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Universal Fit item created by Cinder, Jul 30, 2017
Pros - Smooth, bassy signature - Simple design = Great comfort
Cons - Lacking the competition's value adding extras
Today we're going to be checking out the newest in-ear monitor from thinksound, the ts03+mic.
thinksound, a small American company founded in 2009 by Aaron Fournier and Mike Tunney, is no stranger to good sound. With every new release they have been delivering on their promise of products that perform well, are visually appealing, fit comfortably, and are environmentally friendly. They use natural and sustainable materials and keep packaging to a minimum to help ensure their products leave a small ecological footprint.
They even go so far as to offer a headphone recycling program, not limited to thinksound's own products, that gives you a percentage discount on your next purchase while reducing waste and reclaiming materials that would be better used outside of a landfill. It's a respectable practice and one that provides strong incentive to recycle broken or unused products. I would love to see this program enhanced to include Bluetooth and battery powered earphones given how prominent they are becoming, and to see it become an industry wide practice.
Past products from this company that I have tried showed that these goals and intentions weren't just marketing fluff or an attempt to appeal to a waste conscious crowd that happen to want a darn good set of headphones. The ts03+mic doesn't break the mold when compared to other thinksound products, but that's not a bad thing. Let me show you why.
The ts03+mic was provided free of charge in exchange for a fair and impartial review. The thoughts within are my own and are not representative of thinksound or any other entity. There is no financial incentive for writing this.
At the time of writing the ts03+mic was retailing for 119.99 USD: https://store.thinksound.com/products/ts03-mic
For at home use the ts03+mic was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp or straight out of my Asus FX53V laptop. For portable use it was paired with an LG G5, HiFi E.T. MA8 or Shanling M1, all of which brought it up to listening volume without any effort. I also occasionally ran it through the Walnut F1 which brightened up the signature somewhat.
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, MacaW GT600s, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy.
Packaging and Accessories:
While still pretty basic, thinksound has taken a positive step forward with their packaging. They've kept it simple and in line with their environmentally friendly business model while adding additional functionality beyond it's initial purpose of holding the earphone until purchased.
Instead of a small cardboard box, the ts03 arrives in a pocketable steel tin not unlike those used to hold mints, Altoids in particular. On the front is a sticker with thinksound and model branding along with an image of the housings and inline mic. On the rear is another sticker that outlines some features and simple specifications along with contact information for thinksound.
Cutting the sticker holding the case shut, which also announces it's steel construction, reveals the same cotton carrying bag provided with the MS02. Inside are the ts03 earphones neatly tied with a cotton string, a shirt clip, and some spare silicone eartips. On thinksound's site the sizes are listed as s/m/l/xl, but it's more like xs/s/m/l when looking at the way the competition does things. Last are two small cards that provide information on the 1 year limited warranty, earphones and listening care instructions, and a thank you for choosing thinksound.
The new steel case is a great addition to thinksound's packaging. Compact enough to fit neatly into a pocket, yet large enough to hold and protect both the ts03 and my Shanling M1 fairly comfortably. The inclusion of extra smalls tips is also a welcome inclusion, reducing the need for third party tips to get a good seal allowing most to enjoy the ts03 out of the box.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The ts03's earpieces are made from aircraft grade aluminum and walnut wood, mated together with excellent fit and finish. The design is virtually identical to the ms02, but with a stronger taper at the end and a vent at the back, dead centre of the thinksound logo. I was very happy to see that vent when I first pulled the ts03 out of it's packaging. It alleviates one of my main complaints with the ms02, that being invasive driver flex. The ts03 has none.
thinksound's cable might feel a bit flimsy and weak when first handled. It's the same one found on the ms02 though and has held up just fine over the 11 or so months I've been using those. Strain relief at the earpieces and 45 degree angled jack is long, flexible, and very effective. At the y-split it's a tad short, but it still does the job. The only thing missing is a chin cinch to help manage the minimal, but undeniably present, microphonics (cable noise). Wearing the cable over-ear helps in lieu of the missing chin cinch. The inline mic is well constructed with an easy to locate and press multifunction button that worked great with my LG G5 and an older HTC One M8 that has since been retired.
thinksound didn't go crazy with the design of the ts03 and settled on a simple, barrel shaped housing. The housings are light and free of sharp edges or odd shapes. Fitment is straightforward and reliable and as a result the ts03 is very comfortable regardless of whether you choose to wear them cable up or down. At 6mm the nozzle is slightly wider than what I consider average (5mm) so those with small ear canals should take note and be prepared to use the extra-small tips.
Isolation is pretty average, slightly below the ms02 which doesn't have the extra ventilation in the back. They do an adequate job of blocking out incoming noise and would be fine for a commute, just expect to turn up the volume a touch more than normal to compensate.
Overall the ts03+mic is a good looking earphone made with quality materials and put together with a solid attention to detail. The cable doesn't feel confidence inspiring but my experiences with the ms02 have shown it to be reliable and durable. Isolation is simply average, blocking out enough incoming noise to make the ts03 acceptable for travel through places where noise is plentiful.
One of the main draws of the ts03+mic is right there in the name, so what would this review be without covering it's performance? While I didn't have the chance to use it too often, I did play around with using it for recordings. It's a good microphone with your voice coming through clearly to your callers. Background noise is effectively cut out, and during testing I could type away on my keyboard without it being picked up. That's handy for someone using these on conference calls for work.
The only drawback I came across was background static. It wasn't loud or abrasive and didn't hinder the effectiveness of the mic, but it was there, ever-present and hissing away in the background.
Tips: Just as with the ms02, I found the stock tips a good match for the ts03+mic. Similar wide bore tips like those from JVC or Ultimate Ears will maintain the ts03's bass-driven signature while possibly improving comfort ever so slightly due to the use of a higher quality, softer silicone. Small bore tips like those from Sony aren't ideal imo as they increase bass even further. Spinfits are quite nice with the ts03. While they make the ts03 stick out quite far, they seem to improve sound stage and lessen mid-bass. I have quite enjoyed pairing them with the ts03.
It sounds like thinksound went to a great deal of effort balancing a hefty low end with technical competence. The ts03 is natural, detailed and clear through through the entire frequency range with a good soundstage and imaging qualities with a realistic timbre. It's low end has a tendency to steal the show though, with a relentlessly warm, thumpy presence that carries a beat quite well.
While the ts03's low end is big and bellowing, it's not overdone quite to the point of basshead status. It focuses more on texture and extension than slam and speed. It can hit with some authority but it doesn't move air to quite the same extent as some other bassier earphones. It's decay is also a touch generous leading to deep notes lingering realistically. The ts03's bass presentation in general is quite impressive for the quantity, only occasionally showing glimpses of bloat on tracks that are particularly mid-bassy.
The ts03's midrange sits in line with the treble and continues the trend of a natural and realistic presentation. There is a warmth and sweetness to the upper mids that really clicks with female and higher pitched male vocals. Vocal EDM fans will be in for a treat with the ts03 given the lush mids are backed by a smooth, well-defined low end. The lower mids are slightly less prominent than I would like at times, but they're still very intelligible.
Treble on the ts03 is well controlled and direct without any sibilance or splashiness. Extension is good with a mild roll off at the top end keeping the ts03 energetic but not fatiguing. The treble is presented in a more lean manner than bass and mid-range giving the ts03 a pleasant, airy feel that I find somewhat uncommon among bassy earphones. This really let's you focus on each aspect of the signature while maintaining a coherent tune.
Speaking of airiness, the ts03 has a deceptively great soundstage aided by very crisp imaging. For the most part sounds just barely extends past your head giving you a spacious by not expansive stage. However, at time effects are thrown way out in the distance, something which was more noticable with other forms of media like video games and movies versus music. The ts03 also layers and separates instruments and effects quite effectively, avoiding congestion or a claustrophobic feeling on cluttered tracks.
Overall I find the ts03 a fantastic listen, even with a low end is a little bigger and more prominent than I would usually prefer. I find it's at it's most appealing with deep basslines, soft vocals and uncomplicated tracks all of which really completely gel with it's soothing and refined presentation.
Rose Aurora: The ts03 and Aurora are shockingly similar despite their vastly different designs and materials. They offer virtually the same warm, bass-led signature with clean mids and unoffensive treble. The ts03 has slightly more mid and treble prominence while the Aurora has more low end rumble. The ts03 is also more detailed and textured in the low end, though I find the Aurora's mid-range more descriptive. Overall the ts03's technically prowess is a mild step up.
The Aurora is definitely more accessory and feature rich offering up a plethora of spare tips, a mock Pelican case, and MMCX equipped housings. That said, the design is generic and I can name a couple earphones right off that use the same housings; QKZ W6 Pro and the Rhapsodio Clipper. It's a decent housing but I personally have fitment issues and the plastics used don't feel or look anywhere as premium as the ts03's wood/aluminum construction. The ts03 would be a nice upgrade if you wanted to stick with the same signature and were willing to give up removable cables.
thinksound ms02: The ms02 is thinksound's Monitor Series flagship in-ear, and was one of my favorite earphones of 2016. I was a huge fan of their warm, balanced signature and elegant design. The ts03 is much of the same in terms of design, build, and surprisingly sound too, though I prefer the darker wood of the ms02 over the ts03's grainier, lighter color. The ts03 shares much of the ms02's sonic qualities though they add a touch extra treble, a dap extra low end, and a slightly larger sound stage. The ts03's bass digs deeper too. They're unquestionably cut from the same sonic cloth, though the ts03's brighter, bassier sound is more fun. Unlike the ms02, the ts03 is vented at the back which alleviates one of my main issues with the ms02; driver flex. It's completely absent on the ts03.
If you want a capable wooden earphone with a warm, crisp, balanced signature, get the ms02. If you want all that and need a mic, get the ts03 then EQ out a couple dB of bass if you find it's overemphasized.
Macaw GT600s: The GT600s and ts03 are a world apart in many ways. The GT600s comes in an elaborate package loaded with accessories vs. the ts03 with it's modest presentation. The GT600s has MMCX equipped, silver-plated, braided cables and steel housings with glass face plates. Don't forget about tuning filter system as well. The ts03 is much more simple with it's fixed cables and basic barrel-shaped housings, though the mixed wood/aluminum build has an elegance to it the GT600 can't match. The GT600s lacks the inline mic of the ts03 but you can pick up cables with that feature for next to nothing if needed. In terms of build, packaging and accessories, the GT600s really is in another league. Two of the most important fields are in the ts03's court, however; comfort and sound.
The GT600s is a perfectly comfortable earphone, but it takes the Shure route with an over-ear, low profile design using preformed ear guides to keep the cable in place. This style of earphone isn't to the taste of many since it's not quite as easy to just pop them in and go. The ts03 on the other hand is much lighter and the straightforward design means you don't have to mess about with cables or placement in your ear. In terms of sound the ts03 has better separation and a wider soundstage with more accurate imaging. Their low end presentation is similar with the GT600s offering slightly more impact but less detail. The ts03 and GT600s have very similar mids, though they're more forward on the thinksound. I found the GT600s treble to be slightly tighter and more precise, though lacking some air and sparkle to the ts03.
The ts03+mic comes across as a more refined and coherent sounding earphone. In most cases I'd pick it up over the GT600s for a listening session as I think it is the better sounding and more comfortable product. However, looking at the complete package the GT600s is a better value.
Once again thinksound delivers on providing us with a great sounding and attractive product that is plenty competitive at it's price. The ts03+mic's design is simple but attractive, the metal carrying case is a welcome addition, and the smooth, warm, sound signature is a pleasure to experience. Comfort is top tier and the inline mic works well.
In terms of value, the ts03 isn't quite as strong as some of the competition. Compared to well equipped, similarly priced products such as Macaw's GT600s or the RHA CL750 which are more feature rich and laden with quality accessories, you can't help but feel like you should be getting more for your money. That said, thinksounds' offering is focused. It doesn't try to wow and draw you in with piles of stuff that looks impressive on a spec sheet but will likely never be used beyond the first week of ownership while you adjust to your new toy.
The last two months spent with the ts03 has been a great experience. Should you opt to pick up a set, you surely won't be disappointed.
Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Aaron Fournier for providing a sample of the ts03 for this review. Can't wait to see what you come up with next!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Pros - -Best iteration of the Thinksound woodie earphones to date.
-Full bodied, cohesive clear and detailed well balanced exciting sound.
-Tin box and package assembled in the US of A
Cons - -Microphonics when worn down.
-Slight driver flex
.Microphone for music and calls control
.20Hz - 20KHz frequency response
.99 + or - db @ 1KHz 1mW sensitivity
.16 Ohm impedance
.45 deg angled gold plated plug
.Acoustically enhanced 8mm driver
.Kevlar- reinforced, tangle resistant 4 ft cable
.Passive noise isolation.
.Sweat resistant design
.Four size silicon tips
.Cord clip, cotton pouch and hard case.
.One year limited warranty.
Disclaimer. Aaron Fournier of Thinksound has reached out to me to review his newest creation, I was provided a review sample for sole purpose of a review. All what I have to say about his earphones are my thoughts compared to the many what I consider proper or comparative at the given MSRP range.
I would like to thank Aaron for being such a good steward for the community and providing enthusiasts with the goods all while using an environmentally small footprint. In the time that I have seen Aaron’s post and email exchanges the man is passionate about his craft and always considers how enthusiasts think about his products. I have had the honor of seeing his thinksound brand get better and better with each iteration of phones he produces and the Ts03 is no exception. So let's get down to the nitty on what I consider his finest work to date.
Design/ Build/ Usability:
New to thinksound is the new tin box you get the earphones in. As simple as this tin box is it is a perfect carry all for the Ts03 in that the pouch tips clip and phones all fit in snug with a bit of room to spare for extra tips. This is welcomed over just the pouch which was provided for previous earphones. The tip box is much like your altoids mint box that fans of the amp designs should be immediately familiar with. Same exact dimensions actually. Besides the obvious benefits of protecting the ts03 inside it’s contents the box is small so very easy to throw in your pocket for on the go. No worries if your gonna sit on your buds or crush anything inside. It is small light effective and relatively crush proof.
Then you have the build of the earphones themselves. The improvements are kevlar reinforced sweat proof cable and a solidly built mic that is on the cable. Speech had a nice clear signal when using on my phone. The single button control did well pausing and forwarding my tracks. 45 degree angled plug is solid no weakness on any part of it that I can obviously see. While initial look will tell you the cord is a bit on the thin and somewhat ordinary looking it doesn’t seem like it will be weak or will be breaking off with normal everyday use.
The phones when worn straight down emits some microphonics. Worn over the ear eliminates annoying bumping sounds that can travel up the cord to the ears. The size of the earphones are on the smaller side of average in size and light in the ears. They are very comfortable using provided silicon tips. Tip rolling did not do any significant change to the sonic characters to the phones so the stock tips are excellent the way they are on the phones.
So the underlying value and theme to the earphones is they are very understated and does not stick out in a crowd. In fact with recent Chi fi knock off designs and almost CIEM looks with flashy cables and the like the ts03 in comparison looks somewhat boring. No multi quad or triple designs here. Which is the opposite of what seems to be trending among earphones now a days. In fact it seems with more and more multi driver configurations that come out of the woodwork the idea might come about that more drivers would make the earphones somehow sound better. These on the other hand has one of the most coherent and complete sounding earphones from a single driver I have ever heard. Which is difficult to say for even 4 driver iems that cost 4X more.
Sound characteristics: of the Ts03 is an evolution of the thinksound woodie earphones. The first thing that comes to mind is authority in all regions of sound. On the tin box of the Ts03 the sound description in print states 8mm HD headphone with deep tight bass and mic. My initial thoughts were. Here we go again with a bass heavy signature.
On open listen it was just that. The bass was brutally large and took center stage in the music but had flashes of brilliant detail in the mix. These are one earphones you will need to burn in. I burned in the review pair with my drum and bass tracks for a good week straight with almost no break in between.
A well burned in Ts03 has a more balanced character than a bass first iem which I initially thought it would be and sounded like. The sound opened up with much better clarity, balanced well from the highs to the lows and that big bass was now tamed, tighter, deeper like the tin box read. It has now become extremely enjoyable a well tuned balanced V signature with a full bass end.
The signature is a more forward and fuller sound experience than a lot of earphones I have been reviewing and listening to lately with a slightly larger stage both width and depth than your average earphones. Considering this stage depth and fullness is coming out of a pair of wood earphones roughly half an inch in size for the housing the sound these little woodies throw out is bold and substantial. Being easy to drive across all platforms I have used with them they make perfect companions for your phone, pad, laptop or a dedicated dap. No amp is needed but do sound more spacious and detailed with an added amp. E12A and C5.
Deep bass is one characteristic of the Ts03 detailed rangy mid section and crisp clean treble is the other. Overall tone is more neutral with a slight hint of natural warmth and added timbre only wood housing can get you. The sound will be a bit aggressive to folks that like their sound polite. The sound Fr to my ears is a light V signature but with mids that have solid height and depth. These are not a bright sounding earphone but has good crisp detailed treble to round off the sound. Very slight upper mids grain was noted from tracks that have sibilance in them. We are talking you have to be really listening for it to hear any, this is probably more due to how forward the overall signature is. For the most part these stay away from any real sharpness or fatiguing sound.
One of the most unique sound characteristics of these earphones, it has this crazy ability to turn off the bass when there is no emphasis like no other. While I would consider these to have a good amount of bass both mid and sub it comes out to play only when a track has it in the recording. On more bass polite tracks like acoustical, vocal and instrumental scores there is zero emphasis on the bass end. Something that just don’t happen with lesser earphones. It can thump that bass for your hip hop and sound absolutely delicate for your classical and has the ability to sound stunning for both genres. Can’t say too many in ears I have hard has this ability.
Ts03 is the best I have heard in this regard. Even over my full sized TH-X00 Fostex cans. Basically if your tune has bass emphasis these will clearly let you know they have bass emphasis. If the track is light on the bass. It will stay light. This agile and truly dynamic bass end make for one of the best wood earphones I have heard to date.
Yes my friends these will give your JVC woodies a run for sound not to mention your other higher end single dynamics.
Now for some negatives that keep these away from a true 5 star performer.
Thinksound woodies are about as non exciting as it gets in form of packaging or flash. This could be a good thing depending on how much bling you think you need for earphones. These are all substance and none of the frills. No crazy amount of earphone tips.No flashy silver coated cable. Accessories are at a bare minimum. The cable that is attached to the earphones emit microphonics and cannot be worn straight down when walking around. Has to be worn over the ear.
The design of the housing has a vent in the back end of the earphones. Which cause wind noise to happen if there is even a mild breeze ruining any type of sound you're hearing so no bike rides can happen using these. Passive isolation is a bit below average at best. I can hear people walking around me and can hear my wife speak to me even with music playing. This could be a good thing if you need to be aware of your surroundings. But for travelling you will clearly be able to hear a baby cry sitting next to you on a bus ride. Last but not least my review pair has some slight driver flex on both sides, which only happens when I throw them in my ears in a hurry.
Compared to past Thinksound earphones the Ms02 and Rain3.
To my ears the Ts03 is an evolution of past earphones and thus I clearly like these the best out of the 3.
The build quality of all 3 are identical all 3 have the 45 degree angle plug and same exact build. There are some similarities to the sound tuning on all 3 mostly being the timbre you would expect from woodies but it is the Ts03 that is the most dynamic experience out of the 3.
The Ms02 is their monitor series and has the best balanced sound out of the 3 earphones but is a closed design and is minus the vent out back of the Ts03 or the Rain3. Has a touch less treble, bass and stage vs the Ts03 and has a bit less depth in the mid range as well. This being said guys that want less coloration to their sound in their thinksound series of earphones the MS02 is the least colored out of the 3 earphones reviewed here. When going back n forth from both earphones they both sound more similar than different but it is the Ts03 that shows up with better range, clarity and stage.
The Rain3 is Thinksound’s smooth signature earphones with a more laid back sounding approach to the thinksound earphones. These have the least amount of bass and has a more reserved treble in comparison to the other 2 earphones. Sounds signature is less forward vs the other 2 earphones a more V shaped signature and also has less definition due to their smooth coloration. I would say out of the 3 these are my least favorite. This being said people that like their sound a bit less bold would appreciate these more so than the upfront approach of the Ts03.
Thinksound is a small group of enthusiasts lead by one man that clearly has a passion for great sounding gear. It has been a privilege to see the evolution of sound design and improvement from the thinksound earphones. The Ts03 represents the best earphones I have heard from Aaron to date and I am excited to see what the future holds for the company. Being a huge fan of their ON2 headphones, I think Aaron has yet another big hit on his hands.
Enthusiasts that take the plunge for a pair are in for a nice surprise. The sound of the Ts03 is outstanding and is a results of one man clearly refining his craft. I am excited to see what the future holds for the thinksound brand and what Aaron will do next. It seems with every new iteration of their earphones it is clearly improved.
Pros - Nice walnut wood construction, uses durable aluminum for nozzle, very cohesive sound, great bass, lots of detail retrieval
Cons - Upper-half of the cable too thin
Thinksound TS03 + Mic Review: Warm and Detailed; a Prime Example of How To Do Dynamic Right
The TS03 marks the fifth Thinksound product to cross my doorway. I’ve been using their IEMs on and off for two years now; something keeps bringing me back. I don’t know if it’s the simplicity of the design or the comfortable sound signature Thinksound is known for, but either way it makes for a great experience. The TS03 follows that trend, but does that make it worth buying?
You can find the TS03 + Mic here, on Thinksound’s official website, for $120.
Disclaimer: This unit was provided to me free of charge for review purposes. I am not affiliated with Thinksound beyond this review. These words reflect my true, unaltered, opinion about the product.
A heart-felt thanks to Aaron at Thinksound for sending me the TS03.
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, mid-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 TS03 was powered like so:
HTC U11-> USB-C adapter -> earphones
Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones
PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones
All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.
One word: cohesive. That’s the first thing I noticed after having reviewed a litany of two, three, and four-driver IEMs. No matter how good they get, they can rarely, if ever, beat the cohesion of a well-tuned dynamic driver. And the Thinksound TS03 is just that. With a full and robust sound signature, this IEM makes listening effortlessly enjoyable.
The treble is ahead of the mid-range, which is biased towards the lower-mids. Bass is plentifully and tight, with bass cohesion being top-notch. Overall, I’d say the TS03 is a V-shaped IEM with a warm tilt.
Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy
Treble is a strong point for the TS03. With a much more pronounced upper range than the older generations, the TS03 sounds open and precise. Extension is great.
High-hats and cymbals have an excellent attack and decay and are layered well with a good amount of air to them. Midnight City’s synths sounded open and forward without being overly sharp. The main thing I noticed is that instead of commanding the entire song, they melded into the litany of other instrumentation M83 masterfully organizes in what is normally the background.
Sibilance is not normally an issue, but is observable in some tracks. While listening to my song library on shuffle I came across a couple songs that were unpleasantly sharp, but much to my surprise, Nero’s Satisfy was not one of them.
Furthermore, the TS03 is surprisingly good at retrieving micro-details. I actually heard some new parts of my test songs, a considerable feat given that they’ve passed through over 60 individually-tested IEMs by now.
Mids: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams
The upper mid-range is the most “recessed” band of sound in the TS03’s sonic signature. While true in the technical sense, it doesn’t really feel that way after spending a couple days with it. Coming from the mid-forward Heir Audio 4 Ai.S, I can safely say that the upper-mids aren’t too far back, and don’t inhibit the earphone from sounding good in the vast majority of use cases.
Guitars and drums both sound great and are easily distinguishable, regardless of which song I listened to. Be it Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, or Audioslave’s I Am The Highway (rest in peace, Chris), I found tonality and separation to be quite good.
Pianos are well-defined too. While they aren’t as hard as I would have liked, they are definitely not the mushy mess that they were on the original Rain.
Vocals are generally good, but can occasionally be sibilant. Male and female vocals are well-weighted and have above-average intelligibility.
Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), War Pigs (Celldweller Remix)
Bass is plentiful in quantity and precise in quality. Listeners of electronic music will be enthralled with how well the bass assaults your eardrums during the drop, and rock enthusiasts will appreciate how well-defined bass-guitars are.
Sub bass is, while (some-what obviously) less impressive than the mighty quad-driver Rose Cappuccino Mk. II, it’ still no slouch. Playing In For The Kill will instantly give you an appreciation for just how well-extended the TS03 is. And it’s not just extension; sub-bass control is there as well, and is top-tier for a single-dynamic driver.
Packaging / Unboxing
Thinksound has done away with their packaging, instead giving customers a hard metal case to carry their earphones in.
The TS03 is constructed in typical Thinksound fashion: reclaimed walnut-stained wood and polished-metal driver housings in which a single full-range dynamic driver resides. The front half and nozzle of the TS03 are made from a single piece of polished gunmetal-colored aluminum.
The cable is made from tangle-resistant PVC-free plastic. It’s got a good thickness below the Y-splitter (which is also made from polished aluminum) but lacks robustness above it. A boost in diameter would be much appreciated in terms of longevity.
As a side note, it would also be really cool to see sleeved cables. Nylon and Kevlar have a real nice feel to them and do wonders in making a product feel more premium.
The inline controls are also made from polished aluminum. It’s got a single plastic button and mic built into it. The button has a nice tactile feel and isn’t wiggly or loose at all, a trait that is an automatic fail in the “does it feel well-made” test for me. The controls have the typical pause/play/skip functionality on both Android and iOS.
The cable terminates in a gold-plated 3.5mm jack, angled at 45 degrees. There is ample stress relief, so don’t fret too much about it breaking or wearing out prematurely.
The TS03 is very light, meaning it isn’t particularly noticeable in the ear. Impressively, the large diameter on the nozzle doesn’t impact comfort at all, partially due to the very high core-size of the included eartips.
The TS03 is the best-equipped IEM by Thinksound so far. Inside the “box” you’ll find:
1x Hard metal carrying case
1x Soft cloth carrying pouch
4x Silicone eartips
1x Shirt clip
Thinksound is currently tied for #1 on my list for “most usable silicone eartips” with Magaosi. (Obviously, given the unique nature of a person’s aural anatomy, this is a subjective metric).
The included hard carrying case is also a really nice addition, and I use it quite often when the soft carrying pouch isn’t quite enough protection for the TS03.
The TS03 is a another great IEM from Thinksound. While “natural” is a term I rarely every apply to a warm IEM, I think I’ll actually have to give it to the TS03. It’s a far-cry from the Rain2 and goes to show how far Thinksound’s come in such a short time. So if you are looking for effortless listening, a cohesive sound signature, comfort, understated style, and a subtle ecological footprint, definitely check out the Thinksound TS03.