If you balk at the very notion of spending $229 on a pair of earbuds, you should probably go ahead and stop reading now. Not that I don’t appreciate your reading, but I could tell you that Future Sonics‘ Atrio Special Edition Earbuds did my taxes for me, made me a better man, and saved me fifteen percent on my car insurance, and if you’re staunchly disinclined to spend two honey on a set of earphones, I’m not going to change your mind.
If, on the other hand, you’re thinking, Yeah, I could drop a pair of Franklins on a good enough set of ‘phones — convince me, then let’s talk. Because I’ve spent the last month or so falling in love with the Atrio Special Edition, and just like any smitten kitten in the throes of a new crush, I’m feeling chatty.
Not that I’m blinded by love or anything. I’ll be the first to admit that when you pull the earbuds out of their case — a handy little zipper pouch made from plant fibers, recycled paper and plastic, and reclaimed inner tube tires — they look a little chubby. Not overweight, mind you; in fact, they’re extrenely lightweight without feeling cheap or overly plasticky. And I’ve always been drawn to voluptuous curves, anyway. But once you get the Atrio Special Editions in your ears, those curves start to make a lot more sense from a practical standpoint: the bottom ends of the earbuds taper perfectly forward between the tragus and antitragus of the ear, which not only makes for a supremely comfortable fit — it also means I never have to squint in low light, looking for little L’s and R’s to know which bud goes in which ear. Hey, sometimes it’s the little things.
Speaking of fit, the Atrio Special Editions come with a variety of insert sleeves, including several flanged silicon earpieces and a couple of different densities of foam inserts in large and small sizes. I’ve found myself using the latter exclusively after a bit of trial and error, not only for the superior noise isolation, but also for comfort. After getting the foam inserts in places (which requires a mere squeeze and a few seconds of holding them in place), I can walk or jog for a couple of miles without ever repositioning the earbuds. Without even noticing them, really.
Of course, all the comfort in the world means little if the sound quality is lacking. To be frank, though, I almost hesitate to gush about the Atrio Special Edition’s most notable sonic attributes for fear of being misunderstood. There’s no denying that that these ‘buds were made for bass. The thing is, though, when you say “great bass” and “earbuds” in the same sentence, most people’s minds gravitate toward the artificially thumpy boom of the earphones being marketed directly to the hip hop demographic these days, and that’s definitely not the case here. The bass is deep and rich, and yes, when I crank the Girl Talk, the Atrio Special Editions deliver a butt-shaking oomph, but not at the expense of a natural, musical bottom end with more laid-back fare like Abigail Washburn and Adele and other acoustical offerings a little alphabetically deeper in my iTunes library.
Midrange is also luscious, exuding an effortless chocolaty richness that matches the look of the earbuds themselves. Really, the only room for debate when it comes to the sonic prowess of the Atrio Special Edition is in the area of high-frequency response. Personally, I’m extremely sensitive to high frequencies, so the rolled-off response of these buds is perfect. This is the first set of earbuds I’ve been been able to listen to without EQing. The soundstage is still beautifully imaged, and there’s no lack of detail, but if you tend to lean toward a brighter sound in your earbuds, you might want to audition these before ordering blindly (or, umm… deafly?).
One thing that’s not debatable about the tamed treble is that it makes for a less fatiguing listening experience. The Atrios are as comfortable on the brain as they are on the ears — so much so that I’ve found myself listening long, long past the point where I would be clawing my Klipsch ‘buds out of my head to give my noodle a rest.
All of that isn’t to say that I’ve never heard earbuds that sounded this good. I have. But any that come to mind cost nearly twice as much or more. So, far be it from me to put a $229 set of earbuds into the “bargain” category, but if you’re in the market for an exceptionally comfortable, versatile pair of in-ear ‘phones that sound spectacular with literally any genre of music, I’d encourage you to audition the Atrio Special Edition before spending a penny more on anything else.
- The Power of 1, Future Sonics’ proprietary dynamic drivers produce frequencies below 150Hz more effectively than multiple driver designs, delivering audio the way your own ears would naturally hear
- New MG7 transducer and TrueTimbre™ audio quality produces rich, dynamic and full sound
- Lightweight design with multiple in-ear sleeves creates a custom fit and seal with natural noise-isolation characteristics
- A 18Hz – 20,000Hz Response, Sensitivity level of 112dB @ 30Hz, +/- 26 dB
- Ambient Noise Rejection providing unparalleled clarity and audio range
- Eco-friendly packaging and zipper case made from post consumer paper & plastic, plant fibers and reclaimed inner tube truck tires
- Available in special edition chocolate color