Image: Hugh Threlfall
February 04 2012
A year ago, I pointed you in the direction of Atomic Floyd’s MiniDarts in-ear headphones. I liked the pacy, bassy sound. When the same brand sent this follow-up, I didn’t rush to open them. There has been a slew of style-over-substance ’phones since Atomic Floyd started in 2008, some really irritating because of the way people lap up celebrity endorsement: stick Dr Dre or Lady Gaga on ’em and many can’t resist.
The new SuperDarts also turned up as I had everything for this page lined up, and I hate disrupting these (if you hadn’t noticed) carefully planned selections. So the box remained sealed. As I was busy procrastinating, however, I removed them from their nice packaging and, with all due scepticism, tried them out.
Well now, I try not to be one for hyperbole, but I do believe these may be the best headphones I’ve ever heard. Looks aside (and they are beautiful and well constructed, with minimum plastic and maximum metal), they’re amazing. The bass is almost unbelievable, middle tones formidable and the toppy stuff sharp as glass. They make music of all kinds sound radically different from how you’ve heard it before. I was soon zooming around my iTunes library listening to what they do to all my favourite stuff, and in most cases it was a remarkable improvement. These SuperDarts also sit superbly in the ear, and sound leakage is negligible.
Caveats time. It’s possible you may not love the SuperDarts effect. It’s absolutely my kind of sound, but you may find it harsh and toppy. If normal high-end ’phones have a Bentley quality, these are more Ferrari. There’s a good case for using the iTunes Equalizer to cut down the treble a bit. Second caution: SuperDarts are so good they make bad recordings sound awful. Third: you clearly hear the background hiss on old recordings. I quite like that, but you may not. If these things don’t put you off, just buy them. I don’t think you’ll hate me for it.