WoodTones: A new high for $100 luxury headphones?

The Audiophiliac spends some quality time checking out the new Griffin Technology WoodTones, full-size, over-the-ear headphones.

The Griffin WoodTones Griffin

I get to hear a lot of headphones. Don't be jealous, most of them are different shades of awful. Some are so bad I yank them off my head in a few seconds, some are just cheap copies of famous headphones, and some are built like crap. The Griffin Technology WoodTones jumped out from the pack: they're beautiful, they're comfortable, and they sound great.

True to their name they're available in Beech, Sapele, and Walnut. Handling these $99.99 headphones, I found the real wood earcups make for a very different feel than the more typical plastic models that sometimes sell for three times the price.

The one-size-fits-all headband contributes to their remarkably comfortable fit. The WoodTones felt light on my head, and were easy to wear for hours at a time. The earpads' pressure against my ears is low, which is key for long-term comfort, but may not be ideal for folks who like to move around or dance with headphones, as the WoodTones might come off your head.

The WoodTones come with a detachable 3.5mm cable and fold flat for compact travel and storage. There's an inline mic and there are buttons that control audio playback and next/previous track selection. Most full-size headphones have 40mm or smaller drivers, but the WoodTones have 50mm drivers, with impedance rated at 32 ohms.

The WoodTones have surprisingly comfortable earpads. Griffin Technology

I compared the WoodTones with one of my favorite audiophile budget models, the Noontec Zoro headphones. These two sound very different: the Zoros are brighter, more detailed, and clearer, the WoodTones are warmer and richer-sounding. The Zoros reveal a lot about a recording, so if it's overly compressed or processed, as so many MP3s are, you hear how nasty it really is; the WoodTones smooth over the rough edges.

That's not to say I found the WoodTones dull or boring, I really enjoyed them with all music genres, but when I popped on the Zoros I heard more resolution of fine detail. The WoodTones made more bass, but the Zoros had more-detailed bass. The two areas where I thought the WoodTones clobbered the Zoros were comfort and build quality. I didn't have the newer Zoro HD headphones on hand to do a direct comparison, but I doubt it would have changed my opinionof the WoodTones.

As I've said many times before in this blog, most people like bass, the more the better. The WoodTones' ample low end is nicely done, but the $199 Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones significantly firm up the low-end notes and definition, at double the price of the WoodTones.

WoodTones are sold direct from the Griffin Technology Web Site for $99.99.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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