Apple’s earbuds are decent headphones but they don’t last forever. For example, after a few months of exercising with them, I’ve noticed mine showing wear and tear. That’s not the only reason you may want something else.
Perhaps you find the earbud design either uncomfortable, lacking in sound quality or just want something different.
Since you can plug anything with an 1/8″ jack into your iPod / iPhone, let’s look at what else is out there.
Cheap and portable
Not everyone is looking for high quality, super audiophile headphones. Sometimes you just want something cheap and comfortable that just works. Whether its for exercising or you tend to abuse your headphones, you’re not looking for anything special.
Retailing for almost $30, the official Apple earbuds are sort of expensive and not highly rated. (Luckily Amazon does knock off some $$ from the retail price)
I highly recommend the Sony Mdr-E10Lp “Fashion Earbuds” series of headphones. They come in all sort of colors, are comfortable and don’t sound all that bad. You don’t have to worry about destroying a $30 pair of earbuds at the gym and they tend to last at least a few years.
Do note that because their design is hard-plastic, if you usually find earbuds to be uncomfortable, these will be too. However, being a little smaller than other earbuds I’ve used, I find them to fit well for me.
High quality sound
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are those who want a pair of headphones to deliver high quality sound. Whether you’re a musician, DJ, recording / working with music, or just want something that sounds good – you’re looking for something a few steps up from the Apple earbuds.
Now, when it comes to sound quality, you can start to get ridiculous in terms of price.. Let’s look at some high quality headphones that aren’t over $200.
If you’re a DJ:
Why so many Sony headphones? Because, hands down they are the best for the price. Most working musicians swear by Sony, Sennheiser or Audio-Technica. Don’t be fooled by high quality “brands” like Monster and Bose (unless you want a good noise canceling headphone), they aren’t much better for the extra hundred dollars or two.
Lastly, and in its own category is the Noise Canceling headphone. In a nutshell, a noise cancelling headphone actively takes in sound from your listening environment and negates it though Active Noise Control. Performance and price vary with Noise Canceling headphones but here are two of the best:
Tips the think about as you choose:
Whichever headphone you decide on, just keep in mind that with cheap / portable headphones, you’re going to want an in-ear earbud style. With a high sound quality and noise-cancelling, go with the over the ear, cushioned cup style headphones. Also, note that noise-canceling headphones use active noise control, this means they need a battery to power them.
As far as brands, Sony, Audio-Technica and Sennheiser are perennial great choices and Bose makes some of the best noise-canceling headphones out there.