Colorful earbuds have become increasingly popular with headphone manufacturers, possibly due to consumer demand for something a bit more stylish than plain white or black. It's no wonder: earphones are basically accessories that serve to pipe music to your ears, so they might as well be fashionable. Radius, a new Tennessee-based company pushing out Japanese-designed earbuds, is the latest entry into the burgeoning market of fashion-forward electronics. The company has three product lines, one of which is the $40 Atomic Bass earphones. As the name suggests, these in-ear 'buds offer expansive low-end response: bass-addicts only need apply.
Like the Radius TruTune earphones, the Atomic Bass earphones feature a fashionable design. You can choose from six color options--black, blue, green, red, silver, and violet--all shaded to match the iPod Nanos and Shuffles. The color is really an accent, found only encasing the earbuds and the plug housing. The cable is white, except for the black version, which has a black cord. The cable, which measures roughly 45 inches, is the uneven variety popular with sport-style headphones. The distance from the Y-junction to the left earbud is shorter than that going to the right, allowing the wearer to string the cable behind the neck to insert the right piece. This contributes to the low-profile style of the earphones, although people who carry their MP3 players on the right may not prefer it.
The Atomic Bass earphones' understated design is further promoted by the supercompact size of the 'buds. Even users with smaller-than-average ears should have no problem achieving a relatively secure and comfortable fit. Radius includes three sizes of silicone ear tips, and I had no trouble getting a good fit with the smallest of these. I found the earphones to be comfortable after more than two hours of wear. However, I noticed that although the earbuds form a noticeable seal with the ear, they provide below-average noise isolation. Of course, this isn't an advertised feature, but it's something for commuters to keep in mind.
On the whole, the sound quality provided by the Atomic Bass earphones was fairly good during testing. They certainly live up to their claim of providing an extended bass response--the low end really thumps and is truly encompassing. If bass is the most important thing for you, then you'll probably love the sound. Electronica, pop, and certain hip-hop really shined. Mids are nice and warm, and there's a good amount of high-end detail. However, clarity isn't the greatest. Several songs suffered from muffled, muddled audio--notably, hard and fast rock. Even some hip-hop sounded as if it was coming from under a layer of water. Still, if you crave tons of bass and want to spend less than 50 bucks to get it, the Atomic Bass earphones are a solid choice.