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Review: CrossRoads Woody One

May 26, 2009

Crossroads are out with their latest offering in the IEM space, and this one is a woody! Aptly called Woody One, I was excited to know how it measures up according to my preferences.

Foreword

This is a loaner unit. I have not seen the packaging yet as my purchased unit is to arrive in a few more days, so I won't talk about that.

Each of us hears sound differently, so this impressions are highly subjective, and could be debatable. YMMV and other disclaimers apply.

First impressions

I'm using a loaner unit with about 15 hours of playing time. I was told by the distributor that it will take about 120 hours for full break-in.

Comfort

An important criteria for me in selecting a headphone/earphone is comfort. I'd like one I can use for hours without any discomfort developing from prolonged use.

The Woody One comes with four tips- small, medium, large, and double-flanged tip. For this review, I'm using the double-flanged tip as the reference. The small tip is too small for my ear canal and I don't have the medium tip which was lost together with the X3i.

I've been using the Woody One for hours and while I'm typing this review and I have not experienced any discomfort. Since it uses the same tips as the X3i model, I'm sure that the medium tip will be just as comfortable, but I don't have any idea how the Woody One will sound with it.

Microphonics

I'm very glad to find out that the Woody One is not too microphonic. While I was walking, or driving, body movements which causes noise to be transmitted though the wire is minimal. Compared to my JVC HA FX33, this is a huge improvement.

Efficiency

I don't have the specs but actual listening experience reveals that this is a very efficient pair of drivers, the most efficient that I have owned recently. This offers a benefit of longer playing hours as a portable source such as the Sansa Fuze, does not need to be cranked up and yet the loudness is enough to make me deaf, on loud recordings and passages.

Isolation

With the Woody One plugged in my ears and no music playing, I can still external noise, such as from a television, or ambulance, or a real loud honk from a jeepney.

The Sound

Let me start from top to bottom.

The Woody One offers extremely clean, distortion-free, top end sparkle. Minute details and nuances are rendered in an airy and open fashion. It does not have any hint of being dry and boring.

The mid highs are equally great, clean but not clinical sounding. Listening to the album The Magic of Instrumental Music also suggests delicacy and precense.

Both female and male vocals offer naturalness, without a hint of coloration. It's never too bloated, nor thin. Rebecca Pidgeon's The Raven and James Taylor's JT albums, envelopes me in vocal magic.

Depth and slam, are two things I'd like a headphone to do well. I'd like to hear with depth the low octaves, without the overhang which makes it muddy and incoherent. I want slam to give more impact to the music. I love what I'm hearing as I play Blue Man Group's Audio, that features lots of percussions. Bass lines are well defined, and while it offers depth, it was never boomy, nor bloated. Listening to John Myung's bass guitar playing in the album was so much enjoyable

Dynamics and articulation is a strong feature of the Woody One, in both macro and micro level. Transients are easily and clearly conveyed. Kodo Heartbeat Drummers of Japan is a fine example of how the Woody One handle transients.

Bite and grunt makes guitars sounds raw and natural, but sometimes the rawness of this instrument becomes veiled with other transducers. The Woody One does well in this area, as it mesmerizes me listening to Passion, Grace and Fire, a masterpiece from Paco de Lucia, Al di Meola, and John Maclaughlin. One of my favorite guitar player is Axel Rudi Pell, and listening to his Broken Heart, Guitar Version from the album Ballads, exemplifies how good the Woody One reproduces guitar sound.

Attack and decay are two things which I believe is more obvious rather than PRaT. Lack of attack makes the music boring, and too much decay seems to break the pace. The Woody One again excels in this area, as I listen to Patricia Barber's Modern Cool.

Soundstage and imaging

These are the least of what I want from an IEM as I believe they're handicapped just being so. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it offers a big headstage that extended beyond my usual experience, even with full-sized cans that I own.

In addition, on some recordings that exhibits exemplary imaging, the Woody One handled well, approximating what my full system can deliver.

Verdict

Pros

  • Superb sound quality, across the musical range
  • Detailed and articulated, without being harsh nor fatiguing
  • Dynamics and transient handling is excellent
  • Very efficient requiring less power from portable players
  • Wide headstage and believable imaging

Cons

  • Cable seems to be heavy
  • Minor microphonics

Equipment used for review

Setup #1

Clearaudio Magnum turntable w/ Graham tonearm and Transfiguration Axia cartridge -> Clearaudio Basic Symmetry phono pre -> AK-100 tube headphone amplifier -> CrossRoads Woody One

Setup #2

Sansa Fuze [LOD] -> FiiO E5 -> CrossRoads Woody One

Setup #3

Harman Kardon HD750 HDCD player -> AK100 tube headphone amplifier -> CrossRoads Woody One

Photo Gallery

Update 20 May 2009

I got my Woody One today, and out of the box experience suggests that it already had the mids' tonal characteristic of the loaner. The highs will need refinement, and the bass more articulation.