Text by Robin Liss
Respect your ears! That’s the battle cry of the many manufacturers who are trying to pry people from their beloved white earbud iPod headphones and purchase higher-end models. The reality is that while the iPod-included headphones may look cool, their sound quality is pretty poor. On top of that, walking around with them in your ears seriously increases the likelihood of getting mugged on the street or subway since attackers have been known to target iPods. Of course, the headphones featured below will work with any audio device with a stereo jack, not only your iPod. If the sound quality isn’t motivation enough to upgrade, let the threat to your personal safety be an excuse to spend possibly more money on your headphones than you did on your original music player. Here’s a list of a few models, from the moderately expensive on up.
Sony Fontopia MDR-EX71SL | For those of you who want earbud headphones, Sony provides a slightly more affordable alternative to the higher-end models. The Sony headphones do not include different interchangeable sizes or shapes for the actual earbud piece, which means that you’re not going to get as tight of a fit, and the headphones may fall out of your ears a bit more often. Furthermore, the sound quality of the Fontopia is hardly exceptional – however, they are significantly cheaper than most other high-end models. ($49.99)
Shure i3c | The i3c headphones are a new take on Shure’s popular line of sound isolating headphones.These headphones reproduce sounds excellently and fit snugly in your ear. The company has added a second jack to the headphones to plug into your mobile phone, which automatically detects when you have an incoming call and mute your music so you can answer with its built-in microphone. But if you have the earbud in for too long, not only can it get quite uncomfortable and sore, it can cause severe permanent hearing loss. ($209)
Logitech Wireless Headphones | These wireless headphones are more about the wire-free functionality than about sound quality. They feature Bluetooth wireless technology to transmit the audio signal up to 30 feet from your iPod, and they use a plastic wrap-around, which is a bit less comfortable but holds to your ears pretty well. A big downside to these headphones is that they must be charged independently, but the company claims up to 8 hours of battery life per charge. ($119.99)
Bose QuietComfort 2 Headphones | Bose has an excellent reputation when it comes to noise-cancelling headphones. These headphones use padded ear-cups which make them more comfortable than earbud headphones. The QuietComfort 2 is excellent for frequent airplane travel, but their large size makes it difficult to use when walking or while at the gym. Another downside of the QuietComfort model is that it requires a AAA battery for the noise-cancelling to work. ($299)