Atomic Floyd SuperDarts £199
10th Oct 2011 | 11:55
High-end earphones with top-end sound and a price to match
There are two types of earphones.
There are those that sound good, and those that don't.
Unfortunately, those in the former category are much rarer than the latter, and to get hold of them you usually need to spend quite a large chunk of your children's inheritance.
The issue is clouded by the likes of the Beats by Dr. Dre range, which claim to deliver "studio quality" audio, but in fact do nothing of the sort.
The Atomic Floyd SuperDarts, though, are genuinely fantastic. The build quality is first rate. The materials used are premium. And the sound quality...
Of course, for a pair of earphones that cost £199 you would expect them to deliver a sound experience that impresses you every time you use them.
You want the sound to be crisp and punchy, smooth and deep, soothing and yet startling. You want the high-end to tingle on your ear drums, with every sonic vibration adding extra detail to the soundscape. You want the low end to bulge with every fibre of a bass guitar's string, with every drum beat popping as though being played right in front of you.
The SuperDarts do all that. They take audio from its source and they inject it directly into your temporal lobe.
The solid stainless steel earbuds each contain dual drivers, which means two mini speakers in each ear. This is an expensive way to build an earbud, but it undoubtedly delivers better sound, with each driver individually handling a separate part of the sound spectrum.
The SoftSeal silicone eartips create a good level of noise isolation to eliminate external noises, too. That's great for sound quality, but not so good if you're waiting for an important phone call - set phasers to vibrate.
A big bugbear of ours when it comes to earphones are the cables. You put them in a bag, and within 16 millionths of a second they become entangled in a hellish network of knots so complex it takes minutes to sort out.
Unless you're extremely careful, it's very easy to make this knotted mess worse as you attempt to untangle it.
The Creative Aurvana InEar 3 earphones are a classic example of this - they sound great, but the rubber cables are grippy and built to get tangled up.
Atomic Floyd conquers this problem by using Kevlar cables. It's a fabric rather than rubber or plastic, and the result is that it's almost impossible to get it tangled up into a knot. Even if you intentionally tie it in a huge knot, it falls apart effortlessly in your hand like a fillet of grilled salmon.
On the cable is a stainless steel remote control, which enables you to play and pause your music as well as toggle the volume up and down.
These earphones are part of the Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad programme, and the microphone in the cable also enables you to have hands-free phone calls without popping the earbuds out. Music automatically pauses when the call comes in.
The downside here is that this feature only works with Apple devices. We tried with a few Android phones and were unsuccessful. So if you want the remote and hands-free features to work, you're going to need an iDevice.
In the premium box you get the earphones themselves, a carry case, DJ jack adapter, plane adapter and three sets of silicone earbuds in different sizes.
So they're pretty good then. They're brilliant, in fact. You just need to decide whether you can afford to drop 19,900 pennies on them.
If you can't, you can content yourself with the knowledge that you'll never know how good your music could have sounded. And if you can? Your ears will love you for the rest of your life.