Company: Southern Audio Services
Southern Audio Services/Trends Electronics Woodees
Some people love wood -- so much so, in fact, that they wrap their iPods and iPhones in it, a la Miniot's wooden iPod and iPhone cases, seek speakers with wooden bodies, and yes, even buy wood-accented earphones, such as the Japanese Amadana PE-117. Typically, such things are sold at very high premiums over the raw cost of the materials, but now iPod and iPhone users have an affordable option: Woodees ($60-$70), sold by Southern Audio Services in the United States and Trends Electronics in Canada, having been developed by DMX Audio under the less catchy ES-WI 100B and ES-WI 100BM names.
They’re in-canal earphones with polished wood rear housings, metallic centers, and black silicone rubber tips, plus black plastic cabling. There’s a microphone and single-button remote control on the $70 version; this feature is omitted on the $60 version. Woodees come with a headphone port plug that’s physically compatible with all iPods, with the same symmetrical cable split and length as a pair of Apple iPhone Stereo Headphones.
To answer an obvious question early on, there’s nothing sonically magical about the wood in Woodees: though the vendors pitch these earphones as having certain clean, natural, and rich sound characteristics that are generally attributable to wood, direct testing against earphones made from plastic and metal didn’t show them to be noticeably different. Like the Vers 2X speaker system above, which used wood veneer on an otherwise plastic audio system, the impact of wood here is thus primarily aesthetic. But that’s not to say that the earphones sound bad: to the contrary, they’re actually pretty nice for the price.
Like similarly priced earphones from Klipsch and V-Moda, the Woodees don’t aim for neutrality; rather, they present music with a definite warm skew, augmenting the rich renditions of lows with fine midrange detail and enough treble that high-pitched notes and beats have plenty of impact even against ear-filling low drums and basslines. We’d put these up against Sony’s $50 earphones any day—but for the fact that these are more expensive and arguably a bit more nichey due to their wood bodies, they’re a nice pick.
On the other hand, the microphone’s nothing to write home about. Callers told us that it was somewhat more bass-biased and less clear than the microphone that’s inside the iPhone Stereo Headset, which closely matches the mics inside the iPhone and iPhone 3G. While the difference wasn’t profound, we tend to view Apple’s inexpensive mic as a baseline for performance, and aren’t as excited by headsets that underperform the parts that come in the box. The integrated single-button remote works to control track changing and call functionality on iPhones and the 2008 iPod nano, classic, and touch, but not earlier iPods, and not the 2009 iPod shuffle.
Finally, the earphones are supposed to come with four total sets of silicone eartips in sizes ranging from extra small to large, as well as a carrying case. Our sample arrived missing one silicone eartip, an error that the vendor says was its fault, and not going to be an issue in consumer-bound units. We note it for your reference; you can decide for yourself whether to take the small risk.
Overall, we’d describe the Woodees headset we tested as a nice, affordable option for fans of wood-clad accessories, a fine match for the similarly wood-based cases and speakers we’ve previously reviewed. Though the microphone on the $70 version isn’t stellar, it’s acceptable, and the package is a good enough value for the price to merit our general recommendation.