Radiopaq is best known as a search engine for Internet radio stations, but the company also sells a range of audio hardware products. Among them are the Radiopaq Dots -- tiny headphones designed to deliver big sound. They're aimed at users who want a cheap upgrade from the standard earphones that ship with most portable audio players. The Dots are available from Amazon and other sources for around £15.
The Dots really do live up to their name -- they're among the smallest earphones we've ever seen. This can make them quite fiddly to place in your ears, but you should get a fairly good fit once you experiment with the small, medium and large tips provided in the packaging.
Once the Dots are in, their small size can make you look as if you've got a set of wires going through your ears directly to your brain. That's fine if you like your audio equipment inconspicuous, but anyone who likes to show off their gadgets won't really appreciate the look.
One thing we certainly didn't appreciate was the apparent flimsiness of the Dots. Our review sample broke after just a week of use, due to the cable becoming damaged at the connector jack. Your own mileage may vary, but we think earphones should last slightly longer than seven days of normal use -- even in our clumsy hands.
Locked in, locked on
The dots offer half-decent sound-isolation capability, which provides a few notable benefits. Users needn't increase the volume of their MP3 player to levels that could damage hearing, those around you needn't be subjected to tinny renditions of whatever music you're enjoying, and the battery in your MP3 player should last longer as a result of music not being played as loudly.
When the crowd say 'Bo'...
The sound quality delivered by the Dots isn't particularly well balanced. There's a definite bias towards bass frequencies, and treble is nigh on non-existent, although some users may actually appreciate this.
Anyone who's into bass-heavy hip-hop or dance music will get plenty of pleasure from these earphones. The Dots' bass performance means they also lend themselves very well to movie playback. Slap on a film and you'll be genuinely pleased by how the rumbling low frequencies in Inception, for example, really add to the overall atmosphere.
That said, anyone who isn't a fan of low, bangin' tunage might get rather less enjoyment from the Dots. They deliver mediocre mid-range sound reproduction, so vocals sound rather muddy. Acoustic music suffers, too, as any instrument besides a drum sounds unclear.
The tiny Radiopaq Dots won't suit audiophiles and they're rather flimsy, but they provide excellent bass reproduction and make a good, cheap alternative to the standard earphones bundled with most portable audio players.
Edited by Charles Kloet