Thinksound originally surfaced on head-fi around January with their Thinksound Rain and Thunder earphones with the latter being renamed TS01 and they have generally gotten positive reviews by other head-fi members. The mission of Thinksound according to their website is “to create incredible sounding headphones with the smallest eco-footprint possible”. Lastly I will be referring to these earphones as TS02 instead of TS02+mic just because it is easier.
One thing I don't like is audio jargon but that's inevitable here. There are times when I have some issues trying to explain what I am hearing as that is not easy to do imo so hopefully you will all understand me. I know some of you may be new and don't understand some of the terms so this link should make it easier for you and imo is the best audiophile dictionary I have seen.
As with the rest of my reviews my background is an important thing to know of so you know my personal biases and what I am familiar with. My signature is up to date and consists of my current gear. My previous gear is in my profile listed by order of ownership or to the best of my memory it is. My personal preference goes along the line of what I like to call neutrality. For reference some of my favorite earphones have been the Audio Technica CK10 and Hifiman RE0.
My musical preferences in no particular order are pop, rock, trance, country, jazz and asian pop.
Also as a disclaimer for my review everything here is IMO so YMMV. Please do not flame me if you disagree. I also make no attempt to try to write this from a neutral point of view since I do not believe that's possible. I will write it from my experiences and how I enjoy listening to an earphone which means certain preference biases which have already been pointed out.
Source: Cowon J3, Audinst HUD-MX1
Phones: Thinksound TS02+mic
Bitrate: A mix of mp3 to FLAC
Packaging and Included Accessories
Thinksound has a mission like stated before to provide the smallest eco-footprint possible and their packaging shows that is something they definitely believe. Instead of some kind of plastic packaging it comes entirely in recycled material from the packaging to the contents of it. You get a very easy to open package where a cardboard insert in inside. Inside is a cotton carrying pouch, four pairs of silicone tips in various sizes, a shirt clip, the earphones themselves and a small piece of paper containing some instructions on how to use the earphones. Instead of your typical cable tie it is a small piece of cotton string holding it together.
Overall the package is nice, simple and straight to the point. It is easy to open unlike some plastic packaging where it is almost impossible to open without hurting yourself. It contains the bare minimum of what should be included in an earphone purchase with one caveat. The cotton carrying pouch is useless and will not protect your investment. I would suggest spending a couple bucks on a semi hard case on ebay or an altoids tin can to protect your earphones.
The box the TS02+mic came in
The cardboard insert and instruction guide
shirt clip, TS02+mic earphones, a set of eartips and a cotton carrying pouch
My build quality standard is and will be the Audio Technica CK10 until I own another pair of phones that surpasses that phone's build quality. My standard has not been changed since owning the TS02+mic.
The build of these are nice. You get a straight plug (which I have come to prefer over a right angle) with a cable of good length with proper strain reliefs in all places where there should be one. The housing is made of wood and aluminum and just look real nice which I guess is an added bonus for wood housings. There is a vent on the back of the housing on both earphones. The mic is located on the right cable and that is the best way to differentiate among the left and right because the L and R markings are very difficult to see since they are engraved on the bottom of the aluminum and in the same color. The cable itself is nice as it is not overly microphonic and does not retain much memory.
I have have two issues however. There is some mild driver flex from time to time and there is no chin slider although it does have a mic on the cable so that can be forgiven..somewhat.
3.5mm straight plug
one button mic on the right cable
wooden housing with small vent in the back
side angle shot of the housing with strain relief
For those of you who are new to earphones or just unaware tips make a huge difference. You can bring out the potential of an earphone with the right tips or you can make a great sounding earphone sound horrible with the wrong set of tips. So I gathered all the larger nozzle sized tips I own and searched for the best tips.
The best tips to my ears were surprisingly the medium stock tips. The MEElectronics M9 balanced tips were also nice as well.
Microphonics and Isolation
I have worn these for the most part over the ear since I did not use these with a phone for the most part. With that being said microphonics has not been an issue. There is some when you wear them straight down but it is not too bad. Microphonics are pretty much gone once you wear them over the ear.
Isolation is about average but should be good enough for portable use. It definitely was enough for my uses in the NYC subway, buses and walking in the streets of Manhattan. It's not the best isolation so you don't get total silence but it should block out most noise when music is playing.
Fit and Comfort
I find these to be pretty comfortable and the fit is very straightforward. I have no issues wearing them over the ear or straight down if you need to make use of the mic.
I did test out the mic on a couple phone calls. The one button mic was pretty simple to use. Once you place a call the mic is automatically on and pressing the mic basically mutes everything. I don't really have any complaints about the mic and I was able to hear everything even when I was on a loud bus.
Thinksound provided a list of phones that they tested these out with. Those models are the following:
Apple iPod, iPhone, Macbook
Motorola Droid II, Droid X, Droid ERIS
HTC Droid Incredible, HTC EVO
Samsung Galaxy S
Blackberry (with 3.5mm standard headphone jacks)
Note: These went through around 75 hours of burn in prior to my judging of this section of this review.
The bass captivated me immediately. It has good extension, impact, rumble and is quite smooth. If you are a bass head then sorry to disappoint but these are definitely no bass monsters and they also lack the mid bass hump that some bass heads tend to enjoy. However don't mistake these for being bass anemic since these are anything but that. It definitely has a good amount of impact while remaining well controlled as well as providing the bass rumble that one usually associates with dynamic drivers. However the TS02 is not very fast here. I find that decay is a bit long and sometimes with complex bass passages the bass notes become blurry and difficult to pick out separate bass notes.
I really enjoy the midrange on these and I find the midrange one of the main focus of the TS02. The midrange is quite smooth and just has a way of grabbing your attention. That definitely has something to do with the warmth in the midrange. I find this area for the most part to be neither recessed nor forward which is something I like. Detail is quite good although it falls a bit short of the best earphones at this price range. The TS02 excel are the reproduction of stringed instruments as they sound very natural.
Moving on to the treble it has good extension, detail and definition. Decay with cymbals such as the crash and ride are much more natural and done much better than the bass decay. A relatively smooth treble is what I hear here and it lacks the extreme treble peak that would make the treble sound harsh, sibilant, piercing the ears and causing pain. The treble however is a bit soft due to the emphasis being in the bass and midrange. The treble as a whole is quite good especially at this price range. It won't be mistaken for those coming from an analytical phone but it is still very capable.
The TS02 has fairly good sound stage with good width and depth. This makes imaging to be fairly good. Lastly instrument separation is pretty decent falling behind some other models I have at the price range but should be good enough for the most part.
Timbre for the most part seems accurate and there weren't any moments when I had to struggle with identifying what instrument was being played. Typically dynamics have better timbre than their BA counterparts and the timbre here is done well although I do have to wonder how much of an effect the wooden housing had to do this timbre since this is my first encounter with a wooden housing.
The TS02 is a very nice sounding earphone. While it may not be the best sounding earphone at its price range Thinksound adds something to the table that many other earphones do not. That little something is the addition of a mic for use with your blackberry, iphone or any other phone that you want to use with these earphones to have the ability to listen to music and also make calls when necessary.
I've come to enjoy the pleasing sound of the TS02 over the last couple weeks. It definitely is a compromise between the two extremes which are the analytical and the bass head types of earphones. It's a fairly balanced sound while still providing a good amount of bass impact and should provide a pleasing sound for many people. Thinksound clearly has done their homework and has given us a good sounding product as well as a mic which is something we need more of or at least an option for one.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions please let me know and I will try my best to answer them.
Edited by rawrster - 10/19/10 at 8:33am