Those who read my Radius HP-TWF21 (aka. ‘DDM2′ aka ‘W n°2′) review know that I really like the lush, cinematic, larger-than-life sound of those IEMs. It turns out that Radius Japan didn’t actually develop/design those phones, but seemingly rebranded a Chinese OEM product, as is their usual modus operandi.
Be that as it may, these DDM2 sound exceptionally great to my ears – but their $250 price tag hurts quite a bit (especially considering their questionable build quality, the cheap materials used, and the fact that they have to be imported from Japan).
Enter American jack-of-all-trades retail chain Brookstone. Their ‘Clear Dual-Drive Earbuds’ go for $60 (or for $30-40 on eBay, if you’re lucky), and they are the same OEM design as the DDM2. They’re just a bit less tacky with silver accents instead of gold, and without cumbersome fabric-covered cable. Unfortunately they’re only available with an iPod/iPhone inline remote, there’s no standard non-headset version.
The big question of course is if they can match the glorious sound of the DDM2. Apparently they are somewhat differently tuned, after all. Over on the Head-Fi forums IEM-aficionado ClieOS mentioned that the Brookstones sound closer to the older DDM1 than to the DDM2. This is not a bad thing at all – the DDM1 sound great, they just have a rather awkward form factor. Getting a similar sound in the much more comfortable DDM2 housing might make the Brookstones worth the purchase – not to mention the price difference.