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Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium +Remote Noise Isolating Hi-Res In-Ear Headphone

  1. Talai
    Excellent adaptability - Atomic Floyd's Titanium SuperDarts
    Written by Talai
    Published Jun 21, 2016
    Pros - Excellent Build Quality, Fun Sound Signature, Tangle free cable works well
    Cons - Lots of bass
    Hi Head-Fi,
    I made this review a while back, before these IEMs actually had a product page of their very own. At the time of my writing this there aren't many reviews to be found on them, so I'm contributing with mine.
    The video should cover most questions, but if you've got other feels free to post them and I'll get some answers sent your way!
  2. moedawg140
    Review: Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium + Remote
    Written by moedawg140
    Published Apr 8, 2016
    Pros - Bass is smooth and punchy, titanium design is built immaculately, lovely packaging
    Cons - Some listeners may find the bass too overwhelming
    Review: Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium + Remote
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    "Wow…this sounds amazing."  "How much does this go for?"  "Wow!"  These were the first few thoughts that I uttered right after listening to the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium for a few short moments.  I continued to play my test tracks, and kept smiling from ear to ear.
    I listened to the SuperDarts Titanium (I’ll call them the SDT from now on) for the first time at CanJam SoCal this year.  The interesting tidbit was that the SDT and Atomic Floyd lineup audition was conducted near the end of the show.  This meant I listened to quite literally every IEM from every manufacturer that I was interested in, and was still thoroughly impressed with the sound the SDT emitted.
    James Strong is the founder of the United Kingdom-based Atomic Floyd, and I was impressed that he flew all of the way from London to exhibit his Atomic Floyd lineup in Costa Mesa, California.  During our chat, he not only answered my questions, but is just a real genuine guy.  I also thank him for sending me a SDT review sample for the purposes of my opinion.  Out of all of the IEMs that I listened to at CanJam, I gave a shoutout to the SDT for being my favorite mid-priced IEM in my CanJam Show Impressions and Images post.
    What I wrote above (and after the interview below) was a year ago.  A year?  Yes – see, I wanted to find out more about Mr. Strong, and didn’t want to post a review that wasn’t fully complete, so I waited until I could converse with Mr. Strong.  Thank goodness I was able to interview him at CanJam SoCal 2016 and transcribe my interview with him.  Without further ado:
    M = Maurice  J = James
    M: What gave you the inspiration to create/find Atomic Floyd?
    J: Long story or short story?
    M: Short is fine.
    J: About 20 years ago as a student I was working for a tech company and was exposed to what was happening in 20, 30, 40 years’ time, and I could see immediately that streaming lossless, what we call now streaming lossless audio was going to be a big thing.  I have always had a passion for music, so I kind of realized that headphones, that if the audio quality was going to be huge, and be portable, then headphones were going to naturally be a big thing so I knew that high definition audio, mobile audio, what you see now, was coming a long time ago, so I changed my career and went into the headphone industry about 20 years ago.
    M: What is your goal for your customers with regards to their experience with your IEMs?
    J: It's quite similar, we want them to feel good.  That's it.  I just want to bring the music to life in the way it is intended.  I want people to feel - if someone is using headphones for 45 minute commute each way, and it's an hour and a half each day, I want it to be the best, a really good experience, but most importantly, I want it to be more than just a pair of headphones, I don't want it to be just something that's cheap and disposable - it's something very special and if you listening to really good music it (the headphones) should be matching that as well.  The quality and the performance are paramount, but ultimately, I want people to feel good at the end of the day as well...make them happy.
    M: Right, okay, nice!
    M: What was your reason to use Titanium when creating the SuperDarts Titanium?
    J: So the original SuperDarts was a huge success but a very small percentage of feedback were that the highs were a little bright and if we could reduce the weight it would be even better, so that was really the inspiration, and the titanium helps us, 1: obviously in reducing weight, but another impact is that because it's lighter it also gets a slightly better fit as well.  We find also impacts the kind of sound quality so it's tuned differently but also by using the titanium it also helps to get a better sound.
    M: What are your goals for the future with regards to Atomic Floyd?
    J: Interesting.  So we feel that we are just at the beginning from our story - we have built a great range of products between 150 dollars and 400 dollars - we refer to this as our "Performance Range".  We are two steps away from launching a "Lossless Range", and that's very exciting, but for the moment we are primarily using dynamic drivers.  We are going to be switching into kind of a slightly more complication, more kind of a - more interesting kind of mixes of drivers.  And that's exciting, right, when we get into that?
    M: Of course! Yeah...I can't wait!  It's going to be good. 
    M: Is there anything you would like to add?
    J: To this, to our discussion?
    M: Yeah, yeah! Just in general.
    J: There is a lot of effort, a lot of hard work goes into making products that are a good quality, and I think one of the things that's important I always try to encourage people to remember, is it's not just about buying a product that sounds good out of the box, you want to make sure that you are buying quality, something that sounds good 6 months, 12 months, 24 months down the line and is still performing and I think that durability is something that is really - maybe we don't talk about, but is hidden in the products and one of the benefits of using metal.     
    M: An extra one... where are your IEMs made/created?  If you do not want me to divulge that in the review, I won’t.
    J: So we are British-based, but we are very international, so we got guys from loads of different nationalities who work with us, we source components from all different countries; we've got stainless steel that comes from Germany, titanium comes from Japan, cable from Korea, I mean, all over the place.  Although we are British, we are quite international. 
    Here are the prices of audio equipment used in the review:
    Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium: $399
    Atomic Floyd SuperDarts: $299
    EarWerkz (Empire Ears) Supra:  $349 (lifestyle), $429 (universal and custom)
    Estron Linum BaX: $82
    iPhone 6 (Space Gray, 128GB):  $849.99 or $399.99 with a 2-Year Contract
    Mentioned audio equipment
    Shure SE846: $1,000 (or lower if you search online)
    Sensaphonics Custom Sleeves: $150 (not including impression and upgraded color fees)
    SpinFit Universal Silicone Tips: $10 for 1 pair and $20 for 3 pairs
    Tralucent Audio Reference 1: $1,698
    Software applications used
    TIDAL HiFi - Lossless
    Spotify Premium - Extreme Setting
    Neutron Music Player – Mostly 320kbps
    Warren Chi’s ETHER review that he wrote contains the TIDAL playlist he used to listen to his ETHER.  The playlist sounds great (especially with TIDAL HiFi’s “Lossless/HIFI” setting, and thought it was a canny idea for him to share a playlist that is easily accessible by anyone who is subscribed to TIDAL.  Here’s the link to Warren’s playlist: http://tidalhifi.com/playlist/6d6af6f5-1ee1-4861-b21d-99c8eef0fc4f.
    Discovering James Strong and his Atomic Floyd lineup was positive experience for me.  Once he talked about dynamic drivers being a part of most of his lineup, I was curious to find out more.  My main concern was about dynamic drivers possibly failing as I have heard about them failing for some manufacturers.  James explained to me that the dynamic drivers have a much better chance to not fail if the housing that is enclosing the dynamic drivers are ventilated.  The SDT has a ventilated housing, so the risk of the dynamic drivers failing is minimized considerably, and that gave me real peace of mind.  After listening to the SDT and chatting like we were two long lost friends (okay, maybe I was only the one who thought that), I knew for certain I wanted to share my thoughts about this satisfyingly sounding IEM.
    Time to arrive
    Since the SDT is a universal model, it is available to ship immediately.  Mine was shipped from a U.S. Warehouse, facilitated by Lisa who is the Business Operations Manager of Atomic Floyd.  I received an email saying the SDT would be shipped, and then several days later received a tracking number.  Very professional communication, and I am impressed by the service Atomic Floyd exudes. 
    Packaging and accessories
    The packaging of the Atomic Floyd series is top-notch, and the unboxing of the SDT is an experience I wish that would never end.  You are initially greeted with a silky feeling Atomic Floyd with logo almost vacuum-sealed bag.  Once you open the bag, you’ll see the SDT box.  The box has vibrant graphics, and the SDT is prominently shown - then you open up a flap and more information is shown “Built For Life”.  This statement alone seems note-worthy.  Opening up the door flap completely, you see a frequency response graph, 3 ways the SDT is fine-tuned for a “spectacular sound”, and a list of the included accessories.  Also, using a peel-off method to expose the included universal tips was a nice touch.
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    The SDT comes with an Atomic Floyd pouch case, which is made with durable silicone rubber that fits in your pocket.  It is the smallest and slimmest case that I own, and is a nifty design because there are no zippers to keep it tight.  The cables aren’t going anywhere once you put the SDT in the pouch case.  The SDT also comes with a ¼ adapter, airplane adapter, Small, Medium, and Large of the SoftSeal silicone tips, and Comply Tsx-500 Medium foam tips with integrated wax guard to prevent wax from entering the bore/tube.
    The SDT is created using space grade titanium which enables Atomic Floyd to create a lighter, tougher, acoustic chamber, than materials such as steel and aluminum.  The titanium chamber is large enough for increased driver movement, and the vents are placed in a way that they do not look obtrusive or out of place.  Every last bit of the construction and materials used in the SDT are high quality and look like they will weather normal use without issue.  Let’s work our way from the bottom to the top – the high purity gold connector and the titanium plug is gorgeous.  The titanium plug’s circumference is small enough that it can fit in virtually every smartphone/gadget case, which is always an instant plus. 
    Easily fits in between my iPhone 6 case and holster
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    Even though the cables are not detachable, in my 2 months of almost daily use of the SDT, I have not experienced any fraying or signs of deterioration of the integrated cable.  The cable is soft to the touch, and is Kevlar reinforced OFC copper core.  Also, the fabric-weaved cable is one of the easiest that I have experienced when dealing with tangled cables.  The cable retains its straight shape very well, and acts like it is a thicker cable that usually is easier to manipulate.  The cable embodies the usual thick AWG quality that is uncharacteristically encased in an AWG that is thinner than most cables.  Only my Estron Linum BaX cable is thinner, yet entangles by factors compared to the SDT’s cable.  Back to the titanium chamber – the design is such that it not only looks it is created with very high quality components and elements, but it is slim enough to fit in most every ear without any issues.  As a whole, the SDT looks and feels much more expensive than its asking price.
    High quality construction
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    The SDT weighs very slightly heavier than if it was made out acrylic/plastic instead, but the titanium chamber is still light and still weighs close to nothing: around several grams, each housing. 
    Fit and Feel
    Small, Medium, and Large of the SoftSeal silicone tips, and Comply Tsx-500 Medium foam tips
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    The fit of the SDT is comfortable and feels almost like you aren’t wearing anything at all.  Choose the universal tips the SDT comes with, or use your own tips - then slide the housings into your ears, and you will be immersed with a non-intrusive feeling that should stay put.  I use SpinFit tips with the SDT, as they fit the SDT’s sound tube without any issue, and since I use the Small size, I can insert the entire tip past the first bend of my ear and pretty deep in the ear canal to experience the most optimal isolation, seal, and frequency response.   Even though I adore custom products such as the Sensaphonics Custom Sleeves, I appreciate an IEM that can fit in my ears without any fit issues as the SpinFit with the titanium combine to provide a superb and light fit.  Also, the titanium will not warm up from your body heat – you should just experience a nice, cool feeling if the titanium is slightly resting on your ears.  You may not notice anything in your ears and just focus on the wonderfully sounding music!
    SDT stock tips and SpinFit tips
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    SDT with SpinFit tips
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    Using silicone tips such as the SpinFit may not be perceived as sounding as warm as the Comply or foam tips and may provide a different sounding experience.   Try different tips to find out which one sounds the best.  As long as you find tips that fit you’ll be okay, as the SDT’s bore is around 5 mm in width, shown here:
    Bore width
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    Easy IEM side detection
    Instead of trying to read the titanium-marked L and R on either housing, remember that the side that has the remote dongle on the cable is the Left side – simple as that!  Now you do not have to look for any markings on the housings that may or may not be difficult to find based on various factors, including not having the best eyesight, or the IEMs may not be in the best lighting to easily distinguish the L and R markings.
    Remote + Microphone (Left Side)
    Sound impressions
    The SDT is neutral-based with regards to the balanced armature driver.  The dynamic driver provides the mid bass and sub bass emphasis.  The SDT presents a melded together, hybrid type of sound to its listeners to create an engaging and visceral sensation to the senses.  Listening to the SDT, I was wowed by its punchy and visceral bass presentation, a slightly warm midrange, and non-fatiguing treble.  The sound as a whole is very controlled, tight, and in your face.  There is sufficient instrument placement, and the soundstage is intimate, yet can widen depending on the recording and universal tips used.  The bass at this price point is exemplary and have not listened to an IEM in this price point with the same level of quantity and quality of bass.  The SDT sounds like a warmer (albeit slightly) version of the Supra with more bass, and an overall level of sound that gives me glimpses and indications of the SE846.  The treble is a pleasing and suitable tuned amount and does not leave me craving for more, as the treble may start becoming sibilant if it was tuned any higher.  The midrange – the sound presented is compliant, detailed, yet warm and creamy, like a grilled cheese sandwich using your favorite bread and cheese, with tomato pesto soup.  The bass – oh, the bass!  I adore the bass.  With this said, the bass is not for everyone, as I gave demos of my SDT (as well as many other IEMs from Jude and I [mostly Jude]) at the S.F. Head-Fi Mini Meet, and the impressions from attendee’s auditions were mostly positive.  The ones that liked the bass really liked it and the SDT as a whole, and the ones that didn’t, let me know by saying that the bass comes off as being too much.  This is not a reference or neutral based IEM.  There is bass, and lots of it.  However, the bass is predictable, plentiful, and amazing for lovers of lower frequencies. 
    What is different about the SDT though, is that not only is the bass the star of the show - even though it may sound and feel that way upon first listen.  The midrange and treble is tuned and presented in such a way that the slightly warm mids and clear highs collaborate with poise.  The entire frequency range is taken care of, with no particular region of the spectrum feeling left out.   Listening to classical tracks sits you in front of the action, with the cymbals, xylophones, violins and other instruments placed as well as the recording presents itself.  Listening to alternative and rock tracks sounds like the guitars, drums, and other instruments used may as well be played by your favorite artists and bands.  R&B and hip hop/rap tracks will enthrall you with their heavy beats, shaking and vibrating your ear canals with the sheer prowess of the sub bass of the SDT.  Not bloated, but admittedly not for the faint of bass heart.  For the price of admission, it isn’t very difficult to get on the SDT train, and ride the experience again and again for yourself.  Quite simply, the SDT’s bass and overall sound signature is addicting and is my favorite for an IEM in the sub four hundred dollar (or lower) range.
    Are your earphones correctly inserted?
    The frequency response across the full audio spectrum should be smooth, and the bass response should be fully present - that is, if you have a "full, tight seal".  If you have any doubts regarding hearing both earphones equally (assuming you don't have a hearing tested significant FR imbalance), you can self-administer the "Audio Seal" test - it's to help determine if your earphones (Universals/CIEMs) are correctly inserted.  The webpage comes with downloadable and streamable audio files in .mp3 or .wav format.  The test is great to find out if you have a correct insertion and proper fit, and can also reveal other issues other than an incomplete and/or poor seal.  From the webpage: "The test consists of two brief audio tracks.  Both include two sine waves, one at 50 Hz and the other at 500 Hz, played at the same volume.  On one track, the two tones are played together.  On the other track, the tones alternate in 2-second intervals." 
    Here's the link from Sensaphonics:  www.sensaphonics.com/test.
    Inserted, but not a deep, fully isolating seal
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    Deep, isolating seal
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    I wanted to compare the SDT to an IEM that I use frequently, and that is the Shure SE846, but I feel that there are a couple of other IEMs that sound similarly to the SDT, and will share the differences and similarities between the few.  IEMs such as the EarWerkz Supra, Tralucent Reference 1 and the Shure SE846 are all complimentary of the SDT in their own ways.  Let’s take a closer look on why the SDT holds its weight well compared to the similarly priced Supra and higher priced offerings of the SE846 and Ref. 1.
    Power to drive the SDT
    Using the iPhone 6, it takes only about half of the entire available volume to listen at a comfortable level, so expect to pump up the volume a few clicks up or tone it down a few clicks to dial in a comfortable listening level.  The SDT is 1 or 2 volume clicks less sensitive than the SE846, but will have no problem being driven sufficiently from virtually any DAP.
    EarWerkz (Empire Ears) Supra
    The bass of the SDT has more quantity and quality than the Supra’s bass.  The reverberation and decay is more apparent as well.  The Supra’s bass would be characterized as being slightly tilted relative to its neutral midrange and highs.  The SDT’s bass is not only a slight tilt, but another entirety in itself, meaning it sounds and feels like a separate subwoofer that can get low and hit with the best of most any IEM in its price range.
    The midrange is similar to the SDT, especially when the Supra is attached to the stock Pro Series Quad cable.  Both are coherent, forward, with well-placed instruments.  The Supra and SDT’s soundstage and imaging are similar as well, and the part of the sound differences may very well be attributed to the acoustic differences between the driver versions and the structural housing of the IEMs (acrylic versus titanium).
    The treble of the SDT is slightly less apparent than the Supra, yet both are not fatiguing to the ears.   I would characterize both as being defined, yet smooth.  There shouldn’t be any issues regarding ear-piercing sibilance, either.
    Remember in my Supra review that it resembled a Mitsubishi Evo in its sound signature?  Well, the SDT is more like a Ford Mustang (immensely powerful and fast), and if this is an IEM that you really enjoy, it may even be personally upgraded to the Boss 302.
    Tralucent Audio Reference 1
    The bass of the SDT has similar heft and weight as the Ref. 1, but the bass and overall presentation of the SDT is more predictable.   Meaning, the Ref. 1 has a sort of 3D soundstage that seems to have various dips and peaks regarding the midbass through the upper midrange, compared to the more compliant SDT frequency spectrum. 
    The mids are more expansive and creamy smooth through the Ref. 1.  Contradictory, the midrange of the SDT is more anticipatory – and is also more intimate as a result.
    The treble continues in the similar midrange comparison, however the treble from both may not be very noticeable because of both of the weighty bass of the SDT and Ref. 1’s weighty and bloomy bass are emphasized.
    While the sound signature of the Ref. 1 is broad and varied, the SDT comparatively is intimate and controlled.  Both the Ref. 1 and SDT have visceral bass and are not for those seeking the most neutral and or referenced signature.
    If the SDT is the Ford Mustang, then the Ref. 1 would be a Lamborghini, which is fast, commanding, but can be unstable and can be difficult to drive, as most drivers may need to change the tires, up the suspension, brakes and other items to be able to drive the Lamborghini to a personal comfort level.
    Shure SE846
    CP800 SpinFit tips (Left/Top) - SCS (Right/Bottom)
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    Both the SE846 and SDT have different types of bass.  The SDT uses a dynamic driver, and as a result, sounds like a subwoofer that can go very deep in the low frequency range.   The bass of the SDT is more one-note than the SE846’s balanced armature and low pass filtered bass.  The SE846’s bass is simply more smooth sounding and more versatile.  The SE846’s bass can reach slightly lower frequencies than the SDT, however the SDT’s bass may sound fuller because of the dynamic driver’s inherent capabilities.   The bass is more predictable from the SDT rather than the SE846, mainly because the SDT has a more one-note presentation to it that doesn’t differ very much from song to song, whereas the SE846’s bass emits more when the song calls for it, having more bass intricacy and vocabulary than the SDT.  I enjoy the bass of both the SE846 and SDT, as their different signatures are utterly amazing, especially for the SDT’s price relative to the SE846’s asking price of admission.
    The mids are more sublime with the SE846 than the SDT and the soundstage and imaging is more apparent and pinpoint with the SE846.  Interestingly enough, I found myself focusing on the sub bass and midrange more with the SDT than the sub bass to the lower treble of the SE846.
    The treble of the SDT may be heard as slightly more perceived with regards to the upper frequencies compared to the SE846.  On certain songs, I can clearly hear the S’s as more perceived than the SE846.  Using the SCS with the SE846 puts the upper treble perception more in line with the SDT’s treble and elevates every facet of the SE846’s sound signature, fit, and comfort.
    While the SDT is more like a controlled and visceral car like a Ford Mustang (not known for use in windy tracks/courses, but fast and powerful), the SE846 is more like a technical car like the Mercedes C63 AMG (technical and versatile in its use). 
    Sound signatures
    What I adore from the SDT is that the sound is like comfort food, you know exactly what you are going to get each time you listen to it.  Pop in the SDT with your tips of choice, and you’ll be treated to a coherent signature that has bass you can hear and feel with authority.  I personally love bass, and can see how there are those that may think the bass is simply “too much”, but I would not change or lower the bass output of the SDT.  Atomic Floyd has its lower priced lineup that is not as bass-heavy as the SDT.  The lower-priced Atomic Floyd SuperDarts are similar to the SDT, but the highs are more accentuated and as a result, the bass of the SuperDarts may be perceived to not be as focused and noticeable as the SDT’s bass.   The remote mic works well with calls, hearing anyone that I'm speaking to with ease.  The SDT is a great way to quickly feed the music to your soul, being comforted the entire time you are listening to the sensational and articulate sound.  
    Ultimate Stress Test™
    I listened to a test track that I use to assess the acoustic limits of a pair of headphones or IEMs, and playing the track on the SDT turned out to be a satisfactory experience.   There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that jumped out at me as sounding out of tune or odd sounding.  The track sounded compliant and cohesive, which was a refreshing sound to my ears.  The inherent background distorted hiss of the track was noticeable, yet did not deviate very far from the consistent and complete melodic notes that were emitted.
    Is the SDT right for you?
    The SDT should be given consideration if you really like bass and a superbly created IEM.  If you are sensitive to bass or do not like too much bass in your sound signature preferences, I would look towards another model like their more treble emphasized SuperDarts.  For the price, you get a quality product that should last the test of time, especially because of its titanium housing.
    The SDT is one uniquely special IEM.  Oodles of dynamic driver bass, which sounds and feels different than most balanced armature driver IEMs, and a vibrant midrange with treble that is tamed, and easier to listen compared to its SuperDarts sibling.  Mr. Strong not only has created a lineup that caters to most listener’s wants and needs, but makes products that should last for many years to come.  The SDT is one IEM that I currently enjoyed the most out his lineup, and am looking forward to what will be available in the future.  The fact that there will be an upcoming “Lossless Range” makes me eager to want to hear what Mr. Strong and the British company have in store for music lovers.  Happy listening!
    Driver Configuration 8.6mm dynamic driver with neodymium magnet balanced armature (Hybrid DD + BA)
    TypeClosed, noise isolating 
    Sensitivity98dB SPL/mW (1 kHz) 
    Impedance16Ω (1 kHz) 
    Freq. range 5 - 25,000Hz 
    Material Titanium
    Weight2.8g per earphone
    CableKevlar-reinforced, OFC copper core, w/ Inline Remote and Microphone
    PlugTitanium sleeve, high purity gold connector

    1. View previous replies...
    2. darveniza
      When I talked to James at Canjam I did ask him about remote units for Androids. Apple owners mostly stick to their Apple earbuda (not sure why) while Android owners which are plentiful are always looking for earphones. Plus Android will take over DAP OS anyway
      darveniza, Apr 8, 2016
    3. Stillhart
      I agree, James is a stand-up guy with a genuine passion for what he does.  I'm a big fan of Atomic Floyd and these are great IEM's.  Nice review, man!
      Stillhart, Apr 10, 2016
    4. moedawg140
      @Demo3 - Awesome, congrats!
      @darveniza - I agree that Android has taken over most DAPs, especially touchscreen DAPs (you can read my thoughts about DAPs that I've listened to/compared in the QP1R review [listed in my profile]).  The issue, in my opinion, is that Android-based DAPs (with no EQ set at least) do not sound as resolute as a DAP that focuses only on SQ such as the QP1R, to my ears.
      @Stillhart - Thanks for the comments and kind words, my friend.  If you are going to AXPONA, I'll see you there! :)
      moedawg140, Apr 10, 2016