Speakers made for home audio setups are encased in cabinets constructed of a variety of materials, but many high-end models stick to solid wood enclosures. The argument is that this particular natural material offers superior acoustics. It makes sense, then, that we'd eventually see a pair of earbuds made of wood. Enter the Woodees Inner Ear Stereo Earphones, a reasonably priced set that offers some of the most natural-sounding bass we've ever heard through headphones.
The Woodees earphones are available in two models: a standard MP3 player version that sells for $59.99 and an iPhone/smartphone set with an inline mic and a price of $69.99. Both options feature fairly long (nearly 1 inch), cylindrical earpieces that are ensconced mainly in wood, though the speaker end is actually constructed of metal. Descending from each earbud is a relatively thin, black Y cable that meets 14 inches down to form one thicker cable. (A slider here helps prevent tangles when the earphones are not in use.) The cord continues for an additional 30 inches before terminating in a straight plug. The connector of the iPhone model features three titanium bands and is nickel-plated, whereas that of the other version is gold-plated with two gold bands.
The Woodees' arrow-straight earpieces aren't the most ergonomic we've seen, meaning some users will certainly have fit issues. For our part, however, we were able to achieve a surprisingly secure fit with one of the four pairs of silicone eartips that are included in the package. You also get a soft velour pouch for storing and transporting the earphones.
One thing can be said for certain of the Woodees earphones and that is that they sound noticeably different from any other earbuds we've tested. First of all, audio comes across as much more open-sounding than what is typical with in-ear 'phones. Also, lows sound exceptionally natural--there's really no other way to put it. Sure, bass is not going to compare with what you experience with actual speakers, but the resonance of the lows coming from the Woodees is comparable to that of wood-encased speakers. That being said, the reverberation inside the housing could give bass a muffled quality in certain cases.
As for general sound quality, we found that some genres tended to shine more than others. Almost unsurprisingly, "older" music--i.e., classic rock, new wave, oldies, jazz--sounds great, with good high-end detail and warm mids. Mellow electronica and downtempo tunes are also well-represented by the Woodees. However, rap and pop have a certain harshness to them and just didn't stack up to the other genres.