Thinksound MS01 Review

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Reviewed October 2012

Details: Eco-friendly IEM from Thinksound
MSRP: $119.99 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $100 from amazon.com 
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 96 dB | Freq: 18-20k Hz | Cable: 4.2’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single flanges, Comply T400
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down

Accessories (3.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (4 sizes), shirt clip, cotton carrying pouch, and over-the-ear cable guides
Build Quality (4/5) – The MS01 is similar in both construction and appearance to the other Thinksound models. The housings are made out of wood and aluminum and the rubbery cable features long strain reliefs and a beefy 3.5mm plug. The cable lacks a cinch but other than that attention to detail is excellent
Isolation (3/5) – Respectable for a dynamic-driver earphone
Microphonics (4/5) – Low in the PVC-free cable
Comfort (4/5) – The MS01 uses a slim, elongated housing to allow for a deeper, more comfortable insertion. The housings are lightweight and the earphones are very comfortable when worn. The included cable guides eliminate cable noise and can provide a more secure fit, though I personally don’t need them to wear the MS01 cable-up

Sound (8/10) – The MS01 is the first earphone from Thinksound’s Monitor Series, said to be designed for pros and discerning listeners. Make no mistake, however—the MS01 still follows Thinksound’s usual signature, offering enhanced bass with clean, engaging mids and highs, only in a slightly more tempered proportion. At the core is ample bass boasting good extension and plentiful impact. The 8mm drivers move plenty of air – the low end of the MS01 is hard-hitting and visceral, outpacing those of the Brainwavz M5 and VSonic GR02 Bass Edition. Despite this, the bass is not too boomy and bass bleed up into the midrange is mild, resulting in a sound that is warm but not bloated.

The midrange of the MS01 retains good clarity and detail. The mids are not as thick and lush as may be expected considering the powerful bass but the MS01 is not as thin-sounding as an RE-ZERO or Sunrise Xcited, either. The midrange is reasonably smooth and not overly recessed – less so, for example, than that of the HiSound Wooduo 2. In typical Thinksound fashion, the treble carries a bit of emphasis for a mildly v-shaped overall sound. Top-end extension isn’t great but otherwise the MS01 is crisp and pleasant, though not well-suited for those who prefer a laid-back treble presentation.

The MS01 also presents a coherent sonic image – the mildly v-shaped sound gives it a reasonably open and airy feel, though more emphasis on upper treble and better extension would help. In addition to above-average width, the soundstage has decent depth and layering. Admittedly the soundstage of the MS01 is less 3-dimensional than that of the VSonic GR06 but the overall presentation is impressive and more to my liking than the flatter soundstage of the pricier HiSound Wooduo 2.

Value (8.5/10) – Thinksound’s formula has always been beautiful in its simplicity – combine one part enhanced bass with one part clarity, add stylish, well-crafted housings made from renewable materials, and package it all with great attention to detail. The MS01 doesn’t stray far from its predecessors – it’s not a monitoring earphone as the name seems to imply, but it delivers great sound and retains the upmarket look and feel of the other Thinksound models. As far as I’m concerned the sonic refinement alone is well worth the price hike over the older TS02.

Pros: “Green” construction; aesthetically pleasing; plentiful bass & good all-round performance
Cons: No cable cinch


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

21 Comments

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  2. Sk on

    Hi joker,
    waht are your impressions on thinksound ms02?

    • ljokerl on

      Sorry, never tried that one! I generally like Thinksound products, though.

  3. alvareo on

    How would you compare the soundstage on this to the RE-400? I haven’t tested many high-quality headphones in my life, and I thought the sound of them was flawless. Complaints about below-average bass are unbelievable to me! I’ve read, here and elsewhere, that the soundstage on these ms01s isn’t very good, but sometimes reviewers compare to headphones that cost twice as much, so I wanted to know if these keep a good fight against the HiFiMan set.

    • ljokerl on

      RE-400 doesn’t have a great soundstage itself, so the MS01 is quite capable in comparison – overall a bit wider and more dynamic, though not quite as clean thanks to its sloppier bass. I can see how someone would find it lackluster compared to more expensive sets, though.

  4. Bhargav Desai on

    These have been described as slightly sibilant.Will these be okay for rock and metal? As a major chunk of what I listen to is that. I find myself leaning towards the V shaped signature now after this review XD

    • ljokerl on

      On the sibilance “scale” (if there were such a thing) where lower is better/less sibilant these are maybe a 3/10. Really not bad unless you’re particularly sensitive to it.

  5. Anthony on

    Joker, I think the V-shaped sound signature is for me. To me, the SHE3590 are great for the price. The SE215 sounded a bit bloated to me. The FXD80 was a bit harsh up top to my ears.

    What do you think between the MS01 and the VSD3/S? I’m now trying to find the best overall V-shaped IEM under $100.

    • ljokerl on

      VSD3/S tends to be a little sibilant. It’s awesome otherwise but considering your experience with the FXD80 maybe not the best choice. The MS01 is not as clear and is not really on a whole different performance tier than the SHE3590, but it is more smooth and less sibilant so it’s a pretty good choice in this case.

      • Anthony on

        It’s definitely between the VSD3 (apparently it’s a bit more V-shaped than the VSD3S, which is supposed to be a bit more balanced) and the MEElectronics M-Duo. Do you have any experience with the M-Duo? They’re supposed to be V-shaped but I hope they don’t have muddy bass like the SE215. I like tight, deep, controlled bass. No bloat or bleeding into the mids. I also like that MEElectronic has a seemingly hassle-free customer service process. They are pretty much the same price as the VSD3. And the sibilance with the FXD80, just not something I was used to. Their clarity and soundstage were great, I just returned them due to fitment issues.

        • ljokerl on

          Never tried the M-Duo but I’ve been recommended it numerous times. All of the other MEElec IEMs I’ve had have been at least good, though. Some are very good.

  6. Elliott on

    Hi Joker,
    I’m looking for some IEMs that are mostly neutral but still musical. I’ll use them occasionally for music production with my MacBook but mostly for listening, so frequency response doesn’t need to be 100% flat but I like more of a neutral sound.

    I’m looking at these and RE-400 (which I know are more flat), but I’ve read a lot of reliability/durability problems with RE-400 (one bud cutting out, one louder than other etc.)

    I listen to everything; alt rock, hip hop, acoustic, electronic… What would you recommend for me and do you have any models to add? Thanks 🙂

    • ljokerl on

      If you can find an Etymotic HF5 in your price range, it might be a good option. As far as reference earphones go, it’s still one of the best and it’ll likely last longer than the RE-400. If you want to go cheaper and less analytical, the VSonic VSD1S or LG Quadbeat F420 would be good at less than $50. Less neutral, more v-shaped sound but still far from being inaccurate. If you’d rather try BA, the Dunu I 3C-S and SteelSeries Flux Pro are near-neutral options under $100. The Flux Pro has a slight bass tilt that’s not unpleasant.

      • Elliott on

        I’ve read that the HF5 are not very musical. Would you agree?

        I’m scared of not being able to enjoy music on a headphone that is too analytical, but I also am not a fan of the massive V-shape on many headphones, which led me to these, I guess!

        I’ve since read that the RE-400 have been better since the first couple production batches. Would you say they’re still “musical”? I also have a local dealer with GR07 Classic Edition (new 2014 model replacing all other ones) for $99. What are your thoughts on those?

        I am comfortable spending ~$100. Thank you so much for your time.

        • ljokerl on

          I don’t use the term “musical” much these days because it tends to mean different things to different people. If you just take it to mean “not analytical” then yes, the HF5 is not very musical and the warmer RE-400 is more so. The GR07 is somewhere in between, assuming the classic sounds the same as the original GR07. Probably a good compromise.

          • Elliott on

            Alright, thank you. Final question, I know the RE-400 and GR07 are similar. Coming from a Klipsch s4, would you say the GR07 would give me a little more bass over the RE-400 while still maintaining balance? Which would you pick if both are available for $100? Just checked and GR07 appears to be based on mk1.

          • Elliott on

            *(GR07 classic based on mk1)

          • ljokerl on

            Yes, I think that’s accurate. GR07 is definitely less lean at the low end than the RE-400. It has less forward mids, though, as well as brighter treble. I like both the GR07 and RE-400 but at the same price I’d probably lean towards the VSonics.

  7. mgunin on

    Thanks for the review!

    I’m mostly listening to jazz and my sources are iBasso DX50 and Nexus 5. Do you think this is a suitable model and how does it compare with RHA M750 and Hifiman RE400 (which of the three you’d recommend)?

    • ljokerl on

      These are pretty versatile with different genres though I personally prefer the RE-400 for Jazz. It has significantly less bass impact and warmth but clearer and more prominent mids and silky-smooth treble.

      The MA750 has a little more bass and less treble overall than the MS01. It is not as neutral as the RE-400 and again its mids aren’t as strong so for Jazz it might might not be the most optimal set.

      • mgunin on

        Thanks, I guess I’ll try them out.

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