Headphones get a lot of use in my household. My wife has discovered the enjoyment of putting a set on and plugging them in to her iPad Mini, kicking back with the occasional Netflix selection after the kids are put to bed with no risk of waking them up. My oldest son uses them to when he’s playing his handheld video games with their loud explosions and annoying (to parents) theme music. I’m always hunting for a pair to listen to a new album or when it’s time for a game of Team Fortress 2 with my favorite server clan.
I’ve worn a few out over the years, and a few others have died prematurely due to poor construction. Some have been tossed due to low budget sound or an uncomfortable fit… or both. I’m not an audiophile by any means, but I know what I like when it comes to listening to my music and playing my games.
It’s no secret that I’m a BIG fan of MEElectronics sound equipment, and I’ve reviewed a few of their products in the past. (I still keep the Air-Fi AF32s fully charged and next to my side table for cable-free Bluetooth pairing with my iPad for movies and music.) So when I read that the Atlas Headphone was given a Best of CES 2014 award, I had to hear them for myself. There are five different models, but my geek-eyes immediately noticed the Orion model with its Tron-like graphics. The company provided me with a pair to test out, and over the last few weeks I’ve absolutely enjoyed them.
Playing games? Fantastic sound. The headphones have a nice deep bass that almost knocked me out of my chair the first time I heard an explosion while playing Team Fortress 2. My soldier’s rockets firing have a solid boom and I found myself having to crank down the volume from its normal setting because the sound quality and clarity were so good.
Phone calls? I don’t usually use headphones with my iPhone, but the built-in microphone on the cable worked fine with no complaints from the person on the other line. If anything, it was a bit weird taking phone calls with the over-the-ear phone cups because I’m so used to hearing outside noises, conversations, etc. The Atlas made it feel like I was taking the call in a closet with no echoing or muffling of the other voice. The controls on the cable are Apple and Android compatible, too… with single, double, and triple clicks performing different functions depending on how you’re using the headphones.
Music? I tend to listen to music with and without headphones, but when I use headphones I don’t want to lose anything as a song plays. This is especially true for live recordings, and my various Jimmy Buffett and AC/DC live concert recordings were just flat out awesome with the Atlas headphones.
Speaking of the cable, the Atlas comes with a removable flat ribbon cable. It won’t tangle. Ever. I rolled it up, bunched it up, and even shoved it into a backpack’s front pocket. I pulled it out and the thing just unfurls and is ready to go. Kinda cool, and now I’m thinking I may start looking for flat cables in the future for other electronic items.
As for looks, all the Atlas models use what’s called IML technology for their graphics. It stands for In-Mold Label and it’s an interesting way to apply color and graphics. The graphics and colors are applied on separate layers as they’re created (stacked) and the final effect is hard to describe… the layering definitely catches the eye, and the graphics are supposed to be scratch-proof and fade-resistant. (That said, fold them up and put them in the included bag for safe storage and transport.)
All in all, I believe the Best of CES 2014 award was well deserved. I’ve tested more expensive headphones that didn’t sound this good. The Atlas look great… and sounds great. They’re comfortable (extremely comfortable!) and they’re priced right. If you’re in the market for a nice set of headphones for a mix of uses, I think you’ll be quite happy with the Atlas.