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My take on the Radius TWF21 *Complete*

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

 

                                                   

The Prelude:

  As some of you guys might now, I've been exploring the universal IEM realm for quite some time and thus have used many IEMs. Been buying IEMs based on Headfi since 2005 and have learned quite a lot in the process. Gained friends (you know who you are) and have learned a lot about this particular market some of us are very dedicated to. Because of what I've gained here, I have always tried to give back with an approach that minimizes personal bias. Of course, it's easier said than done and it's not always done so comprehensively  because of the strong subjective nature of IEMs. I personally enjoy giving sonic impressions in such a objective manner  and have now decided to garner my thoughts consicely for future threads. This is the first of more to come. 

 
  Due to the nature of the loan program a review was to take place and thus this thread should summarize my thoughts on the newly released Radius HP-TWF21 (HP-TWF21K Noir (Black)). Didn't think much about writing reviews due to my obsessive nature (it takes up a lot of time) but I have managed to make it work without rambling so much : ).
 
 
 
 
 
[I have no relation with neither Radius nor Dimitri of MA and have not been personally sponsored for the review]
 
 
 
                                                 REVIEW: TWF21R/W N°2/"DDM2"
 
                                           
                                       shapeimage_1.png
 
Review Structure:
 
Specs & Background
Accessories
Build Isolation & Comfort
Sound Characteristics & Selected Comparisons
Conclusion
Encore: Open letter to Radius
 
 
 
                                              Specifications & Background Information
 
Format:                    Dynamic
Driver:                     φ15mm/φ7mm (Dual Diaphragm / CCAW)
SPL:                       107dB/mW
Frequency Range:   10Hz-20, 000Hz
Maximum input:      20mW
Impedance:              24Ω
Mass                    [7.3g] (without cord)
Cable Length:        Approximately 120cm (Y type) made of Nylon
Retail Price: 300$
Current Price (6/10/11): ~215
 
Thoughts: 
The offical name of the product is the TWF21 but it has also garnered the name of W N°2 and is called the DDM2 by some users of this forum. I will personally be using the name DDM2 for it's practicality (DDM for the previous incarnation).  
 
 The DDM2s follow suit of Radius' previous flagship, the TWF11 (DDM) and has the same innovative dual-driver design. The drivers' specs are similar to the DDMs but the new flagship boasts slightly better frequency range and higher sensitivity which will make it a bit easier to drive. They have the same impedance and the  drivers are  of the same size and structure (see picture below).  All in all, I will go as far to say that the two are using the same drivers but with a difference in the tuning (housing, crossover,etc.).
 
 
Structure of the driver provided by Radius. First picture depicts the DDM, the second depicts the DMM2 both of which are identical. Note: Diaphragm material is not specified. A=Bass/Mid Driver J=Treble Driver
 
ddm1 driver.jpgddm2 driver.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                 Accessories
*Earpieces (S,M,L) x2
 

*Cable Winder 

*L plug adapter cable
*Cleaning cloth
*Carrying case
*User card
*Manual/Warranty
1000x500px-LL-898007e7_IMG_1146.jpg
 
Thoughts: 
First of all, the overall presentation is quite nice. The box is quite big, carrying all the accessories and monitors quite well. The best  item provided is the pouch, it's more spacious compared to the average Chinese cases found elsewhere and yields a nice removable cable-winder/shell holder and two nets on each size for tips. It's overall quite practical, but some may prefer not to leave the rubber cable winder/shell holder intact and get a similar result winding the cable around 2 or 3 fingers and placing accordingly. Unfortunately what pales in comparison are the generic tips included. Even though you get two pairs of the same size, they are of poor quality  and can be easily found on ebay or second-hand. Next an l-plug adapter is provided that thoughtfully helps those that prefer this type of plug for their player, unfortunately it adds a bit more weight and cable length. Overall,  while presentation is quite nice, the only real accessory of  value is the carrying pouch. There is certainly room for improvement considering it's price (see open my open letter to Radius for insight on suggested accessories). 
 
 
  
                                                                   
                                         Build, Isolation & Comfort
 
 
  The look of the Radius is reminiscent and seemingly inspired by the best-selling ATH-CKS90 with a ninja-esque appearance. While it improves upon the DDMs in terms of comfort, similarly housed ATH-CKM99 fares better in terms of comfort (both of which have comparable driver width) and build is poor for the price. The DDM2's shell is completely made of generic plasic that gives an appareance of a <100$ dynamic, possible resonance issues and (assumingly) affects timbre characteristics. It does not feel like a flagship product when you consider the shells of the CKM99s, FX500, and EX600 which are actually at a lower price-point. 
 
  My tips of preference are the large Meelec M6 triflanges, Monster triflanges or "Balanced" Meelec double flanges (in order of preference). These tips were chosen because they contrasted the short nozzle and provided a deeper fit for better isolation and seal. Due to the nature of the housing you are kind of forced to wear them straight down and it yields isolation that's well below average.  Generally,  you can still hear the hum of cars as they pass and the voices of people who speak at a moderate loudness. The comfort is solid as the housing is relatively light in weight but the fit isn't secure enough for a physical activity such as running. Luckily a workaround that will improve overall usability for some is to reverse the channels and wear them in a over the ear fashion (see picture below). When this is done, I can actually manage a slightly deeper fit and there is a secure fit in the ear because some of the weight is transferred to the top of the ear. But the biggest improvement of all is the microphonics, which is virtually eliminated. This not to say that wearing them straight down is unpractical, they are still solid this way but there is also room for improvement here. A shirt clip is almost mandatory if you wear them straight down if you are easily bothered by microphonics, Radius unfortunately didn't include one...........
 
picture by Martin Sägmüller (dfkt) of ABI
ear ddm2.jpg
 
 
 
Now for the fun part....
 
 
                                              Sound Signature and Sound Characteristics
 
  Starting from the lowest regions, the subbass depth is impressive and it's easily one of the strong points of the Radius.  Nothing to complain about there as it will produce frequencies that are deep down without any trouble.  Despite a midbass hump it is smaller than the previous DDM and sports a fairly linear bass. The midrange is slightly forward, warm and thick in texture. But the drawback of the thickness results in less apparent clarity and transparency and the forward nature gives it a nice affinity. Treble is slightly recessed and very laid back but actually manages to stay quite clear with moderate detailing and solid extension. Soundstage is where things are quite interesting. Width and depth is quite large and yet it portrays a intimacy that is complemented by contrasting the width with some height. It's a combination that now sounds more accomondating than the previous DDMs and contrasts the stage of many closed IEMs. Despite stage size, imaging is quite average and falls short of pinpointing BAs like the DBA02 and even dynamics such as the Sony EX600 and JVC FX500. The dynamic range and energy is above average but its actually slightly inferior to the DDMs. Compared to the DDMs, the DDM2s are a bit softer and fall only a bit behind in dynamic range. The speed of the driver was noticeably slower than the RE-Zero and comparable to the Miles Davis Tributes. As result of the average speed, the reverb is great, giving notes that edge and energy that's swung around quite well with the great dynamic range. 
 
For the price the DDM2 provide a thick rich sound that has an intimate midrange and laid back treble. Unlike more analytical IEMs, the DDM2s take the approach of providing resolution with it's dynamic range and texture rather than being able to keep up with fast information and treble detail. While it isn't going to give you the most minute details of the recording, it will provide the most meaningful information with a dynamic realism. This kind of signature is almost a direct contrast to the DBA02 which takes the opposite approach of giving out every detail with a compressed dynamic range to put it all forward. In the end, an aspect of resolution that many overlook is dynamic range and this is where the DDM2s beat technically proficient balance armature IEMs such as the DBA02, CK10 and SM3. 
 
 
               Comparisons: TWF21 vs [Monster Miles Davis Tributes//Panasonic HJE900//Radius TWF11R]
 
  I like to compare IEMs based on usability and sound qualities in addition to price-range rather than just the latter. Based on this criteria, i think the Miles Davis Tributes and Sennheiser IE8 are two of it's main competitors. First, the MDs boast a similar frequency presentation & approach, differing mostly in soundstage qualities. Next competitor is the Sennheiser IE8 because it provides a bass driven sound like the DDM2s and shares the average isolation, giving it a similar usability.
 
These 2 IEMs are in the same price bracket, but only the MDs will be compared for practical reasons  (
I only had the IE8 for a short period of time, lack  notes and only remember certain qualities quite well). HJE900s will be compared because it was the only IEM I had that was remotely comparable at the time. Finally, I will compare them to the DDMs which will portray the changes made by the new model. 
 
 
[Comparisons of the MD&DDM are undirect but primary benchmarks  HJE900, Monster Turbine Copper (MTPC) and FA Silver Bullet were used for comparisons. This was based on technical notes and memos]
 
 
 
Miles Davis Tributes
 
  These stand side by side the DDM2s both in price bracket and sound signature. These qualities alone will make it it's most direct competitor.  With the MDs, the whole bass region is taken up a notch starting with the subbass and working it's way down to the midbass. The hump isn't as linear as that of the DDM2 and creates a bass that's thicker and loose. MDs still impress at not giving up much resolution from the bass to the midrange despite the added mass of thickness. The DDM2s on the other hand, are softer and more linear on the bass and there's less added warmth which results in a bit more apparent details. Compared to other leaner IEMs, both are thick in the midrange but the DDM2s are closer to a more transparent one (thought still not that close). The DDM2s actually put the midrange only a tad forward while the MDs take it up a notch. In the treble, extension and sparkle is better on the MDs but the DDM2 actually resolve the detail in a manner that's less offensive and yet a tad more revealing. Both are overall quite conservative on these regions and lack the decay, presence, and realism of cymbal crashes which reside in the treble. Presentation wise, both are intimate, but while the MDs place you in a small club, the DDM2s place you in a concert hall. Depth is similar on both but the width is larger on the DDM2s. DDM2s  boot some added height despite the width that's reminiscent of the FA Silver Bullet whereas the MDs height is given by it's small setting. Imaging is similar on both, with a slight edge to the DDM2s, speed is also a tad faster on the Radius. Dynamic range is where the MDs take the cake despite a very respectable one in the DDM2s. While the DDM2s provide a very nice timbre for certain instruments, overall tonality of the MDs is better. 
 
 
 
 
HJE900 [Foam modded with SA6 cables]
  
 
The now discontinuted HJE900s don't slack far behind the TWF21 despite the price difference and they each trade out many strengths and weaknesses. As a whole the bass of the TWF21 has a lot more going for it as it extends a bit deeper and is more linear throughout the range. The HJE900s are more grounded on the midbass but at least provide a bit more speed while maintaining a nice decay. There is more added warmth to the midrange in the HJE900s and the midrange presence is laid back compared to the Radius. Despite added warmth on the HJE900s,  the higher midrange is edgier, with more "crunch" and it gets you ready for the treble presentation. Presence of the treble is more apparent on the HJE900s but is prone to harshness because of a hump from that starts ~4k and resolves at ~8k. This is fortunately tamed by doing a foam mod (adding foam to the nozzle). Treble extension is actually a bit better on the DDM2s but cymbal crashes actually sound more realistic on the Panasonics because it has the proper presence and sparkle. With the SA6 cable the presentation of the HJE900's soundstage is smaller than the stock configuration but it gains slightly more apparent imaging. Compared to the DDM2s, the Radius' stage is simply bigger (airer, wider and deeper). The overall presentation is more impressive but it does have a bit less precise imaging than the Panasonics. Speed is faster on the HJE900s  but dynamic range is larger on the DDM2s. To note, the HJE900s have a tonality that noticeably exceeds that of the DDM2. In general the HJE900s are more compatable to more instruments than the DDM2s in terms of tonality. 
 
 
 
TWF11R (DDM)
 
 So what are the changes from the first Radius (DDM)? First, it is noticeably softer on the bass whereas the DDM has more presence and midrange warmth. Lower midrange is more apparent on the DDMs but the DDM2s give you a finesse as it's more refined. Treble presence is a bit more on the DDM2s but you also get a sense of details as you go further down (better extension). Presentation is where I see the most changes as it is more coherent on the DDM2s. The DDMs give you a soundstage that can sound very tinny at times and grand at others. With the DDMs, depth and width are contrasted by the intimacy of the midrange in a more contrasting matter than the DDM2. This was a result of the DDMs depth but also to it's endless width at times. The DDM2s actually put things together more concisely into a general box (though still wide) whereas the DDMs are more polarizing in imaging and slightly more blended. Dynamic range is larger on the DDM by a notch and the DDM2s are a tiny bit faster. 
 
 
 
 rad_f-response_big.jpg
 
FR_W_vs_W2.gif
 
There is an improved balance in the W2 (DDM2)
 
 
 
 
Conclusion
  In my opinion, the big Japanese companies make the best high-end dynamic IEMs that are also complemented by oustanding build quality. Radius on the other hand seem to be slightly behind as the company is still trying to grow. With the TWF21 they seem to be taking some steps forward with the DDM2s, but unfortunately also took steps back in other areas. First of all, while the sound is improved from the DDMs, I don't see it having the appeal the first incarnation had. The DDMs were released at a good time because the competition wasn't as fierce and it had a low price to boot. For the price of ~160$ the DDMs were the best sounding dynamic for the price. That kind of value allowed users to overlook the poor build, isolation and comfort aspects. With the DDM2s priced at the ~250$ price range, there is going to be more hesitation considering the overall package outside of sound quality. The build, isolation and fit is inferior to that of the MDs and IE8s (main competitors). Likewise, the FX500 and EX600 that have comparable isolation are technically on par and yet cheaper in price. Luckily DDM2s do have a different signature than the FX500/EX600s and compared to the MDs and IE8s it is slightly more balanced and technically proficient. They are therefore unique enough to satisfy a specific need, but their pricing will hold them back on mass appeal. 
 
 
                                                    Open Letter to Radius
Being a Japanese company, it will be very hard to communicate with such a company due to language barrier. Neverthless, I will be simulating my feedback to Radius in the following passage. 
 
 
 
Dear Radius
  I recently had a nice 2 week experience with the newly released DDM2s and have lot's thoughs in regards to how they stand in the US market. The DDM2s  improve the comfort and sound of the DDM1 but I am questioning it's pricing and see room for improvement if you want the same popularity of the first. Compared to the DDMs, the build is of exactly the same quality and the drivers seem to be apparently the same. The newer shell design and improved response is welcomed but I am afraid that it isn't enough to place them with other competitors in that price-range. I personally think bigger improvements could've been made to  justifice the newer price. First, the previous cable of the DDM wasn't improved and it ruins the practicality of the IEM. IEMs are for portable use and the touch of the cable produces too much noise that detracts in movement (a shirt clip will also be highly welcomed). Second, the housing is made of plastic while other competing dynamic IEMs of the same or similar price range are using better materials, examples are the EX600, CKM99, Miles Davis Tribute, FX500, etc. With a material such as Aluminum, you can have better resonance response and yet maintain that lightweight practicality. In addition to the l-plug adapter, you guys could add a channel switching adapter that enables the user  to wear them in an over the ear fashion, helping the cable noise and comfort. Disappointed in the tips, a variety of improved tips should be provided and could consider designs such as these. Lastly, it will be interesting to know the diaphragm material as it's usually published in other Japanese dynamic driver IEMs. Perhaps experimenting with different materials could prove useful for the next flagship. You guys have been innovative with the driver design, but I feel that the practicality of the IEM could still be improved. I understand that you guys are a growing, small company and I hope for some consideration of the presented suggestions. I want to thank you for your time and will look forward to your next flagship IEM. 
 
regards
Inks
 
 
 
 
 
Final Thank-Yous
 
Joker, for choosing me for the loan program. 
Dimitri for the generosity of loaning out this pair. 
And..all the users who have personally asked for advice. You guys have inspired me to write this review and a possible "buying-guide" thread. 

 


Edited by Inks - 10/19/11 at 4:48pm
post #2 of 23
Thread Starter 

I apologize for the possible font/spacing issues but I will sort them when I have some time. 

post #3 of 23

I completely agree with your review. Great write up, enjoyable!

post #4 of 23
                                                                Open Letter to Radius
Being a Japanese company, it will be very hard to communicate with such a company due to language barrier. Neverthless, I will be simulating my feedback to Radius in the following passage. 
 
 
 
Dear Radius
  I recently had a nice 2 week experience with the newly released DDM2s and have lot's thoughs in regards to how they stand in the US market. The DDM2s  improve the comfort and sound of the DDM1 but I am questioning it's pricing and see room for improvement if you want the same results. Compared to the DDMs, the build is of exactly the same quality and the drivers seem to be apparently the same. The newer shell design and improved response is welcomed but I am afraid that it isn't enough to place them with other competitors in that price-range. I personally think bigger improvements could've been made to warrant justifice the newer price. First, the previous cable of the DDM wasn't improved and it ruins the practicality of the IEM. IEMs are for portable use and the touch of the cable produces too much noise that detracts at times (a shirt clip will also be highly welcomed). Second, the housing is made of plastic while other competing dynamic IEMs of the same or similar price range are using better materials, examples are the (EX600, CKM99, Miles Davis Tribute, FX500, etc). With a material such as Alminum, you can have better resonance response and yet maintain that lightweight practicality. In addition to the l-plug adapter you guys could add a channel switching adapter that enables the user  to wear them in an over the ear fashion, helping the cable noise and comfort. Disappointed in the tips, more and better tips should be provided and should consider designs such as these. Lastly, it will be interesting to know the diaphragm material as it's usually published in other Japanese dynamic driver IEMs and perhaps experimenting with different ones should prove useful for the next flagship. You guys have been innovative with the driver design, but I feel that the practicality of the IEM could still be improved. I understand that you guys are a small company and still have room for improvements and thus want to have my part in suggesting possible improvement. I want to thank you for you time and will look forward to what's next. : ). 
 
regards
Inks
 
 
 
 
 
Final Thank-Yous
 
Joker for choosing me in the loan program
Dimitri for the generosity of loaning out this pair. 
And..all the users who have personally asked for advice. You guys have inspired me to write this review and a possible "wisdom" thread. 

 

Inks, did you actually send this letter to the maker Radius? It is actually great idea if all of us just suggest manufacturer's new ideas etc..

Great review!
 

 


Edited by yello131 - 6/12/11 at 9:08pm
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks Austin.

There's some editing that has to be done. It was released in this manner because I wanted to release the review before the MA offer deadline. Revisions will be made soon.

Yello131 I haven't but maybe Dimitri can?
Edited by Inks - 6/12/11 at 9:35pm
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inks View Post

Thanks Austin.

There's some editing that has to be done. It was released in this manner because I wanted to release the review before the MA offer deadline. Revisions will be made soon.

Yello131 I haven't but maybe Dimitri can?

 

Dimitri should, could you email him or shall I do?

 

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
I can email it to him, but thank you for the offer.

Also the letter needs a link to suggested tips, that will be fixed soon.
Edited by Inks - 6/12/11 at 9:53pm
post #8 of 23

Great review, Inks.

 

Just got word that Radius is pressuring MA to raise the price back to full retail - the sale will be over tomorrow. Dimitri says the new price will likely be around $240.

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

First attempt was a rough draft but it has now been edited. I suggest a second read for those that read the rough draft as there were certain points that couldn't be put across. You will also notice a bit more information in addition to the editing. 

 

@ Joker: That's quite disappointing....


Edited by Inks - 6/13/11 at 12:52am
post #10 of 23

A well rounded Review Inks bigsmile_face.gif .

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

 Thanks ib1

 

For those that want comparisons vs FX700s, here it is in brief.

 

Bass depth is bottomless on both but the FX700s have a bigger hump in their bass whereas the TWF21's hump is smaller and more linear. But the FX700s still manage to have a quicker bass that does a better job of keeping up with fast information. Midrange is thicker on the TWF21, less detailed and a tad more forward. Treble extension is comparable but the FX700s have more presence, sparkle and retrieval of details, TWF21 sounds almost recessed on the high regions in comparison. The TWF21 has better dynamic range but is softer in energy. The FX700's note is more hefty and detailed. Overall timbre is better on the FX700s but vocal timbre is more realistic on the Radius. The TWF21 has more decay and is slower whereas the FX700s is quicker with better imaging (separation of individual notes) as a result. Soundstage depth is larger on the TWF21 but the FX700's soundstage is wider. 


Edited by Inks - 6/14/11 at 10:25pm
post #12 of 23

Very nice review, I enjoyed just as much as I enjoy DDM2 :) personally I like DDM2 bettar than DDM

post #13 of 23

well, thank you inks for this helpful review...

i now know which one should i choose between miles and this...

 

thanks!

post #14 of 23

Is there a way to contact the Radius company directly (by email) with questions or suggestions?  I've tried to look for their contact info, but I can't find it.

post #15 of 23

Great write-up, i loved the polite advice you gave to the manufacturer. If all the manufacturers listed to such advice, the perfect headphone/earphone should be out soon :)

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