This is a review of the Future Sonics Atrio MG7. This model of Atrio carry’s the latest MG7 drivers (I also recently realised the "MG" in the driver names is probably the initials of FS founder, Marty Garcia LOL), which are said to be a great improvement over the previous MG5pro driver (which was one ahead of the older MG5 driver), retails for $199 but I got mine for AU$160. This puts them at somewhat upper mid-level IEMs in terms of price but in terms of sound, IME they are much higher up the scale. In fact, it is very hard to find a negative review of these IEMs, the majority of negative statements about these is fit problems. I will talk about this later.
Out of the box, they sounded pretty good! Like any other dynamic driver IEM, the bass was pretty big and not so textured to begin with however, the Atrio still didn’t have much mid-bass bloat, which shows just how well tuned these things are! I allowed them to burn-in for about 50 hours before I started properly reviewing them. Please note that the Atrio’s really do need ~100 hours before the sound matures.
Packaging & Accessories
The packaging is very simple but I like it. It comes in a brown, recycled paper box with a cardboard sleeve around it. I love this move towards certified recycled packaging (I have always hated non-recycled packaging since I was very young!). Inside the box, the IEM cable is coiled up in the case with just enough of the cable leading out of the case to the IEM drivers which are in a small plastic cover.
The package includes: Atrio MG7 IEMs, zip carry case (really fantastic case, my favourite out of the ~12 cases I have laying around!), S/M/L bi-flange silicon tips, 2 pairs each of standard and large cream foams, 2 pairs each of standard and large black foams, cleaning tool. It’s a nice set of accessories and I like the recent introduction of the black foams.
Comfort & Isolation
I find the Atrio to be one of the most comfortable IEM ever. It might be due to their shape which sort of moulds to the shape of the outer ear and fitted with the right tips, the isolation is fantastic where it can block out traffic noise on one of Sydney’s busiest arterial roads!!!
Tips about Tips:
I tried a few different tips on the Atrio’s, here is what I found:
- Atrio stock bi-flanges: I believe these were used as torture tools in Ancient History. I think I remember reading about them in History class back in high-school!!! They are shockingly uncomfortable for me but the pity is that they actually sound great! They are “purpose built” for the Atrio’s. A lot of people put non-Atrio tips on and complain about sound quality, well I can confidently say that most non-Atrio tips change the sound signature intended by FS!
- Atrio stock foam tips: I use the standard size as the large are way too large for me. I absolutely LOVE these tips. They are super comfortable, sound awesome!...better than the stock silicon tips because the foams project the exact sound FS intended and the sound stage is noticeable wider with the foams too. These are my tips of choice and I made a bulk purchase of these years ago with my old pair of Atrio’s. Yes, they are bloody expensive but I wash them in warm water, let them dry and they are as good as new (just don’t squeeze the water out of them as they will be ruined!)
- NOTE: The black stock foams are denser than the yellows. This means the sound stage reduced a little, the highs are not as sparkly and the bass is not as open, the overall sound is a litttle "thicker", compared to the cream foams. The blacks do provide slightly better isolation but I prefer the cream foams. The blacks IMO will last longer and seem more dirt/wax resistant.
- Klipsch eargels: OK, here is a tip which is non-Atrio but definitely compliments the sound signature. The bass is not a tight as with the stock foam but pretty close. The mids and highs are retained to near perfect levels. The sound stage is definitely not as wide but isolation is great! Overall, these are my silicon tips of choice with the Atrio.
- JAYS silicon tips: I used these with the Monster eartip adapters. They sound decent enough but they somewhat lose out on the balanced/natural Atrio sound sig, which, let’s face it, is one of the major advantages with the Atrio! These are also the least isolating out of this entire comparison.
- Shure black foam (“olives”): These are the best foam tips ever made! They are super comfortable, last FOREVER, are washable but they are not the best with the Atrio. They will bloat the bass, push the mid-range forward and the highs take on a strange sparkle…not a natural sparkle, it’s kind of difficult to describe.
I believe most people who have a negative experience with the Atrio is because of the fit. The shape of the driver casing means they are limited compared to other IEMs which can go much further in the ear canal due to their shapes. Negative comments are normally due to having fit problems with stock tips and replacing with other tips which don’t project the Atrio Fidelity.
Build & Cable
The build quality seems excellent, just like with the previous Atrio’s. The cables are fantastic!!! Nice and solid, not rubbery and dont tangle very easily either. FS also call them “QuietCables” which seems quite true as microphonics are relatively much less on these.
- Out-of-the-Box: Straight out of the box, the IEMs didn’t sound as “bad” as others, which was exciting. Although the bass was not as textured as my burned in older Atrio’s and the highs were not as smooth. I put them on the burn in process for 50hrs.
- Treble: To start with, the highs didn’t present much smooth sparkle but as time went on, the sparkle came out more and more and the harshness decreased. I agree with other reviews stating there has been a significant upgrade with the high end where it is now much more forward and present compared to the older versions, this is a very welcome upgrade indeed! The highs carry fantastic energy, not at all shrill or harsh but still very clear, defined and sparkly…I love it!
- Midrange: Mids are extremely well presented. Vocals sound great, as if the vocalist and guitarist are right there with me or like a front row seat at a concert! As with the older Atrio, any stringed instrument, piano and chimes are absolutely magical, truly amazing!
- Bass: At first, the bass is not as textured like my older Atrio but the one thing you notice right away is the lack of mid-bass bloat and absolutely no mid-range bleed! As burn-in continues, the bass settles down but also gains an ability to produce amazing texture and separation e.g. notes on a double bass can easily be followed due to the texture and the separation between e.g. a double bass and the kick drum is very easy to define with the Atrio.
Many people already know of one other quality unmatched in the IEM industry…the sub-bass. The Atrio drivers move so much air, the sub-bass can be felt and this is one of the most satisfying characteristics because you not only hear your music but you feel it, just like with a full size hi-fi system! I have yet to experience this with any other IEM! The TFTA 1XB come the closest but the speed and texture of the sub-bass on the Atrio can’t be matched.
- Soundstage and separation: The sound stage is wide but with the stock foams becomes much wider and is quite impressive for a closed, dynamic driver IEM. The separation is fantastic, very clean and natural. This is the philosophy FS have about using dynamic drivers and not multi-BA with crossovers and this is quite evident when you listen to them.
The Atrio MG7, at ~$160, are a fantastic purchase. These do pretty much everything right and are industry leaders with the quality/texture/separation of the low end. There is a lot of competition at this price point but I still feel the Atrio are priced well below their performance. I also feel they are suited to a wide range of genre’s as they do everything so well, they would be a safe option for pretty much anyone.
These are not all about the bass, the bass is just a contributor to their reputation but they actually do the entire frequency range amazingly well! I hope this review will help people understand this “misunderstood creature” a little better.
Update: I listened to Kings of Leon (320kbps) and it was one of the most amazing listening experiences I have ever had! Now I understand exactly why Future Sonics are known as the live performance monitoring specialists. I couldn't stop listening and actually listened to the entire album in one sitting...and I don't even listen to this genre very often.
The bass was so tight and controlled and amazingly natural, like I was at a KoL concert! The placement is the next thing that blew my mind. The lead singer was placed in the middle and upfront and the vocals were very intimate! Guitarists to the left and right and it sounded like the drums were slightly to the left and at the back of the group. The overall soundstage was not extremely wide but the depth was amazing! The seperation...mind blowing! I could close my eyes and picture where everything is on the stage and no one aspect was over-powering another.
More information about the Future Sonics Atrio can be found in the following threads:
Edited by navmau - 1/28/12 at 7:02pm