timeless classic.
While these headphones may not delve into ultra-fine details like the resonance of a piano’s strings, they do an admirable job of presenting a wealth of detail that enriches your listening experience. Whether you’re exploring the classics or diving into contemporary hits, their midrange performance brings out the subtleties that make your favorite music come alive.
The treble can be characterized as relatively mellow, even though there is a visible peak on the frequency response graph around 10 kHz. This frequency range is rarely utilized in music, and fortunately, it doesn’t introduce any harsh sibilants or sharpness into the audio, at least on my music.
The treble presentation is rather well-balanced overall. It manages to avoid any sharp or fatiguing peaks that might cause discomfort during extended listening sessions. Instead, it maintains a soothing and non-fatiguing character, making it a suitable choice for those who prefer a more laid-back treble profile.
However, in this pursuit of smoothness, there is a trade-off. The level of detail in the treble range falls slightly short of what audiophiles might crave. While it doesn’t completely obscure the finer nuances, you may occasionally miss out on some subtler elements in your music, such as the delicate shimmer of cymbals, drum plates, or the nuanced decay of high-frequency instruments.
In practical terms, this means that tracks with intricate high-frequency components, like the ethereal chimes in Enya’s “Orinoco Flow,” may not sparkle as vividly as they could with headphones designed to accentuate treble detail, like open-back Hifiman Ananda. On the other hand, for albums with poor mix and mastering, reviewed Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt offers a comfortable and enjoyable listening experience without the risk of fatigue.
In conclusion, these headphones deliver a treble performance that leans towards the gentler side, prioritizing comfort over absolute detail retrieval. If you seek a relaxed treble presentation that won’t cause listening fatigue, these headphones are worth considering. However, if you demand the utmost treble precision and sparkle, you may want to explore other options.
The soundstage of the reviewed Hifiman x Dekoni Cobalt is predominantly front-centered, with a noticeable extension towards the sides. It paints a vivid and immersive sonic landscape, creating a great sense of holography and depth. However, it occasionally grapples with complexity, becoming somewhat lost amidst intricate and densely layered musical compositions.
In tracks where there is a whirlwind of musical activity, such as progressive rock classics like Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” the headphones may struggle to maintain separation and clarity. The abundance of sonic elements can sometimes blur together, compromising the distinctiveness of each instrument.
In gaming scenarios, the soundstage performance is middling. While it adequately conveys the general direction of audio cues, it doesn’t excel at pinpoint accuracy. Consequently, in competitive gaming titles where spatial awareness is crucial, like first-person shooters, the headphones may not provide the precision needed to precisely locate sounds. Elements that should be clearly behind us might amalgamate into a more generalized auditory backdrop. I’d rather use the much cheaper Drop x Hifiman HE5xx than Dekoni, unless I have to use closed-back headphones when my neighbor is drilling, fighting demons, or whatever. You know, typical upstairs neighbor.
In the realm of high-quality closed-back headphones within a similar price range, the Fostex TH610 and the Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt stand out as formidable contenders. These two options offer distinctive audio profiles, each with its own set of strengths and characteristics. Let’s delve into a pretty detailed comparison of these two audio powerhouses to help you make an informed choice.
Starting with the sound signature, the Fostex TH610 boasts a markedly different sound signature compared to the Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt. Fostex leans towards a drier, more airy sound, emphasizing a tighter bass response. The bass in the TH610 extends lower and is exceptionally well-controlled, especially in the mid-bass range. However, it’s worth noting that the mids on the Fostex are somewhat recessed, contributing to their dry character.
On the other hand, the Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt offers a more balanced and warmer sound signature. Its bass, while not as tight or deep as the Fostex, has a certain lushness and warmth to it. The midrange is more forward, providing a richer and fuller sound experience, which can be liked. While the Cobalt’s highs are less pronounced compared to the Fostex, they are still quite detailed and avoid any harshness or fatigue during extended listening sessions.
When it comes to soundstage, the Fostex TH610 offers a wider but shallower presentation. This results in a more spacious feeling, albeit lacking some depth, so it’s tough for me to call the winner. I prefer more air, but also with a great depth. However, Fostex makes up for this with an abundance of detail. Instruments and vocals are clear and well-defined, making them a better choice for critical listening.
In contrast, the Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt offers a more intimate soundstage. While it may not have the width of the Fostex, it compensates with a better sense of depth, immersing you in the music. The added depth contributes to a more engaging and three-dimensional listening experience, but for games, I would pick Fostex headphones. Detail retrieval on the Cobalt is also commendable, though it may not match the level of the TH610.
In terms of build quality, the Fostex TH610 has the upper hand at first glance. It incorporates materials such as wood and metal, elevating its overall aesthetics and durability. They might look more premium, but remember you have to care about the wood on earcups.
Conversely, the Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt primarily relies on plastic and metal components. While this construction is by no means subpar, it does not quite reach the same level of sophistication as the Fostex. However, Dekoni has traditionally paid special attention to the comfort of their headphones, particularly the earpads, which could be a crucial factor for some users, especially when they attach two pairs.
In conclusion, the Fostex TH610 and the Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt cater to different sonic preferences. The Fostex offers a drier, airier sound with exceptional detail, making it an excellent choice for audiophiles who prioritize clarity and precision. On the other hand, the Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt provides a warmer, more balanced sound with a more immersive soundstage, appealing to those who prefer a richer, more engaging listening experience.
Ultimately, your choice between these two headphones will depend on your personal audio preferences and priorities. Both have their unique strengths and are sure to please discerning music enthusiasts.
Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt – summary
Reviewed Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt is rather unique in many terms. At first, the build quality, which is good in terms of earpads (obviously), but plastic cans are not the best when you can get wooden ones with Hifiman Sundara Closed or Fostex TH610. But the blue color is cool. And even if they look like cheaper Hifiman R7DX, you can feel the difference in the same second when you place them on your head.
In terms of sound, it’s all about your taste. Dekoni x Hifiman Cobalt aims for a little lush sound, which is great when you just want to listen to the music instead of analyzing every single note. We don’t get much subbass nor highly extended treble, but what we get is a calm sound, with a lot of passion, that’s perfect as a background for work, single-player games, and of course, just chilling with music.
Big thanks to Dekoni for providing us with the Cobalt for this review. I wasn’t paid or asked to say anything good or bad about this product, all of the above is just my personal, unbiased opinion.
I am a 22 years old audiophile, photographer, coffee lover and Star Wars fan. I love checking out new audio stuff and sharing my opinions with people not being overly bloviating. I believe that a review acts as a guide to just interest people, and then comes the most important part, which is actually testing the device by themselves.