Before I begin, I’d like to thank the folks at Woodees for sending me samples for review.
Up for review today are two IEMs from Woodees, a company, if you’ll remember, I’ve done a review for in the past. I have here two new IEMs from Woodees that have appeared on the market fairly recently, the Woodees Sport, designed for active users and the Woodees Blues, a higher end IEM that features a three-button remote and microphone designed for iDevices such as the iPhone and iPod Touch. So, do these perform up to par or do they fizzle out? Read on to find out.
Packaging and Accessories
These feature fairly typical packaging with a cardboard box and plastic inserts to hold the IEMs and included accessories. Accessories included with the Sport IEMs are a small drawstring carrying pouch, four different sizes of eartips, a shirt clip and a pair of ear hooks, made from a rigid plastic and designed to hold the IEMs in place during strenuous activity.
These feature packaging and accessories similar to those of the Sport variants, lacking the ear hooks from the Sport model but including a more upscale leather carrying pouch.
Design and Build Quality
I wish I had better things to say about this but…I don’t. Within a matter of days, one of the earbuds developed a short which causes them to cut in and out unless the wire is held a certain way, which is frustrating. I’m not sure what caused this but for a product that is designed for more active users; the build quality is pretty disappointing.
I had better luck with these. These feature a design similar to that of the Woodees IESW101B IEMs I reviewed earlier but feature some improvements here and there in terms of aesthetics that give it that extra flair. The cabling features a nylon covering that doesn’t tangle quite as easily as the rubbery cable on the older Woodees and feels a bit more durable on the whole. The wooden housings are entirely black with metal nozzles that feature tasteful 24k gold accents. Similar accents are visible on the metal y-splitter and 3.5mm straight jack.
Comfort and Isolation
The housings feature angled nozzles which meant they weren’t the easiest to insert but once they were in my ears, they didn’t budge. The small housings mean they won’t stick too far out of your ears but the angled nozzles does prevent deep insertion. Isolation was about average.
Featuring a design that is identical to the older Woodees IESW101B IEMs, obvious aesthetic differences aside, I expected these to be as finicky as their predecessors in terms of fit but, to my surprise, they weren’t. Driver flex was still apparent but wasn’t annoying but getting a decent fit wasn’t difficult at all and these also aren’t as sensitive to insertion depth as the IESW101Bs are. The isolation the Blues provide is improved over their predecessors as well.
Burn in: Both IEMs were given upwards of 25 hours of burn in prior to evaluation.
These feature a pretty mainstream sort of sound signature, with their accentuated, slightly boomy bass, a fairly linear midrange and decently clear and slightly rolled off but adequately clear and detailed treble. On the whole, the sound signature is on the warm side of neutral and somewhat dry sounding to my ears, especially about the midrange. Bass notes are mostly well controlled but there is a bit of bass bleed into the midrange but it’s kept to a minimum for the most part. Treble is, as I said before, decently clear and detailed if lacking in sparkle and, in turn, sibilance which is a good thing. The high end is laid back overall which will likely turn off treble lovers but most others shouldn’t mind. Soundstage and imaging performance is decent with the soundstage featuring average width and depth.
The Blues are neutral in terms of frequency response, featuring taut, if very slightly accentuated bass, a warm, lush midrange and detailed, extended treble. What strikes me is how warm and thick these earphones sound and I don’t mean that in a negative way. In some ways, I imagine this thickness can be off-putting to some but there’s something about the Blues that just sounds “right” to me. Word to the wise, though, the Blues are very sensitive to tip selection and Sony Hybrids, my go-to tips for just about every pair of IEMs in my collection, make these sound muddy and congested, exacerbating the thickness inherent to the sound signature. With the right tips, however, these sound very musical. They have a non-fatiguing presentation that is smooth and free of unpleasant spikes or sibilance. This smoothness does gloss over some of the finer details in recordings so fans of colder, analytical sound signatures will want likely want to skip these but it’s also worth noting that these are quite forgiving of low bitrate music.
I’m not sure what it is about the Blues that captivates me. They aren’t the most technically proficient IEMs on the market and have their fair share of faults but, at the end of the day, the warmth and smooth nature of their presentation really wins me over.
The Woodees Sport IEMs are available on Amazon.com for about $40, sans-microphone. Unfortunately, I really can’t recommend these to their intended audience of active users because of the aforementioned build quality issues that my pair suffered. These do feature a decent warranty that should take care of users who do have issues so others who need a relatively inexpensive (In the IEM world, that is) pair of IEMs that feature decent sound quality but aren’t necessarily planning to be active with them, may find some value in these.
The Woodees Blues are available from Amazon.com and other online retailers for about $80 and is a good value for people who are fans of warm, lush and non-fatiguing sound signatures and carry additional value in their three-button remote and microphone, which is handy for owners of iPhones and most other current smartphones and worked well on my 4th generation iPod Touch. The sound quality is infectious to me, and I found them to be great for relaxing listens because of their non-fatiguing nature and can see myself using these quite often in my regular rotation.