When I was in college, I had an enormous pair of stereo speakers housed in wood cabinets. Back then, most speaker makers favored wood because it radiated a rich, warm sound.
Now a handful of companies offer wooden earbud headphones, suggesting that they recreate that natural resonance for iPods and other portable audio devices. Can it possibly work?
I tried a pair of Rain headphones from Thinksound ($100 list but you can get them for $59.12 at Amazon) and found that the wood earbuds do deliver a balanced, natural resonance that is lacking in many headphones for portable audio players. They may not have the same bass boost as that of the Beats by Dr. Dre Tour, but I really like the realistic and balanced sound.
The Rain earbuds employ a 9-millimeter driver and fit snugly in your ear to create passive noise reduction that filters out ambient noise. (Thinksound provides four sets of silicone ear inserts to ensure a good fit for a range of ear sizes.)
The in-ear headphones are quite compact and have a simple, elegant design aesthetic. One of the company’s founders, Aaron Fournier, was previously a lead audio engineer for Tivoli Audio, and the headphones look like portable cousins of the company’s hardwood table radios. Thinksound gives you a choice of two finishes: black chocolate and silver cherry.
Thinksound says the Rain headphones have “the smallest eco-footprint possible.” The packaging is crafted from recycled materials and uses minimal plastic components and PVC-free cables.
For smartphone users, Thinksound says it will sell in early September a new headphone with an integrated microphone. The new model will use a slightly smaller 8-millimeter driver and will be priced at $100. If you’re looking to upgrade the audio on your iPhone 4, they’re a good bet.