Atomic Floyd is the kind of name a group of geeky pre-teens might give to one of their friends. It's not the kind of name you'd expect from a serious business. But in a world where Fanny Wang headphones exist, we've come to accept Floyd as one of the gang. Its latest headphones are the £200 Atomic Floyd SuperDarts + Remote. At this price, we expect no less than amazing sound quality.
Before the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Remote have a chance to wow us with their dual-driver sound, the design had us rapt. They are unusual in more than one sense.
Like all of Atomic Floyd's earphones, the SuperDarts are made primarily out of metal. The ear of each earpiece is finished in embossed diamonds, giving them the feel of - you guessed it - a dart's grip. If you don't mind your earphones looking a little "out there", they're pretty attractive earphones. The mix of silver, red and black is loud, but not to the point of embarrassment, and they feel as well-built as earphones come.
There are a couple of design decisions here that we find quite baffling, though. The Atomic Floyd SuperDarts' cable doesn't point downwards, but rather straight out of the back of each earphone. In order to coax the cable into heading groundwards, there's a chunky little nugget of metal at the cable join, but this whole arrangement doesn't really work for several reasons.
First, it looks rather ridiculous as the cables still point out of your lug 'oles further than normal - and it's not like we need any help looking uncool as it is - unless you ram them far enough into your ears to risk irritation/infection. Second, adding superfluous weight is never a good idea in earphones. While it's not quite as bad as lugging around a dead albatross about your neck (the SuperDarts don't smell of rotting carcass, for one), it is a noticeable weight.
You will undoubtedly get used to it, but these are not the most comfortable earphones around. And while some people complain about the size of the Shure SE535 and the odd fit of the Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10, we'd take wearing them over the SuperDarts any day of the week. And it's all so unnecessary - for the sake of aesthetics and not a great deal else as far as we can tell.
However, the design isn't all bad by any means. The cable switches from rubberised plastic up top near the buds to a fabric-braided finish further below, and it's some of the best braiding we've seen recently in an earphone cable. There's not a sign of it unravelling, no odd kinks, and it does seem to have a slight tangle-reducing effect. The 3.5mm jack plug is also impressively hardy, featuring the same sort of dart grip-like texture to help you pull the thing out.
At £200, the use of a non-removable cable takes the shine off the otherwise excellent build, though. Similarly-priced alternatives like the Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10 and Shure SE 425 make sure to offer removable cables, knowing the all-too-real possibility of destroying the jack cable is too horrible to contemplate.
Like the earphones, the three-button iPhone remote control is covered with metal. Again, it doesn't help the SuperDart Remote's weight problem, but it feels strong and tough. The buttons themselves sit on a single piece of contoured rubberised plastic, and perform the usual actions.
The outer ones handle volume, and the middle one pause/next track/previous, depending on how many presses you make. Music playback functions won't work with an Android device. However, you should be able to take calls with most smartphones.
Also in the box are a 6.3mm jack adapter, an airplane adapter, a rubber carry case and three pairs of rubber isolating tips. The accessories package as a whole is good, but three tips is pretty stingy at £200, and they're rather bizarre sizes.
Roughly equating to the usual small, the usual large and what can only be described as XXL, some may not be satisfied by the tips on offer. And thanks to the weight of these buds, you need to attain a good seal to avoid them creeping towards the light, and out of your ears.