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Atomic Floyd SuperDarts review: Atomic Floyd SuperDarts

Atomic Floyd's SuperDarts' powerful bass and hot styling will appeal to electronic music fans, but their mid-range tones are underwhelming.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon
Andrew Lanxon headshot

Andrew Lanxon

Lead Editor, CNET Advice, Europe; Lead Photographer, Europe

Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.

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4 min read

If you're tired of your cheap headphones and their lacklustre sound, it's time you splashed your Christmas cash on some hot new kit.

orig-atomic-floyd-superdarts-2.jpg
8.3

Atomic Floyd SuperDarts

The Good

Powerful, punchy bass; Clear high frequencies; attractive styling; handy in-line remote.

The Bad

Slight lack in mid-range frequencies; rubber top half of cable feels flimsy; quite expensive.

The Bottom Line

The Atomic Floyd SuperDarts offer powerful, punchy bass with clear high frequencies that are sure to appeal to fans of electronic and dance music. The lesser performance with mid-range tones means they won't satisfy audiophile purists though.

And if you're into electronic music, the skull-shaking bass offered by the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts will give you endless hours of pleasure.

They're available now from the Apple Store for £200.

Design and build quality

With their bright red cable and shiny metal bits stuck on the end, the SuperDarts certainly aren't the sort of understated headphones you'd want sticking out of a smart new suit. They stand out from much of the plain black headphone crowd though, with similar angry stylings to the Monster iBeats. If you want people to know you've upgraded from your bundled 'phones, the SuperDarts scream it in their face.

On the surface, the SuperDarts look almost identical to their predecessors, the MiniDarts. The metal, bullet-like tips are back, complete with aggressive grooves. They're machined from stainless steel, so should be sturdy enough to withstand an accidental attack from an errant foot.

That metal does make them pretty heavy, so you'll have to make sure you use the correct size of tips to ensure they don't fall out of your lugholes. Even with a tight fit, they don't feel completely secure, making them more suited to a walker's journey than a jogger's workout, although they are very comfortable to wear for long periods if you're not moving around too much. The input is also made from that firm metal, so you needn't worry too much about damage when shoving them into your pocket -- reassuring, given the steep price tag.

The rubber cabling at the top half of the headphones is more of a worry though, feeling rather flimsy and prone to tangles. Below the point where it splits into the two channels, the cable is wrapped in a woven material that's much more resistant to life on the go.

In-line remote

Settled in the top half of the left-hand cable you'll find an in-line remote made from more of that tough metal. There are only three buttons on it, and once you learn the tricks, it's quick and easy to skip through your tunes. One click of the central button pauses the track, two clicks skips it forward and three skips it back. The buttons above and below this are for the volume up and down, respectively.

Atomic Floyd SuperDarts in-line remote
The in-line remote is useful, easy to use and has a mic for calls.

On the back of the remote is a microphone so you can use the SuperDarts as a hands-free headset when plugged into an iPhone. The microphone does a decent job of picking up your voice, although if you're walking near a busy road or in a strong breeze, expect to repeat yourself a few times. The remote won't work with Android devices though, so if you're after a headset to use with that new Samsung Galaxy Nexus, you'd better look elsewhere.

The remote is placed so it dangles just below your chin, which makes it better for picking up your voice than some headsets we've used, and makes it easy to find when you have to quickly skip on from that embarrassing Aqua song. We could have sworn we deleted that.

Sound quality

The SuperDarts use dual drivers, meaning you have two speakers pumping out music in each ear. The dual drivers handle low and high frequencies separately, with the purpose of providing a more defined sound than headphones that rely on one driver for everything.

Whatever devilry Atomic Floyd has employed in squeezing two drivers in each ear has certainly paid off, as the sound is excellent. The bass is powerful and punchy, while still allowing the high frequencies to cut through like a recently sharpened knife. It's a very pleasing improvement on the sound from the MiniDarts, whose muddy bass tones resulted in a less than ideal sound.

Atomic Floyd SuperDarts earbuds
Each of these scary looking ear-bullets has two hefty drivers, eager to cram noise into your head.

If you're a fan of electronic music, the SuperDarts will be all the way up your street. We whacked on Skrillex's Scatta and almost had our skulls caved in by the pounding kick drums and filthy synth growls. Similarly, the snare drum on Limp Bizkit's Bring It Back was piercingly clear, even against the deep thud of the kick drum.

The SuperDarts don't deal quite so well with mid frequencies, which can result in some tracks lacking some of the warmth we enjoy. If you're into folk and acoustic tunes, it's safe to say the SuperDarts won't be the best choice for you.

The silicone tips provide an excellent level of passive sound isolation, which allows you to listen at lower volumes, providing a clearer song and happier eardrums.

We were generally very pleased with the sound quality from the SuperDarts and would be very happy to pay the £200 price tag for them. We suggest you take along a selection of your favourite tracks to give them a test before committing that much moolah, but beware: treating yourself to sound of that quality then going back to your old Apple earbuds is the sort of massive tease you shouldn't inflict on your poor old ears.

Conclusion

The Atomic Floyd SuperDarts deliver a powerful, punchy sound with aggressive, attractive styling. The poor mid-range tones won't appeal to the dedicated audiophile, but fans of electronic music will appreciate the face-punch delivered in the low end. They aren't the cheapest headphones on the market, but they're a worthy upgrade you're unlikely to regret.

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