Disclaimer: I photographed Radius’s new earphones for Musica Acoustics. In exchange, Musica gave me both sets. I decided to write about both the TFW31 (today) and the TFW41 (next week). Musica Acoustics sell the TFW31 for 318$ USD. You can find out all about it here: Radius TWF31 and TWF41.
The TWF31 is both amazingly capable, and amazingly hamstrung. It delivers one of the most natural sound stages this side of 2,1 channel near field audio. It outputs a cleaner, more extended sound than its forebears. Its upper midrange should be clear enough for all but extreme treble heads. Finally, acclimatising to its signature takes just minutes; the original TWF11 took hours.
A lot has changed in six years. The entire market has caught up, has leap frogged itself multiple times.
To be honest, before unwrapping it, the TWF31 bored me. Too little had apparently changed. Basically, its body muscled up. Rounded edges sharpened up. It’s got exchangeable cables. It’s black (the TWF41 is reddish, just like the TWF11). But its pedigree is evident. And, while that pedigree is characterised by enviable internal engineering, and great sound, it is tawdry: cheap plastic inserts, poor box arrangement, and accessory photos worthy of a startup review site.
Musica Acoustics hasn’t changed much, either. He’s still an energetic go-getter whose nose is on the constant sniff for interesting audio products. He still speaks a mile a minute. He still changes subjects mid sentence. And he still loves Radius.
Whatever I think of Radius’s brand image, Dimitri (the audiophile) has a point. But Dimitri (the businessman) sent the TWF31 tethered to the brilliant, if singularly-flawed ortofon ec7cs MMCX cable. Lucid thinking, Dimitri. That singular fault is that it lacks a neck cinch. But it is a far better cable than what comes with the TWF31, which is better than the thing that came with the TWF11. Both are wrapped in textile, which the ortofon sheds after the y-split, for a far less microphonic and abrasive listening experience. Both terminate in elbowed rather than straight jacks. The ortofon is much easier to grab when switching cables.
The ec7s is also handsomer. And while I can’t really speak for sound differences between the two, I can speak for the TWF31’s sound.
Outside Ocharaku’s best, the TFW31 is one of the least earphone-y sounding earphones I’ve heard. Firstly, it casts a sound stage both deep enough and wide enough that, if it weren’t for the silicon or Comply bit stuck in your ear, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were listening to, as I suggested above, a pair of stereo near field speakers. In my case, general positioning is about half a head forward, beyond my ears, with high midrange elements shimmering here, and etching there, about a hand’s width beyond my shoulders. Bass anchors neatly between the shoulders, just below the chin, and highs go where they will at a whim. Despite the chasmic array; details fill in nicely, and with such a nice neutral slant.
That slant is weighted ever slightly toward the bass, with mids and highs following a minimal descent from there. Mids are far less stuffy than before, but could not be construed as super clear. They are warm and precisely positioned. High frequency roll off occurs largely aft stereo cues. These are important to trance and EDM, and secure sharp, full-bodied classical renditions. It’s also not a typical mid-wide earphone whose extremes are described by obvious fall offs. At times, it emotionally impresses, mostly through the bass-to-mids transition zone, and always because of the sheer texture it reveals.
This is a good-sounding earphone. At times, it is astounding. But it is hampered by so-so fit, generally ugly branding, and, at least what I can see under the macro lens, suspect build quality: seams don’t meet well, the chassis flexes slightly. In the weeks I’ve been listening, the MMCX port has gone from super tight to moderately loose. I don’t suggest you swap cables often.
And, it comes in similarly cheap packaging and tucks into the same faux leather carrying case.
It’s not a cheap earphone, but it feels too much like its forebear. If you’re unlike me - more into sound than anything else - and are looking for a super-textured bass-to-mids wowser with good high end extension and a spacious stage, likely, the TWF31 will float your boat. If, like me, you are as into branding and build quality as you are into sound, save a bit more for an Ocharaku.
The two are in some ways compatible. Certainly, Flat4 Kuro’s got more sibilance, and less midrange texture. But both compete where it comes to sound stage. In fact, the TWF31 even shows well against Sakura Plus, the Ocharaku earphone I worship.
ohm image: A wide angle on Ocharaku's Sakura Plus
ohm image: ohmage to the Ocharaku Flat4-KURO
ohm image: ansible ohmage: ortofon e-Q8
ohm image: oreo cables: ortofon's ec7s x ec8s
headfonia: Review: Ocharaku Flat4-Sakura Plus - Atmospheric
TouchMyApps: Radius HP-TWF11R earphone in review