The Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium are high-end in-ear headphones that cost a cool £249.
They’re in the sort of territory normally occupied by multiple balanced armature earphones. However, these use an interesting hybrid design, with a 9mm dynamic driver and a balanced armature working together to provide, in theory, perfect sound.
However, Atomic Floyd's obsession with loading the responsibility of detail onto very high treble frequencies leaves them with a bit of a sibilance issue and not the most natural sound. They’re great earphones, but they’re not for everyone.
Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium – Design and Comfort
The new Titanium SuperDarts model look just like the non-Titanium SuperDarts pair we reviewed two years ago, but with the red trim bits traded for moodier-looking black. We like the lower-key look, but there are other changes that aren’t so visible on the surface.
We found the original SuperDarts’ heavyweight design reduced comfort significantly, but in the Titanium model the earpiece weight has been cut down to 2.8g. The last version had comfort issues, this pair – for the most part – doesn’t.
As ever, the Atomic Floyd cable design is a bit weird, though. Rather than pointing downwards, the cable tries to give the finger to gravity by sticking straight out. It just means the cable pokes out a little farther than it might otherwise, but is rather unusual.
The fit ensures it’s not a looks issue, as the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium are happy to burrow pretty far into your ear canal. There’s a degree of flexibility to this, but in order to get the best noise-isolation performance from the pair, you’ll need to jam them in fairly deep.
Build quality is excellent, but it needs to be because the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium cable is non-removable. The outer shells of the earphones are, as you’d hope, titanium, marking an upgrade from the steel of the last pair we looked at. Titanium is less dense and a lot less heavy, while roughly just as hard.
All the benefits and none of the drawbacks? Well, apart from the price. The use of titanium may have a lot to do with the £50-more-expensive price compared to the regular SuperDarts. And while the cable splitter and remote housing are metal, too – we’re not 100 per cent sure if it’s titanium – there’s just none of the weight issue found with the other SuperDarts pair.
The in-line remote is a standard three-button affair made for use with iOS devices – iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Android and Windows users will usually be able to play or pause with the central button, but that’s it.
You also get a generous selection of accessories in the box. As well as the standard three pairs of Silicone tips, Atomic Floyd includes one pair of foam Comply tips. Most people find these offer better comfort and greater noise isolation. Could we do with more Silicone tips? Yes, but we found this less of an issue than last time thanks to the easier fit and lighter weight.
Aside from the tips, the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium come with a 6.3mm jack adapter, an airplane adapter and a rubbery pouch designed to be bunged in your pocket.
It’s not a feature as such, but Atomic Floyd also promises tw-way noise isolation. This seems to mean you get the isolation from the rubber tips plus as the back isn’t ported the earpiece itself doesn’t let too much noise in. Isolation performance is decent, but you do need to embrace having the earpieces resting a fair way down your ear canal.
The Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium seem to use much the same driver style as the non-titanium model. They feature a balanced armature alongside a 9mm dynamic driver, offering a ‘best of both worlds’ hybrid approach to driver design.
However, in reality we find the tone more a case of various hits and misses, leading to a sound signature that, while offering plenty of high-end characteristics, is polarising.
First, the good stuff: the dynamic driver succeeds in providing very impressive bass that has plenty of weight right down to the 20Hz sub-bass level. The low-end registers offer plenty of impact with zero of the flab or excess weight that often comes with trying to produce this sort of power.
These aren’t all-out bassy earphones as such, though, a descriptor that often refers to a mid-bass thickness that the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium just don’t have, but they provide exactly the sort of bass response we like. All fun, no fat.
It’s at the other end of the scale where things get more contentious. The Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium offer extremely, self-consciously detailed treble, but the main of focus in the treble area is much higher than it is in most other bright sets. There’s a bump in the real upper frequencies that can trick your ear into thinking you’re hearing more ‘micro-detail’, but we’re not sure it does the sound many favours in the long run.
This treble bump doesn’t feel particularly well integrated, often leads to sibilance, and is generally a little fatiguing. The Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium are not easy-going.
Far too much sound texture comes from the this treble excess too. Mid-range detail in vocals is hugely upstaged by more granular treble texture, and it can lead to women’s vocals in particular sounding a little fizzy, with a clear dual presence in the mid-range and treble that appear quite separate, and in competition with each other.
Being obsessed with detail is good, but in this case it leaves the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium with a slightly unnatural tone, in some localised spots. These earphones really need to give the mid-range more focus rather than leaving the treble and bass to do all the work, leading to a significantly ‘scooped’ sound.
This probably all sounds quite negative, and for many it is. They won’t be warm-enough for some, and the treble will be a bit much for many. If you don’t like bright-sounding earphones, run away now. However, the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium sound doesn’t actually feel out of place among high-end earphones.
They offer refinement, bags of detail and the sort of low-end refinement we’re after. But the intense, overly-tweaked approach to tuning will seem objectionable to some.
Should I buy the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium?
The Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium are a big upgrade over the original SuperDarts, but primarily from a hardware design perspective. The switch from a steel construction to a titanium one is a big practical improvement, reducing weight and in turn improving comfort without reducing strength.
However, it seems the issues we had with the original SuperDarts are still present. Over-£200 earphones are quite niche to start with, and the rather intense top/bottom frequency tuning of the pair will only further limit their appeal.
If you like your treble with more zing than a bath full of limes, you may love the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium. But there are plenty of easier-going and ultimately more natural-sounding alternatives out there, including the excellent Shure SE425. Unfortunately, most of our other high-end recommendations, such as the Phonak PFE232 and Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10, have been discontinued without suitable replacements, but rest assured we’re on the lookout for the ultimate £200-plus pair.
Like the original SuperDarts, the SuperDarts Titanium are audiophile-grade, but make some questionable decisions with their tuning that mean they won't be too everyone's .
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