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Christmas Gift Guide
Computer Accessories

Ears-on with the Atomic Floyd AirJax earphones

We've been trying out some £120 earphones that -- for once -- don't use sound-isolating silicone tips. They're Atomic Floyd AirJax earphones, and they're jammed in our head as we speak

Any business is risky business at the moment. Kudos, then, to Atomic Floyd -- a company bravely launching its £120 AirJax earphones into the market this December.

The admittedly gorgeous packaging says, 'Escape. Take Off. Tune out. Leave the world as you know it. Explore what you have never heard before.' That sound like spaceman talk to us.

We've heard pretty much every earphone on the market, so we were happy for Atomic Floyd to send a pair of these titanium buds to listen to. We've spent just a few hours with them so far, which is a good couple of weeks less than we spend before reviewing a pair of earphones of this price, but we have some first impressions.

Of note initially is their design: these are not sound-isolating earphones. Right now, we can hear our keyboard tapping underneath the music, and the music isn't quiet. It also means bass doesn't sound as powerful or as prominent. Other models in the range do employ sound isolation.

The AirJax earphones do deliver a solid wall of clear instrumentation, however, and clear vocals. Pendulum's sophomore album In Silico is playing right now and the drums are punching us in the face, but all the important seismic bass activity is lost. And it's not because the earphones aren't responding to the frequencies -- they are -- it's just getting lost in transmission.

This is the fundamental reason why figures on paper such as  frequency response should never be the prime contributor to your purchase decision-making. Atomic Floyd touts the AirJax's frequency response as being deeper than the competition, but this is not an earphone we would advise anyone buy if bass response is of key importance.

At least at this point in our testing, the best reason to consider these earphones is if you don't like the silicone-tipped sound-isolating designs so many high-end earphones employ, and if you listen to plenty of vocal and acoustic music.

They're comfortable and beautifully designed, but the sonic focus resides in the smooth, balanced, velvety qualities of the mid-range -- different types of cymbal in rock music, for example, are much harder to differentiate between than through some earphones. A splash cymbal could be a small crash; a china crash might be a trashy set of hats.

And as good as the low-end frequency response may be, if we can't hear it, it ain't countin', homes. At this price point, our love still resides with the q-Jays. But if bass isn't your thing and you want more awareness of the environment around you, give them a try.

Look out for a full review in the next couple of weeks, when we'll have had a chance to live with these earphones long enough to give our final word. They'll be on sale in December for £120 from atomicfloyd.com. Click 'Continue' for some more lovely photos.

There's no arguing: they're gorgeous earphones. The titanium earloops can be adjusted or removed completely, depending on personal fit and preference.

This lack of sound-isolation may please some listeners, but they're certainly not for us or for anyone who enjoys bass.

The straight plug on the AirJax fits the first-gen iPhone perfectly.

As you can see, they're about the same size as a finger tip, and very attractive when photographed against the CBS Interactive lightbox.