Whistler Titan Review – Whistler’s Radar Detector That Runs With The Big Dogs.
Whistler Titan Review
High performance DSP makes the Titan the best radar detector ever offered by Whistler which can run with the big dogs.
Written: 08/21/2020, by Veil Guy
Veil Guy’s Whistler Titan Review
- Hardware Design Platform
- Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
- Extended K-band Range (for MRCD/Gatso)
- MultaRadar Detection
- Gatso Detection
- Auto-Learn/Auto-Lockout (Muting)
- Adjustable Sensitivity
- Unique Features
- Real-world Radar Detection Performance
- Police Laser Detection Performance
- Filtering/Signal Rejection
- SPECTRE Detection
- Design & Packaging
This Whistler Titan review has been a long time coming. I expected to publish it at the end of 2020, but as the COVID pandemic evolved into causing worldwide disruptions of supply chains, especially semi-conductor production, the Whistler Titan has been delayed for nearly two years!
The Whistler Titan was intended to be released in 2021 as a special limited production run, marking Whistler’s 50th anniversary.
Whistler’s lead engineer had begun discussions with me about it in the March time-frame of 2020 and I received was was to become the Titan in early August.
I began testing it, in the real-world, so that I could provide feedback that could lead to any enhancements based upon my experiences.
Ever since the Whistler Pro 73, I have had the privilege of being given Whistler’s first models for external review before production.
Initially, the Whistler Titan’s original name was consistent with their previous PRO series of radar detectors, but after some gentle prodding, I was able to convince Whistler to break from their tradition.
After a small poll was taken by some Whistler employees and myself, a new name was settled upon and the Whistler Titan was born.
Even though the Whistler Titan has been nearly two years, the radar detector we still be regarded as Whistler’s 50th anniversary edition.
What’s New with the Whistler Titan?
Hardware Design Platform
The Whistler Titan is now based on an entirely new platform, built from the ground up, which includes some innovative design elements not yet found in other radar detectors sold in the States.
The Titan is Whistler’s first radar detector utilizing a 14.5 GHz LO (local oscillator) scheme. This is a huge deal as it puts the Whistler Titan in a class of other manufacturer’s upper-tier radar detectors.
Another first for Whistler, is the use of PLL (phased locked loop) circuitry–a closed-loop feedback control system that eliminates frequency and phase differences between output and input signals. The use of a PLL ensures frequency precision at every stage of signal processing.
The Whistler Titan incorporates a novel feature that is sure to differentiate from other high-end radar detectors–the use of polarizer at the face of the radar horn.
Certain photo enforcement radar systems, that have been used abroad, have utilized horizontally polarized radar as opposed to circularly polarized radar that is used in nearly all other conventional police and speed radar.
Modern dash-mounted radar detector horns (antennas) are vertically polarized, which when confronted with the typical circularly polarized police radar perform at their maximum sensitivity.
However, when these antennas are confronted with horizontally polarized radar, they can lose upwards of 30dB of sensitivity, depending upon the frequency of the radar.
When one considers a 6dB drop in sensitivity has the potential to drop radar detection range in half, imagine a 30dB loss (especially considering the loss is on a logarithmic scale) .
Often times, radar detections don’t occur until your speed has already been determined or as you pass such a radar source.
Kustom’s Falcon HR, their hand-held K-band police radar gun, and their vehicle-mounted Raptor RP-1 K-band police radars (used exclusively by the Pennsylvania State Police) also utilize linear polarization as does Redflex, MultaRadar, and Gatso.
All of these speed radars are extremely hard to detect, often not being detectable at all even with the best radar detectors.
Years ago, certain radar detector users, living abroad, would rotate their detectors 90 degrees in an effort to regain the sensitivity losses to those radar systems.
We ourselves tested a rotated Whistler model against a mobile Redflex photo enforcement system and observed huge gains in detection range.
Polarized Radar Detection Test
Since a rotated radar horn’s sensitivity is not adversely affected when detecting circularly polarized radar (used in conventional police radars), it was safe to do so, without penalty, and therefore it afforded drivers the best of both worlds. But rotating a radar detector isn’t particular convenient or easy to do so and isn’t particular pleasing to the eye.
Fast forward a decade or so, these historically European radars are beginning to proliferate in certain spots in the U.S. Gatso photo radar is one such system and MultaRadar is another.
Knowing this, Whistler has jumped in the lead, by incorporating a polarizer in their horn to effectively recover much of the loss in sensitivity to these difficult to detect speed radars–with minimal loss in sensitivity to all other conventional police radars. This eliminates the need to rotate your radar detector.
This is a first for the radar detector industry and it wouldn’t surprise me to see other radar detector manufacturers take a page out of Whistler’s playbook as it wouldn’t be the first time.
Way back in 1979, Whistler incorporated a lens positioned at the back of their Q1000 radar detector, in front of the radar horn, to improve radar detection of their horizontally polarized horn antenna and this practice continued through the 1980s on select Whistler models.
During the early 1990s this design element took a hiatus due to new vertically polarized horn designs but, Whistler reintroduced it again in 1997 on select Whistler radar detector models then it was added to all Whistler models going forward since 2003.
Today, with just about every radar detector, you’ll find now incorporates such a lens.
In other words, you may have Whistler to thank for this innovation and the gains in performance that come with it.
Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
The Whistler Titan marks another significant turning point for Whistler.
It’s Whistler’s first use of DSP (digital signal processing).
Both Whistler and Valentine were long hold-outs in using DSP and for many years (as proven by the effectiveness of the original V1 and CR 97), it hadn’t been necessary to do so.
But, over nearly three and a half decades, radar has evolved from the simpler days of X, K, and Ka band radar and with the advent of radar-based collision avoidance systems a radar detector’s operating environments has gotten significantly more challenging.
DSP allows for significantly increased signal processing power both in terms of detection of legitimate police radar and rejection (filtering out) of non-police radar.
This results in a more sensitive radar detector and one that is less prone to false.
DSP also allows for simple firmware updates which often can have a positive impact on radar detection performance and/or filtering by software programming alone.
Extended K-band Range (for MRCD/Gatso)
The Whistler Titan joins an elite group of radar detectors that can be configured to detect very low frequency K-band radars.
While these radars are still rare, I recently drove through a small Iowan town and passed by an older Gatso photo radar system–the first of its kind that I have encountered in the United States.
None of the radar detectors I tested initially alerted to its presence leading me to believe that the photo radar system had been decommissioned.
I then remembered that some of the detectors I had with me, had the ability to go low, including the Titan.
So I enabled the feature on some of the radar detectors I had with me and ran them against this photo radar system again.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, the detectors began alerting to the photo radar.
It’s a very tricky system that’s tough to beat indeed, but the Whistler Titan is designed to be up to the task.
Whistler also joins an exclusive group of radar detectors that can detect and alert to MRCD/CT radars.
While some Escorts ostensibly have this feature, the results so far that I have seen is that they do not alert to them at all, but instead false frequently to MRCD with certain collision avoidance systems.
The Valentine V1 G2, doesn’t even attempt to detect it.
The only other company that has a strong value proposition with MRCD detection is Uniden.
I have found the Unidens to be superior in this regard and I have also found Uniden radar detectors to be the quite resistant to falsing MRCD.
But, Whistler is continuing to refine their approach and make progress.
Whistler still has some work to do in improving its MRCD/CT detection consistency but having DSP will allow them to do so more easily than with previous models.
At the moment, the Whistler Titan is not capable of directly identifying Gatso but it can alert to it as a K-band source. After sharing my experiences with some of these systems, Whistler has expressed an interest in doing so.
In terms of detection, alerting, and identification of Gatso systems, Uniden is in the lead on this front and they continue refining their alerting capabilities to more reliably do so.
Again, Escort and Valentine are not even considering tackling these systems, at this point.
Over time not being able to alert to Gatso radar, I believe, will become more of a liability, to those manufacturers who don’t address its detection, as more of these systems are slowly being deployed throughout the US.
The sooner radar detector manufacturers get these systems figured out, the better.
Escort’s patent on auto-lockouts, based upon GPS location, has expired which has allowed other manufacturers of GPS radar detectors to now incorporate this feature.
The Titan can auto-learn alert lockout locations automatically to mute stationery X and K-band sources.
I personally do not use this feature much, but it is now there for those that would like to do so.
The behavior of the Titan is similar to Escort in that the detector can be configured to automatically mute stationery sources of radar when one drives repeatedly in the same area over a discreet period time.
If at some point the stationery source ceases to operate or is moved, the detector will “unlearn” the location and free up the storage space that was occupied by it.
As it stands currently, the Titan has the capacity to handle 300 auto lockouts and 300 manual lockouts for a total of 600.
Like the top models from Uniden, the Titan allows its owner to adjust band-specific radar detection sensitivity.
At the moment, however, the Titan only allows for three settings, LOW, MED, HIGH.
Again, this is a feature I do not tend to use because my feeling is if you purchase a highly sensitive radar detector, why wean it?
A circumstance in which I could foresee the need for this feature is if by the off-chance your own vehicle somehow managed to cause the Titan to alert to K-band, you could conceivably cut down its sensitivity to reduce or eliminate such falsing without having to give up detecting K-band altogether.
Whistler offers many unique features, including:
- 3 user Profiles w/customizable User AlphaTag allowing you to save three different user profiles that can recall particular configurations without requiring you to individually select preferred options.
- Speed selectable Low Speed Quiet (can be applied to one of the following selections X / K / XK / R (all radar) / L (all laser) / RL (radar & laser) so when you travel at a speed below your setting, the unit will automatically quiet pre-selected alerts.
- Speed Volume allows you automatically adjust the alert volume from one to eight based upon the speed you’re traveling.
- City Speed allows you to travel below a set speed that will cause the Titan to apply the selected city mode and above which we engage highway mode.
- GPS Stealth enabled a screen saver if no movement is detected after one minute,
- Highest Speed will indicate the highest speed you attained during your drive.
- Voice Ka RSID which will announce voice confirmation of common Ka speed radar frequencies
Real-world Radar Detection Performance
Excellent detection range to approaching instant-on Ka police radar
For the last several years I have been crisscrossing the country every three months as I am participating in a clinical trial located on the opposite coast.
The total round-trip mileage often exceeds 6000 miles and some of my other trips have taken me to most of the Territories of Canada, including Newfoundland, as well as much of Australia.
The experiences I gather on the road are shared with the manufacturers directly with the hopes that they can make improvements post-production or in the case of pre-production units, made prior to public release.
These road trips have presented me with an unprecedented opportunity to test some of the best radar detectors that are currently available–or will soon be–and gives me an unmatched look at them across a large spectrum of detection scenarios in a global context.
In terms of sheer performance, we found the Titan to be on par with detectors like the Uniden’s R3 with K and Ka bands. X band detection is not quite at the level of the other two bands, but it’s more than sufficient for a band that is in limited use.
The use of X band continues to dwindle (in favor of smaller and more sophisticated Ka band units), but can still be found in states like New Jersey, Ohio, Mississippi, and the Carolinas.
Since I tend to frequently travel long distances across many states, I do NOT disable X-band since it doesn’t cause a falsing issue. Non police radar X-band sources are rarely encountered anymore, so why disable it, especially if you are a multi-state driver like myself?
A welcomed feature, that is unique to Whistler, is the ability to alert to what Whistler calls K or Ka “pulse” radar.
What this really means is that Whistler provides a unique alert to I/O (instant-on) radar. They do this by analyzing several factors including the sudden appearance of strong radar.
In several of our encounters, we were alerted to “Ka pulse” radar as an approaching cruiser that was operating instant-on as it was targeting traffic in our direction of travel.
The unit first alerts as a pulse and then switches to the frequency of the radar being used which in our case was 34.7 GHz Ka-band.
I personally don’t care for the name “pulse” and I’ve suggested to Whistler, to rename that alert to Ka I/O and K I/O (for instant-on radar) as I believe that designation is a more precisely indicates what is actually going on.
Whistler Titan provides sufficient time to avoid a tricky low-powered I/O K-band radar
With the Titan, gone are the days of band mis-identification. You can be sure that the frequency of the band you are being alerted to is consistently precise.
Police Laser Detection Performance
Whistlers have always punched above their weight when it comes to police laser sensitivity and the Titan should not be any different.
So it came as a surprise to us that the most recent Titan model we received performed slightly below our expectations based upon our experiences of previous Whistler radar detectors.
We have already shared our experiences with Whistler’s engineering team and it may just be our specific unit.
We will be visiting Whistler while on our trip and will have them take a look at our detector for evaluation. In the meantime, we are getting a replacement sent to us and we will retest its laser detection ability when we return from our trip.
In any event, when paired with the new Veil G6 Stealth Coating, the Whistler Titan should still provide plenty of time to slow down, affording you opportunities for avoiding a speeding ticket, if you are targeted with police laser.
Truth be told, I have received two speeding tickets using an older Whistler model that had some difficulty, on occasion, differentiating between genuine K-band police radar and K-band collision avoidance systems.
I also once received a ticket when I was using an Escort Max detector which exhibited the same behavior, so this issue hasn’t been limited to Whistler.
The incorporation of DSP gives Whistler the signal processing power to make such differentiations easier and more precisely.
DSP in and of itself, doesn’t ensure this, but it does allow the basis for the sophisticated programming to do so.
It takes the dedication of a radar detector manufacturer’s engineering team to make this happen and I am pleased to share that Whistler’s team is putting a real effort into figuring these sorts of things out.
Keep in mind that these systems are a moving target as new systems are being regularly deployed by automotive manufactures.
One upside of the delay in the Titan’s release was that it allowed Whistler a more thorough examination of these different types of radar-based collision avoidance systems, translating into more effective filtering.
As a result of their efforts, while not perfect, Whistler is confident enough in their filtering algorithms (at this point) that they feel they don’t need to resort to notch filters, which are found in some other high-end radar detectors.
Jeep/Chrysler systems tend to alert close to the center of genuine K-band police radar (24.150 GHz) at around 24.168 GHz. GM/Honda/Acura systems tend to alert in the range of 24.196-24.202 GHz (a common range where notch filters are applied). Audi and some other German manufactured vehicles typically alert in the range of 24.078-24.089 GHz.
With all of these systems, Whistler feels that they have filtered these systems effectively just with programming only and we can confirm this to be true.
One system that has presented an occasional challenge can be found on the Mazda CX-5. But it’s only certain models which can cause the Titan to false as we encountered some CX-5s with a BSM (blind-spot monitoring system) that did not.
I have also found that the Whistler Titan does not often false to Ka-band to collision avoidance systems as other detectors have been found to do.
We did come across a Buick which did occasionally cause the Titan to false to a 33.8xx and 33.5xx, but nothing over the top like other detectors. When we enabled the Ka filter, we were successful in eliminating them (see my recommended settings below).
Another nice thing about the Titan (as with other Whistler radar detectors), the trailing alert (ie; latch time) is short as compared to other manufacturer’s detectors which means when it does false, it’s very brief, infrequent, and much less annoying.
Overall, we are finding the Whistler Titan to be an exceptional radar detector to use on the highway. In fact, it’s one of our favorites.
Whistler Titan Filtering Effectiveness of Honda/Acura/GM BSM Systems
VEIL GUY’S RECOMMEND SETTINGS
We experimented with a number of configurations and found that K FILTER 2, TFSR OFF, and Ka FILTER ON yields the best results without appreciably handicapping the detector to bonafide police radar.
They are so good, we have suggested to Whistler that they incorporate these settings into their default settings, as both of these filters have very minimal impact on detection performance to genuine police radar, but a big impact on falsing resistance.
When configured in this fashion, we found it to be one of the most quiet and pleasurable detectors to drive with. No need for notch filters, here.
SPECTRE RDDs (radar detector detectors) can be found in Canada, Virginia, and at some truck weigh stations.
We prefer testing SPECTRE immunity with the older SPECTRE III, as the newer SPECTREs are more heavily filtered and are not as sensitive as the III.
We tested the Titan in multiple configurations to determine if and how it could be detected by police in the real-world and in a variety of encounters.
We were pleased to find the Titan is Whistler’s best radar detector at evading SPECTRE detection.
While certainly not a completely stealth detector, the Titan was only briefly detectable (one short blip on the SPECTRE) when approaching our target vehicle at 440′ away. At distances closer than 230′ we received more frequently short-lasting blips of detection but never continuously even when nose-to-nose.
When approaching our target vehicle from behind at about four car lengths back we would only see an occasional blip of detection, but again nothing continuous like previous long-range detections of older Whistler models.
When our mock patrol vehicle was stationery (as if positioned on a median, perpendicular to the shoulder of the road) when our target vehicle passed us going toward our right (driver side facing us) we only received a brief blip of detection as the target vehicle was directly in front of our hood as it went by us.
When our target vehicle passed us going toward our left (passenger side facing us) there was no detection at all.
So while the Titan is not completely immune to RDDs, it’s quite good and Whistler’s best to date.
In my opinion, though, having SPECTRE immunity, while nice, is not foolproof and I have an article and video that I will be publishing soon explaining why.
Design & Packaging
The appearance and design of the Titan is similar to previous top-models from Whistler but the packaging has improved significantly.
The Titan comes packaged in a relatively large carrying case with their name and logo embossed on it.
Inside, the detector itself has its own protective cloth-like carrying pouch with a tie strap.
The package includes two dual-suction cup mounts (allowing mounting in two different vehicles).
An “intellacord” with a push button and 2.1 amp USB port is also now included as standard equipment.
Whistler’s new price point is currently set at $349–their highest priced windshield-mount radar detector ever offered.
The Titan’s radar performance is significantly improved over all of their previous models and the Titan has demonstrated to us that it can hang with some of other top-dog radar detectors (often priced significantly higher) including detectors from the distinguished list of the Uniden R4, Uniden R7, Uniden R8, and V1 G2.
The Titan provides extreme sensitivity and alerting ranges with minimal falsing.
But certain things have happened in the industry since the Titan’s originally intended release date nearly two years ago.
For one, the extremely popular and capable Uniden R3 has dropped in from its original $399 price to around $300.
Even so, the Titan does differentiate itself with an extended 3-year warranty, a first for the radar detector industry, that normally would cost about $50 more as an extended warranty for radar detectors that only carry a one-year warranty as well as its unique features that I thoroughly enjoy.
The Titan brings advanced signal processing, impressive increases in sensitivity, as well as a host of new features and future expansion capabilities.
For those of you who appreciate its high performance, unique capabilities and features available from Whistler, the Titan is a worthy upgrade.
In terms of the future, the Titan’s platform will most certainly be used as a basis for future models and Whistler’s embracing of DSP will give them a solid path forward for years to come.
Radar detector manufacturers take notice, Whistler is now a top contender.
Stay tuned! More good things are coming!
The Whistler Titan is available for purchase now from Radar Busters, but as the unit is on a limited production run, we expect them to sell out quickly.