Thinksound Rain Review
First Impression: Again with that box, it really just so looks like it belongs in The Body Shop, I have said it before and I’m sure I’ll be saying again but manufacturers give me a proper case or give me nothing. Do not give me one of these half arsed little baggie things! They protect nothing! With that moan over I must compliment Thinksound on a very nice looking product. If there is one thing no one can deny about these little beauties is that they just look wonderful. In no way shape or form am I some eco loving hippy but they just ooze loveliness and I do love me some slab of dead tree. I really do not believe photos do these justice in the slightest.
Acoustically first thoughts are positive, a more balanced sound here than their siblings the ts01. Still a rather rich and organic sound but not quite sooo much. Away to the burn in machine you go.
Source 1G iPod Shuffle with a 75 ohm adapter added
Lows: Warm and rich, deep and lush, smooth and expansive. You get the idea. While I can’t say I’m loving things, for me is all just too rich and organic. That said it is very nice and pleasant on the ears, everything is so warm and creamy and the lows feel so effortlessly deep and controlled. Jack Johnsons “Sexi Plexi” and many of his songs with their rich, low held notes sound fantastic. They make me feel like I want to go make a hot chocolate and curl up on the couch, watch the rain out the window and just indulge. (note its actually blazing sunshine, grr stupid glossy laptop screen) on the whole I find these a little on the too warm, too smooth, too rich, too indulgent side of things. I want a little more snap. On naturally rich songs the Rains sound just lovely but on songs that are vastly quicker they just don’t keep up. They want to smooth and warm songs that are meant to be cold, hard and fast. Depending on your musical tastes this may well not be a problem and same will no doubt welcome the Rain’s colouration.
Quantity wise these are on the more abundant side of things still but retain a much better balance than the ts01. So a bit bass heavy but certainly no CX300’s.
Mids: Guess what word I want to use repeatedly? Yep you guessed it, rich. The Rain’s offer a very rich, warm vocal range and just like the lows on some things this is a gloriously lovely combination. For example Katie Melua sounds gorgeous, The Puppini Sisters however sound too thick, heavy and lifeless. So once more this is really going to depend on what you listen to and where your tastes lay. I can’t help but feel these are just too far to the warm and rich side of things. They are so smooth and relaxed like curling up with a duvet. It’s so very soft and indulgent which when that’s what you’re in the mood for its wonderful. Slap some upbeat bouncing pop monkeys like the Ting Tings and it’s just not entirely quite right. It doesn’t sound bad but it feels out of step. I want a little more air and light than these offer. Susan Wong fans make note she is rather beautiful on these.
The mids are however reasonably in balance, a bit behind the bass and a bit a head of the highs. A sound signature that is not dissimilar the thets01 but that seesaw has been levelled somewhat.
Highs: The treble here really isn’t standing out and demanding your attention. With such a rich and warm sounding IEM the treble (as I’m sure you had guessed) was going to likewise be softened and muted slightly. The highs are quite natural in their presentation and decay but they are unquestionably muted. It’s almost as though a soft cloth has been applied to the drumsticks as they strike the cymbals. The shimmer and decay are nice and smooth but there really ought to be a little more edge there. Songs that should be a little cold and hard aren’t. On paper I feel I ought to like that more than I am but it just feels like it’s been taken too far. It’s that bit too warm, too rich, and too smooth. I want a little more edge and excitement and the Rains just aren’t offering that.
Looking at this from the other side I can commend them for having a very unaggressive sound with absolutely no hint of harshness. This is, despite my moaning, is a far from a bad thing. Nothing kills and brutalises the ear like badly done, hard edged, abrasive treble. In fact brutal treble is a sure fire way to make me hate something like no other attribute. So if you have issues with treble sensitivity then this could be a nice option for you.
Soundstage: It’s quite pleasant and like many dynamics is on the better side of things, that surprised me a little given its thick rich sound. It is a little flat but it still sounds nice and broad. Instrument placement as you would expect isn’t spectacular but given its warm gentle presentation I never found myself wanting to be able to critically place where things anyway.
Comfort: These were not the most comfortable things I’ve ever used. They didn’t hurt or weren’t even really what I’d say unpleasant but I never found them to be melting away. They have a big wide nozzle and they always felt present in my ears. It never proved to be a bother but they just wouldn’t melt away like others do. It goes without saying this is utterly ear dependant.
Fit: Here these actually annoyed me a little. They weren’t a really a bother to fit but for some unfathomable reason they did not fit equally in both ears. After a short while they would equalise and sound the same on both sides. It annoyed me enough to use comply’s with them. As with comfort this can be very ear dependant.
Cable: Well it has a straight jack which I never love but it all feels solid and well crafted with its rubbery finish. It could really do with a cable synch though, not that its lack of one was a problem; it’s just something they should have.
Microphonic’s: Like pretty much everything, if I have a choice I wore these up and over my ears. I got no microphonic’s at all, wearing down I did. It wasn’t terrible but if you insist on wearing down a cable synch would have really helped but then it’s your own fault for not wearing them up in the first place.
Amped/Unamped: Was there a difference? Erm I can’t say I really noticed one and it was just the same with adding impedance to them. The difference was so slight it wasn’t worth the bother, other than of course making the hiss go away. If you really want to amp them the bright Icon Mobile helped the lighten these a touch but not enough to make it worth buying one.
Isolation: Pretty standard fare getting for a dynamic, that surprised me a little actually given they had a touch of driver flex and air pressure issues. It enough to get you run over if you’re not used to it and have yet to learn to look before crossing. What I really don’t get is why go for this compromise, I’d much rather the thing was vented better and loose a little isolation than have the irritating, pressure and driver flex annoyance. Thinksound isn’t alone in this so I can’t really single them out but it irritates me.
Build Quality: On the surface of things the build looks just wonderful. I really can’t speak highly enough of the beautiful finish these have. They seem so precision made, so lovingly crafted that it makes me sad to complain. The first set I got had a distinct venting issue on one side. I could however solve it by blocking the vent on the bad side. Normally I’d largely give the benefit of the doubt and ignore this but I have a similar issue with the replacement set. With the replacement ones they equalise themselves after a couple of minutes but this should be either happening on both sides or neither. That it happens on one earpiece worries me. Flipping the sides round proves it really is them and not me.
I would be happy to put this down to the natural differenced in their wooden construction but it’s not a problem I’ve had with other wooden IEM’s so I’m afraid I can’t. Maybe it was down to these having been sample sets that encountered temperature / humidity etc? I don’t know but I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t note it.
Accessories: Erm you really don’t get any, you get the ear tips, shirt clip and the afore mentioned little baggie thing. Not that you really need much but I’d really like to see that little baggie turn into a nice little case. MEElectronics is the one to emulate here.
Value: These have an RRP of US$100 (at present that’s £63) delivered anywhere in the word and at that level, I’m thinking no. If you adore a rich, lush sound then these do come into play as an option but while these are better than the ts01 by a noticeable chunk these still face the Sony EX500 and the Brainwavz M2 / ViSang R03 (they are the exact same thing just branded differently.) While they are all playing on the same field in sound quality the M2 / R03 is the winner of that contest. With the Rain’s you are paying for their luscious good looks and their hippy save mother earth credentials. (I have utterly no clue what the total carbon footprint and heavy metal usage of these are in comparison to the others) so while they say they are saving the earth I don’t know that the others are destroying it. Still it’s an admirable aim and they ought to be commended for their ideals.
Edit: I have AMP3 pricing in an it will be £59, just now you can get 10% off making them £54. http://www.advancedheadphones.co.uk/shop/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=thinksound
Still it’s going to really come down to what price you can get these for, what price you put on being green and how important looks are to you. Side by side aesthetically they massacre the M2 / R03 like Nigella Lawson next to Susan Boyle.
Conclusion: I can’t deny I have had some trouble from these. The first pair was wonky and the second pair made me worry if it would do the same. Looking over my review of these it seems as though I’m being a little hard on them and I am. They have a rather steep RRP and are just not widely available elsewhere. So how else can I judge them right now. Now let’s suppose for a moment that the price of these became akin to the EX500 and M2 /R03 then things really do change. These can compete acoustically with the both of them, though they are even richer than the already warm and smooth M2 / R03. A / B ing the two of them the Rain’s really can hold their ground which is saying something. The more I listen to the Rain’s the more I adjust to them and the more I find myself really enjoying them. The treble they have hidden in there is of a pretty decent quality and many vocals do just sound so lush. The bass is so smooth and powerfully deep. There is just so much to like here sound wise and I’m sure that once the prices become a little more sensible and in step with the competition these will sell well. I think these deserve to well too as they get so much more right than they do wrong, even if the build issues I had concern me.
The Rain’s offer a sound that is warm and rich encased in a simply beautiful package. Not only that but it comes with hippy esq feel good credentials. Then to top it off they look just beautiful in case I hadn’t mentioned that already. I like these.