UK-based Atomic Floyd has been around for a couple years and has garnered quite a bit of attention, both in Europe and here in the States. At the time of publication, Atomic Floyd offers five different earphones: AirJax, AirDrum, HiDefDrum, HiDefJax and the new TwistJax. With a price of £129 or roughly $200 USD at today’s exchange rate, the TwistJax are among the priciest in the Atomic Floyd lineup.
The Atomic Floyd TwistJax are easily some of the best-looking earphones we have seen in some time. From the cloth-covered cable, and gold-plated 3.5mm audio jack, handy carrying case and included airplane adapter to the special metal alloys they have been carved from (with engraved labeling, rather than stickers), they ooze “premium” before even trying them on.
Technology and Features
You’re probably wondering why they are called the TwistJax, right? Well, you twist the earpiece separately from the ear-canal piece to create a comfortable and secure fit. The rest of the hardware, including the driver, are nearly identical to the company’s less-expensive HiDefDrum canal phones.
A couple things really set the TwistJax apart from the competition. First, a good portion of the earphone actually sits outside of the canal, while the other actually enters it. This results in a good amount of sound leakage (people around you can hear your music), but we still experienced a good amount of passive sound isolation (the canal piece creates a seal to block outside noises from entering the ear chamber) too. Second, the fact that they use metal is pretty unique. The company’s “Acoustic Steel” technology uses injection-molded metal that is heat transferred to supposedly create thinner walls in the acoustic chamber, for improved sound performance. While we love the look, we found the TwistJax to be extremely cold to the touch – and in your ear while in use. Yes, they do warm up after a while, if you can tolerate the coldness at first.
Fit and Comfort
Thanks to the three included silicon tips (S/M/L) you are sure to find a size that fits your ear. We found that the TwistJax, albeit on the heavy side, do fit comfortably for short periods of time. We did experience ear fatigue after a few hours of use, so take that as a warning; this is normal for all but a few canal phones we have tested. Eventually, you train your ear to handle the extra weight, but some people may not have the patience.
We tested the Atomic Floyd TwistJax earphones using our Apple iMac’s internal sound card, Apple iPod and a PC using a Sound Blaster X-Fi Extreme Audio sound card. Music sources included Karsh Kales Broken English, Way out Wests’s Intesify, Rodrigo y Gabriela’s self-titled album, and N.E.R.D’s
In Search of… We also broke the TwistJax earphones in for more than 60 hours before testing to loosen up the drivers.
The TwistJax produce a great, slightly forward soundstage with some of the best imagery we have heard. Bass is very deep , tight and clean sounding, and never gets sloppy, even on some of the most demanding hip-hop tracks. Unlike a lot of canal phones that put an overemphasis on bass response, we felt that the mid-range and highs on the TwistJax never took a backseat, and vocals never sounded distant at any point.
Atomic Floyd has a hit on their hands, as the TwistJax are some of the best-sounding earphones we have heard in quite some time. In fact, if you were to take a pair of B&W’s most expensive loudspeakers and squeeze them into a set of earphones, you might wind up with a pair of the TwistJax. They are that good. At $200 USD, these are not cheap, and there will always be the more expensive brands out there, but we feel you get a lot for your money here. If $200 is still a lot to swallow, and you really don’t care about the twist feature, check out the company’s HiDefDrum, which is essentially the same driver minus the twist hardware.
- Amazing imagery
- Deep, clean bass
- Crisp highs and mid ranges
- Quality construction
- Lots of accessories
- Ear fatigue after prolonged use
- Metal initially feels cold to the touch
- Passive noise reduction is better on competitors, not a big deal though
- People sitting next to you can hear the music, sound leakage