Headphone Battle: Battle of Wood

Wood is a strong, tough, and durable material that, with the exception of heavy woods like ivory, will float on water. In the past, the best speakers have been built out of wood since they create the most natural resonance and vibrations that allow for the premium listening experience. Wood is natural, and that is why many manufacturers have gone to it, or make specific models out of wood and claim they will sound more natural. However, there are so many different pairs of headphones that promise the most natural sound, which ones sound the best? Even further, which ones offer the best designs, audio, build, comfort, and overall value. Let the battles begin!

Introducing the Wooden IEM Pentagon battle! In the first corner, the MEElectronics CW31P with a cost between 40 and 55 dollars! In the second corner, the Thinksound TS02+Mic that costs just under 90 dollars. Residing in the third corner, the Woodees Blues at a cost between 65 and 80 dollars. Corner number four and five, Xears Nature N3i and Xears Experience XE200PRO respectively at approximately 130 dollars each! OK, now I want a clean fight and yadda’, yadda’, yadda’… Only one will escape the Pentagon as champion of the wood!

Fighter Stats

MEElectronics CW31P
MEElectronics | 40$ – $54.99
Thinksound TS02 + Mic
Thinksound | $89.95
Woodees | $65 – $130
Xears Nature N3i
Xears | $130

Announcing the fighters!
Top Row, Left to Right: MEElectronics CW31P, ThinkSound TS02+Mic, Woodees Blues
Bottom Row, Left to Right: XEars XE200 Pro, XEars Nature N3i

Round 1: Design

All of these headphones brag about great sound, but we’ll saver that for later. Right now, it’s all about the looks. Let the fight begin!


The design of each pair of headphones.
Left to Right: Woodees Blues, MEE CW31, ThinkSound TS02, XEars Nature N3i, XEars XE200 Pro

The MEE headset comes with a small cone shape similar to its distant cousin, the M2P. This cone, however, is much smaller than that of his cousin’s, and the same applies to the vents in the rear. The light brown color is really nice and soft on the eyes while the gloss finish gives it a smooth finish overall. The MEE logo is silkscreened on each of the cones and have the left and right markers here as well. The MEE also feature a nice ergonomic design that uses an angled nozzle for the most natural fit. The CW31Ps look really nice, but won’t turn any heads.

Thinksound comes into this with a really simple design and small body. The wood on the Thinksounds have the most wood texture of the five contestants. It is also the only pair that also has a choice of colors, black chocolate or silver cherry. The back of the thinksounds have a small vent on them and the thinksound logo that is obscurely placed on the ends of the housings. The Thinksounds are like the MEE, they are really nice, but don’t stand out as much in a crowd.

Ah, the Woodees Blues. The Blues have a special design to them since they are designed after BB Kings famous black guitar with gold accents. The Blues name is for the type of music the King played, blues. The headphones themselves take to the classic pillshaped design of Woodees while still allowing the design of the black guatar to settle in. The headphones are painted a nice, deep black color with shining gold accents on them that stand out. The remote has the same exact design to it giving it a really nice general theme to the legend’s guitar. On the stress relief of each earpiece is the Woodees logo that faces left on the left earpiece and right on the right one. I do wish they would have told us this in the user manual or something as I had trouble differentiating left earbud from right earbud. An easy to tell it apart is that the remote is on the right earpiece.

The Natures have a similar shape to the Woodees pill shape, but aren’t perfectly hemispherical, or cylindrical. The wood on these are really sanded down, and are as smooth as a baby’s bottom. The color of the headphones are a dull black color that really works well with the all black design of the Xears. If you look close enough, you can see the woodgrain. The main problem I had with the design was the remote, it was either too sensitive, or not sensitive enough for multiple click functions. The other problem I can see arising is the length of the J-cable. Normally, I don’t mind them, but this was a little short, even for me; I stand five feet short.

The XE200s have the most unique design of all the headphones here. Think about a cylinder, but now squeeze the backside to form a nuclear reactor type shape. Although the shape looks really weird, but unique, it form fits perfectly to your fingers when you try to insert them into your ear. Even further, they conform to your ears shape when inserted. The XE200s use the same exact color and scheme as the N3is. However, unlike the N3is, there is no J-cable or remote to deal with.

Round one ends with the XE200s, Thinksounds, and MEE fighting for the win, none of them can get it as the round ends. The Woodees are still in this fight with support from the BB King on their side, the Natures are on the ground though. It’s still too early to tell who has this battle set!

Design
MEE:★★★★★|TS02:★★★★★|XE200:★★★★★|Blues:★★★★½|N3i:★★★★

Round 2: Audio

Round 2 is audio. All of these headphones are built from wood, and as stated in the introduction, this move is made since wood does indeed sound richer and textured. Each of these headphones has different bass though; on top of that, the rest of the spectrum differs as well. Let’s let these headphones duke it out in round 2, and let their audio abilities shine, or backfire on them.

Bass

All 5 pairs of headphones have their own interpretation of bass. The MEE CW31Ps offer bass that is a tiny bit above neutral, but still gives plenty of impact. The lows are leaning toward the punchy side and are well controlled. The TS02s have very deep, powerful bass that is the loudest in the spectrum, but it still find itself in the background and not intruding upon anything. The bass is beautifully textured with lots of impact. It can become a little too much at times and distort out on you, this is rare though. For the woodees, the bass is drifting towards the textured side of things, but not there yet. The sound is much warmer and the bass is really controlled. However, the downside to this is that the bass lacks impact at times. The bass is the most neutral of all the headphones. Moving on to the Natures from XEars, the bass is similar to that of the Woodees. It’s trying to be punchy, but doesn’t quite make it. It also does lack a little impact too.The lows are still really well controlled on the N3is though. The XE200s are a different story with the bass. The bass is still above neutral, but are more punchy and give more impact. They can still use a little more impact though as the MEE has them beat. They are punchy, and pretty tight as well.

As we go through the first fifth of the fight, the MEE and the ThinkSounds make a huge punch! The XE200, Woodees, and Nature are still trying to fight it off. This round is not over yet, and there is still plenty of fight left in all of these headphones, let’s see how this round will develop!

Bass
TS02: ★★★★½|MEE: ★★★★½|Blues: ★★★★|N3i:★★★★|XE200:★★★★

Mids

As we continue the fight into the mids, the TS02 and the XE200s are winning the round, will the tables turn? The underdog MEEs come in with its balanced mids that is detailed with clarity. The smooth and sweet vocals help it out a lot. There is, however, a small muffled sound to them, in a sense they’re veiled. The mids are still good however. As we go to the ThinkSounds, we find the mids recessed compared to the highs and lows. They are, however, detailed; something that I rarely see with recessed mids. The TS02s can use a little more clarity though. The Woodees have really warm, inviting mids that are smooth and laid back. The mids are clear from the low-mids all the way up to the higher mids. The mids on the blues are actually really enjoyable, smooth, and sweet. The Natures come out with their neutral and warm mids. They have lots of clarity and plenty of details. However, the Natures did seem to lose focus on the mids at times. They are actually quite similar to the Woodees, just without the clarity the Woodees provide. The XE200s had a little better mids compared to its brother. They are more clear and detailed overall, but aren’t warm. The lack of warmness isn’t entirely a bad thing either. The instrumental separation is really great on these as well, and they shine far more than the other headphones.
As the fight grows, the XE200s throw a huge punch to take the higher ground. The Woodees are right behind it trying to get back into the fight. The MEEs and Natures continue duking it out, with the TS02 joining in after receiving a small hit.

Mids
XE200:★★★★½|Blues:★★★★½|TS02:★★★★|MEE:★★★★|Nature:★★★★

Treble

The fight is going on into its midst, and it’s getting very exciting. This can make or break any of the fighters, let’s see what treble is like. The treble on the MEE can use some more clarity, but does have most of the detail. The treble is recessed, but still not bad overall. The ThinkSounds come out with some more clear highs and great detail to them. There is a slight harshness to them. The highs, however, do shine and have a certain gleaming to them on the TS02. The highs are lively and enjoyable overall. The highs are a little forward and flakey. The TS02 could definitely go further to be the best. The highs on the Woodees show up as normal for me. They don’t have that special shine to them, but they really aren’t offensive. Nor do they do anything wrong. They have great clarity to them, but seem to lack details. They don’t give the headphones that special vibe I’d like them to; the MEE do this as well. Now for the XEars brothers, the N3is come off being a little harsher, but slightly forward as well. They have plenty of details and clarity to them. The highs shine bright as day, but can seem a little overdone at times. Unlike the close brother, the XE200s are less harsh and more neutral in level. They are lively, but not overdone. They have plenty of extension and lots of detail. They are pretty clear as well.

Going through the hump, the XEars continue showing their dominance as they continue to beat the other headphones in this area. The N3is, and TS02s are at a standstill while the MEE seems to be going down. Are they down for good?

Treble
XE200:★★★★½|TS02:★★★★|N3i:★★★★|Blues:★★★½|MEE:★★★½

Noise Isolation

Each pair of headphones isolates differently depending on the shape and insertion depth. Typically deeper insertion ends up being better for isolation. The MEEs have the least insertion depth and have the worst isolation of the bunch; it is still an average amount though. As we go down the line, the ThinkSounds tend to have the best isolation of the group. The Woodees, Natures, and XE200s have generally the same amount of isolation, which is between the MEE and TS02.

Noise Isolation
TS02:★★★★½|Blues:★★★★|N3i:★★★★|XE200:★★★★|MEE:★★★½

Microphonics

All of these headphones have some sort of microphonics associated with them, and as the fight continues, this can be another pivotal area that the headphones need to get right to win this long, grueling round. The MEE has lots of micrphonics, and due to its shape, it isn’t possible to rid of them by wearing them over the ear, the rest of the headphones have this option. The MEE, ThinkSound, and Woodees all have an included clip that can help with this. The ThinkSounds stood out once again being the best with microphonics. The Woodees and XEar brothers both have fabricated cloths that made them terrible with microphonics. The XEars also don’t have clips or anything to help with this problem.


Only three pairs of headphones come with clips, the TS02, CW31, and Blues

At the final stretches of the audio round, the MEE takes a huge unexpected swipe at the XEars brothers! Afterwards, the Woodees and MEE fight to the end of the round. This showing that it still has plenty of fight in it and is ready to go. The TS02s just stand around and watch the other four fight through the end.

Microphonics
TS02:★★★★|MEE:★★★½|Blues:★★★½|N3i:★★★|XE200:★★★

As the round comes to a conclusion, the XE200s show off that they have the best and most balanced sound, but fall short in the microphonics and isolation. The Woodees are good overall in the audio section really not showing off anywhere, but not entirely bad either. The MEE goes all over the place starting out strong with its great bass, but then ran downhill a little. The Thinksounds show off to be the best with overall sound and microphonics with superior noise isolation and the N3is turn out to be just as good as the Woodees. However, at the end of the round, all five headphones are equally matched as they have strengths and weaknesses that cancel each other out. This round ends in a huge standstill with all five not giving up!

Audio
TS02:★★★★|XE200:★★★★|N3i:★★★★|Blues:★★★★|MEE:★★★★

Round 3: Build

Exiting the crazy, excitement-filed round two, we head into round 3 will all our contestants ready to fight it off. This time around, they all face off to see which one of them are the most durable. Let the round begin!

Each of these headphones comes with a carrying pouch, or case in terms of the MEE, to protect the headphones when not in use. This is always good to have, and I always advocate using these as they do extend the life of your headphones.

All five headphones have one thing in common, the housings. Although they are each made with different types of wood, it’s still wood and wood is known to be very durable. I wouldn’t doubt for a second that each of these woods are durable and seem to be able to withstand force if anything were to happen to them.

As we go down, we look at the strain reliefs on these headphones, and each of them seem to pass the test well. Each pair of headphones has strain reliefs built in and none of them are too small for my liking, a huge plus as I’ve seen some headphones really fall short here, literally.

As we go down to the cable, we can begin to see some divergence. Two of the cables aren’t fabricated cables. The Thinksound cable seems to be very thin. However, it does have Kevlar reinforcement that will help out with its durability, so I don’t doubt the durability of the cable due to thinness. These cables don’t tangle at all, haven’t had them tangle once on me yet, which is astonishing to say the least! These cables are built to perfection. Looking at the CW31’s cable, we find that it is thinner than the Thinksound’s, but has a plastic reinforcement that really seems to be top notch. The only complaint here is that it does tangle. Now we go to the fabricated cables, which are notorious for tangling. Most of the fabricated cables seem strong enough to last and survive some good torture. However, they tangle, and they tangle often. This is normally a very bad sign for any cable. The Woodees have the thinnest cable of the bunch, but is still strong though due to it’s fabricated nature.

On each cable is a remote (except in the case of the XE200s, they are remoteless). I didn’t have too many problems with the remotes except for two models. The MEE remote completely stopped working on me. I don’t know why, or even how for that matter. They just decided to stop working. Hopefully I received a lemon. The mic on it still works though (and of course the speakers do too). The N3is split a little and came apart; a little super-glue fixed it though.

We will terminate on the headphone jack. MEE definitely takes this part of the build quality since it’s the only headphone jack that is at an angle and the magical 45 degree angle as well. I find that angled headphone jacks almost always last longer than straight ones. All of the headphone jacks seem strong, but the angled ones do have an extra edge.

The headphone Jacks from each pair of headphones, MEE is the only angled jack, both XEars have the same jack:
Left to Right: XEars, Woodees, XEars, MEE, ThinkSound
As we end the round, the Thinksounds come with a furious punch to take down the N3i! There is a three-way battle between MEE, Woodees, and XE200s going on that seems to be the center of attention.

Build
TS02:★★★★½|Blues:★★★★|XE200:★★★★|MEE:★★★½|N3i:★★★½

Round 4: Comfort

When wearing a pair of headphones, you want to ensure that they don’t put stress on your ears or anything of that nature. Each of these headphones have their own degree of comfort. The MEE are probably the most comfortable of the bunch to wear and insert. No pain whatsoever; the headphones also sit flush with your ear really nicely. I found these to be a joy to wear just about anywhere. However, the MEE had big problems with driver flex for me, and that tended to get really annoying, which was a small letdown since they were so gosh darn comfortable. The Thinksounds were next on the comfort list. They had the deepest insertion of all the headphones, but were still quite comfortable to wear. They are lightweight and can be worn for hours without end. XE200s weren’t the greatest to insert into your ear, the metal edges irritated my skin, not as badly as its brother, but still a noticeable amount. However, due to its unique shape, the XE200s were comfortable to wear after they were inserted. The Woodees and N3is had similar problems after putting them on. They have long barrels that can cause them to fall out of smaller ears. On a further note, the N3is also had the same problem as the XE200s with the skin irritation, except it was worse.


Each pair of headphones comes with a number of tips (4-5 pairs) that ensure the best seal and most comfort. The XEars are the only ones that come with foam tips.

As we end the round, we have the Thinksound, Woodees, XE200s, and MEE all taking the high spot in the comfort area in a four-way dual. The N3is got knocked down pretty early in the round, is this it for them?

Comfort
MEE:★★★★½|TS02:★★★★½|Blues:★★★★½|XE200:★★★★½|N3i:★★★★

Round 5: Value

After going through four grueling rounds we will get to see who has the strength to finish this fight off strong in round five. The final round is value, on a bang for the buck scale. Each of these pair of headphones has their own unique reasons why they are well worth the money. MEE is the most affordable of the bunch costing only 55 dollars. You get great sound quality for the price and a really comfortable IEM that comes with plenty of accessories. The added remote is also a nice feature. The build quality is questionable knowing my remote went bad; hopefully I only got a lemon. The Thinksounds really hit the bang for the buck perfectly. You get some really great sound quality for the 90 dollars you put up for it; the superior build quality and minute design are all really great. It doesn’t come coupled with too many accessories, so you really pay for the sound quality. With the Woodees, they offer you something that the others cannot: a sense of style from the famed BB King and his famous guitar. The sound quality from these are actually pretty good, but don’t live up to the 130 dollar mark they MSRP at though. The N3i has the worst score here, but only by a little. The build quality once again is questionable, hopefully this is a rare occasion for them. The remote is nice to have and the sound quality is good for the price, but could be better. As for the N3i’s brother, it doesn’t have the remote, my main complaint here (as the other 4 have a remote). The sound quality, however, makes up for this since it is the best sounding headphones of the bunch, also the most balanced.


The only ones that lacks a remote is the XEars XE200 Pro.
Top Row, Left to Right: ThinkSound, Woodees
Bottom Row, Left to Right: MEE, XEars Nature

Value
TS02:★★★★½|XE200:★★★★½|MEE:★★★★|Blues:★★★★|N3i:★★★★

Round 6: For the Win

As the fight comes to a close, the TS02 and XE200s are still furiously battling it off. Their strength is matched and this fight needs to go into a sixth round to determine it all. This time, it’s just one on one. Let’s see who’s going to fight it out in Round Six, the bonus round for all the guts and glory! The final will be based on their performance in the previous five rounds… It will be done in a wins losses fashion taking a look at all five categories once again to determine winners, so lets begin:

  • Design: Both of these got fives in this category, and neither design is superior, this results in a draw and the round continues.Round Score: ThinkSound: 0; XEars: 0
  • Audio:
    • Bass: The ThinkSounds had slightly better bass than the XEars, so it will win the first part of the audio section taking a first strong punch!
    • Mids: XEars comes back with a solid punch after getting hit in the bass to show that it still has life left.
    • Highs: The XEars take another big swing at the TS02s and it looks like the TS02s are down, are they down for good?!
    • Noise Isolation: The TS02s come back with a block here and a big right hand!
    • Microphonics: The TS02 come again with another big right hand and knock the XE200s down.

    Round Score: ThinkSound: 1; XEars: 0

  • Build: We continue into the build quality and the ThinkSounds dominate once again! Things are starting to look dim for the XEars, can it come back from such abuse?Round Score: ThinkSound: 2; XEars: 0
  • Comfort: The ThinkSounds and XEars are equally matched, and neither can put each other down.Round Score: ThinkSound: 2; XEars: 0
  • Value: Once again, they are equally matched in this sectionRound Score: ThinkSound: 2; XEars: 0

We come to the end of round six, the bonus round, and at the beginning, it was back and forth fighting, but towards the middle, the TS02 took the upper hand… And here it is, the final punch! The XEars are down for the count!

Final Thoughts

Well, this fight is in the books! It was a fun, exciting, action packed fight going all the way down into a bonus sixth round. The ThinkSounds came out on top followed by the XE200s, MEElectronics, Woodees, and N3is respectively.

Author’s note:

Although the ThinkSounds did win, they may not work for everyone. The final scores are a composite of 5 categories averaged together. Also, sound preferences vary from person to person, along with features. Below are the suggestions based on the type of listener you are:

  • Affordable: You are looking for good quality at an unbeatable price. Then my suggestion would be the MEE.
  • Bass lover: You require deep, textured bass. My suggestion would be to go with the ThinkSounds.
  • Balanced: You like a more accurate and balanced sound. My suggestion would be to go for XEars XE200s if you have the money. If you don’t, the Woodees will do you fine as well.
  • Analytical: You like to hear every little detail from the bass all the way up to the highs, and the mids in between. I suggest the XE200s here.
  • Fun: You look for a pair of headphones that are fun, exciting and have some flare. I’d suggest the XEars N3i or ThinkSounds.
  • If you have any other requests for sound signatures you like post below. Also, XEars did give me a promo code to get either pair of XEars for 38€ (including shipping; approximately 53 dollars a pair (which is a huge steal for these headphones). If you would like this promo code please PM me.

Before announcing winners and final scores, I’d like to thank Mike, Jon, Aaron, and Thomas for the review samples. This review would not be possible without their support.

Overall Scores:
TS02:★★★★½|XE200:★★★★½|MEE:★★★★|Woodees:★★★★|N3i:★★★★

And Your Winner Is…

The ThinkSound TS02+Mic!

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks to Mike, Jon, Aaron, and Thomas for the product samples!
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