08/06/2012 10:02 BST | Updated 08/06/2012 10:53 BST

Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Review: Are These Premium Earphones Worth £200?

When did headphones get so complicated?

Back in the dark, ancient world of 2002, you - and everyone else on the face of the earth - could be the height of audio fashion by simply wearing the white plastic earphones that came free with your iPod.

Now - just ten years later - if you're not wearing a pair of premium-blasting megabuds sponsored by at least one major hip-hop icon, you might as well not bother.

That said, with the renewed focus on earphones as a lifestyle choice there have also been definite improvements in sound quality.

For while Apple's ubiquitous earbuds liberated us from the fashion arms race, they also sounded about as good as Justin Bieber's fan base on a bad day. Premium headphones aren't just about the look - they're also about the tech.

Which is where we get interested.


The latest entrant into the premium headphone game is British-based Atomic Floyd, whose SuperDarts earphones promise "supercharged" sound for their supercharged priced - £199 a pair.

Costly they may be. But in build quality the SuperDarts are virtually unmatched.

The earphones themselves are crafted out of solid, stainless steel, the plugs are gold-plated, and the cable is coasted in Kevlar.

Yes, that Kevlar.

No, they aren't bullet-proof, but the Kevlar does mean they are virtually impossible to tie up in a knot - and this makes a huge difference. These earphones aren't going to tangle up in your pocket, though that said if you're keeping a pair of £200 headphones in your pocket and not in the supplied rubber pouch you're a braver man than us.

In fact pretty much everything about the SuperDarts is premium to the ludicrous (and slightly un-British) degree.

Take the accessories - which include the pouch, some spare SoftSeal silicone soundproof ear tips, a flight adapter and a DJ plug. Not only is all this whatnot variously gold-plated and reinforced, they come packed in a vacuum pack bag.

Never have sound accessories smelled so box-fresh.

And the sound? Well, it's not even sound. It's like someone rattling around your cerebral cortex with a diamond spoon.

Insert your own rubbish adjectives if you like (you know the sort… 'crisp', 'resonant', 'shimmering'), but the key is that the SuperDarts sound exactly as good as earphones made this well should.

To our ears it's hard to know how they could sound better. And frankly, we'll defer to the audiophiles, who gave them the thumbs up.

In terms of specs, Atomic Floyd say you'll get sensitivity of 100dB, a frequency range of 5-25,000Hz and impedance of 16ohms. It also comes with their trademarked 'SuperCharged' sound and speaker drivers, and a 2-way noise isolating SoundProof design (again, trademarked) .

Let's just say the SuperDarts actually made us ashamed for listening to a grizzly Iggy Pop album made for less money than they were. The SuperDarts deserve better.

There are issues, though. The attached remote, while made of steel, is a bit fiddly and doesn't work for Android phones. And if you're listening to speech, the soundproofing means you can literally hear your own heartbeat on a busy Tube train. You'll have to decide if that's cool or creepy.

With all the metal and bright red details they're also a tiny bit... flashy. If your the type of chap who likes to showcase his coin on the daily commute, you're in business. If you generally dress in shabby black suits or make a habit of going down dark alleys at night, you might want to think again.

And then there's the price. Which, again, is £lots.

For us these are undoubtedly among the best-sounding earphones on the market. If you want to drop the cash for a really, really good pair of earphones, like is a good choice.

But only you can know if that £200 would be better spent on something more useful... like an augmented reality drone.