It is not surprising that the world of gaming headphones has worked towards an improvement of the materials. People play more and more time and demand more from these peripherals, where performance, sound quality and positioning are not only sought, but their ergonomics and technology are closely linked to final sales. This is why the type to use has become so important, what type of pad materials are there today?
Before entering fully into this currently fashionable topic and where it is being worked in depth by the manufacturers, we must specify that on many occasions the pads are composed of several materials, so the fact that one material is predominant does not It means that it is the only one that the pads are made of and, in fact, it is the most common because they have an outer cover and also a padding, always made of different materials. Let’s see it.
Materials for gaming headphone cushions: everything you need to know
This is important because in this article we are going to deal with all the materials used today, which at the same time do not have to be what come into contact with our skin.
That is to say, a pad is made up of several layers and several materials, so we should not fall into the mistake of thinking that they are currently manufactured in the fabric that contacts us.
Fabric pads (velvet or microfiber)
Although we are aware of the number of fabrics that currently exist for the pads, within the so-called «fabric» there is one that stands out above the rest: the velvet. This fabric is a cotton-based fabric that imitates velvet and whose qualities are soft to the touch, good appearance and long durability.
Most headphones that use fabric are based on this compound, where they sometimes lead to a new aspect that also includes microfiber. In these cases and due to the complexity of the fabric of both fabrics, a layer of microfiber is usually used as an outer mesh and a layer just below the velvet so that it looks like a single one and adds a more premium appearance to the pad.
Its main advantages are greater breathability, which means a lower temperature in our ears and this is directly related to the durability of the pads.
On the contrary, less soundproofing from the outside and a much more complicated cleaning since the main material for adjusting them is the one that will end up absorbing both heat and sweat or water vapor.
Leatherette ear pads (PU leather)
These types of pads are characterized by a much more premium feel than fabric ones, without the costs of real leather. They are made of what is known as PU or Polyurethane leather, which is a substance based on a polymer that gives the impression of being leather when it is actually a type of plastic.
When trying to copy the original texture of the leather, other properties of the original fabric are lost, so it is necessary to choose to include other materials to achieve a very similar look and feel. For this, materials such as polyester are used, which when applied in a fiber base avoids to a greater extent the cracks that occur in this type of PU leather.
This gives it a characteristic that the original leather of an animal does not have: it can be exposed to sunlight without deteriorating, making it more durable without the defects of the original material. In contrast, PU leather is very poorly breathable and only the highest quality pads will offer a minimum of heat transfer when mixed with other somewhat more porous materials.
In the mid-range these materials are not usually used and they directly opt for dry PU leather.
Original leather ear pads
They are undoubtedly the most expensive to manufacture and only occur in professional headphones. So far, very few gaming headphones have brought this material in history, mainly due to the cost it entails for the manufacturer and, on the other hand, the end user is either an expert or may not notice any difference with PU leather, a lot cheaper and easier to manufacture than the original.
The original leather is usually made from cowhide and has to be tanned to prevent decomposition. There are several types of tanning, which also influence the type of leather and the final cost of the product.
The advantage over PU leather is that it is much more durable and with the passage of time and friction it does not wear out as such, but acquires a more pleasant touch. In addition, it is much more breathable than PU leather because animal skin has pores and these are preserved in tanning, offering the best of both worlds.
On the contrary, it is a material that must be treated and cared for, which increases its durability between 10 and 20 years, remaining as the first day in such a case. In addition, sweat can leave a mark if the corresponding care and cleaning measures are not taken, where in this case we will need a special cleaner for this case.
Memory foam pads
Although on the one hand it is a material more than used today, on the other it has been totally repudiated by the industry. This is curious, since currently we do not find memory foam pads as the only material for this component, but manufacturers use it as a base to later implement some of the materials explained above.
They are also known as foam or foam, since they are composed of polyethylene or polyurethane with a gas that is injected under pressure. This process together with a series of materials that can be included such as gel layers, make them very versatile and that they regain their shape at the end of the gaming session.
Most manufacturers opt for polyurethane, as it is soft and soft, flexible and impact protective and always recovers its shape. As if that were not enough, it is a material that reacts to temperature, since the lower the temperature the compound is harder, but as it gains temperature it becomes softer and more comfortable.
For this reason, it is also known as memory foam, since the material yields when used in the pad and the longer it is more comfortable for us, but once we let it cool it recovers its original shape.