Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sound quality and a brilliant performance for the price, 22 Sep 2012
This review is from: Atomic Floyd HiDefDrum Stereo Headset with Remote (Electronics)
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The Atomic Floyd HiDefDrum Stereo Headset with Remote is a fairly new product which is beautifully packaged in one of the strongest and most substantial means possible considering its contents weigh a relative few grams. The immediate impression is one of quality and the box flap uses a magnetic catch to close; unnecessary and superfluous but a nice touch, Opening the package requires slitting or removing three pieces of adhesive tape to remove the top enclosing layer beneath which are the 'phones in their own plastic nest. Below is another layer in which is the case and spare buds sealed within a pouch. A user guide printed on unnecessarily heavy paper is also enclosed. All the packaging is well printed, again not essential but a very nice touch and intended to impress a potential buyer.

The individual earpieces have a certain weight to them but they are are stable once in the ear. The L & R markings are rather tiny and on the inside just above the tiny vent holes which help even out the internal air pressure. The thin leads from the earpieces are quite long enough and the remote/microphone assembly is in-line with the left-side earpiece. The junction of the two leads is protected by a steel casing which closely matches the design of the casing for the 3.5mm jack. All metal parts have the same air of quality and good design.

The product labelling suggests that these are suitable for iPods, iPads and iPhones but they can be used just as easily with almost any other product that uses a 3.5mm jack. The only exclusions are those that use a lesser size or a proprietory fitting.

From the name, it suggests that these 'phones have enhanced bass capabilities and that is reaffirmed on the inside of the front flap which bears the phrase, "Gut-Grabbing Deep Bass" should you be in any doubt. On the inside of the side flap is another bold claim, "Built For Life" which suggests it has a longevity which many other products at this price level often fail to deliver for more than a few months of regular use. There are earphones (and also headphones) whose bass is so enhanced as to overwhelm almost everything else. These are not in that category and the bass is pronounced but not unduly excessive or overwhelming and does not provide that one-note impression on the user that some bass-enhanced 'phones seem to produce. Its mid-range is quite solidly in evidence and the treble is balanced and subtle. Overall the listening experience over a few initial minutes was very impressive and continued through several tracks of jazz and a variety of traditional music with mixed instrumentals including piano, double-bass, electric and acoustic guitars, drums and a variety of saxophones and brass instruments including some with vocals. All sounded natural. Moving to several pop tracks, the same impression was maintained. These certainly impress and provided a similar quality of audio as a set of slightly more expensive Sennheisser over-ear headphones. I had previously tried a pair of Bose in-ear 'phones and found them extremely lacking in level and presence and with a muddy bass despite all the claims to excellence. I have also tried other in-ear models that retailed at around 80-100 and found them less good than this.

There are other models in the range which are more modestly priced and featured at the one end of the scale and rather more expensive and decidely more high-end models at the other. They all share the same general appearance with a steel body and the red leads, and a similar design approach although each is slightly different in some way from any other although some are more in-line than these which are angled between the main body and the bud.

From a design viewpoint, these are a little different than most other brands, showing fine attention to detail. The main casing is bright stainless steel especially treated to harden the metal. The leads are bright red which certainly makes them stand out and the major portion (furthest from the phones) is fabric-covered. The earpieces uses dual-layer silicon buds in three sizes to ensure the best possible fit, although many others usually provide a minimum of either four or five. As with all other in-ear phones which sit within the ear canal rather than just outside it (as with Apple's buds supplied with iPods etc), they need to be pressed in rather firmly to obtain the best bass response and to exclude extraneous sounds. However, they are not noise cancelling, which can affect audio performance. You may need to experiment with all three sizes of bud to obtain the best fit and greatest comfort without excessive pain. With most phones of this type, 2-3 hours is about the maximum time you can use them without some discomfort.

A soft rubberised case (probably neoprene) is provided to firmly hold the ear-pieces when not in use and the non-snag cable can be wound around it for storage. Adapters for a 6.3 mm jack and airplane use are provided and all (including its standard 3.5mm jack) are gold plated for the best possible connections. One obvious omission from the kit is a matching extension cable should one be needed. The remote control is not quite that remote as it is of the in-line format and allows volume adjustment and muting, forward, rewind and pause and also houses the microphone. The overall cable length is approximately 1.5m which is more than adequate for use on the move but probably inadequate for home audio use. Should you need an extension cable for use with a home hi-fi etc, you will need a quality product also with gold plated connectors for the best results.

With an RRP of about 125, these are not cheap and are designed to compete with other mid-range in-ear phones such as those from Sennheiser, Shure, Grado etc which will typically sell at prices of +/-25 of its price level. Although these appear to be well-made, it is impossible to comment on their long-term viability. Cables on certain brands have a reputation of breaking just as they enter the earphone and sometimes this is more likely with one side of the pair than the other. The cabling here does appear to be slightly thicker and hopefully breakage will not be an issue. It also claims to be non-snag and only relatively careless use and storage will demonstrate just how well they perform from that standpoint.

Since the initial experience, I have used them to listen to a broader range of music, although mostly jazz instrumentals and vocals with a broad mix of guitar music in a variety of styles. On one album, where there is a mix of 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars, the occasional electric guitar or two and at least one gitaro (acoustic bass guitar), it was possible to discern each instrument. On my previous set of in-ear phones, these instruments mostly blur into one. Brass instruments, drums and especially cymbals all sounded very real and clean. The listening experience appears to improve with time and it is commonly accepted that there is a settling-in time for most phones of several hours which I am probably still to reach. Vocals are just brilliant and it is clear that the bass performance has been tweaked just enough and without losing anything elsewhere in the audio spectrum.

These are intended for the music aficionado and may best suit fans of jazz, pop and other modern music more so than classical. Although the steel body suggests a degree of ruggedness, they should still be carefully handled and not unduly subjected to rough handling which may damage the delicate internal components. The case should therefore be used where posible for its added protection and to keep out extraneous dust. One tool that may have been a worthwhile addition would be one to clean the sound channels although, as these exist primarily within the silicon buds, they can be removed and cleaned with a lightly moistened cotton-bud.

Impressive performance for the price with an excellent listening experience, nicely designed and presented, they would make a wonderful birthday or Xmas gift for a loved one. For anyone who spends a fair amount of time listening to music when mobile, they are unlikely to be bettered unless paying considerably more. The steel body provides an impression of quality which is borne out in use. Consequently very highly recommended.
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