There are several benefits to working with wood over, say, metal. The big one? Tooling. With wood, a CNC machine can make your shapes and cutouts for you without having to invest in extremely expensive tooling that’s required to crank out complex metal shapes. While I’m pretty sure there’s a break even point, this is usually one that happens with that elusive thing called “volume”, and amortizing these costs is another reason why small-batch manufacturing (aka, “audiophile”) tends to cost so damn much.
The other big reason? It’s awesome.
New-to-me company Verisonix had a few headphones on the table at CanJam, but the one that really caught my eye was the N500 and N501 ($499, respectively), both of which featured a closed-back wooden ear cup design, the primary difference being “shape” — the 501 is block-ish and square and the 500 is oval (I preferred the oval). Both feature the same driver — and this is where things get interesting — it’s a “passive” electrostatic hybrid, where the ESL “super tweeter” is matched up with a paper-composite dynamic driver for the everything else.
My verdict? Very cool. I wanted to grab one on the spot.
Also on the table, the N100B — a $169 “version” of the hybrid ESL design, this one featuring a mylar driver, no wood, but voiced a bit more “mainstream” (i.e., with more bass). For $169, Beats is beat.
I’m going to want to see more of these guys, for sure.