Current testing methodology is v1.2
January 23, 2018
6.77 x 4.65 x 1.02 in
My long-term review of the AKG K371-BT has taken me down trails I didn’t think I’d travel again. Earpads, in my opinion, aren’t the kind of thing you should drop lots of money on.
But my issues with their stock earpads were noticeable enough that I just had to look into this further. The Brainwavz Cooling Gel Earpads I reviewed last time didn’t quite meet my needs, so the only solution I saw was to dive deeper.
And so here I am, having spent nearly half of the K371’s MSRP all on earpad upgrades, in the hopes that I could find a definitive fix. The YAXI stPad2 is the next one in my sights and is up for review today.
One of the best upgrade earpads made even better.
The YAXI stPad 2 is the new iteration of the popular stPad. It’s redesigned for better comfort, but the sound changes may not resonate with everyone.
- Outer material: Pleather (with Alcantara on the inner ring)
- Inner material: Memory foam
- Earpad Size (L/W/D): 100mm x 75mm x 22mm (flares out to 82mm width)
- Inner Hole Size: 58mm x 40mm (flares out to 70mm x 60mm)
What’s in the Box?
- YAXI stPad 2
Stuff I like
- Flared design improves fit for big ears
- Improved soundstage size
- Firm but comfortable foam
- Novel two-material inner ring design
Stuff I like less
- Brighter sound can turn away some
- Pad shape takes some getting used to
- Doesn’t isolate as well as stock
Comparable products to consider
Made specifically for the AKG K371, Dekoni’s Choice Suede is closer to the stock sound while boosting comfort—for a pretty significant price.
YAXI is a Japanese manufacturer of aftermarket headphone earpads.
In contrast to the Brainwavz approach of making “universal” earpads, YAXI makes their designs specifically for certain pairs of headphones, with any compatibility with other headphones being a convenient coincidence.
As an example, the stPad2 in this review is named after the Sony MDR-CD900ST they were designed for.
In addition to the Sony CD900ST we mentioned, YAXI is well-known in the audiophile community for the earpads they make for the Koss PortaPro, Sennheiser HD25, and Grado’s “e” and “i” series.
Released in 2018, the YAXI stPad2 is a major overhaul of the original design, adding a laundry list of new features meant to give a broader sound to a broader range of headphones.
DISCLAIMER: This review of the Small Oval Gaming Earpads was done using an AKG K371-BT, a headphone that Yaxi doesn’t list as officially compatible with the stPad2, but fits well enough anyway.
Despite having a similar name, the YAXI stPad2 actually shares very little with its predecessor in terms of how they’re designed.
At most, the only things that the YAXI stPad2 carries over from the first model are the 100mm x 75mm fit made for the Sony CD900ST and the option of buying an “LR” version with one side colored blue and the other colored red for a cute visual effect.
Outside of that, just about every aspect of the first stPad’s design was reworked for this second iteration. There’s quite a lot to unpack here, so let’s get to that now.
The first thing I noticed about them was their flared shape.
Unlike most earpads that have a vertical depth that extends in a straight direction, the stPad2’s walls flare outward to create more space for the ears on the inside.
Their 75mm width at the base flares out to be about 82mm wide at the top, which makes it easier for them to go around the ears.
The inner walls of the stPad2 angle outward in a similar way, but an important detail here is that the panels are split into two. One panel is made of the standard pleather, but the other is made of Alcantara, a fabric with a soft, suede-like feel.
These material choices were supposedly made to affect the sound, which we’ll look into in more detail later.
Sizing and Fit
For now, though, let’s talk about their fit.
If it wasn’t already obvious from my detailed description earlier, the YAXI stPad2 is a lot roomier than the stock earpads of the AKG K371.
Those with larger ears will appreciate the extra space. I can only imagine just how much of a difference this would make for the CD900ST and its infamously shallow pads.
There was a lot less fuss getting the earpads into the tiny groove of my AKG K371s, taking the expected seconds rather than minutes as it was with the Brainwavz Gaming Earpads I reviewed last time.
The earpads sit a bit loosely on the headphones compared to the stock. It’s not bad enough to change the seal of the headphones, but there’s just enough slack for the earpads to be flipped around without coming off of the headphones.
As we’ll explore later, though, this might turn out to be a good thing.
Comfort is a tricky aspect to review. From head size to head shape, there are so many factors that vary from person to person that it’s hard to say if any pair of earpads is a direct upgrade over another.
This is very much the case with the YAXI stPad2. Some users may like the change while others won’t. At the end of the day, it’s easier to just call it a sidegrade.
Even to me, it’s a bit of a toss-up between which of the two is more comfortable overall. The stock experience feels pretty plush, with the very pliable pads pressing and sinking into my head.
With the stPad2 there’s less material actually making contact with my head, which makes them feel a bit lighter to me. The firmer foam also makes them seem like the pads are pushing away from the head — not necessarily better, but a different feel nonetheless.
While I found the K371’s stock pads to be a bit lackluster in terms of isolation, I’ve found that the YAXI stPad2 is worse still in this regard.
Now to be fair, the difference isn’t that big but higher frequencies from outside noise do come through a bit more noticeably.
My guess is that this is caused by the firmness of the stPad2’s foam, which kind of makes it resist forming a full seal around the head.
In contrast, the K371’s pads use very squishy foam which lets it conform to the contours of the head better; but the cell produces a very tight pressure that can actually push back against the drivers (if it isn’t already obvious, this will damage the drivers and is not something you want to have).
At the end of the day the difference isn’t big enough to really sell me on one over the other — what ended up really mattering was how the ear pads sounded.
As someone who has more or less become hooked on the K371’s very well-balanced sound, it was especially important for me that any upgrade earpads I’d buy left the sound untouched while fixing the stock pads’ squishiness.
And while the YAXI stPad2 does move away from the K371’s stock sound noticeably, the changes might still make them worth the upgrade. Let me explain.
The most obvious change I noticed was the boost in the soundstage. The bigger physical space in the earpads allows the K371 to render a broader virtual space in its sound.
As pretentious as that might sound, the stPad2 really does sound more spacious than the stock. This extra space, I think, seems to be part of the reason for their leaner bass response.
The YAXI stPad2 seems to dampen the bass compared to stock, with the sub-bass rumble being the most noticeable change. The low end is definitely still there, but the bass does feel a bit distant.
This tilt in the sound signature is emphasized even more by the brighter treble retained by the stPad2. And it’s here that the two-panel inner ring design comes into play.
According to YAXI, the angled panel serves as a guide of sorts that reflects more of the treble energy towards the ears. Their smooth, dense pleather is meant to help with this.
The Alcantara panel, meanwhile, is meant to dampen any resonances that hit the back side of the earpad, and YAXI even has instructions saying that this side should be on the back for best results.
Reading that for the first time on the stPad2’s packaging, it didn’t seem like the kind of thing that worked as described. But after flipping the earpads around with the Alcantara in front, I did notice a difference.
There’s a bit less edge in the treble, and the soundstage is also changed in a way that’s hard to describe without coming off like a crazy audiophile that hears things that aren’t there.
But now we arrive at the critical question — are all of these sound tweaks better? If you ask me, the answer is a resounding “yes”.
It didn’t take long for me to appreciate the greater sense of space provided by these closed-back headphones. However, this isn’t the kind of thing that you can definitively say for every user in every use case.
The YAXI stPad2 goes for $42 on Amazon and their official website before shipping and taxes. As far as premium upgrade earpads go, this isn’t too bad of a deal (I’m looking at you, Dekoni).
The stPad2 also has the added benefit of fitting that 100mm x 75mm sweet spot “small” size that’s used by a pretty broad range of headphones from the old workhorse Sony CDR900ST to the budget AKG K371s I reviewed these earpads with, all the way to the ultra-premium (read: overpriced) Ultrasone Signature headphones.
Now from a purely utility standpoint, this isn’t a bad deal. The stPad2 can fit on a lot of headphones and just make them sound better and feel more comfortable with very little fuss.
But you also have to consider that these are a single pair of earpads that you put on a single pair of headphones. And at $42, you really have to consider what headphones you will be using.
Just to put this into perspective, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x, a headphone that fits the stPad2, is $49 on Amazon. Just…let that sink in for a bit before you make your own purchase.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the use case. And in my use case with an AKG K371-BT, the YAXI stPad2 is an excellent pair of earpads.
They may not blow the stock experience completely out of the water, but all of the little details that went into their design make the stPad2 an upgrade in most respects.
As much of a must-buy, as these are among earpad upgrades, you’re still spending $42 for earpads. It’s a purchase that you will definitely need to put some thought into if you don’t already have the money and need for it.
This post was last updated on 2023-12-03 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.