Best earbuds for iPod?
September 20, 2010 8:55 AM   Subscribe

What are the best reasonably-priced earbud-style headphones? I need a good set for use with an iPod and am looking to improve on Apple's white earbuds.
posted by killdevil to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a huge fan of the Sennheiser CX300s, I got a pair for less than $30 from Amazon and the sound quality is amazing.
posted by Oktober at 8:56 AM on September 20, 2010

I really love these Skull Candy earbuds....they never ever fall out, they're comfy and they sound great.
posted by iconomy at 8:59 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding Sennheiser CX300. Great value and decent quality. Plus, mine came in this awesome all-cardboard packaging that you could a) open easily and b) recycle, unlike that bastard plastic clamshell stuff.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:00 AM on September 20, 2010

I'd like to dis-recommend anything from Skull Candy. I've had a selection of their earbuds and cans fail on me, and in my experience, they sound significantly worse than the Sennheisers, but are calibrated to be louder.
posted by Oktober at 9:03 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I also recommend the Sennheiser CX300. However, it is an in-ear canalphone, not an earbud. This is a good thing as far as I am concerned.
posted by grouse at 9:03 AM on September 20, 2010

I use Panasonic's noise-cancelling earbuds. They's a little more than the CX300 and have an external battery unit to power them, but it hooks nicely onto my clothing and has a volume control. The noise cancelling isn't great, but it's super for the price, and the sound quality is good.
posted by londonmark at 9:08 AM on September 20, 2010

The etymotic er-6i earphones are the best, for me, and are reasonably-priced, for me. You don't provide a lot of detail about your expectations. I got a recent pair from Amazon for something under $100.
posted by germdisco at 9:33 AM on September 20, 2010

I've used these JVC headphones for the last bunch of years. My sister liked them so much that she bought a pair herself.
posted by Geppp at 9:34 AM on September 20, 2010

If you think $80 or so is still reasonable range, take a look at some of the Shures on Otherwise, I'd nth Sennheiser CX300s.
posted by bearwife at 9:49 AM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I got a pair of Shure SE210s during a Woot-Off that I absolutely love. But, since they were on Woot at all, I think they've been discontinued.

If you can find them, though, highly recommended.
posted by hwyengr at 9:50 AM on September 20, 2010

I recently got a pair of these Rockford Fosgate Punch Plugs, I'm very happy with them.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:09 AM on September 20, 2010

Could you give us a price range?
posted by micawber at 10:19 AM on September 20, 2010

Also, this comment thread on a random design site has helped me and others I know in the past.
posted by micawber at 10:21 AM on September 20, 2010

How long is the cord on the Sennheiser CX300s? I'm in the market too, and my previous Sony MDR-EX71SL pair had a cord that was way too long.
posted by LouMac at 10:31 AM on September 20, 2010

Friends don't let friends listen with Skullcandy. (or Bose, for that matter.)

Assuming that "reasonable" means "costs less than the iPod I'm using them with":

under $200? the etymotic er4p are still the IEMs to beat at that price point. Plus they isolate sound better than pretty much any other non-custom-fit IEM on the market. (I loved my set for this one-two punch of quality and isolation.)

under $100? the Altec Lansing inMotion IM716 (which are essentially a rebranded etymotic er6i, but slightly reworked and consistently reviewed higher. I know someone who owned both, and swore by the IM716s.)

under $50? the Nuforce ne-6m review well.
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:31 AM on September 20, 2010

Response by poster: I'd probably be willing to spend $80 or thereabouts, FWIW.
posted by killdevil at 10:31 AM on September 20, 2010

Gizmodo - The Secret Scam of Cheap Earbuds, a good read - especially to those who would recommend skull-candy.

A friend gifted me a pair of V-Moda Bass Freq in-ear earbuds, I don't think they're stamped with "noise canceling" labeling on the packaging or anything but they have been an excellent performer for my ipods/shuffle/iphone/etc. The bass is great, and the fit drowns out a lot of outside riff-raff.
posted by a11an at 11:05 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Panasonic makes some excellent cheap-ass earbuds. The rubbery ones are the best. Wal-Mart. Under $30.

As an aside: Remember to set the EQ in your iPod! The default setting is just plain awful, and a lot of people mistakenly blame the crappy sound on the earbuds.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:06 AM on September 20, 2010

Setting the EQ on your iPod will drain the battery. Plus, the Apple earbuds are crappy. No amount of EQ-ing is going to fix that.

That said, I like my Ultimate Ears Super-Fi's. A little above your budget, but well worth it. But I hear good things about their Metro-Fi line too.
posted by monospace at 12:36 PM on September 20, 2010

First some terminology. Earbuds are those phones like Apple's which sit in your ear but not in your ear canal. They do not form a seal. They do not really block out sounds from the environment. This is good when you are walking in traffic, not so good for fidelity and privacy.

In ear canal phones, isolation phones etc. fit into your ears like earplugs with speakers built in.

If it is the former you desire then your options are limited and getting worse not better. Sennheiser makes some decent ones in their MX series. I knew their was something different about them when I saw how strong the magnets were. They actually improve upon the Apple buds. They are not high fidelity though.
posted by caddis at 2:20 PM on September 20, 2010

Count me in on the CX300's from Sennheiser. Love 'em! An audiophile friend who has probably tried out every pair of earphones on the market highly recommends them even over other, higher priced models.
posted by seatofmypants at 7:24 PM on September 20, 2010

How long is the cord on the Sennheiser CX300s?

According to Amazon, 1.2m.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:58 AM on September 21, 2010

Seconding the JVC Marshmallows - they are very well regarded as a great combination of price / sound / comfort. They run a mere $20, and as such are easily replaceable. The sound is warm, if a little lacking on bass. If you plan on exercising with your iPod, I recommend picking up a pair as it will be less painful when they inevitably die.

If you just want to listen to music and can wait a while, Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 (vi or pro) go on sale through Amazon for $99 surprisingly often. I think they retail in the $400 range. They are big, but they stay firmly in your ear and sound pretty remarkable.

The forums over at have a lot of valuable information and insight, though with so many options, the noise can make deciding difficult.

Best of luck and happy listening.
posted by Never Better at 10:36 AM on September 21, 2010

I also like Panasonic. They make some called "Ergofit" or something like that. They don't fall out.
posted by twblalock at 6:50 PM on September 21, 2010

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