The Complete Guide to Buying & Caring For Your Headphone Cushions
Those of us who know the amazing advantage of having a high quality set of headphones know that it’s important to look at the technology used, the design of the headset, and the comfort when you wear them. In this way, we do put some thought into headphone cushions.
However, even the most passionate headphone buyers don’t seem to put enough thought into the design and quality of the cushions. And even when they do, it’s often just in terms of the cushions that are already on the cushions when they first buy them. That is, few people know that replacement ear cushions exist. But using replacement ear cushions can greatly extend the life of your headphones.
So in this article, we’re going to focus on everything about ear cushions. In this quick guide, you’ll get a crash course in what quality ear cushions can and should do, how to care for your ear cushions so that they don’t wear out as fast, how to choose and buy quality headphones and quality headphone cushions, and more.
We hope that you can use this information to not only improve your listening experience but to save yourself money. Because caring for and eventually replacing worn out headphones is one of the best ways to get more use out of the same pair of headphones and keep your hard-earned cash in your pocket!
How to Properly Care For Your Headset Cushions
The bad news is that no matter how careful you are, headphone cushions will eventually wear out. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help extend the life of your ear cushions and the better news is that when they do wear out, you can replace them (which costs less than replacing the entire headset).
Here are a few tips for caring for your ear cushions so that they last longer:
Store them in good conditions - You don’t always have complete control over this but do your best to make sure that the cushions aren’t sitting in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. And avoid storing them in damp places as the alternation between high humidity and dryness can stretch and crack a leather finish. Keeping them in a case can help protect them from changing weather conditions.
Clean regularly - Cleaning doesn’t have to be a super involved process. We recommend wiping them down gently with a soft, damp (not soaking wet) cloth about once a week. Then, about once a month or so, you can use a nice leather cleaner (as you would use for other leather products) to wipe them down for a deeper cleanse.
Dry them - You cannot completely prevent the cushions from absorbing some sweat over time. That’s another reason that replacement ear cushions are important. However, if they are visibly wet from sweat (or rain or anything else), dry them by gently wiping or dabbing them with a soft, dry cloth. This will remove as much moisture as possible before it absorbs into the cushion.
Conditioning - There are some nice leather conditioners on the market. This will prevent the finish from cracking. However, don’t overdo it. If you condition too often, it can actually start to rot the leather finish. So if you do choose to use a leather conditioner, only apply it twice a year maximum. And when you do apply it, make sure to wipe away any excess conditioner, paying special attention to seems and stitches where it tends to clump up.
Replace regularly - You don’t have to replace your ear cushions very often. But you do want to do it about once a year, depending on how frequently you use them. If you use them extensively, you may need to replace them more often. If you don’t use them so often, you can afford to replace them once every 18 months to 2 years.
Very few people take care to clean or store their headphones properly which can dramatically decrease their life. And this is unfortunate because actually doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to provide proper care for them. Taking these simple steps can add months to the life of your ear cushions.
The Benefits of High Quality Headphones
Here are a few of the reasons it’s worth the extra cash to invest in high quality headphones:
Save money - Yes, it’s more expensive now. But when you buy quality headphones like those made from Bose and Beats, you are investing in a product that is going to last you a long time. Because of this, you are saving money in the long run because you don’t need to buy new headphones as often.
Better listening experience - In addition to lasting longer, high quality headphones also provide a higher quality sound. You can benefit from better speaker technology and noise cancelling technology so that what you are left with is pure, clean, quality sound.
Increased comfort - The brands that sell high end headphones know that their customers expect a lot for the money they are spending. Because of that, these brands are concerned about not only the technology of the speakers but the design of the headset itself. Cheap headphones feel cheap and tend to be uncomfortable. Quality headphones are designed so that you can comfortably wear them for extended periods of time.
Better Headphone Ear Cushions - Quality models use luxurious memory foam to both improve comfort and increase the noise cancelling ability. And even though ear cushions for headphones wear out, buying replacements for them is cheaper than buying a whole new set of headphones.
Tips For Buying Great Headphones That Last
A quality headset is not cheap. We admit that. The high end models are priced to match their high quality. However, when you invest in a higher end, higher quality set of headphones, you are saving money in the long run and getting plenty of other benefits to boot.
In order to do that, you have to know what you are shopping for. So here are a few tips to make sure you are getting the most for your money:
- Form of the headphone - There are 3 main forms to choose from: full size headphones, ear pad headphones, and ear buds. You can find a breakdown of each form below.
- Features - Different headphones are designed with different priorities in mind. Not everyone has the same needs when it comes to headphones so it’s up to you to see what kind of features are available and what you need. Some features you will find include: noise cancellation, noise isolation (find out the difference between isolation and cancellation below), wireless, etc.
- Reviews - When investing money in any product, it’s important to find out what others have to say about it. Ideally, you will have a combination of regular customer reviews and expert reviews so that you can get a well-rounded sense of whether or not the headphones do what you need them to do.
Full Size Headphones
Full size headphones are the largest of the three forms. The ear cushions are designed in a cup shape that completely surrounds your ear. This design has the following benefits:
- Better noise isolation - By completely surrounding your ear, you get less outside noise dampening the sound from your headphones.
- Stronger base response - This shape allows for a better base response, giving you a stronger, crisper sound.
- High level of comfort - Most full size headphones are designed with a lot of padding in the cushions. This makes them fit more securely around your head and makes them more comfortable to wear for extended periods.
It’s important to note that, because they are on the larger side, full size headphones aren’t the best for when you’re on the go. And in the hotter months, they can make your ears hot because the cupped design traps in heat—which is actually great in the colder months!
So we highly recommend these for a home use option but would suggest opting for a smaller headset if you need something more portable.
Ear Pad Headphones
These are similar to full size headphones but are smaller. Rather than totally surrounding your ear, they rest on top of it. This design has many advantages:
- Maximum comfort - When you invest in a good set, you can get ear pad headphones that have a lot of cushioning. However, where these are even better than full size headphones is that they still allow heat to escape so your ears don’t get hot. This means you have a headset that is well cushioned, secure fitting, and still able to allow heat to escape.
- More portable - These make good headphones for using while you’re out. They’re easier to carry when not in use and they’re more practical for wearing in public. Plus, the fact that you do still get some outside noise means that you aren’t totally oblivious to your surroundings while you enjoy your music.
The tradeoff for ear pads that don’t trap heat is that the noise isolation effects aren’t as high as full sized headphones. But you can definitely still find ear pad headphones that provide a high level of noise isolation. And this only really becomes a problem in extremely loud settings.
These are the most distinct form of headphones. They are the only ones that sit inside of your ear rather than on top or around it. As a result, they are much smaller than both full size headphones and ear pad headphones. The advantages here include:
- Maximum portability - The key purpose of this design is to be as portable as possible. They are small enough that when you aren’t using them, you can store them in your pocket.
- Affordability - While there are some relatively expensive earbuds, these are generally the cheapest option on the market. So when money is really tight, this is the way to go.
- Better for people who wear glasses - If you need to wear glasses often or all the time, you’ve probably experienced the discomfort of full sized or ear pad headphones pinching your ear between the headphone cushion and the frame of your glasses. Earbuds are great for this situation because they don’t interfere with the frame of your glasses in any way.
It is important to note that no matter how high end you go with earbuds, you will never get the same sound quality that you get with the full sized headphones or the ear pad headphones. Some people also find that the earbud design doesn’t fit securely in their ears.
This especially problematic if you plan to go running with them as they are prone to falling out of your ears. However, there are some earbud designs that have a clip that loops around your ear for a more secure fit.
In either case, they are not as comfortable as the other two forms of headphones. So while we would recommend runners find a nice secure fitting earbud design (for the least intrusive and cumbersome listening experience while running), we would recommend either ear pad headphones or full size headphones for your at home use or normal on-the-go uses.
Noise Cancellation vs. Noise Isolation
These terms are often (mistakenly) used interchangeably. However, they refer to 2 different things:
- Noise isolation refers to the ability of the headphone design to block out noise from outside.
- Noise cancellation refers to a special technology which listens to the outside noise and then plays an inverted version of it in your ears. You do not audibly hear this inverted noise because it cancels out with the outside noise, creating effective silence (aside from the music you want to hear).
The Benefits of Replacement Ear Cushions
Few people are aware that it is even possible to replace their headset ear cushions. Once the cushions start to wear out, they tend to just throw out the headphones and buy a new set. If that sounds like you, you are wasting a lot of money that you could be spending on other things!
The fact is that foam ear cushions wear out faster than the actual technology and electrical parts of the headphone. That means that when you throw out a whole headset just because the cushions are worn means you are throwing out a perfectly good pair of headphones.
You can buy replacement ear cushions for headphones so that you continue to enjoy the maximum level of comfort and get to take advantage of the full life of the headphones themselves.
- Better than buying cheap headphones - If you just keep shopping for the lowest possible price, you will end up buying uncomfortable cheap headphones over and over again. This means a bad listening experience, uncomfortable and poorly made cushions, and a short life for your headphones. It’s a much better use of your hard earned cash to invest in a higher end, quality set of headphones that you can then continue to use for years and years by just replacing the headphone cushions every so often.
- Better hygiene - Ear cushions naturally get dirty and filled with bacteria over time because they are absorbing and collecting sweat, dirt, and microbes in the air around you. After enough time, these cushions become breeding grounds for bacteria. So regular replacements allow you to have a fresh, clean set of cushions that.
- Improved listening experience - As your headphone cushions wear out, your headset becomes less comfortable, the noise cancelling properties get worse, and its secure fit over your head begins to weaken. If you don’t replace the cushions or buy a whole new headset, you are just going through life with a less than optimal listening experience. And why do that when you could so easily (and affordably) fix the problem to restore your listening experience back to its optimal condition.
- Better than buying a whole new set of headphones - Unfortunately, there are so many people who don’t even know that headphone cushions can be replaced at all. As much as they care about investing in high quality headphones, they end up throwing them out long before they really have to. Then they just end up shelling out more cash to buy a brand new set of headphones when all they really had to do was spend a little bit of cash to do a few touchups and replacement for certain parts (like the ear cushions). Replacing a single part is almost always cheaper than just buying a whole new set of headphones!
- More money for music - All that cash that you are saving by not having to buy a whole new set of headphones can be better spent on buying new music that you can enjoy with your tip top shape, refurbished headphones!
More money for music! All that cash that you are saving by not having to buy a whole new set of headphones can be better spent on buying new music that you can enjoy with your tip top shape, refurbished headphones!
Tips For Buying Ear Cushions For Headsets
Buying replacement ear cushions for your headphones is not just a matter of picking up whatever you find first. Here are a few things to consider when you are shopping for replacements so that you aren’t spending more than you need to and you know that you are getting the absolute best for the money you do spend:
- The design of the cushions - Not every replacement cushion will fit every model of headphones. You need to make sure you are buying a replacement set that fits the model of headphones you are using. In some cases, the product will clearly state exactly which brands or models they are the best replacements for). If it’s not clearly stated, you may want to get in contact with them to make sure they work with your headset.
- The replacement process - When replacing a pair of head cushions, you need to make sure you do it correctly. If you do it wrong, you risk damaging the ear cushions or even the headset itself. To make this easier and safer, look for replacement ear cushions that come with comprehensive and clear instructions for replacing them without doing any damage.
- Ease of installation - It’s more than just instructions. Some cushions are easier to install than others. If you’ve got a pair of cushions that are difficult and tedious to install, you’ll find yourself questioning whether the cash you are saving is worth all of this added frustration. So in addition to comprehensive and clear instructions, try to find out how easy and quick the installation process is.
- Material - When you replace your ear cushions, you can opt for a super cheap cushion that fits your model but this won’t give you the same level of comfort and enjoyment. Look for cushions made with quality materials like memory foam material and a soft protein leather finish). The materials truly do make all the difference.
- Personality - This isn’t a necessity but it can be a nice feature, especially if you’ve got a lot of people with the same exact headphones. You can look for unique prints, patterns, colors, and so on to add a touch of your own personality to your headphones and truly make them yours.
With the tips and information in this guide, you should now be better prepared to make smart, well-informed decisions as you shop for the right set of headphones and the right ear cushions to give you the absolute best (and most affordable) listening experience.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to consider than just price. But it’s well worth the extra effort that it takes to research and learn about the products you are considering buying. That’s because the extra effort you put in pays off in the fact that you get to enjoy the many benefits and advantages we’ve talked about in this guide.