Gifts for Geeks - In search of quality earphones

Summary:With all the talk about iPods and Zunes (not forgetting all the other portable media players out there) I'm surprised that there isn't more talk about quality earphones.  After all, these are the business end for most of these devices!

With all the talk about iPods and Zunes (not forgetting all the other portable media players out there) I'm surprised that there isn't more talk about quality earphones.  After all, these are the business end for most of these devices!

The single thing that never fails to strike me about many of the players on the market is the lack of thought put Above all it's comfort and the quality of the output that mattersinto the earphones.  Maybe it's me but those simplistic earbuds that come with modern PMPs just don't impress me one bit.  Maybe I have non-standard ears, but I can never seem to keep the earphones in for more than about 30 seconds before they fall out and need refitting.  I then have to repeat this process until I get bored of it and replace the earphones with either an in-the-ear or over-the-ear set.  I wear earphones a lot over the course of a week between listening to music and Audible.com audio books (I'm currently in the middle of Stephen King's Lisey's Story which is nearly 19 hours long) so I need them to be comfortable, unobtrusive and deliver good quality output. 

I've been on the look out for good to high quality earphones.  Two names stand out from the crowd:

Of these, four products stand out as interesting and worthy of further investigation:

  • Shure E3c
  • Shure E500PTH
  • Sennheiser MX 75 Sport
  • Sennheiser MX 90 VC Style

Now, comparing these earphones on paper, there's one difference that stands out - price.  While the Sennheiser MX 90 VC Style are about $70, the Shure E500PTH cost $499.  Yes, there's a huge difference in spec between the earphones listed here (for starters, the E500PTH has a Push-To-Hear Control which allows you to hold a conversation without removing your earbuds) but above all it's comfort and the quality of the output that matters.

Over the next few weeks I'll be posting reviews of various earphones from both Shure and Sennheiser, but in the interim I'm curious - what earphones do the geeks who frequent ZDNet wear?  Do you use whatever comes with the personal media player you choose or do you hunt out better quality earphones?  What qualities are important to you?  How much would you be willing to spend on a set of earphones?

Topics: Tech Industry

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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