But unfortunately, the WoodTones can't see the forest for the trees.
They provide a very comfortable fit, but sound almost oppressively bass heavy. It's easy to find options with far more clarity and detail for the same price. No matter which way you chop it, the WoodTones underperform, and you could do a lot better for less.
Dr. Dre meets Treebeard
The WoodTones over-ear headphones come in three different, er, wood tones: sapele, beech, and walnut. Our review unit is the sapele variety, which is a medium brown color with a looser grain pattern than the other two. It's easy to get caught up in the grainy goodness that lends the WoodTones their name—they look nothing short of beautiful.
But forget about the wood styling for a moment. In truth, the best things about these headphones are the very cushy ear cups and the supportive band. The fit on these cans is just terrific, hour after hour, and they feel great against the ear.
Another great attribute is how light the WoodTones are, which is surprising considering the material. The cable is durable, wrapped in rubber, and end-capped in a wood color that matches the headphones. Unfortunately, the materials of the band and cups feel a little bit cheap. They look fine, but you may find yourself wondering just how much wear and tear these cans can take. With any luck, they won't break—knock on wood.
Griffin doesn't include any kind of carry case or adapters, either, and the WoodTones don't fold into themselves or make any attempt at portability. I'm also not crazy about the placement of the in-line mic/remote on the cable, as it's literally impossible to see while you're wearing them. That said, the WoodTones are so cushy comfortable, these little inconveniences are worth the trade.
Bass? Check. Middle? Check. Trebles? Not so much.
When it comes to audio quality, the Griffin WoodTones start out strong, but they don't finish so smooth. If you're looking for huge bass boost in the style of a 1990s portable CD player, keep moving: These Griffin cans actually provide a very even bass landscape. Or at least, they try to.
Testing revealed that the WoodTones lack enough support for the upper midrange and high end. Instruments like flutes, piccolos, and violins get absolutely buried by bass and mid-range instruments.
So, while the WoodTones don't actually push emphasis on bass to an abnormal degree, they still inadvertently sound extra bassy due to the feeble treble department. For example, cymbals sound extremely muted, and repeating bass lines obscure drum fills, higher notes on keyboards, and overtones on vocals.
Fortunately, these wooden warriors fight more valiantly elsewhere. I tested a solid balance in volume between the left and right channels, so both ears get a lovin' spoonful of music all the time. These Griffins also do a pretty good job blocking outside, ambient noise—high pitched sounds may not get their due during playback, but they can't get in from the outside, either.
Lastly, we'd be remiss not to mention that all of that rumbling bass comes with an unwanted tagalong: Distortion. Testing revealed a higher-than-average amount of harmonic distortion during playback. These headphones lack clarity due to underemphasis throughout high notes and overtones—as we mentioned—and the presence of distortion in the bass range clutters the soundscape all the more. After about half an hour of listening, I felt like my brain was swimming in molasses.
Browse before you bark up this tree
It's hard to make a definitive call concerning the Griffin WoodTones. While $100 is a pretty awesome price for a pair of over-ears this comfortable, the bass-cluttered soundscape they provide lacks polish, and drops emphasis during some of the most important parts of your music.
On one hand, maybe you only have 100 bucks in your pocket and you're dying for this sleek wooden look and a luxurious form factor. If you're not a choosy listener, these might be your ticket—they're only around $60 online.
Just keep in mind that while the WoodTones fall into a budget price range, quality hunters can buy better overall sound for just a little more cash—these V-Moda cans come to mind.
Welcome to the Science Page, where you'll find all of our test data and results. The Griffin WoodTones (MSRP $99.99) faltered a little while running our gamut of tests. We found a higher-than-average amount of harmonic distortion within bass frequencies, but the worst offense was the WoodTones' frequency response. These cans simply don't emphasize high frequencies enough to provide a balanced sound—which allows for bass tones to noticeably overshadow the soundstage.
A very important indicator of audio quality, a frequency response graph maps the way a pair of headphones emphasizes bass, middle, and high frequencies. While many consumer headphones give bass a boost so it's easier to hear, the WoodTones only sound like they're boosting bass, when really they're just underemphasizing treble frequencies.
Sub-bass frequencies starting at 20Hz through bass frequencies at 100Hz are given an average amount of emphasis—about 78 dB across the low-end. As bass frequencies enter midrange frequencies around 1kHz, emphasis begins to drop towards 70 db. However, since we hear midrange frequencies better than bass frequencies, this is actually a good thing. Where things get screwy is between 3kHz and 6kHz, where emphasis drops closer to 60 dB. This means there's roughly a 20 dB difference between sub-bass and bass sounds, and high sounds, at any given time—obscuring the higher notes and diminishing clarity.
Another area where the WoodTones fall a little short is in harmonic distortion. Harmonic distortion refers to the presence of unwanted and clipped sounds produced by a set of speakers. There's almost always some distortion present in the sub-bass range of any given loudspeaker, but it's not considered problematic because most people can't hear it. However, the WoodTones tested with a somewhat high amount of distortion in the bass range, around 100Hz, which is much more perceptible. We measured around 4 to 5% total harmonic distortion in an audible frequency range—definitely not good.
Our tracking test checks to make sure a set of headphones maintains equal playback volume between its left and right channels across the entire frequency range. While the WoodTones performed decently here, we did note a rather large shift in emphasis right around the 400 Hz mark. Frequencies at 400Hz will be about 5 dB louder in the right channel than the left. This isn't a stellar result, but it's also not terribly noticeable unless you're listening for it specifically.
Meet the tester
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews
Checking our work.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email