Portable electronics aren't known for being particularly environmentally-friendly, mainly because of the materials that go into making them and how difficult it is to dispose of them. Headphones certainly don't seem low-impact with their long plastic cords and metal, plastic, and silicone components. However, Thinksound is aiming to change all that with two new lines of earphones designed with the smallest eco-footprint possible. One of the models is the Rain 9mm Headphones, a $100 set that sells for closer to $60 online.
Like other "natural" earbuds we've seen, such as the Ear Pollution Timbre and the Woodees, the Rain headphones feature earpieces that are constructed of wood. You can choose from two finishes, a lighter silver-cherry model and a richer black-chocolate model. In keeping with its mantra, Thinksound receives the wood from easily renewable sources. In addition, the company even uses recycled material for the headphones packaging and the cable, which measures 50 inches long, is PVC-free. Of course, the included pouch is also biodegradable cotton.
Another nice feature of the Rain 9mm headphones is that the earpieces are quite compact, though they are longer and more tapered than those of their sibling, the Thunder 10mm headphones. To help with ear fit, Thinksound includes four sizes of silicone ear tips, which amount to XS, S, M, and L size. The downside for some people is that the large sleeves may not be quite large enough, but the earphones are a great choice for people with small ears. We were able to achieve a fair seal with the small tips and found the earbuds comfortable for a couple of hours, but not all day. The cable seems rather thin, but it's flexible, and the gold-plated straight-plug is surrounded by a thick housing for reinforcement. The cable's attachment at the earpieces seems fragile, and the cord is definitely not tangle-resistant.
As with other wood earbuds we've listened to, the Rain earphones offered a more natural and open sound during testing. However, these don't offer the resonance that we experienced with the Woodees or even the Thunder headphones, this is likely because of the different shape of the earpieces. Also, we felt that while the Rain earbuds offered crisper overall sound and more details on the high-end, the low-end audio seems to be lacking, especially when compared with the Thunder's. Doubtless, this has everything to do with the smaller driver size. The overall result is audio that sounds cooler than warm, which is not something we prefer; however, some listeners may feel differently. The upshot of the small driver is that we didn't hear any distortion and the sound it produced was very clean.
Overall, we found it produced audio that favors the high-end with a recessed bass response that makes the mids seem overly forward at times when listening to music. We enjoyed folk, oldies, and classical genres when listening with these buds. If those are the types of music you tend to like, the Rain is a solid option, but only if you can find them for around $60 rather than $100. They're not a good choice for people with more eclectic music tastes.