Types of Ear Pads for Headphones

If your headphones’ sound quality is deteriorating and the ear pads are stiff and uncomfortable. For some, this is a sign that they need to acquire new headphones. However, you may only need to replace the ear pads. Check out all Types of Ear Pads and their benefits and drawbacks below. Headphone ear pads, often known as ear cushions or simply pads, are an integral component of headphones. Headphones are available in many different types based on their fit. Ear pads on the other hand come in a variety of forms, sizes, and materials. All of this has an impact on how headphones perform and feel.

Headphone Ear Pad Varieties

The material and thickness of headphone ear pads vary greatly. This has an impact on comfort, sound quality, and durability. Some are better for passive noise isolation and bass response, while others are more breathable and comfortable on the skin. Furthermore, some materials necessitate special attention. Otherwise, their structural integrity will be compromised. It can result in headphones that sound bad and are uncomfortable to wear.

Leather substitute (faux leather, pleather, PU leather)

The most popular material for headphone ear cushions is synthetic leather. It’s soft and pleasant to the touch, and it’s simple to clean, but it has a limited lifespan due to peeling. There will be more on this later.

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  • Comfortable
  • Simple to clean
  • Affordable
  • Enhance the bass response
  • Excellent passive noise isolation


  • Begin peeling gradually.
  • Not breathable and causes sweating

Vegan, protein, pleather, and PU leather are all terms for synthetic ear cushions. Passive noise isolation is excellent with artificial leather. It forms a tight seal, preventing noise from entering or exiting the cups. Improved isolation improves bass response by enhancing low-end resonance penetrating the deep sub-bass. This, however, comes at the expense of breathability. An excellent seal stops air from circulating. That’s why you start sweating as soon as you put them on. Excess sweat gets on the leather, which is a little irritating. Not all imitation leather ear cushions are created equal. Synthetic ear pads of higher grade are softer and last longer. PU leather is a superior synthetic substance. It is an abbreviation for polyurethane leather. However, while it may last longer than lesser materials, it will still peel with time.

What is the lifespan of synthetic leather ear pads?

If you wear your headphones every day, your faux leather cushions should last about 2 years. The total lifespan is determined by the number of hours worn. Expect a lower lifespan if you’re a heavy user who uses headphones for hours every day. And by “shorter lifespan,” I mean that the ear pads will begin to peel. Technically, you can continue to use headphone earpads that have peeled, but it’s a nasty experience. Small black shreds of earpad material will be left around your ears by your headphones.

What should you do with peeled headphone pads?

Peeling headphone pads may only be repaired by replacing them. Unfortunately, there is no simpler solution. Once the pads begin to peel and chafe, there is no way to restore them to their previous shape.

How should synthetic ear pads be cared for?

After each use, wipe your ear pads with a cloth or rapidly brush them against your shirt.
Avoid exposing your headphones to high temperatures. (leaving them in the sun)
Fortunately, synthetic leather is relatively easy to care for. It is recommended that you wipe the earpads with a towel (or shirt) after using your headphones. Otherwise, dirt will begin to accumulate. Keep in mind that imitation leather does not tolerate harsh weather conditions. For example, do not leave headphones in direct sunlight or in areas where heat and humidity are present. If you don’t use your headphones on a daily basis, you should probably keep them in a box or a pouch. This slows down earpad degeneration.


Because of their breathability, fabric headphone ear cushions are popular among gaming headsets. They provide a more comfortable wearing experience as well as a longer lifespan. However, they suffer from poor passive noise isolation and dirt collection over time.

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  • Comfortable
  • Breathable and refreshing
  • Sweat-free
  • Long life expectancy


  • Inadequate passive noise isolation
  • Can become filthy and stinky

The ear cups are comfortably cushioned thanks to the soft fabric material. With greater breathability, they’re also an excellent solution for folks who have hot ears when wearing headphones. Heat can exit the inside of the ear cup due to the airflow passing through the ear pads. However, breathability comes at a cost. Fabric ear cushions let in more background noise. This means they allow in more noise and emit more sound. This is usually not an issue with a gaming headset where you play alone. However, wearing headphones in public may be a problem.

What is the lifespan of cloth ear pads?

Fabric headphone pads will never peel because they are made of a different material. So, as long as you clean them on a regular basis, they should last the life of the headphones. However, you must clean them. The cloth features many open pockets that allow air to pass through but also allow dirt to attach. As a result, they are dirtier than other types of ear pads.

How do you care for fabric headphone pads?

After use, wipe down the ear pads with a cloth. Hand wash the fabric ear pads with gentle laundry detergent if they are detachable. Wash your hair daily to reduce dirt accumulation. Fabric headphone pads may only be kept clean by hand washing them with a gentle laundry detergent. This requires a little more effort, but it maintains your pads clean and in good shape.


Velour headphone ear cushions are plusher than fabric. They are commonly seen in professional studio and open-back headphones. The thickness of the knit determines the level of passive noise isolation. As a result, they often isolate better than loosely woven cloth ear cushions.

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  • Stylish and plush
  • Long life expectancy
  • Excellent passive noise isolation
  • Do not cause perspiration.


  • Breathability is lower than with cloth pads.
  • It’s easier to get dirty and stinky.
  • They won’t fit on inexpensive headphones.

Velour is the greatest material for headphones for lengthy listening sessions. Velour headphone pads are pleasant to the touch and do not cause sweating or irritation. They provide a good seal but can make the sound signature brighter and more airy. This is also why they’re common on audiophile open-back headphones. While noise isolation is better than on gaming headsets with loosely knit fabric earpads, it isn’t as excellent as with imitation leather.

What is the lifespan of velour ear pads?

Velour earpads do not peel, thus if cared for properly, they can endure virtually indefinitely. Or at least until the structural integrity of the foam inside is lost, which can take many years. The disadvantage of velour pads is that they smell if they are not cleaned. Because of its soft fibers, velour attracts more dust and filth. And you won’t find them on low-cost headphones. If possible, you should acquire replacement earpads and change and install them yourself. Some headphones lack replaceable pads.

How do you care for velour ear pads?

The procedure is the same as with fabric earpads:

Wipe the ear pads clean with a towel. Hand wash them with a gentle washing detergent if they are detachable. To reduce dirt intake, wear headphones with clean hair. Dirt from your skin might get into your ear pads, so keep your face clean. Keep out of direct sunlight. Velour attracts a lot of dirt and dust, and because it’s a porous material, any sweat is quickly absorbed inside the ear cushions. Sweat attracts dirt, and both produce an odour over time. Wash velour pads when they develop a nasty odour to keep them fresh. As with leather pads, it’s best to wipe them down with a cloth or a shirt after you’ve finished using them. Allow them to air dry after carefully cleaning them. Please do not squeeze the pads as this can harm the internal structure of the foam. You should also consider storing them in a separate box or carrying pouch to protect them from direct sunlight and dust. They will last longer and look better as a result.

Genuine leather

Genuine leather headphone ear pads are the most opulent and costly. People pay not only for the sound, but also for the overall experience. Some people prefer it because of the “leathery” smell, although genuine leather has advantages. It lasts longer than synthetic earpads with adequate care.

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  • Genuine leather feels comfortable.
  • Excellent passive noise isolation
  • It can get heated.
  • Long life expectancy


  • Causing sweating
  • Necessitate special maintenance
  • Expensive

Real animal skin leather is significantly rarer than synthetic leather and offers greater durability at a higher cost. Sheepskin leather, which is softer, is the most prevalent. (the same material leather jackets are made of). Genuine leather ear pads are soft and comfy, but like pleather earpads, they can get hot and sticky.
The pores throughout the leather skin allow for more airflow than pleather, which helps to keep sweat at bay. However, over time, the heat will build up and cause moist ears.
Because of the thick material, they provide excellent passive noise isolation and boost bass response.
The most expensive are genuine leather headphone pads. While other types of cushions cost around $20 for a pair, genuine leather pads can cost up to $30.

What is the lifespan of leather ear pads?

They can, however, survive the longest if properly maintained. Leather is a long-lasting material that may be cared for for many years.

How do you care for genuine leather headphone earpads?

Remove extra sweat and moisture from your leather ear pads after usage. Apply leather conditioner to earpads once a year to prevent surface cracks. Avoid exposing your headphones to high temperatures. (avoid direct sunlight) Unlike synthetic leather, real leather is porous, absorbing everything that remains on its surface for an extended period of time. Sweat is one of them, which is why you should brush the earpads every time you stop listening. If sweat gets into the leather, it will soon start to smell. Wipe the earpads more thoroughly with a wet towel once a week for a greater result. Use a leather conditioner for couches or vehicle seats to prevent fractures in the leather. That’s fine if you do it once a year or so. But don’t go overboard. If you moisturise the leather too much or too frequently, it may decay faster. (you can see specks forming on the leather). Here’s more information on how to care for leather.

Ear gel cushions for cooling

On top of foam, cooling gel headphone ear pads feature gel with cooling qualities. The gel is cold to the touch and conducts heat quite efficiently. It’s meant to keep your ears cold for a longer period of time.

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Cooling gel ear pads are touted as a remedy for hot ears, but are they worth it?

The cooling gel ear cushions are only cool for about an hour. They then get even hotter than conventional ear pads. The gel absorbs heat and then radiates it back. As a result, cooling gel pads become hot when used for an extended period of time. Furthermore, because the material is less ventilating, it maintains the temperature. Good ventilation is a superior option for keeping your earpads cool over long periods of time. Look for ear pads made of loosely knit, airy materials that allow for good airflow. Ear cushions made with memory foam versus ordinary foam, which, when squeezed with fingers, the memory foam filling gradually returns to its original shape. Regular foam, on the other hand, immediately bounces back. At best, there is a marginal change. Memory foam adjusts to your ears slightly better than ordinary foam, making it more comfortable.

Other distinct forms of earpads

When looking through headphones, you may notice that some of them use unique materials for headphone ear cushions. Grado headphones, for example, only have a straight foam cover. It is a porous substance that has little impact on sound, does not effectively block noise, and is prone to dirt accumulation. There are also micro suede ear pads available. These are fabrics with a suede-like texture. Others refer to their ear pads as hybrids. Typically, a mix of diverse materials. Personally, I’d be cautious about trusting in all of the “benefits” when compared to typical sorts.

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