- Funky finishes
- Odd fit
- Overblown bass, slightly muddy
- Review Price: £19.99
- 5 metallic shades available
- 40mm drivers
- Adjustable headband
- 3.5mm right-angle jack
- Swivelling cups
The Radiopaq Duo are a very affordable pair of headphones, retailing for £19.99. They hide their budget price tag behind a finish that’s begging you to believe they’re made of metal. The cans’ backs are clad in a highly metallic finish, either bright orange – like our pair – purple, green, silver or the more sober black.
Once you touch them though, you won’t be fooled. These are plastic headphones, and don’t feel much more expensive than their price suggests. There is however a metal strip that runs through the headband to add flexibility to the set.
In use, the Radiopaq Duo feel like a hybrid of the on-ear and over-the-ear style of headphone. They only put minimal pressure on your head, like a good supra-aural pair, but we found that the pads very nearly fully enclosed our ears – apart from a spot of earlobe. It’s an odd fit, but one that only feels uncomfortable if you start thinking a little too much about the bum deal your earlobes are getting. As flexible bits, they tend not to react to the pressure, unlike the cartilage that makes up the rest of your ears.
The pads are well-padded with foam, and pleather-lined. This arrangement does seem to leak sound more than on-ear alternatives like the MEElectronics HT-21 or Sennheiser HD 220 Originals, and sound isolation isn’t hugely impressive. Thanks to their light weight, they’re fairly comfortable to wear for extended periods – although our ears did feel a little cramped nudged-in between those pleather pads.
The compact design of the Radiopaq Duo makes them more portable than most over-the-ears headphones, and you can twist the cups around by 90 degrees to make them take up less space, but they don’t fold up. If you need a fully portable on-ear set, you’d be better off with the MEElectronics HT-21 or Sennheiser PX100. No case is included either. It’s not a biggie at the price point, but is something included with some similarly-priced sets.
Whenever a manufacturer uses the “DJ” tag alongside its headphones, an alarm sounds at Trusted towers. It means there’s only one thing we can go in expecting – a low-end as bloated as Mr Cresote’s belly pre wafer thin mint. And unfortunately it’s what you get here.
This low-end isn’t well well-controlled, deep or taut. In technical terms, it’s a poor show. However, to ears less pedantic than ours, it could well sound good. The success of the massively popular Sennheiser CX300 series is partly down to that earphone’s tendency to inflate its bass above what’s strictly accurate.
Detail is unspectacular, lending vocals a veiled sensibility. If you’re after accuracy and insight, the Radiopaq Duo shelf is the wrong one to alight at. However, their sound is also inoffensive – unless you have truly irrational expectations from £20 headphones. Treble isn’t beautifully smooth, but it’s not harsh either, and that DJ bass gives an impression of warmth – if not a particularly high-grade one.
The ear (well, the brain technically) will acclimatise quickly to the non-sibilant tone of the Duo headphones quickly, so you could do worse if the looks of these orange beauties have your heart all a’flutter. After EQ’ing down the bass, we were able to find a sound we’d happily listen to.
There are several very convincing arguments to be made against the Radiopaq Duo though – the cast of on-ear headphones available in the £20-30 price range. The classic Koss PortaPro, the Sennheiser PX100 and HD218, and the MEElectronics HT-21 all offer better sound for the same price – or a little bit more. Of course what they don’t have are the Radiopaq Duo’s neat colours. And that could mean a lot if you’re looking for a present for an adolescent, or sub-adolescent, kid. In contrast we can’t imagine many tweens happy to wear the Koss PortaPro – which look like they’ve been lost in the post since 1982.
The Radiopaq Duo are cheap, and with five metallic shades to choose from, they’re more cheerful than an episode of Glee. However, like many “DJ” branded headphones, they’re far too bassy for their own good – filling-in the low end with bloat rather than taut, refined bass.
You might ask, what do you expect for £20? Well, rivals like the Koss PortaPro prove that you don’t need to spend a penny more to get better sound. The Radiopaq Duo may look better to most retinas, but how much does style matter to you?
Score in detail
Design & Features 6
Sound Quality 6
|Number of Drivers (Times)||1x|