Mar 10, 2014 at 2:20 PM
- Feb 17, 2010
- Reaction score
Pros: Multiple designs to choose from, in-line microphone, removable cable, overall fun sound, good imaging and level of detail.
Cons: Likely will not fit large heads, clamp might be loose for some, build quality doesn’t inspire confidence, isolation is poor, recessed mids and slightly fatiguing highs.
Style: On-ear closed headphones.
Tonal Balance: Mildly V-Shaped, focus on mid-bass.
Listening Set-Up: Musicbee (WASAPI) -> Oppo HA-1
Design and Build Quality
The Atlas feel cheap due to their plastic design, fit might also be a concern for those with larger than average heads. The poor isolation makes these less than ideal for travelling and the build quality seems to fall in line there also. The fit is decent though, light on top of the head with only a mild clamp, while being easy to position for optimal sound. The design and build quality is a mixed bag, but I think that the sound makes up for it overall.
The Atlas are built almost entirely of a cheap feeling plastic. When I received them I thought they were built to be $50 headphones. I think that the graphic printing technology that they’ve employed has created unique and approachable designs, but I wonder if it’s possible to get this technology to work with something that feels more durable. I feel that if I were to accidentally step on the headband of the Atlas that it would crack without much thought.
The headphones fold up to a compact fit which has shown no signs of poor quality through squeaks or cracks. The headband extends with a sure click as well while holding it’s place securely. By the time the headband reaches the earcup though it is rather thin plastic. The earcups are attached to the band rather securely though with good swivel motion, no squeaks or noises. Each earcup is small, big enough to sit on ear, with non-removable vented pseudo-leather pads. The pads seem built nicely, but I am worried about longevity. The left earcup accepts a 3.5mm male cable that securely fits inside.
When put on my head I find that it’s easy to adjust the headband. I find that the lightweight build exerts no pressure on top of my head and the mild clamp from the earcups seems nearly perfect. I’ve had no problems getting a seal or with positioning. Unfortunately isolation is poor, I wouldn’t want to use these in public. I find that I can wear these for 2-3 hours before I want to take them off. It’s not due to any discomfort, but I do notice them on my head. The padding on the headband and earcups both leave me without pain, but noticing I’m wearing headphones.
Perhaps a slightly stronger clamp with a bit more plush pads would help? Either way the fit is acceptable for these. They’re certainly above the Superlux HD668b I highly recommend for the price.
The Meelectronincs are a budget headphone with good detail retrieval, good imaging, and a pleasant mild v-shape signature that I find suitable for most genres.
The Atlas have a tendency to lean bass heavy, to a degree, but at the same time I find myself not being fully satisfied during the bassiest songs. The sub-bass certainly strives to reach down to the deepest depths of Jay-Z’s Holy Grail or James Blake’s Limit to Your Love and the Atlas does in-fact reach down. The Atlas reproduce the lowest frequencies, but the drivers lack the authority to convince me that I’m experiencing true sub-bass. There’s no true rumble feeling, no sense of immersion. The sub-bass comes off a bit directed as well, not surrounding my ears but rather directed at them.
The sub-bass has decent clarity and texture, but I find that it can be a bit sluggish and thick, most notably with the aforementioned James Blake song.
The mid-bass exhibits a hump, giving some prominence to the kick drum and bass guitar. I find that in mid-bass heavy tracks like Daft Punk’s Something About Us that the bass guitar/kick drum combination can come off as pushy and loose at times. By this I mean that I feel that the mid-bass edges mildly into the space of the mids without as much impact as it could have. I don’t feel that this distracts from the mids though, at least not all of the time. Listening to something like Esperanza Spalding’s Wild is the Wind shows that the Atlas can show restrain and that it’s loose bass can really enhance the sound of a stand-up bass. Another example of this is Pink Floyd’s Money where the thickness and warmth of the mid-bass balances out mid and treble prominent parts while filling out the space nicely.
I find the mids to have a mild warmth to them, though a slight recession in the vocals of tracks with males with voices on the deep end, Failure’s The Nurse Who Loved Me is an example of this. I find the mids to be rather clean, there’s hints of grain but nothing alarming, something expected in this price range. The mids have a good level of detail and have little technically wrong with them, but I don’t find the mids to be energetic.
The highs are done rather well here actually, they are clean and well-extended with a good level of detail. I find slight grain but no added sibilance. The highs carry a good amount of energy as well, The Mars Volta’s Cicatriz ESP highlights the quality of the highs. The quick hi-hat hits are apparent and clean, while the high-pitched guitar parts ring through cleanly. I find that the highs can be fatiguing at times though, they are not piercing, but slightly over prominent. I love my mids and in order to get a good listening volume out of the mids I need to turn the volume up to a level that causes the highs to be fatiguing for extended times.
I feel that the soundstage and imaging qualities of the Atlas are its strengths. The soundstage width isn’t on-par with the likes of the Audio Technica Ad700, but they certainly have a wide enough soundstage to give a spaced out feeling when listening to complex passages. I find that the Atlas exhibit good depth and imaging throughout as well. Music never fully surrounds me, but it wraps around to the sides of my head with a decently wide canvas in front of me. I rarely find that instruments get blurred and I find that I can, generally, pick up what each instrument is playing due to the above average level of detail retrieval for a headphone of this price and design.
I find myself really enjoying the Atlas as a whole, despite my thoughts on specific aspects of the headphone. The Atlas are far from perfect, ideally they shouldn’t be used in public due to the sound that they leak, comfort wise I don’t want long sessions with them, the mids and highs could use some adjusting and etc. Even so I feel that the Atlas are a worthy recommendation to the right people.
Who will like these? I feel that these are best suited towards people who want a headphone with a great aesthetic design first and sound quality second. That’s not to say that these don’t sound good, but I feel that there are better options for those who want to focus exclusively on sound.
The Atlas are currently $100 through the Meelectronics website.
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