Pros - Very light-weight, low clamp, very comfortable. Good isolation. Perceived soundstage is wide.
Cons - Amping requierments surprisingly high. Bass quality leaves some to be desired.
Introduction and Design
I picked up the Woodphones 10 months ago, so I've had quite a bit of experience with them in my collection. Despite me having sold off most of my closed headphone collection, the Woodphones will remain in my collection forever as a beautiful closed headphone with some solid positive sound qualities.
What really drew me to these headphones was the design and the customization options. FreqWood (then Architectural Woodphones) tried very hard to really put the experience with these headphones amazing. They came with a little plaque with my name on it as well as my name being burned on the inside of the headphones.
The woodwork looks great, the colors work well, and the pieces all fit well together. The leather headband is designed after the auto-sizing headbands and fits my head nicely (despite me having a small head). The Beyerdynamic pads are soft and comfortable.
It is worth noting that Blake has made improvements and is working on Fostex-based designs on his Woodphones now and that my review is on the older models.
This photo came off of the Facebook page for the Woodphones -- it was far nicer than any of the pictures I was able to take and illustrate the beauty of the headphones far better than my amateur images.
I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable these headphones were -- they are all-day headphones. They are the lightest headphones in my collection and use what appears to be Beyerdynamic velour pads. The pads are soft, the clamp is low, and they're light. The only issues I've noticed with regards to comfort are that my ears do warm up a bit quicker than expected in the velour pads and that occasionally my ears touch the inside wall of the headphones. Besides those minor issues, though, these are some of the most comfortable closed headphones I've used.
Sound Quality Bass:
The bass is emphasized on these headphones, helping to create the v-tilted sound signature. Unfortunately, the bass is probably the weakest part of these headphones -- it is emphasized but the quality of the bass is rather low. It sounds very "one-note" and thumpy, relative to headphones with more articulate bass.
When I equalized the bass down a bit, it reduced how noticeable the thumpy effect was, but did not remove it completely.
The sound signature underemphasizes the mids, giving way to the emphasized base and highly tuned treble. With regards to clarity, the mids do come out cleaner than most of the "budget-fi" headphones, but they don't quite reach the level of clarity seen in the higher end headphones.
The highs are very emphasized on this headphone, particularly in the 6khz range. When listening to music, expect to hear the cymbals really shimmer out. It gives a bit of a faux-detail effect as seen with the KSC75, giving a sharp edge on most songs. In terms of treble-heavy headphones, the tuning was nicer to my ears because they avoided sibilance, despite the treble emphasis. I did not find the headphones particularly fatiguing, but I could definitely see treble-sensitive listeners having an issue with the sound signature. Overall, these are one of the brightest headphones in my collection.
Other Sound Thoughts:
I'm not sure if it is a result from the sound signature or the design that causes the sound stage to sound wide on the Woodphones, but they sound more akin to a semi-open headphone in terms of soundstage -- although the bass issues muddle the overall imaging of the headphones.
To be brutally honest, at their original $200 price point, the original Woodphones were overmatched in terms of the acoustics. That said, the experience of ordering them, getting everything customized with a customized design, and their light-weight comfort makes them overall a winner and a very unique headphone. Although I would advise against purchasing one as a primary high-end closed headphone, I would heavily suggest them to anyone looking for something different and comfortable.
I've taken a huge liking to headphones – recently, it's been full-size headphones. I like the idea of having my own personal PA system that I can tweak and tune. With Rockbox being in such advanced stages, and great software applications around, you can really seem to get any sound signature you wish out of a rig.
***THIS IS AN ENTIRELY SUBJECTIVE REVIEW, YOUR OPINIONS MAY VARY***
Enter, the Woodphones.
A hand-crafted, highly customizable pair of headphones, complete with tunable pass-port. To get a brief idea of how deep the customization is, here are the choices I had to choose from:
Tunable bass port (various filters included) - I believe mine is the only model (so far) to have this feature. Type of wood - (African paduk, babinga, purple heart wood, mahogany, and I assume others) - My choice was hard maple. Colour of pads - (they appear to be Beyer Dynamic pads) - I chose grey. Design of inside of the cup - I let him use his own designs. Words to be engraved on the inside - I chose my own nickname. Colour and material of headband - my choice was a light tan/brown leather. Driver type - Mine are dynamic, but Blake hinted at an upcoming Planar magnetic model.
Packaging and accessories:
As this was a demo model, I'll let this slide – but I'll get the nasty stuff out of the way first. BG, if you're reading this, please don't package headphones like this in future:
It gave me a heart attack opening the box. Luckily the name-plate was the only thing that sustained damage.
Speaking of name-plate, this was a delightful touch:
The nameplate material varies, depending on which type of wood you chose your headphones to be made from.
BG and I discussed where to store the filters, and he had the idea of storing them in the rear of the name-plate.
Well, I guess this is one of the main reason you are reading this – there is no denying that the design is certainly striking. I've shown them around, posted them to a few different website, and this pair has had a very mixed, albeit mostly positive reaction about the aesthetics.
They feel solid, well-built, and sturdy. I've had them for a few weeks now, and they haven't come apart at all.
The inscriptions are pretty amazing:
And BG is more than happy to work with whatever design principle you might be interested in.
I'm (by no means) a professional when it comes to wood. I have stained furniture before, and have a a few pairs of wooden headphones. It's worth noting that Uncle_Erik had this to say on these headphones (click to expand):
Harsh words, and although Erik was argued with at the time, it is worth considering that BG is not a master woodworker, he is a college student. I'm also a big fan of Uncle_Erik, and his opinions.
Quick foreword about sound/fit/comfort:
It may be easier for the readers of this review, if I compare these cans to well-known headphones, in hopes that you can read into my subjective remarks, and hopefully try to be able to make up your own conclusion. I will be comparing the Woodphones to the DT770, and the HD600 - they are popular choices.
I'm well aware that they are all very different headphones, in varying price brackets, but I'm also well aware that they are very widely purchased, and a lot of people can relate to them. I feel that it's the easiest way to relate my experiences with the Woodphones to you guys.
Worth noting: to change the bass filters, the pads must first be removed.
Despite them being solid wood, they are slightly lighter than the DT770 and HD600:
The Woodphones do not have a clicking adjustable headband – it is a self adjusting/stretching type (similar to the Fischer FA-011) but more comfortable. The leather helps here. I personally prefer a headband that I can adjust freely when I'm not wearing them, but that's just my personal choice. Even for my large head, the headphones can stretch over my ears with relative ease.
Speaking of my ears, they ever-so-lightly touch the inside of the cup. Not usually a big deal if there is a layer of material over the cup, but in this case, there isn't. Woodphones offered me a smaller volume enclosure, apparently it tightens up the sound a little – but at this stage, I wouldn't want any more pressure on my ears.
The clamping force is lighter than on the DT770, and it shares the same pads. It feels quite similar, when in an upright and regular listening position.
The DT770 isolates better, due to the seal being tighter. I would probably put this down to clamping force.
In short, if I were asked if these were a comfortable pair of cans, I would reply “for the most part, yes. I have far more uncomfortable pairs.”
But who cares about the headphones if they don't compare sonically, right?
Compared to DT770:
Light, low-impact. It varies a with the bass-ports, but even with the very “open” bass filters, it's not gut-punching like the DT770.
Compared to HD600:
The woodphones are a little lean compared. Deep kicks on the HD600 have a little more sustain to them.
Compared to DT770:
Same story applies here. The DT770 has the sub and mid-bass thump that really help it out with electronic music, and the Woodphones feel a little recessed compared.
Compared to HD600:
A little similar in this regard. The sub-bass feels very similar in terms of impact and texture.
Compared to DT770:
The DT770 definitely takes a back seat, and is more recessed here. The texture of the Woodphones is brought forward, and you almost forget that it's a closed can. The DT770 feels a little veiled and “bassy” when compared.
Compared to HD600:
At similar volumes, the HD600 has a much wider sound-stage (yes, it is an open can). The HD600 feels a bit more textured and detailed in the mids. They are definitely not a “night and day” difference in the mids, however. Other than sound-stage, the mids are quite similar.
Compared to DT770:
Again, the DT770 feels a little recessed by comparison. The Woodphones are almost bordering on “sibilant” compared, but not quite. The detail retrieval feels more accurate on the Woodphones, albeit a little bit more fatiguing over time.
Compared to the HD600:
Not quite as smooth as the HD600, but definitely is peaking interest. I daresay there is a little more detail on the Woodphones here. The mid/highs have a definite emphasis, over the more “neutral” and “natural” sounding HD600.
Overall subjective opinion of sound:
A great companion for classical, acoustic recordings. I wish I had my Grados here to compare them to, I have a feeling they would be quite similar. I'll update with a comparison when I get my hands on them again (could be a little while).
Whilst not being a “heavy hitter” in the sub-bass department, I feel that they shouldn't be used for electronic or bass-heavy music. Fans of a vocal, detailed, acoustic experience: these might be worth looking into.
Combined with the fit and comfort, it's an enjoyable experience, that some may find fatiguing after long listening sessions.
A subjectively great looking can, with a ton of customization options. An emphasis on upper mid/highs, with high detail, that some may find fatiguing after a while.
A big thank-you to Blake Graham for the review pair. He's only a college student - hope all goes well for you, mate.
Keep us in the loop about updates you make to the product!
Discussion thread is here: