WOOD WEEK CONTINUES!!!
Pockets full of the essentials, eyes shaded from the blaring early summer California sunshine, what else do we need? Birds chirping are nice and all, but we need a soundtrack… wooden headphones and speakers!
Who needs a big useless “b” on the side of their plastic wrapped head? Aren’t you tired of marketing getting the best of you? The product I’ll feature today start with a great musical foundation and lovingly wrap their advanced tech in natures finest finish. If you insist on the Dr.’s special headphones, I can do anything to improve that sound, but at least we can help you improve on the look. Younger design seems to have decided that obnoxious and neon is where the world is headed. I’m here to show you that you can turn heads and get that attention you desire in a subtle and elegant way. Wouldn’t you love to be attracting the right attention from now on?
Click here to see a video slideshow of all the great items you’ll soon be salivating over. If you’d just like to skip to your favorite single piece featured below, the timestamp of when that item is featured is shown next to the corresponding link below.
“Lazerwood for Beats Studio” by Lazerwood $35 0:10min
We might as well do this first. If you’re a regular reader of my little cubbyhole of the internet, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of the majority of Beats Audio products. The overpriced and over-hyped Beats headphones have had a bit of recent success amongst the younger among us. They seem to have a near compulsive need to blow hundreds of dollars on sound they could easily find in comparable $30 headsets. We aren’t here to judge though, we’re here to learn. I understand that a $300 dollar lesson is a hard pill for many to swallow. If you insist on using that pair of beats solo, solo HD, or Studio I can at least help you to improve the way they look. Lazerwood makes wooden skins for an array of products including keyboards, cell phones, and they’ll even entertain custom orders. The Lazerwood mod for the beats product is described by the company as, “like an Eames chair for your head; the doctor wishes he was this classy.” Available in Walnut, Cherry, or Maple finishes, the mod is a series of precisely cut wood veneers with adhesive already applied to the back. The adhesive is not a joke, it works. When you’re stuck, you’re stuck. Take your time and do this the right way and at least the outside of your headphones will look like they’re worth that $300. You can even cover up that “b” if you’d like!
“ZR-LE wooden over-ear headphones” by Zagg Audio $129.99 0:44min
Wooden headphones are an emerging trend. Grab the handmade ZR-LE in bamboo or ebony finishes and set the tone on your block. These cans are actually reasonably priced for what you get in performance and of course style. Nice big comfortable ear cups feel good but don’t clamp quite enough. They can easily shift with too much movement. Passive noise isolation allows you to immerse yourself a little deeper into the music in theory, but again the slight lack of pressure can cause sound to leak in at times. The sound quality is very decent but highs can be a bit muffled and overall the sound is a bit hollow on some songs. If you are used a big emotional response from more complex songs these don’t quite get you there. Again, they are more than enough for most though. The lows are a bit lacking if you want big pounding bass, this is actually the one spot where beats can shine. Mids are clear enough to pick up subtle instrumentation though. The wood accented 3.5mm cable is detachable which might save you a headache during a snag. The headband is wrapped in padded faux leather and the set folds flat easily to store away in small spaces.
“greenBOOM mini wooden speaker” sold by Uncommon Goods $42 1:37min
Made from Zebrawood and bamboo, the mini 2” greenBOOM mini wooden cube speaker is a completely wooden build. As if someone poked holes in a child’s wooden block and played pretend a pretend stereo. One of the cubes points is shaved to let it rest flat with the speaker elevated towards you. It’s extremely elegant but unfortunately the sound doesn’t match the look. Most songs sound like your at the other end of a tin lined hallway. Realize that this is not meant to be premium sound though, it’s more than enough to get you by. It does require a wired connection to function, but it hides away a rechargeable battery for wireless power. A 3.5mm aux to aux cable is included and it charges with an included usb charging cable or an optional DC converter which you can purchase separately. If you have a device sans bluetooth, this is a great natural alternative speaker that’s easy to carry anywhere. Fair warning, these are made in China and some have complained of inconsistent builds. Test this speaker thoroughly when you receive it and if you have any problems reach out to Uncommon Goods directly. They have a very open process and easy to work with customer service staff that quickly addresses any issue.
“Vers 2Q bluetooth sound system & Vers 7E earbuds” by Vers Audio $199.99 & $79.99 respectively 2:16min
Wood aside, the Vers 2Q is one of the most beautiful electronic products that I’ve ever handled, period. The design is so simple and elegant above anything else. Soft rounded corners and clean sharp edges would seem to be in conflict but instead they perfectly compliment one another. The natural walnut, bamboo, or beech wood is only broken up by the silver speaker face and a black surround of concentric foam circles. I agree so strongly with Vers stance on “the world of compact sound systems” that I’d like to quote a full portion of it here for you to read:
“Back before Vers was even an idea, we had came to the realization that the world of compact sound systems had evolved some where along the way into a sea of inexpensive, look-alike plastic, ‘good enough’ sound quality and a lot of waste in the form of inefficient electronics, low cost manufacturing choices and un-recyclable packaging materials. Sound system manufacturers had apparently become complacent, and their products increasingly disposable. We saw this as an opportunity – Vers was born
Since our very first day, we have been committed to 3 simple values: thoughtful design, best-in-class sound quality and a continuous pursuit of environmental sustainability – ‘sound sound’ for short. These values drive everything that we do, from selecting low-power components to little things, like eliminating twist ties. We’re passionate about making a difference where ever possible, large or small.”
The statement continues here (click on the about tab on the bottom of the page) to explore the market and the ideas and processes behind the company. It’s worth the read if you have the time. One of the more unique features of Vers systems is the use of a Class D amplifier. The more common AB amplifier draws power 100% of the time while the more efficient D only draws power when required. This isn’t only good for your battery life, it’s great for the environment. A full charge by USB takes 5 hours and you’ll see 8 hours of continuous use from this powerful little beauty. The standard 30 ft bluetooth range is found but there is also Aux in just in case you can’t take advantage of the bluetooth pairing capabilities. A simple power/link button is pressed to connect and a small “tweet” lets you know a successful connection has happened. It’s rare that a great company can make a great product that is actually beautiful, functional, and always striving to be more sustainable. Feel good when you purchase a product from Vers.
-Also available in Walnut and bamboo, the Vers 7E earbuds pack everything I’ve described above into an even more portable package. An included felt lined metal carrying case is the size of a mint tin and holds the earbuds as well as the interchangeable ear caps. Passive sound isolation effectively blocks out 90% of the noise you don’t want and an in ear design helps the 7E to deliver a significant amount of bass right into your waiting eardrum. Again, ditch the beats. You’ll save money and get so much more for what you do spend. The cord integrates a mic and play/pause control as added benefit. I can comfortably say these earbuds equal the sound of pairs I’ve evaluated that cost upwards of $300. The wooden shells are handmade and the product is PVC free and RohS compliant. As a product reviewer I see amazing products daily, it really takes something great to get my attention. That said, this is the nicest pair of sub one hundred dollar earbuds I’ve ever had the pleasure to sample. They’re like a private concert between your ears.
“Beech Wood Troubadours” by LSTN $150 3:55min
The Troubadours are the real looker of the headphones and earbuds featured here. An adjustable split metal headband and black plastic guitar pick shaped accents really set off the highly polished reclaimed wood. Each uses the same silver metal but the casing can be had in three reclaimed woods: Beech (pictured), a rich cherry, or deep ebony. The headset connects using an included nylon wrapped cable capped with wood enclosures and gold plated plugs for the clearest sound. The plug is slightly angled at the source end and feels extremely secure during use. The ear plugs are plush enough to wear for a full day. It really is a bit like sticking your head in a luxury car. An inline microphone makes these even more functional with iPhone, Android or any other smartphone. The adjustable metal band is very thin but assuredly strong. The split design allows for great air flow to keep you cool. The sound is warm and natural as you’d expect from the wood surrounding the drivers. Punchy lows aren’t abrupt and the mids are so rich that you might want to spread them on toast. LSTN sources their wood from furniture companies that would otherwise discard the scraps of production. The color choices are all music inspired as LSTN explains here in more depth:
“Ebony – This dense, hard wood is prized for making piano keys, clarinets, oboes and even bagpipes. Ebony trees are found in Mozambique and Tanzania. The color of ebony wood ranges from dark brown to jet black.
Cherry – This beautiful wood is usually used in high end furniture and the tops of guitars. Our cherry wood is from Brazil. The color ranges from a deep orange to a dark red.
Beech – Our lightest wood is also used to make drums, smoke fine cheeses and is made into chips to aid in the beer brewing process. Mmm! You can find beech wood mainly in North America. The color does not stray from blonde/light brown.”
Similar to the Panda Sunglasses I featured in a previous wood week article, LSTN uses its profits to help those in need. The company works diligently to help fund hearing restoration throughout the world. They cite their own Giving Back. Amplified program as the true reason the company even came to be. LSTN clearly and proudly states that they are out to change the world and they are on their way. Each and every pair sold helps one of the over 275 million people across the globe who are hearing impaired. They’ve partnered with the Starkey Hearing Foundation to improve their reach. Starkey has helped over 1,000,000 people in the last decade alone. If you’d like to read even more about the company’s real passion, click here. LSTN places their logo on the side of it’s headphones just like the little “b” does. The big difference is that LSTN’s name actually stands for something aside from blind corporate profit. Use your dollars for good my fair readers!
Thank you again to the companies mentioned here for supplying their products for review.
If you haven’t already, click here to see all the products described above in HD!!!
ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!