Dual Driver Fun
In this review, I’ll be bringing to attention two rather rare and possibly underrated personal audio gears, the Atomic Floyd Superdarts and the Koss KDE250. Both these ‘earphones’ are not just rare in terms of their popularity but also the technology behind the drivers and driver orientation or use.
Atomic Floyd Superdarts+
We’ll start off with the Superdarts. Atomic Floyd is a UK based (I think) earphone company that has been around for awhile now but always seems to be operating just under the radar. I’ve only had access to these as my good friends @NoisyMotel distributes them in Australia. They’re known for their trademark solid colours and some really well machined products, made out of solid stainless steel. The Superdarts, their top-of-the-line IEM, is a hybrid dual driver IEM that has a balanced armature that handles most of the mids and treble while a dynamic driver handles the lower frequencies. On paper, this combo sounds like a match made in heaven, so I’ll share my experiences with them here.
External Looks: 4.5/5
- Looks really good! Loud bold colours that somehow seem to still stay on the classier side of things, and not look too ‘teen’ ish or cheap.
- Well machined earpieces, remote and Y splitter really just screams class.
Build Quality: 4.5/5
- The earpieces, 3.5mm jack, remote/mic and y splitter are well machined stainless steel, amazingly solid to the touch
- The strain reliefs on the earpieces, splitter, remote and jack are all beefy and well supported
- Incredible build, this looks like a product that will last through the ages
- The only thing that stops this being a 5/5 is that past the Y-splitter, the cable leading towards the two earpieces are slightly flimsy and thin-ish feeling.
- The steel milled body is rather heavy
- The weight of the earpieces, along with the design that does not really encourage around the ear cables mean that the IEMs have to be worn cable down, and this is causes the IEM to sag rather low (where they somehow achieve BEST sound)
- This sagging, along with the rigid groves hurt my ears after awhile as they’re always resting on my outer ear.
- Prolonged wear causes soreness to my ears L
This is where it gets interesting. There has been lotsa comparisons with them and the TF10 in terms of sound signature, but I disagree, to a certain extent. While they both share the same V shaped sound, they both convey them very differently. The TF10s are one of my fondest IEMs. They’re incredibly edgy, aggressive, exciting and totally blows off your socks with their bass. The TF10s overall SQ is slightly ‘choppy’ or slightly disjointed, almost coarse sounding in regards to the overall coherence of music. The Superdarts are more coherent in this aspect. They’re bass is strong and punchy, but unlike that of say the Radius DDM or IE8, the bass almost seem ‘armature-like’ as they’re fast, fast enough to almost appear as a fully armature driven IEM. Decay on the bass is only a touch longer and more indulgent then the TF10s (whose dual armature driven bass decays too fast to be natural) The treble sparkles almost as much as the TF10s, but again in a very different way. The slight grain and edginess of the TF10 is not present in the superdarts, instead replaced by a colder, crispier treble that still sparkles just as much at every chance it gets. Both have mids that trail the bass and treble in presence, but both follow the overall signature, aggressive and edgy on the TF10, smoother, colder, drier on the Superdarts. Soundstage on both are about on par. I never liked discussing ‘soundstage’ on an IEM anyway. But if I’ve to choose, the TF10s bass somehow makes the presentation sounding a touch more ‘grand’.
Isolation is so so, about on par with the Vsonic GR07. Lagging behind the Westone UM1 and the Shure SE series. Better than the IE7s or IE8s.
Overall: 19.5/25 (RRP: ~USD300)
I’ve got high hopes on a hybrid, and though they did not disappoint, I’m somehow caught wanting more from them, especially for their asking price. The armature portion of the drivers is well within my liking, but I thought the dynamic driver needs more tuning. I was hoping for a warmer, lusher dynamic driver response, with a more indulgent bass. What we get from the Superdarts however is the TF10s colder, drier, yet more coherent sounding cousin. At least this one looks better.
Edited by wilzc - 5/23/12 at 12:38am