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In-Ear item created by Cinder, Oct 8, 2016
Pros - Eco-friendly materials. Full bodied sound. Extremely comfortable. Top build quality.
Cons - Cable is a little stiff
This sample was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions and observations here are my own based on my experience with the product. I have no affiliation with the company and do not benefit financially from this review. More of my reviews can be seen from the link in my Head-Fi profile or on my blog.
The ms02 has an MSRP of $119.99 but at the time of writing this review it can be purchased for $99.99 directly from the Thinksound website.
According to the Co-Founder and president of Thinksound Aaron Fournier the company was formed
Not only that but they also wanted to make their products using Eco-friendly materials which I think is an admirable attribute for any manufacturer and to top it off they offer discounts on future purchases if you send in your old headphones for their recycling initiative.
A little about me
Spoiler: Warning: Spoiler!
Like most people on this type of site I'm a lover of music. In my younger days I spent several years as a hip-hop DJ (using real vinyl and turntables) as well as producting a variety of music on computer using a combination of MIDI and live instruments. I did a Home Studio Sound Certificate at the Milton School of Audio Engineering in Brisbane, Queensland which covered the setup of audio for playback and recording in a studio environment along with other basic engineering principles. Nowadays I prefer to simply listen to and enjoy music.
My taste in music has changed a great deal over the years. For a long time my only interest was in rap and hip-hop music. Now though I listen to all kinds of music including jazz, classical, rock, psytrance, folk and ambient. I listen to music everyday using portable gear consisting of a DAP and mostly IEMs or simple desktop setup consisting of a laptop and DAC at work and my desktop setup at home which is based around my PC or Shinrico D3S with a DAC, often but not always including a tube amp and full-sized headphones or speakers.
My preferred sound signature is fairly balanced with slightly elevated mid-bass and deep well-extended sub-bass, clear and resolving midrange with a touch of warmth and clean, airy treble. I'm not offended but brighter sounding gear but dislike any sibilance. The majority of my music is 16/44.1 flac files as I stopped using physical media (CD/vinyl) many years ago and prefer the convenience of digital formats.
I often list a number of tracks or albums that I have used for testing a specific product in my reviews and they usually relate to things I've been listening to at the time of the review but note that during all my testing there are a number of ADDITIONAL standard tracks that I use for testing various aspects but do not list these in my reviews.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES The ms02 is delivered in a tiny little white box with a nice, clear image of the earphones adorning the front. Over on the back are some features of the ms02 and some information on the eco-friendly nature of the packaging along with the benefits of using wood as a material for their headphones and earphones. I believe this is a really sensible and responsible approach to packaging as once we remove our item from the box it usually ends up in the trash so there's really no need for big, flashy plastic laden delivery content. Inside along with the earphones you'll find:
Warranty information sheet
Thank you card
Unbleached canvas carry pouch
4 additional pairs of silicone ear-tips.
Overall it's a neat little package that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that you're not destroying the environment with your purchase. One thing that I thought would be nice is if the ear-tips came in an unbleached paper envelope or something similar instead of the plastic zip-lock bag as it would tie in better with the rest of the packaging theme.
BUILD, COMFORT AND ISOLATION Wood and metal, it's a timeless combination. You have the aesthetics, natural feel, plus the acoustic properties of wood and you get the rigidity, strength and consistency of metal, in this case polished aluminium. That's what you get with the ms02, Thinksound's monitor series IEM. Starting at the front end is the rather large aluminium nozzle with protective mesh cover. The aluminium section continues about a third of the way down the housing where it seamlessly joins the wooden rear section. On the underside you'll find L and R markings for Left and Right. So many manufacturers neglect this small detail and it can be really frustrating so thank you Thinksound for paying attention to detail. The surfaces are smooth and polished and look as good as they feel. On the rear of the housing is the Thinksound logo in white.
The black PVC-free, Kevlar reinforced cable exits the housing within a really nice strain relief that provides plenty of flexibility and should reduce the likeliness of damaging the connection within. Farther down the line is the Y-split which also has good strain relief and is made from the same polished aluminium we saw on the housing and is adorned with Thinksound's branding. The cable under the Y-split is fairly thick for an IEM. It's a smooth rubber tubing that feels good in the hand and doesn't have any stickiness to it. It sits fairly well but never completely straight which is a shame and is most likely a result of the cable's thickness but on a positive note it is well resistant to tangling. The cable terminates in a gold-plated, 45 degree angled plug which again has very good strain relief and excellent build quality.
When it comes to comfort the ms02 nails it. The IEMs have a safe barrel shape and as mentioned above the surfaces are polished and smooth. Added to the housing's 10g ultra-lightweight design the result is something that I can wear all day long without discomfort. The largest of the included tips have a wide bore and are the perfect size for me so overall I find the comfort exceptional. Sound isolation is slightly above average for a dynamic driver IEM, in part because there's no bass port or ventilation on the housing. Fortunately for me there was no driver flex as a result. I find the ms02 ideal for any situation, including commuting or a noisy environment.
Sources used for testing
Mrobo C5 V2.0
Acoustic Research M20
PC/MusicBee > Audinst HUD-MX2 > Phatlab Sassy II
What I've been listening to lately
Solar Fields - Blue Moon Station
The Gloaming - The Gloaming
Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
Trevor Morris - Vikings OST
Roque Banos - In the Heart of the Sea (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Thundercat - Drunk
Like most IEMs the ms02 tends to sound a little more fleshed out when powered by a solid DAC or headphone amplifier, however it still sounds great straight out of a smartphone or DAP.
Although the ms02 is part of Thinksound's monitor series it doesn't really have a reference sound. It is a fairly balanced presentation but very musical and more tuned towards fun with added warmth and a well extended but non-aggressive treble.
Bass is full bodied with an emphasis on mid-bass but it's well controlled and has some nice texture to it though some bass notes have a bit of a soft edge on them. Sub-bass can dig fairly deep but rolls off a little early. For the most part though it will satisfy during bass drops or when called upon and responds well to extra amplification without distorting.
The ms02's midrange comes with plenty of body and warmth but manages to do so without getting muddy or congested. They're balanced fairly well with the bass and treble so not really recessed but not overly forward either. Vocals are rich and natural on the ms02. In Thundercat's "Drink Dat (feat. Wiz Khalifa)" the vocals manage to stay forward of the thick kick drums and bass guitar.
When it comes to treble the ms02 does a fine balancing act between extension and smoothness. Overall the sound is warm and full-bodied and after listening to the ms02 almost exclusively for a couple of weeks I was thinking of them as a bit toward dark. This is just the impression given by the fullness of the midrange and weighted bass though. When comparing directly with the SHOZY Zero I was quite surprised just how much more treble the ms02 has. This makes it a great IEM for showcasing the genius of Gavin Harrison's hi-hats and cymbals in "The Final Thing on My Mind" from Your Wilderness by The Pineapple Thief. They manage to produce far reaching treble without any hint of stridency or harshness.
ms02 vs SHOZY Zero ($60 USD):
Hmm battle of the woodies right here. If anyone remembers the time of the Zero launch they were lauded as being comparable to earphones many times more the price so this should be a fair comparison. When it comes to build there are quite a few similarities between these two. For a start they both sport a metal front end and wooden rear on the housing. Both have a very similar capsule shape to them but the Zero is shorter and wider than the ms02. The supplied ear-tips are practically identical and with their similar shapes I find them both to be equally comfortable.
The biggest differences between these is evident in the sound they produce. The most noticeable variance is in the treble and it's immediately apparent that the ms02 has much more forward treble and better treble extension. With regards to bass these are almost playing the same drum but the Zero has ever so slightly more sub-bass extension. In the midrange the ms02 has more body and warmth and a fuller sound overall and the Zero is closer to neutral.
Now how to pick a winner here? Some may find the treble too dulled down on the Zero but then it probably does have slightly better resolution and separation in the midrange due to being less full-bodied but if you're more into vocals the ms02 probably gets the edge here. I think it's going to come down to personal preference on the sound level and as far as build goes there's not much difference between these competitors though I will say I prefer the cable on the ms02.
ms02 vs Accutone Gemini HD ($119 USD):
So here we have two single dynamic driven earphones at near the same price point but both have a very different approach. The Gemini HD is an all metal IEM and also comes with 3 sets of interchangeable filters that allows the user to customize the sound to suit their tastes. For comfort I'd say the Thinksound comes out ahead with its smooth curves and light weight while Accutone's offering has straight back edges that can cause hot-spots after a fairly short amount of time. Moving on to the sound. Just like the Zero, the Gemini HD has a very restrained treble giving an overall thick and dark sound. The midrange on the Accutone sounds a little muddied in comparison while the Thinksound has an airiness and more clarity throughout. Both these earphones have a similarly boosted bass level. For my preferences this is a relatively simple choice and I would go with the ms02 for its sound and comfort. If however you are treble sensitive and prefer a darker sounding IEM the Gemini HD is a decent offering and has outstanding build quality.
From left to right: Thinksound ms02, Accutone Gemini HD, SHOZY Zero
Thinksound's ms02 is a great earphone. The build is solid, the earphones very comfortable and priced competitively. Being eco-friendly gains some extra points as well in my view. When it comes to sound the ms02 is no slouch. It offers a warm but balanced presentation with good extension on both ends and a rich, musical midrange. Although the sound is full and engaging its non-fatiguing and you should be able to enjoy your music for hours on end unless you're particularly treble sensitive. I personally have spent some days with these in my ears for over 4 or 5 hours straight and even then removed them only because life required me to do other things.
Bottom line is, if you're looking for the natural timbre of a (well tuned) single dynamic driver or just excellent sound in general the Thinksound ms02 fully deserves your attention in the sub $100 bracket. Do yourself and the environment a favor by getting these in your ears.
Pros - Warm, balanced sound that portrays emotion well - Great fit and finish
Cons - Driver flex - Slightly veiled midrange
Today we are going to be looking at the MS02, thinksound's top of the line, wooden-bodied in-ear earphone.
thinksound was founded in 2009 by Aaron Fournier and Mike Tunney with the goal of making headphones that satisfied a number of lofty goals; meeting their own personal sound expectations, being visually pleasing, comfortable, and environmentally conscious. They're gone so far as to partner with Universal Recycling Technologies and start their own headphone recycling program to achieve this last goal.
Aaron Fournier is an experienced sound engineer having worked in the past with names like Tivoli and V-Moda before moving on to create thinksound and First Harmonic. As you can imagine, when it comes to sound quality thinksound knows what they're doing and if you've heard the MS02 I think you would agree.
The MS02's smartly-tuned 8mm dynamic driver is enclosed in a beautifully simple wood and aluminum housing. At the time of this review it retailed for 99 USD. You can check it out here on thinksound's site; https://store.thinksound.com/products/ms02
I would like to thank Aaron for sending over a review sample of the MS02 in exchange for a fair and impartial review. While I get to keep the MS02 following the completion of this review, I still consider it the property of thinksound. There is no financial incentive for writing about this product. All comments and opinions within are my own and do not represent thinksound or any other entity.
Over the last couple years I decided to dive head first into the world of portable audio. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI's multi-earphone review thread and being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own reviews. Fast forward a couple years and I've had the opportunity to write about some great products for wonderful companies like RHA, Havi, FiiO, NarMoo, Brainwavz, and Meze. I don't do it for money or free stuff, but because I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to an earphone that makes them happy, I'll consider that a job well done.
The gear I use for testing is pretty basic composing of an XDuoo X3 (with Rockbox update) HTC One M8 cellphone, Topping NX1 portable amplifier, and my aging Asus G73 gaming laptop paired with a Plantronics Rig USB amp. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. When it comes to signature preference I tend to lean towards aggressive and energetic, but I try not to limit myself to one signature only. I also tend to listen at lower than average volumes.
Packaging and Accessories:
To aide in meeting their goal of being environmentally conscious, the MS02's packaging is refreshingly straightforward. As I've said in other reviews, I love a complicated and unnecessarily premium unboxing experience such as what you get with the Havi B3 Pro 1, Dunu Titan 1, and a number of other products. I've also made it known that a similarly subdued unboxing experience can be attractive if pulled off correctly, such as what you'll get from the California-based NarMoo.
thinksound finds a comfortable middle ground with the MS02. The packaging consists of a small cardboard box made from recycled materials that is approximately 3 3/4" x 2 3/4" x 1" in size. The front shows an image of the earphones while the back covers key features, specifications, and tells you a little about the company. Inside you're greeted by the canvas carrying case which contains the MS02 and accessories. thinksound doesn't mess around with plastic inserts or unnecessary cardboard or foam trays.
The canvas bag feels durable and is closed by tugging two drawstrings. It won't offer much protection again being crushed, but it works fine for slipping in your pants pocket or bag. Also included with the MS02 is a simple shirt clip that I've seen with countless other earphones. It's not my favorite clip out there, but when combined with the MS02's light and flexible cable, it does the job.
The fours sets of wide bore silicone eartips are made of a good material. They seal well and fit the earphone properly. Sizes are listed as s/m/l/xl on the back of the box though I would argue xs/s/m/l is a better description based on how most others in the industry classify their tip sizes. In the end, it really doesn't matter as you can rest assured that you'll probably find an included tip that works just fine with your ears. I know I liked the pre-installed medium tips and had no reason to swap them out.
Overall the MS02's packaging experience is basic and meets thinksound's goals of being environmentally considerate.
Build, Design, Comfort and Isolation:
There's something about wooden earphones that immediately makes me feel good inside. Even something as cheap as the J+- Wooden Earbuds I found for 3 CAD on clearance at my local grocery store a couple years ago felt somewhat special, simply because they used real wood. Comparing them to the MS02 isn't fair because the quality difference between the two is night and day. I'm just trying to get across that wood feels good.
The MS02's wooden section looks and feels especially nice. The craftsmanship is flawless with a smooth, evenly applied chocolate finish. Where the aluminum and wood meets is a slight gap, just tight enough to prevent a fingernail from slipping in. Impressive was that the wood didn't have any nicks or blemishes at the edges as I experienced recently with the Meze 12 Classics. The aluminum front half is very cleanly cut. The edges are well-defined but not sharp. The nozzle is fairly standard at 5mm so you're good with most aftermarket tips if you lose or want to replace the stock ones.
The 4', PVC-free, Kevlar reinforced cable used for the MS02 doesn't look like much, but it does an excellent job of resisting tangles as longas it's wrapped up neatly, it doesn't hold memory beyond some very minor bends, and it's quite flexible. It also does a good job of reducing microphonics, something that can immediately ruin even the best sounding earphone for me. Strain relief from top to bottom is also well implemented, another pet peeve of mine.
The MS02's standard barrel shape and light 10g weight means they are very comfortable when worn cable up or cable down. The housings are fairly long so if you like to use your earphones in bed, lying on your side probably isn't an option. They should be fine for exercise use, however, as to my pleasant surprise they are listed as being sweat resistant.
I found isolation to be above average for a dynamic-driver based earphone, in part due to the lack of ventilation on the housing. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of pretty severe driver flex in the right earpiece.
Overall the MS02 is beautiful in it's simplicity, well-constructed, extremely comfortable, and minus the driver flex is a very pleasant earphone to live with on a daily basis. It's also backed by a 1 year limited warranty for some additional security.
- 8mm dynamic driver
- 15Hz to 20kHz frequency response
- 96 ±3 dB @ 1KHz 1mW sensitivity
- 16 ohm impedance
Tips: I really enjoyed the MS02 with the stock and other similarly wide-bored tips installed. I found small bore tips like Sony Hybrids or those from RHA to boost mid-bass presence and exacerbate the driver flex, so I spent the vast majority of my time listening with the stock mediums.
Amping: The MS02 felt punchier and more accurate through my NX1 vs. straight out of my XDuoo X3 or HTC One M8, so I tended to prefer listening to them amped the majority of the time. That said, they were very easy to drive with unamped. At the volumes I listen amping isn't used to boost volume but to get a cleaner sound out of the earphone.
Maybe it's simply a placebo, but there is something about the sound you get from a wood-bodied earphone that metal-bodied earphones just can't replicate. It could be a touch or warmth and softness, a more subtle and realistic decay, or something else entirely. Whatever it is, I get why wood-bodied earphones are desirable. The MS02 is too colored and warm to be called neutral, but it would be hard to argue their balanced is skewed too much in favor of one particular frequency range. Every aspect of their sound gets it's fair shake.
Treble is smooth, and well-extended with just a bit of edge to it. It could be just a little tighter as cymbals have a touch more splash to them than I would want, but overall it's well done. It sticks out when called for, and steps back when undesired. Even at the low volumes I listen to the MS02 manages to bring forth lots of detail. Up the volume and it's treble retains composure without any uncomfortable peaks or unnatural dips. I find The Prodigy's most recent albums, Invaders Must Die and The Day is My Enemy, with their gritty, low-fi presentation really exacerbate poorly done treble. The MS02 has no issues with Get Your Fight On's constant treble assault.
It's midrange tilts towards the thicker end of the presentation and if use to a thinner sound can come across slightly veiled. Spend some time with MS02 to become accustomed to this meaty mid-range and you'll begin to appreciate the detail and texture that comes along with it. On Daft Punk's Touch, which I consider one of, if not their best track to date, really shows off the MS02's strengths. Paul William's vocals combined with the excellent guitar work and layers upon layers of other effects and the emotion all of this carries is captured in it's entirety by this earphone.
The MS02's bass is one of my favorite aspects. The texture and punch it brings to the table, as exemplified when listening to Infected Mushroom's Deeply Disturbed, is lots of fun and immerses you in your music. Focus is pretty squarely placed on mid-bass frequencies, but as heard on Gramatik's Bluestep the MS02 has no issues carrying the song along a wave of low end rumble. Extension could be improved and they won't satisfy a basshead, but the overall presentation is quite warm and enjoyable. Decay is realistic, and they present drums in what is probably the most enjoyable and accurate fashion of any of my other earphones in this price range. Just listen to the opening scenes of Incubus' 4th Movement of the Odyssey.
The MS02's presentation is quite intimate and personal. It's soundstage wraps around your head without a huge sense of air or space, but it handles this well. They layer sounds quite well avoiding a congested presentation, and image between channels with confidence. Infected Mushroom's Converting Vegetarians is not a song that sits still for any length of time with effects constantly swirling between channels, and MS02 performs admirably.
Meze 12 Classics (79.00 USD): Yet another attractive wooden earphone, the 12 Classics make for a great comparison with the MS02. While they offer similar signatures, the MS02 comes across as the more 'hi-fi' of the two. They're brighter, less bassy, and have an even more prominent midrange. I found the MS02 offers a touch more clarity and detail at the cost of soundstage width/height. They come across as more direct and focused than the 12 Classics, but also more natural or realistic.
The wooden portion of the MS02 is cleaner cut and better finished than the 12 Classics, and the aluminum front portion fits with great precision. Meze's cable is much thicker and more durable above the y-split. Gauge is very similar below the y-split. Thinksound's cable is the more flexible of the two, but also happens to retain very mild hints of bends and kinks.
Overall they're both great earphones and it would be hard to choose one over the other.
Audbos DB-02 (59.99 USD): The MS02 and DB-02 both utilize wood in their housings and have similar signatures, but they each get there in different ways. The MS02 uses only a dynamic driver while the DB-02 is a hybrid.
Both earphones are warm but theDB-02 is notably sharper and more edgy. While the BA presents more detail than the MS02's single dynamic, it's as a little rough around the edges and can be sibilant and tiresome. The DB-02 has a larger and more open presentation but falls short of giving listeners the same accurate layering and imaging. It's not far off though.
The DB-02's half-earbud type design means they lack the flexibility of the MS02. If you want to wear them cable over ear you'll have to swap channels lest you're fine with sacrificing some comfort. The overall build quality on both models is similar, but the MS02's fit and finish is notably cleaner. It also has a more substantial cable with a higher quality jack and y-split.
Blue Ever Blue Model 1200EX (130.00 USD): The Model 1200EX impresses with a spacious soundstage and audiophile-focused tuning. It is colder, more neutral, and significantly less bassy than the MS02, offering up more detail and greater technical prowess across the entire frequency range. This is aided by a much thinner overall presentation.
The 1200EX's solid metal housings are significantly heavier and are designed to be worn cable down. I found the MS02 much more comfortable as a result. While BeB's cable could be better relieved, the quality makes up for this. It is the more expensive of the two, so no big surprise there.
The MS02 is the one to get if you prefer and more relaxed, balanced sound with some low end kick. The 1200EX would suit your tastes more if you want a more neutral, detailed and analytic presentation.
thinksound's MS02 is a well-put together product with a number of strengths. I find their warm, balanced signature very natural and engaging. As a result they are something you can sit down and listen to without worry. They offer up just the right amount of treble and bass with a prominent midrange that evokes lots of emotion. I would like to see thinksound add some ventilation to the earpieces to help with the driver flex, as that was really the only thing that hindered my immersion when listening.
If you're in the market for a new earphone, enjoy a warm, balanced signature, and are looking to spend around 100 USD, the MS02 would be an excellent purchase. It looks great and sounds even better. What more could you ask for?
Thanks for reading!
Aesop Rock - Saturn Missles
BT - The Antikythera Mechanism
Daft Punk - Touch
Gramatik - Bluestep (Album Version)
Incubus - 2nd/3rd/4th Movements of the Odyssey
Infected Mushroom - Converting Vegetarians
Infected Mushroom - Deeply Disturbed
Jessie J - Bang Bang
Kiesza - Hideaway
King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black
Run The Jewels - Oh My Darling (Don't Cry)
Skindred - Death to all Spies
Supertramp - Rudy
The Prodigy - Get Your Fight On
Pros - Great bass, warm sound signature, eco-friendly, solid build
Cons - cable kinks easily, few extra eartips
-Introduction- Thinksound is a rather unique headphone company. While many companies will focus on flashy boxes, bright adverts, and shiny materials, Thinksound takes a much more subtle route to differentiating it’s products. After all, how hard is it to find wooden earphones? Sure, not hard, but how hard is it to find earphones built exclusively from reclaimed wood and aluminum, PVC free plastic, and that have a carrying pouch made from entirely reclaimed cotton? Pretty hard. But that’s exactly what the MS02 is. However,
Aaron Fournier, the CEO of Thinksound would never ask you to buy something that didn’t sound great, and the MS02 delivers.
You can find the MS02 on Thinksound’s official website here for $100.
Disclaimer: This review is based upon a sample unit provided to me by a manufacturer or distributor in exchange for my honest opinion and un-edited words. I do not profit in any way from the writing of the review. I would like to thank Aaron at Thinksound for sending me this review unit.
Preference and Bias: Before reading a review, it is worth mentioning that there is no way for a reviewer to objectively pass judgment on the enjoy-ability of a product: such a thing is inherently subjective. Therefore, I find it necessary for you to read and understand what I take a natural liking to and how that might affect my rating of a product.
My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, bass. The mids should be slightly less pronounced than the treble, but still ahead of the bass. I prefer a more bright upper range.
Source: The MS02 was powered like so:
PC optical out-> HifiMe SPDIF 9018 DAC 3.5mm out-> earphones
AP100 3.5mm out -> earphones
All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.
-Sound Signature- Initial Impressions:
Warm. After all, that’s Thinksound’s house sound. You won’t find a single IEM designed by Aaron that’s not full and euphoric, owing partly to the rich wood that he builds his IEMs from. The mid and sub-bass are synergistic in a special way, elating both drums and bass guitars. The vocals and mids are slightly behind the bass, but are fairly in line with the treble giving the MS02 a fairly laid back sound signature, though not lacking in detail.
Treble: Songs used: White Flag, Midnight City, Outlands
Despite having to cut through thick bass, the treble of White Flag manages to push through the mix fairly well. While not emphasized, it is still easy to make out the details in the background of the song, partially due to the good extension of the 8mm dynamic driver the MS02 uses.
While the layering and airiness of Outlands could have been better, I found the MS02 to be above average for a warm IEM. It is also worth noting that the sound stage sounds slightly more congested at lower volumes that at medium and high ones, though this could be due simply to the way our minds process volume.
Mids: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Good Life
The mids of Flagpole Sitta were fairly well presented. The warmth doesn’t cloud up the mids, but adds body and weight to it, something I find many IEMs in this price bracket struggle to accomplish. The guitars resonate well, but are softer in the mix. Jacked Up’s piano was predictably soft, but replaced the hard edge with a decent amount of impact. The secondary piano sounded great though, as the upper-mids seem to be rather unaffected by the extra body the lower-mids have. The vocals of both I Am The Highway and Jacked Up were in control of the song, but never got pushed too far in front of the rest of the instrumentation.
Bass: Songs used: Lights, Gold Dust, 99 Problems (Hugo Cover), Leave Me
The MS02 performs well in most categories, but is especially proficient in the art of the bass drop. Gold Dust was visceral, deep, and impactful, especially when played out of my AP100. Leave Me performed just as well. The MS02's excellent sub bass and lower-mid bass really push the song beyond what other more “reference” IEMs are capable of.
However, the MS02 can reign itself back in when needed, as with Lights and 99 Problems. The bass never overpowers the song. You won’t forget that the bass is there, but at the same time, you won’t really want it to be gone either. This being said, despite the MS02 being Thinksound’s most reference IEM, it is definitely not for listeners looking for a true reference sound signature. If you didn’t get that from my review thus far, well, now you know.
Clarity: Songs used: Throne, Map of The Problimatique, I’m Not Alright
I’ll admit that I didn’t expect the MS02 to do too well on Throne. After all, the Rain2 didn’t do so well, so why should this IEM? I am happy to say that I was wrong. Due to the MS02's emphasis on some of the frequencies that are less busy, the song sounds more full and avoids distortion and doesn’t become blown out. This bodes well for people who listen to very busy songs from genres such as punk and metal.
I’m Not Alright performed decently well, but failed to resolve some of the background detail’s I’d become accustomed to hearing with the RHA T20. However, this is to be expected given the great price disparity between the two IEMs and their respective tunings. For example, the background violins of the chorus didn’t cut through too well.
Since soundstage is largely predicated on the treble an IEM produces, the MS02 struggles to maintain an open and airy soundstage, instead creating a cozy and intimate box for your favorite artists to play in. This makes the MS02, in my humble opinion, a good on-the-go IEM, but harps on the flow and symphonic feeling of classical music and other “huge” genres.
-Packaging / Unboxing- Inside the packaging you will find the MS02 inside its cloth carrying pouch along with the extra sets of eartips and shirt clip.
-Build- Construction Quality
The MS02 is graced with the usual Thinksound construction, meaning you can expect an understated and refined look from the reclaimed wood and polished aluminum that Aaron uses almost exclusively to build his IEMs. The actual nozzle is quite large, but doesn’t feel fragile at all. Given Thinksound goes out of its way to create as small an eco-footprint as possible, I really have to give them props for making such a well-rounded product.
The cable is, as with the Rain2 I reviewed before, my one complaint. I understand the challenge that PVC-free plastic poses to cable engineering, but I think that it’s possible to make a cable that is less prone to remembering its bends. The cable terminates in a 45 degree 3.5mm jack with a new stress relief design. It’s more compact and easier on the eye than the ones on the last generation of Thinksound IEMs.
Despite my oddly shaped ear canals, I found the MS02 to be quite easy to seal and fit. The light wooden housings don’t pull down on the seal at all, making it quite easy to forget you are actually wearing the earphones at all.
Accessories The MS02 comes stocked with minimal accessories, which is forgivable when taking into account the rest of the package. Included in the box you will find:
4 sets of silicone eartips
Cloth carrying pouch
The cloth carrying pouch is surprisingly sturdy, and feels far better than it looks, all things considered. After all, it is made from reclaimed cotton!
-Summary- The MS02 is perfect for the eco-friendly audiophile looking for a warm IEM and understated design. With a relaxed tuning, solid construction, and reasonable comfort, I can recommend the MS02 with few reservations. However, listeners who prefer accuracy and reference sound should stay away. The hearty sound signature of the MS02 is probably not for you.