John Sciacca Ranking: 2
The Atrio's flange tip design really fit me great. They were also very lightweight, super comfortable and felt like I could wear them for hours at a time. The tight fit provided good sound isolation, noticeably cutting down the level of outside sounds but not completely shutting them out. Sonically, they had a very open airy sound that was easy to listen to even at louder volumes. Bass has depth and tightness without being over bearing, and sounded like a high quality 2-channel system with a well-integrated sub. It was easy to pick out the details of each bass note on Paul Chambers' playing on Kind of Blue's "So What." Cymbal strikes were present and detailed without being harsh or sibilant. I love Diana Krall's Live in Paris, and the Atrio's allowed you to feel her fingers gliding over the piano keys and all the husky nuances of her voice. I kept returning to these because of their great fit and smooth, easy sound. They also delivered a really wide soundstage that felt like it extended well beyond my head. It didn't have the forward presence of the Ultimate Ears, or the deep bass of the Denon's, but it walked a smooth and delicious line between them.
Brent Butterworth Ranking: 2
It is possible to have too many choices. And with most high-end earphones, you do-plastic inserts of all shapes and sizes. That's why I was so happy to see that Future Sonics equips the Atrio with compressible foam earpieces, as Etymotic does with the hf5. As soon as I see these, I know they're the earpieces I want. They keep the earphones firmly in place, they're comfortable, and they provide superb isolation from outside sound.
Because a lot of people think bass is the sole determinant of sound quality, a lot of earphones have a lot of bass. The Atrio does, too, but it's not dumb, bloated, "crank up the bass knob" bass. It's just full, fat, and satisfying, and it lends extra oomph to great grooves. I honestly couldn't sit still when listening to the blues classic "Dimples," from James "Blood" Ulmer's Memphis Blood-so maybe the people sitting next to you on an airplane would rather you didn't buy this earphone.
Besides the bass, the Atrio sounds smooth, dynamic, and inviting, striking a great overall balance that might make it the favorite 'phone of this bunch for many listeners. In fact, I was torn between the Atrio and the hf5. Catch me on another day and the Atrio might have been my favorite.
Leslie Shapiro Ranking: 1
The Atrio's had a very light and comfortable feel that could easily be worn for hours. Fit options were somewhat limited, and I settled on the foam inserts for best fit and sound isolation.
The Atrio had a veiled upper high-end that lacks sparkle and treble clarity in the upper ranges, but for most pop mixes, they were plenty bright. They had a round, full bass, but it was almost boomy. The deep bass on "Hold On" by KT Tunstall lacked definition and attack. There was deep bass, but it felt like there was a hole between that deep bass and lower midrange. With these faults, these were still the ones that, in my ears, had the most natural sound overall.
Mike Gaughn Ranking: 4
The Future Sonics extended farther away from the ear than most of the other buds and, while they weren't uncomfortable, their size seemed to pull them down a bit, letting some ambient noise leak in. They were much warmer sounding and bassier on "It Makes No Difference Now" than the Shures and Denons were. The sound was so warm, in fact, that it was borderline muddy or thick. And, while there was more bass, it wasn't necessarily tighter bass. Oddly, "Insensatez" sounded distant and restrained, almost anemic-maybe because the necessary air around the instruments and the broad soundstage were restricted. Meanwhile, "Frank Sinatra" sounded full, but also a little heavy. There's nothing particularly wrong with the sound of the Atrios, but they were so insistently colored-with the kind of warmth that vinyl-and-tube fans find so beguiling-that they probably had the least natural sound of the bunch.
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