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thinksound Thunder and Rain new arrivals

post #1 of 121
Thread Starter 
My thinksound Rain and Thunder IEMs arrived today. They'll need some burn-in time before I can form any definite opinions, but I'd thought I'd toss out a few unpacking photos and some comments. (My head-fi post-fu is only about yellow belt - I'll try posting some pics as attachments. If they don't come out, I'll keep trying)

thinksound does a very nice job with product packaging. I know it has nothing to do with sound, but its nice when a new toy makes a positive first impression. The cardboard packaging is minimalist but artistic, and happily uses no annoying shrink-wrap.

I had for some reason expected these to be large earbuds, but in fact they are fairly small. They are roughly the size of JVC marshmallows or RE0s, and smaller than JVC FX500s.

The cord on these is fairly long, probably too long for arm-mounted mp3 players but with plenty of room for deep pant pockets. The cord is thin and has a rubbery feeling. The attachment to the bud is pretty modest - they don't seem to be built all that strong, but time will tell if they have any durability issues. The cord is very manageable - I had no problems wearing it over ear w/out using guides. The cord is modestly microphonic - the provided shirt clip solves that, as does wear them over ear.

Isolation is average for shallow insertion IEMs. I can maintain a conversation over low volume music if I talk somewhat loudly.

I found both IEMs to be extremely comfortable. I went through my usual selection of various silicone and foam tips, but found the stock medium tips were comfortable and had the best sound quality. I'm finding these phones are very sensitive to tip style, and using the wrong tip can hurt the sound more than on my other IEMs.

How do they sound?

Both of these guys gave me the impression they needed to loosen up a bit right out of the box, so I'll only paint some broad strokes here and leave conclusions for later. I've listened to the Thunder more than the Rain, because my wife fell in love with the Rain as soon as she saw them, and spent the afternoon listening to them. She thinks they sound great, for the record.

The Thunder is, sonically, the U-shaped version of the Rain. A 'U-shaped' sound simply means that the high/treble and low/bass sounds are somewhat more emphasized. However, they both have a fundamentally similar 'house' sound. This sound is:

- somewhat subdued treble, more so (subdued) in the Rain.
- full mids
- realistic, full base in the Rain and boosted, notably strong base in the Thunder.

This leads to

- a smaller, intimate soundstage.
- tone and timbre, which to my ears sounds very correct and pleasant. I think I'm hearing the wood housing here.
- a non-fatiguing, but pretty and very smooth sound signature.
- a perception of less extreme detail than strong-treble phones.

Keep in mind, again, these impressions are right out of the box - I might hear these again in two days and change my mind on a few things. I have some more thoughts rattling around about these, but I'll do a part 2 post in a few days.
post #2 of 121
Thread Starter 

.. a few more pics

One more unpacking, and comparison to Marshmallows and fx500s.
post #3 of 121
Thread Starter 
Please check out average_joe's Thunder review here:

post #4 of 121
Just a note for you; the connection inside the earbud is backed up with a knot to keep tension off the solder connections to the inner driver. The cable is average size but it went extremely far on reliability tests and far surpassed industry standards. The size of the cable isn't the only thing that makes it strong as the inner windings of the copper, inner reinforcement and outer jacket material. You will see with time but these earbuds were designed to be rugged and if there are issues we will take them back.

best regards,
Aaron Fournier
post #5 of 121
Thread Starter 
I've been listening to the Thunder model for a couple of days now. I'm really looking forward to spending time with Rain as well, but my current pair was snagged by my wife. We've ordered another pair So my comments are mostly about the Thunder, although I think Rain has a similar core sound, just a bit more neutral.

I've never seen a phone change more dramatically with burn in - and that includes the Prolines or the AKG 701s. Right out of the box, I couldn't get past the feeling that mids were too thick and congested, and the highs too recessed. It seemed like an IEM with a headcold.

24 hours of burn in totally solved that. The sound has opened up, the mid congestion has gone away, and the highs sound spot on.

These are wonderful phones to spend time with. They are small and fit quite comfortably for hours on end. The sound signature is warm but slightly dry, and nothing about the sound fatigues even after a long listening session.

These do not have a dramatic, jump out at you sound signature. They are warm. Tone and timbre are round, full and organic. They are lively but not desperate for attention. They are pleasantly detailed, but not with the extreme "black and white" detail of treble-centric headphones. They don't hide the mids to boost energy or detail - they are instead very balanced across the frequency spectrum. Soundstage is intimate.

Thunder does have a obvious bass boost - its there, but it is at least very organic sounding base. Still, I think over time I'll prefer the Rain model, when I finally get to spend quality time with a well burned in pair. My wife raves about her Rains - she wants to pass along that they are the best headphone she's heard, including all the other stuff in my signature.

So these are awesome phones that will please anyone who

- Wants comfortable IEM for long listening sessions
- Doesn't want high-energy tuned phones
- Loves natural timbre as part of the audiophile experience

Burn them in well and enjoy!
post #6 of 121
THanks for the review. Could you post some sonic comparison between those and re0 and fx500?
post #7 of 121
Thread Starter 
Hi daouda,

I'm going to answer your question, but I want to talk about 'timbre' versus 'detail'.

Let's compare songs to pictures. Start with a really great black and white photograph. Perfect lighting, perfect focus, high resolution. It looks really cool, and even though it is black and white it seems somehow lifelike. Lots of well defined edges between objects, you can see even small pieces of the picture with a lot of clarity. In other words, high 'detail'.

So why add color (and I'm comparing this to 'timbre') to photography? I can think of three reasons. The most obvious is realism - we see color in real life. The second reason is beauty - think of a sunset. The third reason is that it really is more information. Suppose you have a black and white photo of two different colored blankets swirled together. With enough resolution, you can study the picture and tell the blankets apart. With a color photograph, you can tell the objects apart at a glance, with no effort, even if the photo is poor quality - blurry or low resolution.

(By the way, about a million other people have made this comparison, but I like it, so I use it)

Timbre works much the same way in sound reproduction. It adds realism and beauty. And sort of like those blankets, it helps with instant, intuitive instrument separation. Instrument separation can be spatial (this violin is to right and a bit behind that other violin) but it can also be accomplished with tone and timbre (the tuba and the piano are on top of each other, but it doesn't matter because they so obviously sound different).

So lately I've really been listening for good timbre in my phones.

There's really no debate about whether a photograph is black and white or color, but different people can hear the same headphone and have a different impression of its timbre.

So re0, fx500, Thunder:

I find the re0 to be like that great black and white photo. I can hear nuances in music that lesser phones can't resolve. It can be beautiful in a stark way, like b&w photography. But I have to say, I don't find its timbre reproduction very appealing. I miss the realism and the beauty, and I just don't hear it with these. I know these are popular IEMs, and I'm sticking my neck out a little criticizing them, but that is how they strike me.

The fx500 have really superb timbre, and also quite a lot of detail. These are great phones in many ways. If they have a problem, it is that they are very U-shaped (boosted highs and lows), and the treble can be sibilant in the extreme. If you listen to low quality recordings, or you just aren't in the mood, the fx500 can scratch your ears out. But I still like them - if I'm in the right mood and feel them quality recordings, they can be beautiful and revealing like no other phone.

The Thunder, well I'm just repeating my review. Really good honest timbre, without the compromises of the fx500 but without maybe that last bit of perfection. Details are present but subtly presented, without the b&w photo sharpness. These phones have an odd way of sounding better the longer they are in your ears, which is the reverse of a lot of phones.

Man I'm typed out. I hope I answered your question somewhere in there.

ps - I'm not even going to try to spell check this, hope I didn't say anything silly!
post #8 of 121
Thread Starter 
"feed them quality recordings" - duh

post #9 of 121
Thanks for the impressions so far. I've been lurking for a few weeks, but this thread pulled me out of hiding.

I was wondering if the nozzle on these phones is the right size for replacement tips from other brands, like Shure's olives? If I tried these, I'd probably want to use double or triple flanges for the isolation, without modding them.
post #10 of 121
The Thunder, which I consider to be a canal phone, has the standard canal phone nozzles (IE8, RE0, etc.), and the Olives would only work decored. Don't think you can stretch the olive core over them. The Sony hybrids also work with them, but it takes a little work (as is the case with the hybrids on all large canal phones sound tubes).
post #11 of 121
Thread Starter 
Hi theKraken11,

Both thinksounds have a pretty large nozzle. De-cored Shure olives fit, but with the built in plastic core, Shures are pretty small in diameter and don't fit many phones. Comply 400 series barely fit, but they are a little more snug than I like (over the nozzle). I haven't tried them, but the Comply 500 series might do the trick.

Silicone tips are stretchy & I've had no problem with fitting them.

The stock tips are a soft silicone - they work well for me.

Happy listening!
post #12 of 121
Thread Starter 
tstarn06, I'm wondering if you'd maybe say a few words about your impressions w/ the Thunder. I'm always curious about other head-fiers opinions. No worries if you don't feel like it, of course.
post #13 of 121
Thanks for the update jdc65, much appreciated and great job. I totally feel what you are saying about timbre vs detail and this is the reason why i had discarded the RE0 as "uninvolving" very early and went for hippo VBs instead based on what i had read. I myself am more of a music-lover than an audiophile, and can be somehow of an analytical listener but in term of music and not sound : i dont care much about details and extreme sound clarity/accuracy but i like to track every instrument independently (esp. with jazz & any other music where instruments have some degree of freedom). And i definitely look for beauty much more than high-fidelity. For those reason, the FX500 would seem like a great fit for me, but i have learned from my experience with the VBs that i might have an above-average sensitivity to treble harshness and sibilance. Hence my interest towards the thunder, which now definitely looks like a good fit for me, but i'm still not sure wether or not they would be a step-up from the VBs.

This is why i would be VERY interested by any impressions from tstarn, especially considering that he owns the S4 (which i suspect to share a similar sound sig with the VBs, at least they have both been accused of treble harshness and sibilance by some people, sometimes disappearing with "burn in" for some) and the cyclon pr1 pro (which i have ordered and should receive soon!). Also, i suspect tstarn and I share somehow similar tastes in music (i also have The Roots very high among my favorites hip-hop artists, and i have a thing for most of the music, especially recent neo-soul stuff, coming out of philadelphia).

So tstarn, again, no pressure, but i'm really looking forward to your impressions of the thunder vs pr1 pro vs S4!!
post #14 of 121
Will post on it, but I am doing an extreme burn-in with a CD I received from a company called Iso-Tek. Some think it's just BS, but 6Moons did a review of the CD (basically, a burn-in CD) and I have it. Supposed to be a 56-minute workout is like 70-100 hours of burn-in. Not sure, but just ran the Thunder through the process for the 3rd time. Anyway, I am going to compare the Thunder specifically to the S4 and the PK1, since they are my two main "low budget" IEMs. In fact, my backup pair of PR1s arrived today, which is good.

One thing I have determined with the Thunder. I don't care for any silicone tips with it, much preferring the T400s. Average_Joe suggested the foamies, and I agree with him. The Thunder sound a little thin/harsh with silicones, even my beloved hybrids. The Complys seem to smooth out the sound, not muffle it but smooth it. So those tips will be on when I do a comparison listen among those three phones.
post #15 of 121
once you get your Rain in I'd be interested in how it compares with the RE0.
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