I’m a big fan of Dekoni ear pads, but I didn’t even know the brand made headphones. So, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Hifiman had teamed up with Dekoni to produce what I’m hoping will be an impressive headphone. What kind of sound signature does the Cobalt present, and how does it perform?
In the Box
- Dekoni X HiFiMAN Cobalt Headphones
- Dekoni Elite Fenestrated Sheepskin Earpads
- Dekoni Elite Velour Earpads
- Gold Plated 3.5mm Female to 1/4 inch Male Adapter
Look and Feel
The Cobalt uses the familiar design elements that are employed on a number of other Hifiman models, including the headband and yokes. While these cans look somewhat delicate and perhaps less than premium, they’re certainly comfy thanks to the generous dark blue ear cups. In addition, the clamping force is snug yet not too firm. You’ll also get the option of two Dekoni ear pad materials: velour and sheepskin. Since I enjoy the extra bass and warmth that comes with the Dekoni Elite sheepskin pads, I used those for my review.
Nestled within the Cobalt rests a 45mm dynamic driver featuring carbon-coated diaphragms. These cans aren’t too hard to drive, but you’ll get much more out of them if you use an external portable or desktop DAC/Amp. Fittingly, for this review, I paired the Cobalt with the Dragonfly Cobalt DAC/Amp dongle.
Perhaps the first element that stands out is the impressive height of the stage. Gradations in depth are also amply apparent, even if instruments from behind can sometimes fall into the stereo field. While the overall scale of the soundstage may not feel massive, there is generous distancing between instruments coming at definitive angles, which makes for a thoroughly colorful and multidimensional listening experience. And because the separation is so tidy on the Cobalt, the layering feels clean and comprehensive as well.
The bass is reserved, revealing a detailed, yet less than impactful sound in the low-end. The sub-bass frequencies lack much extension, and certainly, this is not a profile suitable for bass-enthusiasts. But for those who enjoy a lighter feel or those who listen to a lot of acoustic music, the Cobalt keeps it suitably clean and natural in this range.
The Cobalt presents a very precise and delicate profile in the mids. Clean, light and natural is what characterizes this sound signature. And it’s a pleasure to listen to something so tight and immaculate. Vocals in the mids, especially male vocals, sit a little forward on most tracks, creating a sense of intimacy, while revealing subtleties in breath and modulation. And snares really hit with a snap, helping to drive the momentum of the song. That being said, there’s a little dip here, especially in the low mids which takes away some body from the mix. So, this is not a lush and meaty sound. Rather, the Cobalt is leaner and more dynamic.
Tons of sparkle in the highs. And the buoyancy of the sound signature becomes most apparent in this range, delivering a weightless and bright presentation of vocals, pianos and string instruments. The Cobalt also does a fantastic job of revealing all the subtleties in percussion in this range, offering a level of articulation that a thicker or darker sounding headphone probably wouldn’t deliver. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that this range was still easy on the ears; although the highs feel nicely extended, there’s no piercing at the highest treble peaks. And overall, the highs seem to best reveal the talent and overall potential of this headphone.
These skilled cans remind me of a slightly more expressive Beyerdynamic model, such as the DT 1770. With a colorful soundstage, super clean and dynamic mids, and weightless and revealing highs, the Cobalt presents a delightfully delicate and precise sound. Those who mainly listen to modern genres may want to look for a heavier, richer sound signature with a bigger low-end. But for listeners of acoustic genres, like classical and folk, the Cobalt is a pleasure to experience.
You can buy the Dekoni Audio X HiFiMAN Cobalt at Audio 46.