Thinksound: Clear Sound with a Clearer Conscience

The thinksound ts02 in-ear headphone costs $79.99 and loves the environment.

Thinksound is a young company founded by Aaron Fournier and Mike Tunney, who met while working at Tivoli Audio, where Fournier was an audio engineer and Tunney was the creative director. Fournier and Tunney later collaborated on the launch of Sapphire Audio, where Fournier designed loudspeakers and built an important relationship with Cary Christie (cofounder of Infinity and founder of Artison). “A few years ago,” Fournier told me via e-mail, “I decided to take Cary’s advice and stay in China to learn the ropes and develop my own company that I could personally believe in.”

Thinksound believes in “clear sound with a clearer conscience.” To that extent, the company makes all of their products from wood and employs intelligent and responsible packaging design, utilizing recycled, bleach-free materials, with the now-familiar orange, green, and brown color scheme—if Whole Foods made headphones, they’d probably look like these. You won’t find an annoying, impenetrable plastic bubble or dozens of pieces of wire or tape keeping you from enjoying the thinksound headphones. Instead, the thinksounds are housed in a smart cardboard enclosure with their tangle-resistant, PVC-free cable secured by a simple piece of string. A cotton pouch, cord clip, and four different silicon ear fittings are also included.

Fournier emphasized that his green approach is not mere fashion or fad: “I am trying to be as eco-friendly as possible while making audiophile grade headphones for an affordable price. We are not a lifestyle company or a fashion company….”

My initial impressions are entirely positive: I love the concept and design, and I’m looking forward to listening. I envision a future installment of “The Entry Level,” mating a selection of affordable in-ear monitors with a cool headphone amplifier.

deckeda's picture

... a comparo.

Less than about $50 and it's only a basic iPod replacement. $50-$100 and folks are looking for something nicer without spending Etymotic (for example) bucks. Is there an earbud-equivalent of the Grado SR-60 value leader in that price class? Gonna try 'em with Comply Foam Tips, for a cheap tweak? So much to do. Go Stephen, go!

Don't understand the comment regarding China. Is that where these are made? The folks at almost saw their business die from poor quality there, and actually moved all production stateside, according to a recent article in Wired. Perhaps something *else* to consider when otherwise musing about a product's non-audio qualities.

Stephen Mejias's picture
Is there an earbud-equivalent of the Grado SR-60 value leader in that price class?

That's exactly what I'd like to find out.

Don't understand the comment regarding China. Is that where these are made?

Yes, the thinksounds are made in China.

Staxguy's picture

I'd go for the ts01's myself, for the nicer looking aesthetics, and the suitable bass response, in that ThinkSound design.

My Grado golden-ear friend tells me that the SR-60, despite everyone else's opinion, are utter and completely crap, while the likewise modestly affordable SR-80 are just fine, thank you! :)

Looking around at Head'buds I couldn't find any online to replace my stolen and ok-sounding Etoymotic ER-4S's (good for monitoring synths), or now-broken Skullcandy replacements, something or others, that well, have a neat logo, and decent bass, but not much upper-range.

Partnering with an iPod nano for jogging use, I settled on some $20 Panasonic Ergo Fit earbuds, which actually do, fit quite well, and get guitars and drums ok, but flutes not at all, and sax's sound horrendous.

The local hi-fi guy at the counter recommended some $130 Beyderdynamics as the cheap but relatively ok-sounding option, and while they did sound quite good on that old Binuaral test disc, they were sub-par on ABBA Gold, compared to the Etoymotics, say, or a old pair of Class B Status Golds.

If anyone here doesn't mind poor sound on jazz (they actually do get the voice and some pop instruments done quite well for the $$), the Panasonics are quite acceptable for jogging on a treadmill use, and as named, fit remarkably well, without exerting too much pressure on the ear.

They don't fall out, which is the prime feature needed, and at $20 they are quickly replaceable, when they eventually go. The cable on them is too thin and tangly, however, to be considered well-designed, unlike the buds themselves. Such is often the case with headphones! :)

Most of the newer semi-pricey ear buds look ridiculous to me, compared to the old standby Etoymotic 4S's - rather large, and ungainly for a personal accessory.

Something like the Thinksound ts01's look about right for a cheap, personal item.

What Thinksound does get right, is limiting the packaging.

Even the $20 Panasonics came with way too much plastic and crap, while the $20 Microsoft mouse came in a maze of cardboard, clear plastic, and printed material, that easily out cost the Microsoft mouse itself.

How about no box, altogether, guys?

Make the stuff like "fashion" jewelry, which it is. Stores can use their display cases.

If I'm some kid accustomed to Christmas presents, then I'll appreciate a box, but as a customer, a plastic bag that I can later use for my kitchen waste is far preferable. It takes far too long to unwrap things, and then get rid of the junk than it should, and is a waste of time and space. While I don't boat, I can see that large islands approaching continents of plastic can't be the best thing in the world for some of us. :)

Use a plain white Jewelry box, if you must, and include a pouch, perhaps, with a small paper of information. That's about it. :)

If a local retailer starts to carry Thinksound (any model), I'll give them a listen. Wonder if they do saxophones, ok?


rvance's picture

Have the Phiatons been given away yet?

Stephen Mejias's picture
Yes, the winners for the Phiaton sweeps have been selected and contacted.