Pros: Amazing low end - smooth mids - easy on the ears
Cons: Mids may be too smooth for some - treble is nothing to brag about
IEM’s are known to have two driver types, balanced armature, and dynamic drivers. Recently, IEM’s like the Grado GR10 and the Ortofon series of earphones changed the IEM industry with moving armature drivers, which copy the movement of a regular dynamic driver. But, what if someone were to make a new IEM, one so fully loaded that it includes dual dynamic drivers to deliver a whole new type of signature? We’ll, that’s what I’ll be discussing about today with the HP-TWF21R from Radius in Japan, the older brother of the TWF11.
The design of the Radius HP-TWF21R is completely weird for an IEM, and that’s putting it bluntly. The half in ear, half out of ear design is very unique indeed, not to mention the housings that accompany the HP-TWF21R. Unlike full in ear earphones, the HP-TWF21R features an earbud shaped design that fits around the inner edges of your ear, but feature a nozzle for a hybrid in the ear experience, albeit a lot lacking in isolation. The housings, which are made completely of plastic, are round, straight, and every other shape you could possibly imagine. While I am not a huge fan of the gold trim that leads into the housings, it does give the HP-TWF21R a rather classy look. The cable is made of sheath and features an almost tangle proof design, but lacks proper strain relief.
Comfort, Isolation, & Fit
As if I haven’t said it enough times already, the design of the IEM is very peculiar and almost everybody will be quite suspicious of the comfort, isolation, and fit that the HP-TWF21R brings to the table. Isolation wise, it’s mediocre. While some ambiance fades away, almost 80% of everything outside of your head can be heard, and while double flange tips do increase the isolation noise, I really can’t recommend these in noisy environments like the bus or outside. When it comes to comfort however, depending on your ear size, the HP-TWF21R does not disappoint. Unlike regular IEM’s that can cause ear fatigue after a little while, the design of the half in ear design let’s the housing melt away within a matter of minutes. There are three different sets of ear tips, and while most people will enjoy the design of the HP-TWF21R, people with smaller ears maybe find that the housing can become quite cumbersome.
The Radius HP-TWF21R reminds me so much of the Sennhesier HD650, which is ultimately becoming my all time favorite headphone. Think of it this way, take the HD650, shrink the drivers to the size of an IEM, and keep the same smooth sonic signature with little tweaks here and there. Low end energy is all there; great amounts of rumble, fantastic extension, and plenty of impact. Couple that with almost perfect attack and decay times and you are left with what is ultimately a carbon copy of the HD650’s low end signature. Now, let’s say we climb a little higher to the midrange, then that’s where things start to differ. Unlike the HD650, the HP-TWF21R has a slightly thicker midrange with the same laid back response. Vocals are slightly less forward and lose a tad bit of clarity while adding a bit of warmth-ness to the overall presentation.
The upper treble is yet another example of where the HD650 and the Radius HP-TWF21R differ ever so slightly. The HD650 has better extension and resolution up top with more resolved and laid back harmonics (quite a weird combo), while the HP-TWF21R has warmer, more full bodied notes. Now, I know the big question that everyone has been asking is how is the imaging and the soundstage of the HP-TWF21R? In all honesty, the HP-TWF21R has a very big and dynamic soundstage, and while imaging isn’t all that great, there is a good level of width, depth, and heavy tendency to float towards the center stage and outward.
The main reason I am not comparing this to an IEM is because of the fact that there are not a lot of IEM’s that share the same unique sound signature that the HP-TWF21R takes on. It’s more of a miniature headphone listening experience with the simpleness and sleekness of an earphone. I really love the HP-TWF21R, because I don’t have to pull out my HD650’s every time, start up my amp, and wait for my tubes to warm up to enjoy a full bodied dynamic sound session, as the HP-TWF21R can fill that need very nicely. While I do think that the $250 price tag is a tad bit too high for my standards, the Radius HP-TWF21R will be an awesome purchase for anyone looking for a very enjoyable, laid back, and easy on the ears listening experience.