Thinksound 'rain2' Wood-earpiece Stereo Earphone/IEM review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

    Joined:
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    Charleston South Carolina
    Youtube review: http://youtu.be/OOpPtE4c1vU

    Photos:
    http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Leica_Dlux/Headphone_Thinksound_Rain2_01.jpg
    http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Audioforge/Thinksound_Rain2.jpg

    Sources: iPhone6+ with Portaphile Micro/PA2V2/Decware Zen Head amps using the LOD, various computers using Microstreamer/Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza DAC/amps.

    Review notes: My first impressions of the sound of the Thinksound 'rain2' are based on direct comparisons to other headphones - the v-moda M100 and XS, the FAD Pandora VI and IV, the Beyerdynamic T1 and T90, the AKG K812 and K712, and notes that I've accumulated from many prior reviews. I'll describe how I relate to the Rain2 (i.e. my personal tastes and how I use this earphone) only after covering all of the objective issues.

    In spite of my disclaimer above (i.e. my experience with various headphones), my experience with in-ear earphones (IEM's) is limited to only 7-8 different types, and the sound of those varies widely depending on the eartips used and how well they seal for bass balance etc. in the ear canals. But, I have a good sense of when I'm getting the proper seal, by pushing the earpieces in until the treble drops noticeably, then backing off until it pops back in - crude but effective.

    Thinksound and wood-earpiece observations: As an aside, recalling my review of the Thinksound On1 headphone, a few users suggested to the effect that "all woodies (i.e. wooden-earcup headphones and earphones) are pretty much alike", presumably because there's a glut of those 'woodies' on the market, and they're almost entirely OEM's of one central manufacturer from China. I don't have any direct knowledge of the manufacturing of Thinksound's earphones or headphones, but I have had several of those OEM 'woodies', and their sound in every case is as far from Thinksound's as night and day. The main differences are the steep treble rolloff and otherwise uneven frequency response in the OEM models I've had, so expect a much smoother sound from the Rain2, and a good balance between bass, mids, and treble.

    My IEM experiences include the $1500 Final Audio FI-BA-SS (hard and bright), the Sennheiser IE800 (wonderful), the B&O H3 (slightly bright and a bit lean, but good), the RHA MA750 (like the H3, but more bass), several Soundmagic models (decent sound that varies between a lean bass and an emphasized but woofy bass), the Xiaomi MI-IF Piston (as good as or better than the Soundmagic earphones), and this Thinksound Rain2. The Rain2 impresses me somewhat like the IE800 on the top end, with slightly less detail, and like the Xiaomi on the low-price end, but with a warmer sound that doesn't lose the tighter bass and overall detail. Users who are on an extremely tight budget may choose their earphones on the low-price end of things, and while the sound they get may be good, it's likely to be hit-or-miss -- partly due to lower standards and variances between samples of the same earphone model, and partly because clones or fakes aren't controlled by many distributors who can't keep up with them.

    Summarizing my impressions of the Rain2 - a Slightly V-shaped sound with an energetic treble and warm impactful bass. Not a basshead earphone in my view - the bass sounds like it's tuned for maximum enjoyment of a wide range of genres such as jazz, classical, pop, electronic, rock, country, and others. On the other hand, users who are able to get a better ear canal seal may find the bass to be stronger than I did, which could also mitigate the treble somewhat. In any case, I didn't find the treble to be sibilant to any greater degree than my better non-bright headphones. Headphones such as the Beyer T1 and T90 and AKG K812 are much brighter and more genre-limiting than the Rain2, even though the Rain2 has a full audiophile treble. The Rain2 soundstage is quite good, but in comparison, my experience with several IEM's hasn't turned up a narrow or constricted sound like I've heard with several small on-ear headphones in the $200 or so range.

    Isolation with the Rain2 is at least average for a good IEM (very good), but Leakage doesn't appear to be an issue, unless you're playing music very loudly and sitting inches away from someone in an extremely quiet room. Even then the leakage would be very faint, so as a practical matter it's not an issue. The Rain2 cable looks very strong, and if not seriously abused it should serve a long time. There are no controls, and until (in my case) Apple improves the resolution of their volume control from 3-plus db steps to 2 db or less, I have to use the iPhone's internal volume slider anyway. The cable length, from the earpieces to the 45-degree angled miniplug, is about 4.5 feet (~1.3 meters). The fabric storage bag included with the earphone will protect it in pockets or bags, but users who have experience with IEM's will know up front how much extra protection they might need, in case their personal items are subjected to strong shocks and impacts.

    The Rain2 cable is somewhat microphonic above the 'Y' where it splits and goes to each earpiece, so I recommend keeping the included clothing clip handy and using it to keep that part of the cable from rubbing against any clothing. The comments in the music tracks listed below can be compared to other headphone reviews I've done, to get an idea of how the Rain2 plays the different music tracks listed here compared to other headphones. My suggestion is instead of reading each comment below as an absolute unto itself, you could compare these notes to other reviews as they get posted, and see how the Rain2 compares with each individual track.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2014
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

    Joined:
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    1,611
    Location:
    Charleston South Carolina
    Thinksound Rain2 review part 2 - music tracks

    Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has excellent detail and tone with a modest weight, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The Rain2 plays this very well.

    Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled pretty well by the Rain2.

    Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note here are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, but you can really feel the weight they carry with the Rain2.

    Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The Rain2 plays this music smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled extremely well by the Rain2.

    Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The Rain2 plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

    Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The Rain2 reproduces the space and detail convincingly.

    Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the Rain2 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The Rain2 plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are detailed but not overly sharp or edgy.

    Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine sound is as realistic as I've heard with any other headphone since doing these detailed reviews.

    David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The Rain2 reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance. The wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are very extended and detailed.

    Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The Rain2 plays this music perfectly.

    Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound and feel that indicates a good deep-bass response. Overall, the Rain2 plays this music very well.

    Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has very good detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The Rain2 plays this track very well.

    Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce very well with the Rain2. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

    Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The Rain2 provides great detail. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for maximum detail effect. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the Rain2 does those extremely well.

    Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The Rain2 reproduces the fundamental tone with an appreciable weight.

    Mantovani - Sunrise Sunset (Easy Listening, ca. 1972): A master musician and conductor who specialized in light classics and orchestral pop music, Mantovani's accomplishments were overshadowed by music critics who couldn't tolerate the notion of "light classics" or "semi-classical" music, even when those recordings were no threat to the classical music genres. In any case the later Mantovani recordings from the mid-1960's through mid-1970's had the advantage of being mixed for much better hi-fi systems than those which the music critics possessed at the start of the Long Playing (LP) record cycle. Here in 2014, at least some of those digital remasters have improved the sound further, although it's not always the case. This track as played on the Rain2 is an excellent example of the sheer musicality lurking in those later recordings, and is highly recommended for soundstage, instrumental tone, and musical balance.

    Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is subtle with the Rain2.

    Pinback - Non Photo Blue (Pop-Rock): Crispy sound with "crunchy guitars and bashing drums" - the Rain2 renders this music as perfectly as I've heard an energetic pop-rock recording played with any headphone.

    Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The Rain2 reproduces those sound effects with a lighter tonality than my more expensive headphones.

    Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The Rain2 conveys that experience better than most bass-neutral headphones, but with less impact than a full-range loudspeaker in a room tuned for flat bass response to 32.7 hz. The tympani do have a pretty good impact here.

    Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the Rain2 renders the tones and transients exceptionally well.

    Tiger Okoshi - Bootsman's Little House (Jazz): The trumpet here is recorded fairly close up and is somewhat bright with a significant "bite". The Rain2's reproduction is near-perfect, and the close-miked piano is also a treat. For comparison, I have several Maynard Ferguson tracks that feature a similarly strong trumpet with lots of brassy bite.

    Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are strong and work well with the horns and other instruments. The Rain2 delivers the impacts with good weight and detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.
     
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