When I say the phrase “musical instrument”, what is the first one that comes to mind? Chances are it is something made of wood or brass. What it is most certainly not made of is plastic.
There’s a reason for that.
Brass and wood (but especially wood) have wonderful acoustic properties and produce clear and warm musical tones. So why make in-ear headphones or earbuds from plastic? I know, good question right?
After my apple earbuds finally bit the dust, I recently stumbled upon Meelectronics in the hunt for a good, but affordable, pair of earbuds. I’m no audiophile, but I am a music lover and former musician, so good sound quality was still important.
What I was looking for in a pair of earbuds:
- good sound quality
- long (hopefully tangle-resistant cord)
- recycled or sustainable materials
I happened to find all of those qualities in the two wood in-ear headphones from Meelectronics. I actually purchased the CW31 (which focus on clarity) from Amazon, but then Meelectronics kindly sent me the R1′s (which focus on bass) for review as well.
Here’s my take on both after a few months.
So far, the CW31′s are my favorite of the two wood in-ear headphones from Meelectronics. Here’s what they feature:
- Angled design for easy and insertion and long term comfort
- Made from Samak wood
- Offered in the clarity series for “audiophiles on a budget”
- Passive noise cancellation
- Long, 53-inch anti-tangle cable
- 5 sets of ear tips
- High quality carry case
It’s the angled design and the balanced clarity that make these my favorite of the two.
Many folks (previously including myself) don’t realize the ear canal angles in towards the front of your face in relation to the opening of the ear.
The angled design fits perfectly into that bend for a freakishly natural fit and feel, the sound quality is warm and natural (as you might expect from a wood housing), and the generous length of cable stays tangle free and out of the way while I sprint, strength train, and ride my bicycle.
The Meelectronics CW31 earbuds retail for $49.99 but are currently $24.92 on Amazon.
The bass-centric R1 in-ear headphones from Meelectronics are running in a semi-close second place position for me in this race.
- The most overall bass of any Meelectronics in-ear headphones
- 55-inch anti-tangle cable (2 inches longer than the CW31), with low “microphonics” — or cable noise caused by friction
- Asian beech wood construction
- Passive noise cancellation
- High quality carry case (but not as nice as the CW31, in my opinion)
The silicon tips that comes with these earbuds didn’t seem to fit my ear as well as the ones that come with the CW31 earbuds, but they still do a great job at noise cancellation.
The only reason these are not my favorite of the two is the lack of the angled design present on the CW31. I also listen to a lot of hip hop and rock while working out, and the CW31 in-ear headphones seem to be better suited for those types of music.
However, when dropping it like it’s hot to some 90′s rap (Wu Tang Clan, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Run DMC, Dr. Dre etc) or some Dubstep in the middle of my workout, the R1′s are my go-to.
I also prefer the slightly longer and better anti-tangle cable of the R1′s.
The Meelectronics R1′s retail for $39.99, but are currently available on Amazon for about $15 (whew! that’s tough to beat!)
Wrapping it up (pun intended)
If you want some heavy duty bass action, go with the R1′s — they hit harder than any in-ear headphone you have likely experienced. If you want a more balanced sound, rock the CW31′s.
Either way, it’s tough to go wrong.
Meelectronics did tell me that the “eco-friendly design” (i.e. wood housing) isn’t particularly sustainably sourced but “is made from wood, not plastic.” So yeah, we’re not talking FSC certified sourcing here, but like they said, it is wood.
As a matter of fact, they told me that the choice for using wood for the housings of these two earbuds had much more to do with the overall sound quality, rather than the eco-friendliness.
I can respect that honesty and commitment to quality — without greenwashing it. How about you?