Headphones (especially earbud headphones) are something of a sore subject for me, given my history of misplacing them, having the wires exposed and frayed or bent/twisted beyond usefulness after just a short while of use, and losing the earbud tips. Nevertheless, the earbuds that came with my Galaxy Note 4 (which I later traded in for a Nexus 6) have endured a satisfyingly long time, and now I’ve been privileged to review a new earbud set: the ZealSound HDE-300 Wood set.

The ZealSound HDE-300 earbuds come with a carrying pouch, a cable clip to bind any excess slack when wearing them (thus preventing tangling), three sets of eartips (small/medium/large) and a user manual. In case packing wired earbuds into a wallet-sized carrying pouch gives you pause, the wires are fiber-coated for make them tangle-resistant. The wooden earbud housings are a nice aesthetic touch, and have the added benefit of enhancing the sound quality (likely due to the rigidity of the wood compared to the plastic that houses most other earbuds). As with many earbud sets these days, the ZealSound HDE-300 includes a built-in microphone and a pause button to interrupt the music when a call comes in and resume when you hang up. Also, the audio jack is plated with gold to minimize audio loss.

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In daily use, I’ve found that the bass is heavier without being excessive or “crackling”, the midtones are clearer and the treble is less tinny than on my previous earbuds. I haven’t had to spend time fiddling with the graphic equalizer on my phone or on my PC as I had before. Despite the fiber coating, wires have still been prone to tangling in my experience, though they’re easily untangled and highly resistant to the bending and twisting which inevitably lead to the exposed/frayed wires that had been the bane of my troubled earbud history.



Incidentally, as multiple surgeries have made my left ear canal larger than my right, I found the different eartip sizes to be an excellent feature.

The wood earbud housings are pleasing to the eyes and their rigidity results in better sound quality than what plastic housings would provide. Also, having eartips of various sizes is quite useful, especially if one has one ear canal larger than the other.
The wood earbud housings are pleasing to the eyes and their rigidity results in better sound quality than what plastic housings would provide. Also, having eartips of various sizes is quite useful, especially if one has one ear canal larger than the other.

The noise cancelling, while not perfect, has been quite effective. With my previous earbuds, others in my car could hear my music if I had the volume at max on my Nexus 6. With the ZealSound set even the driver couldn’t hear my music when I sat in the shotgun seat. As for external noise, I did my primary testing while riding in a used car through central Philadelphia just before rush hour. Once the songs reach full crescendo I can’t hear what’s going on around me, but during the first 5-10 seconds of most songs I can still hear external noises, even coming from outside the car.

 

I saved the killer feature of the ZealSound HDE-300 earbuds for last: the $21.99 asking price at Amazon.com (which is apparently the exclusive retailer for ZealSound products as it’s the only outlet listed on their site). The design, materials and sound quality make this set one of the best available at that price (granted, it’s a sale price but even at their regular price of $40, they’re still very competitive).

The ZealSound HDE-300 earbud set is currently on sale at Amazon.com for $21.99

The ZealSound HDE-300 earbud set is currently on sale at Amazon.com for $21.99