Thinksound's awesome little ts02 in-ear headphones($100) knocked me out in March, so I was eager to hear the company's new model, the ms01.
It doesn't look a whole lot different than the ts02, but that's not a bad thing. Both models are smaller and more comfortable than most in-ears, and both block a good amount of external noise. Almost as much as a noise-canceling headphone, and unlike NC models, the ms01 doesn't run on batteries.
The ms01 in-ear monitor ($100) features an 8 mm high-definition driver, PVC-free cables, and hand-crafted, sustainable, wood ear-pieces. The ms01 comes with a soft cotton carry pouch, Active Lifestyle Ear Hooks (which I never figured out how to use), a wire clip to secure the cable to your clothing, and four sizes of silicon ear fittings to ensure a perfect fit. The ms01 is backed up with a one-year warranty, and the shipping for both Thinksound headphones is free in the U.S..
I started my listening tests comparing the ms01 with the ts02, and it was easy to hear they are two very different sounding headphones. The ms01 is more detailed and brighter in its tonal balance. The Dead Weather's "Sea of Cowards" heavy-duty rhythm section had lots of impact, but the drums' cymbals were a little too prominent for my taste with the ms01. The ts02 pulled the brightness down, which sounded better to me. "Sea of Cowards" is a bass heavy recording, and while the ms01 didn't hold anything back. The bass is deep and nicely defined.
The Fleet Foxes' soaring vocal harmonies and acoustic guitars on "Helplessness Blues" really cut through on the ms01, and I liked the immediacy of the sound. The brightness seemed to exaggerate the sound of analog tape hiss on a 1960s live Grateful Dead recording, but otherwise the ms01 sounded great, and the stereo imaging was open, not stuck inside my head like it is on some in-ear headphones. My Klipsch Image S3 headphones ($50) didn't make as much bass or treble, so its midrange seemed too forward and thin. The ms01 was more dynamically alive.
I enjoyed the ms01, but prefer the smoother, though less detailed sound of the Thinksound ts02. You may have the opposite preference.