Colorful earbuds have become increasingly popular with headphone manufacturers, possibly because of 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 is one company that has popped up with an impressive array of color-coordinated headphones. One model, the Atomic Strap, even attaches to the bottom of your 3G iPod Nano and lets you sport it around your neck. At $40, these 'phones are quite a value for bass-loving Nano owners.
The Radius Atomic Strap earbuds are available in a variety of colors to match the third-generation Nano, but owners of the pink and red version are out of luck for the time being. As of press time, available colors include black, silver, blue, and green. The earbuds descend from two thin, white cables that are attached to a thick white neck strap (except in the black version, where all cords are black). At the end of the lanyard is a small rectangular attachment that connects to the iPod via the dock connector and headphone jack. The player feels very secure when docked onto the Atomic Strap; in fact, it's a bit of a challenge to detach it. While worn, the iPod hangs about a foot or so from the neck. The earbuds cannot be used with any other device, meaning they're not terribly versatile, but we're willing to forgive this given the affordable price tag.
In testing, we found the Atomic Strap earbuds to be quite comfortable. Radius includes three sizes of silicone ear sleeves, which do a reasonable job at passively blocking outside noise. The fact that the aperture is angled off of the earpiece also helps in this regard, and likely contributes to the comfort as well. Still, any potential users should be OK with sticking something into the ear canal, as that is necessary with these 'phones.
Sound quality was pretty impressive for earphones in this price range. The Atomic Strap is definitely heavy on the low-end, though, so listeners who don't like a lot of bass and prefer more even audio should take heed. High-end detail is not lost in the thumping lows, but high-hats, triangle, and acoustics don't really sparkle. However, mids sound warm and encompassing. Music that really shines is that in the hip-hop, downtempo, and electronic categories. Hard rock songs can tend to sound muffled and overblown. All in all, the Atomic Strap Earbuds are a great option for bass-addicts who want to wear their 3G iPods necklace-style.