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Saturday, August 1, 2009

[REVIEW] Woodees IESW100B

First, want to thank Jon @ Woodees for offering me the chance to review the Woodees.

There are two version, one with mic + remote (for US$70) and one with just the IEM ($10 cheaper with gold color and metal plug). As far as I can tell the two versions should sound the same. The mic + remote version is for the iPod / iPhone users, and it is the version I will be reviewing here.

Driver: 10mm Dynamic
Impedance: 16ohm
Sensitivity: 105dB @ 1kHz with 1mW
Freq. Response: 20Hz ~ 20kHz
Mic sensitivity: -58dB
Plug: 3.5mm 4-terminals mini jack compatible with all DAP, Mic + remote is iPhone 2G / 3G and latest iPod compatible.
Cable Length: 120cm

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality
The packaging itself isn't something astonishing, but it is pretty to look at. It presents the wooden earpieces at its strength. Anyone who even read about a wooden headphone will be attracted by the look alone. Accessories, though adequate, are not a strong point (then again, I have yet to review any iPod-user-targeted IEM that does come with a satisfying set of accessories). In the box, you will find the IEM itself, four pair of single flange silicone eartips (XS, S, M, L), a shirt clip, and a soft pouch. The manual, which is nothing more than a small piece of paper, is rolled alongside the soft pouch. The one section in the manual that should have been included is the operation of the mic + remote. Users who are not really tech savvy might not even notice the remote can be used to play/pause/forward songs since the manual mentions nothing about it.

Now we come to the build quality. The earpeice is slightly bigger than what I thought. In fact, it looks bigger on hand than in the box due to the elongated wooden section. The good news is it isn't heavy at all and won't weight the whole thing down. Since this is my third pair of iPod / iPhone-targeted IEM (the other two being NE-7M and ADDIEM), I thought it would be interesting to have a side-by-side pictorial comparison.

Form the top: ADDIEM, Woodees, NE-7M. Note: Except NE-7M which has the mic + remote on the left side, the other mic + remote is on the right side of the cable (leading down from the earpiece).

Both NE-7M and Woodees' remote can be used for play/pause music by one click (or receive phone call the same way). With double click, you can fast forward your music. ADDIEM's remote has the extra feature of adjusting volume, which actually is very handy. Between the three, NE-7m probably has the best build quality and Woodees has the worst - not that it will fall apart kind-of-worst, just that there are two shortcoming. First, the cable seems a little flimsy and more easily tangle in comparison. Second, the glued-on metal mesh on the nozzle is smaller than it should be. I don't mind glued-on mesh (they are actually quite common), but the mesh in Woodees is just not big enough to cover the whole nozzle diameter. These are all minor issues, and I think the metal mesh diameter problem can be easily corrected

Sound Quality
Unlike the CrossRoads Woody 1 and Woody 2 which have very lush, speaker like presentation that make me fall in love in first audition, my initial impression with the Woodees isn't as impressed as I thought it would be, as the whole presentation is more grainy than I like. So I decide to put it through a 100hrs burn-in session before any further audition. The end result is an smoother, lusher sound - not to the level of Woody 1 / 2 but definitely more enjoyable than before. Unfortunately what the burn-in didn't remove is the slight harshness around the 5kHz region as I would have prefer a mellower sound signature from a pair of wooden headphone. That little harshness by far is probably the biggest weakness I hear in Woodees' sound. In one way it does add a little more detail to the vocal; On the other hand the sibilant becomes more obvious in brighter music. If we are only talking the overall sound quality alone, I think I still prefer Woodees a tiny bit better than than NE-7M and ADDIEM as it is neither too analytical as the ADDIEM nor is it too warm as the NE-7M. I guess the added bit of lushness win me over - but the gap is not big enough to declare Woodees a clear winner. So this is another case of YMMV.

CrossRoads Woody and Woodees

The overall sound signature is on the warm side, slightly lush on the bass and mid region but still quantitatively balanced. Treble is above average but the slight harshness on 5kHz region can be a bit problematic on bright music. Soundstage is about average.

If we are talking just about woody IEM here, I still find my Woody 2 to be supreme - but it is probably not the best choice for iPhone or iPod user that demand a mic or people who are not really sure about the sound of "wood's lushness" - that is where Woodees fits in. It is neither too lush nor a totally useless gimmick. What you get is a good sounding IEM with a slight touch of wood. In fact, if you can EQ down the 5kHz region by 3~5dB, it would go well with pretty much any kind of music.

You can read the sum-up here.

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Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

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