The Thinksound ts02+mic are headphones with a difference. These 8mm high-def headphones bring passive noise isolation and an in-line mic to £89 cans (you can find them for £59 if you shop around online). But they also claim to be eco-friendly, and they are definitely the first wooden headphones we have reviewed. See all: earphones reviews. They are ideal for use with a smartphone, as well as MP3 player, or tablet.
Thinksound ts02+mic: audio quality
We'll come back to the Thinksound ts02+mic's quirky looks and build quality because you're unlikely to consider purchasing them unless they work well. And the good news is they do. The sound is bassy and warm, but generally clear. See also: Audio reviews.
Use the Thinksound ts02+mic to listen to musical acts with a bit of grunt such as The Rolling Stones, The Manic Street Preachers or The Cure and you'll find plenty of bass with no discernible loss in clarity further up the scale. Drum sounds in particular throb. You get a similar effect with dance music or rap, and we loved listening to soulful 60s pop from the likes of Dusty Springfield: it's bass heavy, but everything is there in full clarity, and the sound is plenty warm enough.
Turn down the dial and listen to more acoustic, mellow music such as Ryan Adams or Elbow and the Thinksound ts02+mic are less successful, although only marginally so. In essence, the more delicate the high end of the sound the more chance there is that the bass will sound disproportionately heavy, which will in turn cost the top end in terms of definition. It's far form catastrophic: these are £89 headphones offering good quality audio for that price - and they retail at a lot less if you shop around. But if you tend to listen mainly to delicate music with little bass, you may wish to look elsewhere.
Thinksound ts02+mic: mic and in-line controls
The in-line microphone is well positioned, and proved clear on the other end of our test calls. The only in-line control you get is play/pause. It's an unmissably chunky button, which we found handy when trying to answer calls. (Is it just me that panics when a call comes in?) This limited control does have the benefit of working with iPhones, iPods and BlackBerrys, a well as a plethora of Android phones (although quite why you'd need to accept a call on your iPod is beyond us).
Thinksound ts02+mic: design, build quality, in the box
The earphone part of the Thinksound ts02+mic is, to a large extent, made of wood. It looks kind of cool, and feels solid to the touch. In fact we'd go so far as to say the 'black chocolate' Thinksound ts02+mic earphones we played with are the best-looking headphones we've tested. It's purely subjective, of course, but there's something about wooden headphones that looks premium. (These are the only headphones of the many I have taken home of which my wife has commented. And she liked the way they looked.) There is also a 'Silver cherry' version, that to my eye looks less attractive, but it is all in the eye of the beholder.
It may be my imagination but the Thinksound ts02+mic feel heavier than do plastic earphones, but they fit in the ear snugly and even during hot-and-sweaty workouts at the gym they clung in there. In fact, at 12g I make the Thinksound ts02+mic roughly 1g heavier than my regular earbuds. As is now standard, you get a variety of silicon tips to find the best fit for your lugs.
The principle benefit of the wooden construction is, we are told, that the raw material comes from a sustainable source. There is, I suspect, a certain amount of greenwash going on here, as the amount of wood used is pretty small. But every little helps, as someone once said. Perhaps more importantly the wood helps the sound to resonate encasing as it does the Thinksound ts02+mic's 8mm drivers.
The construction of the buds themselves feels sturdy, and the cable isn't the shortest at around 1.37m. There's no PVC in the plastic used in the cable, either, for environmental reasons. It's also not the thinnest cable we've seen, but the gold-plated 3.5mm jack runs in a straight line from the cord - if you're as hard on earphones as we are you'll want to treat the Thinksound ts02+mic well in order to protect your investment.
To that end, Thinksound provides a carrying case, in this case a recyclable cotton pouch. It's a lot more stylish than it sounds, and is potentially something I'd consider carrying around with me (in another bag). It won't be lost on you that cotton is a biodegradable, sustainable material. This theme is carried on with the Thinksound ts02+mic's minimal packaging. It is principally cardboard, with string instead of cable ties.