Appropriate headphones for an iPod Shuffle?
May 17, 2008 10:46 PM   Subscribe

I recently purchased an iPod Shuffle, and while I've been happy with it so far, I'm sick of Apple's earbuds. Are there any respectable headphones that the Shuffle can power without a significant decrease in battery life? I've searched AskMe, and while this question has come up in regard to full-size iPods, I'm worried about the ability of the Shuffle's tiny battery to keep my headphones going for more than thirty minutes at a stretch. If it helps, I'm considering buying a pair of Koss Portapros (I've had great experiences with them before and the price and size are right). Any suggestions are welcome.
posted by Merzbau to Technology (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I can't speak for the current lineup of Shure earbuds, but I have the old E2Cs and they're so powerful that you can run your pod at half volume and still hear everything. Previously, I had a nice pair of Sonys that had neodymium drivers, which required about 3/4 volume to get good output.

So yes, my guess is a decent pair of Shures will allow you to run your pod with less oomph and get more battery life.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 10:54 PM on May 17, 2008

Yep, Shures are what you want. I have the E3s and they're great. (I use them with a nano, though.) I believe they are more efficient than most earbuds because of the seal you get when they are properly inserted.
posted by kindall at 10:59 PM on May 17, 2008

Many of the better headphones actually have a higher impedance, meaning that they will draw less juice from the battery. In any event, it is not that much of a worry. For earbud types, the kind that sit in the ear but do not go into the ear canal like an ear plug, I really like some of the Sennheisers. (When the magnets are strong enough in the buds to interplay with each other physically when they are close to each other, that is a good sign.) The really great phones are the ones that go into your ear canals like earplugs. They have incredible sound, at least the better ones, but there are issues with comfort, and then there is the whole otherwise dear issue, great for planes, not for the streets of Manhattan where the taxi mows you down and you never hear it coming.
posted by caddis at 11:00 PM on May 17, 2008

I don't think there's been a thread on AskMe thus far that did not recommend the Shures whether or not the asker was asking for earbud-type headphones. That should tell you something about their quality. I personally have had the E2Cs for two years plus - the quality is absolutely outstanding, and once you get them, you can never go back.

What is more, they have an absolutely superb 2-year warranty. Any defect at all, send it back, and they replace it no questions asked. I went through this process twice, each time got them back within under a week, and the customer service rep I emailed was super responsive. I'd say the problems was caused by my rough treatment of headphones in general than any form of product defect, since before the Shures I used to run through a pair of generic Sony headphones (15$ ish?) about once a month, to the point where I just gave up and started getting disposable ones at the dollar store.

Also! They upgrade headphones. My SO traded in his E2Cs for a pair of brand new SE210s, and spent around $60, I believe. No receipt necessary.

In short, I adore them beyond absolute belief. Especially now that the price has gone down and the E2Cs (or their present day incarnations) are no longer $140. :D
posted by Phire at 11:16 PM on May 17, 2008

(PS, that $60 includes tax and shipping)
posted by Phire at 11:16 PM on May 17, 2008

I ditto Phire, and, well, everyone else. Also, I use the Shures with my Shuffle; it's great. The only downside of the Shures are that it took me a week to find the right size of earpiece and to get used to the sensation of sticking something in my ear. Everything else is amazing.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 11:22 PM on May 17, 2008

Thanks for all the suggestions- however, I should have been clearer with my question; I'm not looking for earbuds but more traditionally-styled headphones. If this isn't feasible I'll definitely check out the Shure earbuds, but if at all possible I'd like to use a pair with a headband.
posted by Merzbau at 11:27 PM on May 17, 2008

I really like my Etymotic ER6i canalphones. I can keep the setting lower while enjoying the same volume.
posted by roomwithaview at 11:48 PM on May 17, 2008

Oops, didn't read your comment above. Sorry.

I had a good experience with Bose Tri-Ports but I hear you can get better sound for less money, as is the case with your PortaPros. I didn't notice any decrease in battery life.
posted by roomwithaview at 11:50 PM on May 17, 2008

I listen to a ton of music on my iPod shuffle through a pair of Grado SR60s and they sound fantastic.
posted by richrad at 11:51 PM on May 17, 2008

I'll second the Grado SR60s. I have a pair and they're absolutely amazing. $70, and they're better than most headphones under $150. No, really. However, I find them a little bulky for wearing while I'm walking around the city--and they're open-air, so they leak and accept a lot of outside noise--so when I leave the apartment, I carry a set of Sennheiser PX200s. Good sound and volume, decent isolation (rather than destructive cancellation), good impedance match for my iPod, and not bulky at all.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:14 AM on May 18, 2008

Check out for a ton of reviews and opinions on all of the abovementioned head/earphones.
posted by nihraguk at 12:46 AM on May 18, 2008

The Portapros will work just fine. They are very efficient headphones.
posted by zsazsa at 5:50 AM on May 18, 2008

I use AKG K240 over-the-ear headphones with my Shuffle and everything else. I love them. They're semi-open, which to me makes the music sound more realistic, but it also means that they don't completely exclude the sounds around you.
posted by PatoPata at 7:41 AM on May 18, 2008

A forum I prefer to Head-Fi.
Pretty good headphone buying guide.

Personally I have a pair of AKG K 26Ps which are pretty good and fairly cheap. I also used a set of Sennheiser HD 280 Pros with my iPod for a while. They look fairly ridiculous on your head though in me opinion.

2nding the Portapros and the Grado SR-60s as well though. Only heard good things about both of them.
posted by public at 11:33 AM on May 18, 2008

I use Shure E2C for my iPod touch and Grado SR-60 headphones at home. I recommend both for use with any kind of iPod. I've personally used both pairs with an iPod video, touch and shuffle.
posted by vkxmai at 3:28 PM on May 18, 2008

I second public's second link. has good information, good prices, and incredible customer service. There is some terminology confusion in this thread, and on the topic in general. As I understand it, earbuds are the tiny phones which sit outside the ear canal, like those that come with iPods, in ear canal phones are like the Shure phones discussed above, sort of like ear plugs with a tiny speaker inside, and then regular headphones are those things that are huge and site outside your ears, the traditional cover the ear headphone. With the popularity of cheap (less than $100) in ear canal phones like some of the Shures discussed above, the term earbud has creeped into the in ear canal territory. A different distinction, now perhaps the most popular, is to call the in ear canal phones "isolating" or "isolation" phones as they do function quite well as ear plugs, at least the good ones do. They blow away those dorky Bose noise reduction phones on planes, and often at less cost. They are a pain to have to remove though when the steward or stewardess comes by for your drink order. I have some Ultimate Ears Super Fi 5 in ear canal phones. They are sonic gold. Wow. That is good and bad. They make regular mp3s sound like crap, and lossless sound like real live music. They rival Sennheiser HD600s for fidelity, besting them in some respects, and not so in others. In my ears though they become uncomfortable after about an hour or so. They have different tips and only the disposable foam ones give me long term comfort. That is expensive, although they was well in hydrogen peroxide for extended reuse. The cheap phones fit easily as they are tiny. The higher fidelity ones are more individual, hence my recommendation of They will take back a pair within 30 days if they are uncomfortable in your ears, and it takes an extended listening session to know. If you really want a bargain, they resell these used earplugs......
posted by caddis at 4:28 PM on May 18, 2008

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