If you've heard the acoustic difference high-quality tonewood makes in the overall richness of sound when used in the construction of headphones, you've probably looked into Woodees or Thinksound, two earphone manufacturers offering a line of in-ears utilizing tonewood driver housings. Both have received positive reviews in the audio world, so we decided to put them up against each other in a Headphone Sessions shootout.The models covered; from Thinksound the ts01 ($49.99), Rain ($64.99), ts02 ($79.99) and MS01 ($119.99); from Woodees the iESW101B Classic ($39.99), iESW201B Sport ($39.99), iESW101V Vintage ($54.99) and iESW100L 24K Blues ($59.99). It seems each manufacturer hit the nail on the head with their cheapest offering and with their second to most expensive option. The others missed the nail completely, instead contacting the thumbnail of the hand (i.e. “ear”) holding the nail with painful force. There was audio blood everywhere and at least one person nearly fainted! [caption id="attachment_2459" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Woodees 201B Sport"][/caption]
The most painful throbbing was caused by the Woodees 201B Sport. We really found nothing positive to say about this earphone. The ear-clips are finicky, the angled stem makes it nearly impossible to get a good fit and the sound, oh good grief, the sound. Through the 201B Sport, music sounds like AM talk radio via a two-way speaker with only the horn functioning. They completely lack bass and mid-range plus the highs are bright and shrill. The really confusing part is that for the same price from the same manufacturer, you can get the great-sounding and much more upstanding Woodees 101B Classic model.[caption id="attachment_2460" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Woodees iESW101B Classic"][/caption]
Delivering great bass response (although slightly boomy at times), smooth mids and fairly detailed, yet slightly unnaturally recessed highs, the Woodees 101B Classic is something of a steal at $40 bucks. The fit is a little bulky—as with all Woodees models—but a comfortable fit should be ultimately achievable for most and the isolation factor is enough for a noisy commute or walking behind the lawn mower. The Classic cable feels cheap and can be tangle-prone, but with a little care it's manageable and seems to hold up to normal wear and tear.[caption id="attachment_2461" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Thinksound ts01"][/caption]
Moving up in price we get to the Thinksound ts01. The ts01 is a recommended performer at the $50 price point with smaller earpiece size dimensions equaling better fit characteristics than the girthy Woodees. It's a relatively bass-centric headphone with slightly scooped mids and well-detailed highs that can be leading with some recordings. But all in all, the musical presentation is balanced and the ts01 remains a great value, especially when compared to the more expensive Thinksound Rain model that has a bloated bass, sibilant highs and recessed mid-ranges; the Rain is an example of more money not always equaling better sound.[caption id="attachment_2462" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Woodees iESW101V Vintage"][/caption]
Another example of excellent value is the Woodees Vintage. When we're talking a difference of five or ten dollars, unless you're in the habit of buying your headphones at the Dollar Store, most of us wouldn't think twice about spending the extra cash for an audibly better balanced presentation with a more natural tone, a deep but controlled bass response plus a sweet Les Paul sunburst finish complete with guitar-like fabric-sheathed cable. The flashy Vintage blows away everything in its price range, with the exception of the Ultimate Ears UE350 which we still consider to be the best $50 earphone available, or at least intermittently available since we've found it difficult obtaining a constant supply from UE. The Woodees Vintage stands hard at second in line, outperforming even the second-to-top ts02 and the flagship MS01 model from Thinksound.[caption id="attachment_2463" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Thinksound ts02"][/caption]
The Thinksound ts02 is indeed a very solid performer for its price. Although we also found it bass heavy, it has sweet mids and smooth, slightly recessed highs that are nicely forgiving with low quality mp3's. It looks good and is relatively easy to get a good fit and seal within the ear and the ts02 feels much more comfortable than many other earphones at this price. Overall, we found the ts02 to be a smooth, warm and engaging earphone, but when you compare it to the Woodees Vintage, the Vintage sounds better balanced and more controlled while maintaining a deep tonal richness. The ts02 may perhaps be a great in-ear candidate for lows-lovers and bassheads.[caption id="attachment_2464" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Woodees iESW100L 24K Blues"][/caption]
The Woodees 24K Blues are similar to the sound of the Woodees Vintage with a more ramped-up bass response, but not quite to the almost cranium-rattling level of the ThinkSound ts02, and the 24K Blues feature iPod/iPhone controls + mic (which are also available in the Woodees Vintage w/Mic model).[caption id="attachment_2465" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Thinksound ms01"][/caption]
As indicated, we also got a chance to listen to another offering from Thinksound that we don't currently carry at HeadRoom, the ms01. The MS01 is their “Monitor Series” voiced to be more accurate than the lower models. They're definitely more detailed and the bass response is superbly controlled and tighter than any of the other models we heard, but we also heard the overall timbral presentation as unduly bright and thin, making them undesirable to listen to for extended periods, and ultimately winding up only slightly better than the Rain in our HeadRoom reviewer evaluations.
At the end of the day, when it comes down to purely ‘sound quality value per dollar’, we think the Woodees line slightly outperforms Thinksound. However, when you consider the ergonomics and fit into the value rating, Thinksound does have one up on the bulkiness of the Woodees earpieces. Finally, being as we’re Montana nature lovers taking into consideration the environmentally friendly efforts made by Thinksound developing headphone recycling and ‘green’ manufacturing techniques, the playing field between the two brands comes closer to level in our estimation. In essence, both manufacturers have managed to produce a couple of great sounding, great looking earphones at reasonable prices.
For more information on these real wood earphones or any other headphone, call us at 1-800-828-8184. HeadRoom headphone experts with Woodees are standing by!