Atomic Floyd PowerJax headphones
With their bright red cables and metal earpieces, when you open the PowerJax headphones there's really no doubt that these are made by Atomic Floyd. Of course, you might not have heard of the company, but take it from us, the style very much belongs to them.
What makes these different from the rest of the range is mainly that these are its most affordable earphones. And, Atomic Floyd says, just because they're a bit cheaper doesn't mean we've put any less love in to them. We're paraphrasing there; we're pretty sure they didn't mention love at all in their promotional material.
But can these £99 headphones compete with Dr Dre and FannyWang? Well, Atomic Floyd is certainly a daft enough name...
The red cable is striking, but it's also made of a material that resists tangling. We know, it sounds absurd, but actually, they do stay reasonably free of knots, and that's a good thing. Dump them in a pocket and they should come out in a decent state, and while there will be some tangling, it will be quite easy to get them ready-to-listen again quite quickly.
The earpieces themselves are made from metal. This is incredibly cool, and also makes for a decent weight. They feel good in your ear and while heavier than many headphones, they won't fall out - at least, they didn't for us.
One thing to note is that although the metal construction is a good thing for longevity and build-quality, it will very possibly end up with your scratching your phone if you leave it in the same pocket as these headphones. It's a really minor point - but it does bear thinking about.
As is often standard these days, you get a microphone, volume controls and a multi-function button. The volume control will only - it seems - work on iOS devices. However, both the microphone and the multifunction button work with other devices. We were able, for example, to skip tracks on our Galaxy Note II with it. And the microphone allowed us to make Skype calls with no problem.
Although these features might work, there's no promise they do, because they're targeted at Apple devices. You might get lucky, but don't bet the farm on it.
Included in the pack are three different sizes of rubber tips. It's worth spending some time testing these to find the best pair for your ears. Shoddy-fitting tips mean you'll get less bass and more noise will get in. It's amazing actually how much it will improve the sound quality if you select a pair that fits your ears well.
The first thing we want to say about the PowerJax is that they have a very specific sound profile. They are exceptionally bright in the mid and high-range sounds, although with a decent recording that should all stay pretty much in-check and give you a nice overall sound.
However, nip on to Spotify, listen to an MP3 or internet radio station, and you'll start to notice those high-end sounds are a little bit too heavy-handed. It's probably easy to say, "Well, use high-quality sound then" and that would help. But it's not the complete solution, and who can avoid low-quality audio anyway, and more to the point, why should we when other firms get it right?
Music is one thing, but we actually loved the PowerJax a lot more for TV and movie watching. Here, it feels like the pushy mid and high-ranges help the dialogue, while the very powerful low-end make explosions, and the other deep rumbles you get in movie soundtracks sound brilliant. Perhaps if you're not a music lover these could carve a niche in your soul.
We did notice that the PowerJax are also incredibly loud. Something that might sound a bit daft, but compared to our reference headphones, on the same material, on the same device, with the same volume level, these are louder. That's not a massive surprise, because all speakers and headphones respond differently - based on their Ohm rating - but we found it handy, considering our normal daily headphones are often far too quiet, despite dire warnings from the phone about damaging our hearing.
An additional benefit, is that the PowerJax form a nice seal in your ear. This means that they're able to block out external sounds, which increases both the quality and clarity of your music. It also means you don't need to have the volume so loud.
There's some good stuff here, and there's some not good stuff. First of all though, these headphones are by far the clearest example to us of something that you really need to audition yourself.
Audio-quality from the PowerJax is great. That's to say, they are clear as a whistle and given the right input, sound terrific. The big problem is that they are far too bright in the mid and high-frequencies for our liking.
And here, again, we reach the caveat. We didn't like the sound profile of these headphones. You, on the other hand, may adore them. We had to EQ the living mercy out of our music to get it to how we wanted, but once we did, we respected and enjoyed using the PowerJax.
For £100, these earphones punch above their weight. The problem is, they seem to be very extreme. They will push a lot of bass, mid and treble to your ears but they don't work, in terms of that perfect balance unless you adjust the sound output. That makes them incredibly hard to score, and also requires that with our score you understand that they won't appeal to everyone.