Here at Stuff Towers we’ve long been fans of Houdt’s wooden smartphone cases and wireless keyboards, so we were pretty excited when the company’s new top-of-the-range over-ear headphones arrived for review. A few weeks and many hours of music later we’ve got mixed feelings about the curiously named “Tsunami” cans – the sound is outstanding, but the design, well, we’re far less enamoured with it.
When shopping for headphones audio quality is a key deciding factor, and Houdt’s Tsunamis deliver excellent sound – mids and highs are crisp and there’s not only a good amount of bass, but deliciously punchy reproduction of it – but it’s not the only consideration (more on that later).
We threw classical music, hip-hop, blues and metal at the Tsunami’s and were pleasantly surprised by the results across the board. The headphones deliver precisely the calibre of audio you’d expect for their R1 499 price tag – well tuned and balanced and giving you no cause to reach for the equaliser.
When headphones fail it’s usually because of either the connection of the cable at the headphones themselves or at the audio jack, and Houdt’s done an excellent job of ameliorating this worry by making it possible to replace the entire cable.
The supplied, 1.2m cable is wrapped in rope-like nylon – which prevents tangling – and features wooden ends (there’s also a 6.3m adapter in the box). The only gripe about it is the lack of a microphone or audio controls, both of which we’ve come to expect from high-end headphones given how often users use their phones to play music or podcasts.
Other important features when laying down cash for cans are comfort and appearance, and here the Tsunamis don’t perform nearly as well. While the padding on the earcups is comfortable enough, the earcups sit on (rather than over) the ears, which reduces the amount of ambient noise the headphones are able to keep out.
Instead of the rubber-coated bands which link each earcup resting on the head the Tsunami’s include a pair of spring-loaded, paddle-like pads so there’s no need to adjust them for different head sizes. That’s great in theory, but the Tsunamis looks strange when worn and their springiness makes it feel like they’re trying to creep up (and off) the head.
There are other problems with design of the Tsunamis: there’s no indication of which earcup is intended for the left ear and which for the right, and while each earcup looks to be covered in wood, the wood feels thin and laminate-like.
And for R1 499 we’d really like a hard case in which to transport the Tsunami’s, rather than the supplied fabric drawstring bag.
Speaker size: 50mm
Frequency response: 20Hz-20KHz
Impedance: 32 Ohm
Sensitivity: 107+/-3dB (1KHz, 1mW)
Rated input power: 30mW
Cable: 2.0m Nylon cable
Plug: 3.5mm gold-plated and 6.3mm adapter