Thinksound ts01 Review

thinksound thunder review

Thinksound ts01

“Eco-junkies and fans of high quality audio will be very pleased with the Thinksound Thunder canal phones.”
  • Good sound quality
  • Solid, tight bass
  • Well-built, high quality parts
  • Good value
  • Vocals in hip-hop sound distant
  • Cord noise
MSRP $45.00
thinksound-thunder-e1

Introduction

Thinksound, a company composed of former Tivoli Audio, Infinity and V-MODA engineers, entered the headphone scene in December 2009 and so far has come out swinging. In a market that has more competition than any other CE product category, sound quality alone simply is not enough to propel you to the front of the pack. You have to rely a lot on brand, originality, price and niche.

thinksound-thunder-e10Riding on the back of today’s environmental trend, Thinksound offers environmentally conscientious consumers an eco-friendly alternative to other portable headphones. With a laundry list of features such as packaging made from recycled materials, PVC-free cables, wood from renewable sources and even a bleach-free canvas carrying pouch that looks like it could have been made from hemp (it’s not), Thinksound looks to have their basis covered for the audience they are going after.

There are currently two Thinksound models to choose from. The ts01 (formerly known as the Thunder), priced at $75 (and a street price under $50), features a 10mm driver and passive noise cancelation (meaning the speaker cover blocks outside noise from entering the ear canal) with an emphasis on bass. The smaller Thinksound Rain is supposed to be catered to audio purists who prefer a flat frequency response. Both models are considered IEM (in-ear monitor) canal headphones because they sit inside the ear canal with a snug fit. Typically, models of this design produce better sound because they have a direct shot to your ears without letting outside noise interfere or leak into the soundstage. The downside to this design is that it works so well, that you literally cannot hear outside noise, and it’s recommended that you do not use them for jogging or outside sports for fear that you cannot hear cars or other environmental hazards that you would otherwise want to be aware of.

thinksound-thunder-e8Features and Design

The Thinksound ts01 includes three extra pairs of silicon canal shoes (total: XS, S, M and L) so that you get the right fit with your ears, a carrying pouch, and a clip that you can use to attach the headphone cable to your shirt or jacket. The Thunder comes in two optional colors: silver cherry and black chocolate.

Specifications include a respectable 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response, 16 Ohm impendence, 10mm driver in a wooden enclosure, 3.5mm gold plated plug. They are elegantly designed with high quality parts, solid feel, and come with a six-month warranty.

thinksound-thunder-e4Testing and Use

We tested the Thinksound ts01 using our Apple iPod, Apple iMac internal soundcard and a PC using a Sound Blaster X-Fi Extreme Audio sound card. Music sources included Rodrigo y Bariela’s World, Black Eyed Peas The E.N.D. and Linkin Park’s Road to Midnight. The great thing about wood canal phones are that you can expect a more natural sound that is neither too tight and rigid, or sloppy. It also means that you should expect a break-in period of 40+ hours to let them show off their true colors.

The ts01 produces a convincing soundstage and great imaging that truly highlights the warmth produced by acoustical music. They performed admirably while playing hip hop, and really showed off the bass response of the large 10mm drivers, but we did notice that vocals and mid-range definitely took a backseat to the strong emphasis on bass. Vocals in particular sound more distant than they should. Remember, the ts01’s are designed for those bass lovers, and we feel that they were able to compete directly with earbuds coming from the Monster Beats product line in this category. In fact, they were a lot more versatile and did great across multiple music genres. One of the biggest concerns we have with earbuds of this design, with larger drivers and especially wooden enclosures is their ability to keep up with faster paced genres like electronica and rock. The Thunders did great; they did not distort at high volumes or get sloppy when the pace picked up.

thinksound-thunder-e6Concerns

If you plan on using these canal phones for everyday like jogging or working out while walking etc., there are a couple concerns we have. First, because the ts01’s use wooden enclosures, we aren’t sure how they will react to water or sweat. They could possibly warp or even be damaged considerably if the protective lacquer on the wood is penetrated. Another big pet-peeve of ours is the noise generated by the headphone cord (microphonics, in audiophile terms). Because Thinksound includes a cord clip, this can help the issue a lot, but if you plan on walking to work with these, you had better be able to tolerate the noise here. Atomic, based in the UK, has partially solved this problem by wrapping their cords in cloth, which seems to help a lot.

Conclusion

Eco-junkies and fans of high quality audio will be very pleased with the Thinksound ts01 canal phones. They sound great, have a good build quality and best of all, they have a limited impact on the environment. Priced at $75, we feel that the ts01’s can compete with the best-known brands in this space.

Highs:

  • Good sound quality
  • Solid, tight bass
  • Well-built, high quality parts
  • Good value

Lows:

  • Vocals in hip-hop sound distant
  • Cord noise

Editors' Recommendations