Things aren't as durable these days as one would like and replacement earpads offered by the manufacturer are just unjustifiably expensive compared the cost of the material they're made of. I recalled I had some spare upholstery fabric at home and thought it might look cool on my pretty wrecked earphones.
Time needed: 40 minutes to 2+ hours depending on your skills
Model of headphones used: Sennheiser PX-100-II
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- A needle
- Upholstery fabric
- Polyester fiberfill
It is important that the textile is durable, but not too hard. Upholstery fabric is good for this kind of project as long as it's not too hard and therefore feels uncomfortable when pressed against the skin of your ear for extended periods of time. The durability of a textile is measured in Martindale units. A larger Martindale number indicates a more durable fabric. The fabric should also be as breathable as possible so the sound quality is not negatively impacted. And last but not the least, do try to pick up a beautiful fabric.
I had lots of polyester fiberfill from a previous project for replacing air filters and thought it could work nicely as padding because it is not very dense and therefore does not mess up the sound quality. As it happens polyester fiberfill is used in upholstery and replacing the earpads is pretty close to that.
I chose to use thickish cotton thread for durability and to avoid twisting of the fabric due to sliding afterwards. See what you've got and make do.
Step 2: Prepare the Paddings
The fiberfill paddings should be cut to about the same size as the earphones are wide. I used the old one as a template.
Cut a circle from polyester fiberfill and then split the fiberfill by tearing it carefully and evenly to an appropriate thickness.
Step 3: Cut and Sew
Just cut some squares that are larger than what the textile needs to be in the end. I first cut some circles that were a bit too small and it just made fitting difficult.
Bind the textile loosely in place with the padding inside stretching the fabric evenly over the earphone. Then bind the textile as tight as you dare. This is to form a groove in the fabric so that makes it easier to see where to sew. If there are folds, try to straighten them out as best as you can.
Then cut the excess and sew around along the groove.
Step 4: Fit the Fabric in Place
With the padding between the fabric and the earphone, fold the inside of the excess fabric under the seam and tighten the thread. Repeat the same with the other pad. Some dexterity is required. Then, after checking that the fabric is even and the thread is tightly around the groove, make 2-3 knots and cut the excess and/of stuff the thread inside the groove with the other end of the needle.
If you want to wash the pads at some point, I suggest you circle the excess thread around the groove a couple of times before making those final knots. That way you can cut the thread and still have enough to knot it again.
Step 5: Enjoy
Tune into your favorite radio station and enjoy the feeling of fabric against your ears and the fact that the only maintenance your headphones might require in the future is replacing the cable and/or stereo plug at some point.
These headphones actually feel much more comfortable now and to my ear the sound quality sounds unaffected. Great success!