I listen to a tremendous amount of music these days. Whether I am working in my home study, in the car, running or at the office there is often music playing. Sometimes it comes through speakers but oftentimes I listen through earphones. Over the past few years I have had a chance to check out some impressive options in this regard. I did a review of the Denon AH-D1100 over the ear headphones. I almost bought the Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) P5 Mobile Hi-Fi Headphones that Thomas reviewed but realized I tend to prefer in-ear options like the awesome JHAudio JH5 Custom In-Ear Monitors I reviewed last spring. These custom in-ear monitors are as close to what professional musicians use as I have come. They are custom molded to the ear and sound amazing. They also have a price that starts at $399.
So when I was offered a chance to check out a pair of earphones that claim to be “Professional” but are also “Universal Fit” and have an MSRP of $199 I jumped at the opportunity. The Atrio Universal Fit Professional Earphones from Future Sonics came a few weeks ago and I have been using them ever since. How do they hold up? Let’s take a look.
Here’s what Future Sonics has to say about them:
The Atrio® Universal Fit Professional Earphones from Future Sonics are the result of extensive research & development with today’s top Musicians, Engineers, Producers & Audiophiles. The Atrios® feature our mg7™ proprietary miniature dynamic transducers, designed & manufactured by Future Sonics. Our 10mm mg7™ speakers are multi-driver & crossover free; delivering warm, full range audio for use on Stage, in the Studio & with personal media players. The ergonomic design incorporated into each element of the Atrio® allows them to be comfortable & effective for any age range, including kids; while our BIGGER SOUND at lower volume™ promise continues to deliver the best sonic performance possible.
The company is serious about their being used in professional situations where high quality audio is needed and offer a few possible uses. Among them: Concert Stage, Recording Studio, Houses of Worship, Broadcast and, of course, all the normal home and mobile uses you expect to find earphones being used.
Features & Specifications:
• NEW MG7™ Proprietary Dynamic Drivers
• 18Hz – 20,000Hz TrueTimbre™ Response
• 32ohm Impedance
• Sensitivity 112db @ 30Hz/1mW
• Up to 30db Ambient Noise Rejection (A.N.R™)
• 51″ (1.3m) QuietCables™ II
• Standard 1/8″ (3.5mm) Gold Stereo Mini-Plug Connector
• 1 Year Limited Manufacturer’s Warranty
• Ultra-Lightweight Design
• 100% Armature & Crossover Free Technology
• Multiple Fit Options
What’s in the package:
• 1 Pr. atrio® Professional Earphones
A variety of “sleeves” that allow you to find the right comfort and fit for your ears.
1 atrio® Carrying Case
Loop Cleaning Tool
atrio® User Manual
The earphones themselves are quite light. They come in a number of colors that include beige, brown, black, blue and red.
I have to admit that when I first saw and then picked up the earphones I was not impressed. They are light and quite obviously plastic. In fact, you can see the injection point from the plastic mould in the above picture. And unlike some of the earphones I have check out whose cords are heavy-duty or made from a non-tangling material the cord on these is pretty much what you expect on standard earbuds. The lack of an in-line microphone was another disappointment.
It got worse. When the earphones came one of the flanged earcups was already on it. I put it in my ear and immediately found it to be uncomfortable.
I then plugged it into my iPhone and started some music. I was further disappointed to find that they didn’t even sound that good. No, the sound was hollow and, if I’m being perfectly honest, wasn’t even as good as the music that comes with stock Apple headphones.
“And these are $199???” I thought to myself.
I went to the user manual to see what the company had to say about these mediocre overpriced earphones. It was then I discovered that…
The earphones were not the problem… I WAS! Yes, the manual made two things rather clear.
Thing 1- Try all the included “sleeves” so you can find the best fit and comfort. As the manual says,
Correct fit is essential for best audio quality and comfort so be certain to select the type and size that provide the best seal.
Oops! I had not done that. I did now, and I discovered that this sleeve; the “ComfortFit” sleeve worked best for me. In fact, when I switch over to this style sleeve I not only discovered that the earphones are not uncomfortable but that when this sleeve is combined with the light weight of the earphones you pretty much forget you are wearing them.
Thing 2- Turn off the on-board equalizer on the iDevice if you are using one.
Oops! I had not done this either. I did and… surprise, surprise, the Atrios suddenly sounded… AWESOME. That’s right, once I actually followed the instructions from Future Sonics so that I was actually using their product in the manner they intended the sound was fantastic. The music was crisp and the vocals were clear. As has been the case with other high-end earphones, nuances in music came through in a manner not possible with lesser quality earphones or speakers. In addition, the combination of an excellent seal thanks to the ComfortFit sleeves and the light weight of the earphones resulted in a degree of comfort when wearing the earphones for an extended period. In addition I found that, thanks to the excellent seal and audio quality, I could listen to the music at a lower volume. That is a good thing since I’m pretty sure my listening habits as a teen have already done enough long-term damage.
I went from being a detractor of these earphones to being a fan. Then I went back and reread some of the included materials. I became an even bigger fan when I read …
The case (which is a great design and surprisingly useful) is made from reclaimed inner tubes and the packaging is done with an eye toward being as EcoFriendly as possible. I like a company that takes the time to go that extra step!
The bottom line is — this the Future Sonic Atrios sound amazing and a quite comfortable for an extended periods. At first I was bummed that they did not have an in-line microphone but then I realized that not having it makes these headphones specifically for enjoying music. In a world of multitasking that is a good thing. I still think they look and feel a bit on the cheap size, especially considering they cost $199 but for the sound is amazing so who am I to complain.
What I Like: Great sound; Various sleeve let you find the right fit; Crisp music at lower volumes than usual is good for your ears; Comfortable for an extended period; include case is from reclaimed rubber and is a great accessory
What Needs Improvement: No in-line microphone; Feel light and a bit on the cheap side; Reading the instructions a must if you want to get the most out of them