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Sennheiser HD580/HD600/HD650 Earpad Cushion - $2 DIY foam repair

Last updated 27 March 2011 (Minor updates: 28 Feb 2019)

 

Added: Feb 2019 – Counterfeit replacement ear pad and headband cushions are now being sold on eBay for less than $10. I've had to replace the inner thin foam pads recently, and discovered when trying to remove the earpad cushions almost 8 years since I wrote this blog, the adhesive which bonds the velour cloth has weakened and now separates very easily from the plastic oval plate.



The earpads of my HD-580 were in relatively good cosmetic condition with no tears.  The inner foam pad was also undamaged.  But the foam within the earpad cushions had clearly lost their firmness.  My ear lobes were pressing against the inner flat foam pad.

I was loathed to spend almost 60 quid (over US$90)  on a new set of velour earpads from a UK Sennheiser dealer, so I looked at how I could refurbish the earpad cushions at considerably less expense.  Well, 99 pence to be precise (Less than US$2) !

 

Allow up to 2 hours to complete these instructions.   I should add that you make these modifications at your own risk!

 


 

I needed to source some firm sponge foam.....

 

For UK readers:

3 pack of Car washing sponges purchased from Pound Stretcher. 

I also looked in Wilkinsons but the only car washing sponges they sold at 34 pence each were too soft.  They were also pitted with large holes up to 3mm in diameter.

I had not visited Halfords at time of writing to see what they offered.

 

 

This foam is relatively firm when compressed between the palms of my hands.  It also has small holes which suggests it is a high density (firmer) foam. 

   

 


My Sennheisers were about 10 years old at the time I wrote this blog. The original earpad cushions pull off very easily.

Added Feb 2019: But when I attempted to remove the earpad cushions almost 7 years later, I discovered the adhesive that bonds the velour cloth to the plastic oval plate has deteriorated. As a result, the velour cloth started to separate. I had to use a metal spudger tool to carefully prise the plastic oval ring out. Then used superglue to reattach the velour cloth to the ring.



A video showing how to repair earpad cushions.

https://youtu.be/_b53VDWA10k

Warning: If you examine the inner part of the earpad cushion, you will see the velour cloth is sewn onto a thin flexible pvc membrane.  If you are not careful when removing the earpad cushions, you could tear the seam.

Just gently grab the velour covered cushion and pull gently ideally on the outer edge of the cushion.  It should start to unclip itself.  Once the cushion has been removed, the flat foam can be lifted off too.



Make an incision no more than 20mm in length about 5mm from the plastic ring at both ends of the earpad cushion.  Cut through the foam via one of the openings, and 'carefully' pull it out through the other opening.

 

Badly deformed and discoloured original foam insert.

 

The dimensions of the original foam appear to be 25mm deep and the ring thickness is about 15mm all the way round.  It looks like the foam was originally a simple rectangular cross section design.  ie.no chamfered edges.

Very early earpads may have different dimensions to the ones quoted here.

 

   

 

 


 

Create a simple paper template by running a pen around the plastic ring on the back of the earpad cushion onto a sheet of paper.

   

 

 

Mark and cut out the new foam cushion using a sharp pair of scissors.  The Pound Stretcher sponge was about 40mm thick, so I had to reduce it to about 25mm. (In hindsight, I recommend thickness of 27mm if I had to remake them again)

   

 

The original foam is less noisy when squeezed compared to the car washing sponge foam.

If I press the palm of my hand against the old foam, it offers little or no resistance to being compressed.  The new foam is firmer.

 

Mark up the ear facing side of the new foam as shown by the blue 'A' in this picture.

 

 

 

 


Now here comes the clever part....

 

Cut through one end of the new foam cushion as shown above.  Now carefully compress the foam by wrapping it using two pieces of 8 x 2 inch wide strip of paper and self-adhesive tape as shown below.  Try to keep the foam straight when wrapping with the paper.  ie. do not twist the foam along its length.

 

Now insert and feed it through the earpad cushion as shown below.  Double check the marked up side of the foam (the blue  'A') is facing upwards.  Gently pull it through until the foam is fully inserted.

 

Then slowly pull more until the paper tube slides off, leaving just the foam inside the earpad.  Now gently manipulate the new foam until you feel the foam is evenly distributed within the cushion and you acquire the desired shape.  Warning:  Take care not to put too much stress on the seam between the velour cloth and the very thin pvc membrane on the inner edge of the cushion.

   

 

Finish off by stitching up the two openings.



Added Feb 2019: After 17+ years, the thin foam pad had a hole and had deteriorated. As a temporary repair, I cut away the centre to make the hole larger. I didn't have any suitable replacement thin piece of foam, but I had some inexpensive surgical face masks. These are normally 3 ply construction comprising of 2 white sheets and a blue/green coloured sheet. I used just the blue/green sheet and cut it to shape to fit inside the HD580.





The finished result:

 

 

 


Testing

 

My earlobes no longer press against the inner flat foam pad, so that's an immediate improvement !

 

Although the car sponge is evidently noisier than the original foam when squeezed.  In practise, I have not found this to be an issue when wearing my headphones.

 

Update:  After lengthy listening and comfort tests last night, I've concluded the newly fitted foam is sufficiently firm and comfortable.  I will not be replacing them with upholstery foam. 



Update (June 2012): One year later, I can confirm my earpad cushions are still fine.

Update (Feb 2019): The inner thin foam pads now have holes in them. I've replaced them using parts from surgical face mask. The earpad cushions have held up well over the last 8 years, so I chose not replace the internal foam for a second time. There is a tear in the flexible PVC membrane on one earpad cushion, so I will probably order a $10 replacement earpad cushions off eBay in future.

 

 

 

 


Alternative foam

 

I noticed car washing sponges sound a bit scrunchy when squeezed.  Upholstery grade foam may be quieter. 

 

 

 


 

How to refurbish the HD-580 headband cushion

 

Originally posted in AVforums.com

Posted in Head-fi.org

 

 


Earpad covers

 

I discovered these interesting flickr photos in Google images.  

They appear to show some sort of custom made fabric (lycra?) covers which simply fit over the original velour earpad cushions.  These would be ideal for renovating an earpad's worn or torn velour fabric.  The photos were posted by 'Alan':

flickr photo showing custom made earpad covers 1

flickr photo showing custom made earpad covers 2

I don't know whether the covers are a genuine retail product, or are home made.