Wood is more a novelty than a commonplace material in headphones, but if you think about it, it really shouldn’t be. Quite a few instruments involve the use of wood in their construction, from pianos to guitars; wood is a naturally renewable resource; and we have centuries of experience manufacturing with wood, as a species. It seems a no-brainer, but apparently the crew at LSTN are the first to really make a go of it beyond some novelty headsets. And they’re also aiming to make them a way to give back, as well, by working with a deaf charity.
LSTN headphones are encased in ebony, cherry and beech wood. No worries on the ebony; they’re using scraps from woodworkers, not having trees cut down. In turn, the wood is carved into three types of headphones: Bowerys, the earbuds; Fillmores, the folding headphones; and Troubadours, their full-size closed-cup headphones. Each model also has an in-line microphone, so you can use them to take calls as well as listen to tunes. The natural grain of wood means that no two sets of LSTN headphones are alike, and they’re also helpfully engineered to be good for any genre of music.
As for the charity part, a portion of the proceeds from LSTN are donated to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which is dedicated to providing hearing aids to those who need them, especially in the Third World. You hear the word “charity” you automatically wonder if the charity is any good, and the Starkey Foundation actually does pretty well on Charity Navigator. So you can probably feel good about your purchase, which is nice.
As for the cost of that purchase, LSTN’s products start at $50 for their earbuds and go all the way up to $150 for the closed-cups. Not a bad price, considering what a share of the money ultimately goes to.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.