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DIY Leather Ear pads for Stax Lambda


soldermizer
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I would like to thank "DefectiveAudioComponent" for his excellent DIY tutorial

I did the same as 'practice' for an old pair of Sony and got ok results. Recently, I have gotten into headphones in a big (but somewhat cheapskate) way...I now own two pair of older Stax Lambda (one normal, one Pro). While all seems to be in good shape, save wear especially on the head band, I thought it would be nice to have real leather pads. I know that real ones can be had via Stax (Ebay) but pricey ... around $100 or so. After finding the above tutorial, I said, why not try it on the cheap? Liek the original author, for this 2nd project, I got scrap leather off Ebay (black, lightweight, lambskin I think). Because I am lazy as well as a pinch-penny, I said, why not try contact cement instead of all that punching and sewing? It worked out quite nicely. Whole job probably took under 2 hours, most of that waiting for dry times for the cement. For "stuffing" I just used the stock ear pads. Simply put, I reupholstered the vinyl pads with real leather. They look and feel quite good. Only time will tell how secure the seams and other joints are. Only problem so far is one of the pads is a bit cockeyed. Contact cement is very unforgiving of peel off and reapply. If folks like, I can post some pics of how I did it, but it is almost exactly like the original tutorial except flaps & adhesive instead of stitching. Now ... about that head band ...

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This is my first attempt in uploading HTML. Please forgive the formatting. Powers-that-be, if you'd like this as a tutorial (hint, hint) my ego would be greatly flattered.

Soldermizer's Cheap & Easy Leather Ear Pad Guide: Re-Upholstering your Stax Lambda

A hi-rez version of this web page may be available (as a ZIP archive) at

Then again, it may not.

Put the rear of a steer next to your ear for under $20.

You can put a pair of nice leather ear pads on your cans for under $20 in materials and less than two hours of your time.

Hi I am the Soldermizerâ„¢. I chose this derisive moniker because it well describes my tinkering skills. Despite military training that included soldering, twenty years in tech, much college, and years of tinkering, I barely have the mechanical aptitude to pick my nose much less do intricate electronic work am far from expert with the soldering iron. This summer I turned my ... uh... talents to leather craft. This is the first leather work I've done since the dreadful summer camp leather wallet at age 7 or so.

This how-to could apply to many headphones. Unlike the Cable making DIY, this DIY actually has a serious goal, but I am likely to inject some humor because I'm an ass levity helps hold the reader's interest.

I am quite new to high-end headphones. I'm a long time audiophile but lack the budget. I am a total Ebay whore and waste incredible amounts of time and money there Much of my equipment was bought (and gets re-sold) on Ebay. This includes today's victims, the Stax, as well as the leather I used. I did some research and jumped on a pair of Stax (a Lambda and a Lambda Pro) along with an SRM-1 Mk II and extension cable. Everything seems to work fine, just showing a lot of wear and tear one would expect from 20? 30? year old equipment. OK, finally I'm getting to the point.

While the original ear pads are serviceable, the headband less so, I want to "upgrade" to leather pads. I know they are available on the after market and probably just stick on, but I don't want to spend $115 just to have leather next to my ear.

Here is what I lust after, and instead am cloning (EP-507):

http://www.stax.co.jp/Export/ExportProducts.html

Perhaps you have headphones for which there are no spare parts available. Or maybe you're just a skinflint like me. Let's see how to get luxury for cheap.

Besides being economical and (perhaps) the only way to get new ear pads, another boon to this DIY is the satisfaction of doing your own work (or, in my case, evading it) plus the not to be overlooked freedom in choosing what you'd like your ears to be next to. I'm happy with a thin black leather (not sure what kind). I bought some scraps for < $20 and it would be enough for several pairs of ear pads. There is a bewildering choice of leathers available. Hey, if you want rattlesnake, why not? Hell, go for unicorn hide if you want.

Recently I stumbled upon this link about sewing one's own ear pads.

I tried his method and indeed it works. I didn't try this for Stax, but for an ancient pair of Sony MDR-V600 that the vinyl long since died on. Using a piece of leather from Jo-Anns (actually a Tandy Leather product), and the above URL as a guide, I made a pair of serviceable, if not quite professional, pads for the Sony. Not bad for about ten bucks and several hours of time. This method is cheap, probably quite solid, but lacks the glaring defect: it requires WORK! Seriously, especially the punching the holes in the leather and the stitching are tedious work.

Now, on to the Stax. Why not use adhesive to join the pieces instead of stitching? I have prior experience with gluing stuff. If you've ever owned Magnepan speakers you may have needed to do some repairs such as:

http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=mug&n=80705&highlight=rattle&r=&session=

It is from here that I learned about DAP Weldwood contact cement. There are many adhesives available, of course, but this is the one I used. It was already on hand you see, and I'm frugal...

My procedure is very similar to DefectiveAudioComponent's Toshiba ear pads construction, except I did no sewing. Also, I am too lazy to find other filler, so why not use the original (vinyl) ear pad itself? I am basically just covering everything in leather. If you were doing everything custom, you probably would need to spend more time investigating how to put the batting in, and how to shape the leather pieces.

Description of the process with some photos:

Peel off one of the original ear pads for use as a template. I made a drawing ("Life size") of what I was trying to do, and measured against the old pad. The Stax is wedge shaped and I allowed for this in the shorter (2 cm) edge in the "front" and 3 cm. tab on the "rear." Note that top and bottom taper from 2 cm to 3 cm (I botched this part of the drawing.)

post-3170-0-86800700-1308975782_thumb.gi

Each new pad will require two pieces. You can use the old pad as the template. I drew on the leather with a regular pencil. The small or bottom piece is very easy: Trace the rectangular outside and the oval center. You will cut out the rectangle but for the center, you want to section it as though you were cutting a pie. Cut from the center (more or less) to the edge you drew. These will be glued to the other piece.

The second piece is a little trickier. I again drew the same outline, but I need to add extra on the outside. The ear pad is wedge shaped. For the "rear" long side I made a 3 cm border. For the front long side, 2 cm. For top & bottom (narrow) sides, I started at 3 cm at rear and 2 cm at front, so that line is slanted.

The two trimmed pieces look like:

post-3170-0-28756200-1308975798_thumb.jp

Note the big piece's center is cut in a sort of pizza cutter fashion. This is important: each of these little wedges will be glued to the bottom piece in the next step.

This is applied the cement and just before joining the pizza slice cuts to the top piece:

post-3170-0-88326000-1308975811_thumb.jp

This is after making the first bond and right after turning it inside out:

The old pad is ready to be wrapped:

post-3170-0-65198800-1308975824_thumb.jp

(Not shown) You make sure that the joins are as smooth as possible, especially the oval center. Then bond the straight edges: I did long-long, short-short, as this seemed to keep things reasonably tight.

This is the finished product (top, bottom views):

post-3170-0-17230700-1308975836_thumb.jp

All that remains is to glue these onto the baffles. I don't have a photo of the end product, but it looks good to me is comfortable, and I've beat the system! Durability: only time will tell. Probably stitching would have longer service life, but I am a contact cement man now.

Upholster Your Stax 06-25.htm

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The leather bug bit again and I did[dled] the headband. My DIY is updated, now up to 30 Meg I think. I now have a Lambda Pro that is poorly covered in fine leather :) It's like a leather sofa in a house full of cats ... smells good, comfortable, just full of scratches and odd missing pieces. :P I found some other DIY'ers who did wonders using leather and contact cement. I am just not one of them (yet). Oh well, it's a ... prototype, yeah, that's it!

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