If you happen to own a nice home stereo system, chances are that the speakers consist of quality woofers and tweeters that are housed in classy wooden cases. If you are willing to pay the price, the sound can be unbelievably crisp. But if you take that premise down to the tiny size of headphones, for an iPod as an example, would the result be the same?
Meet Aaron Fournier. He has a diverse background in working for audio speaker companies in the United States and China and decided a few years ago to look into the possibility of manufacturing wooden headphones. He founded a New Hampshire company called Thinksound Inc. that satisfies his two goals of improving the acoustic quality of headphones and being environmentally conscious.
"There were a couple of reasons we decided to choose wood," explains Fournier. "It is better sonically. Just like any loudspeaker, it is made of wood. But for some reason every headphone you see out there is made out of plastic or metal. So it only makes sense to use wood. On top of that, it is also more environmentally friendly than using PVC or different plastics that they are using now."
The wooden component of Thinksound's headphones comes from lychee (Litche chinesis), a fruit tree that grows in Southeast Asia that was selected because of its hardness and renewability.
"Wood provides more of a natural sound," says Fournier. "If you look at musical instruments - violins, guitars - they're all made of wood for a particular reason, because they give more of a natural resonance."
Thinksound's headphones are available in silver cherry and black chocolate. The headphones come in 9mm and 10mm sets. Fournier says the 10mm set provides more bass and is popular with kids. The products were launched in January following three years of development.
"They can be used mostly for any audio source. You can use it with any type of iPod to listen to music. In the next two months, we should be coming out with one that will work with the iPhone to make calls - incoming and outgoing. The price will be about $99.99."
The current prices for the headphones range from $74.99 to $99.99, but Fournier says they can be found cheaper online at places such as Amazon.com.
Contact: Timbre Sound LLC, 350 Route 108, Suite 204, Somersworth, NH 03878. www.thinksound.com
This article originally appeared in the June 2010 issue.