Since getting my first iPod, I’ve paid little attention to the quality of my earbuds. Until recently, I primarily listened to my iPod in my car, so I focused more on car stereo integration.
For the instances when I did use my earbuds (running, mountain biking, dog walking, plane trips, etc.) I used the stock Apple earbuds until I was given a pair of Griffin EarThumps, whose in-ear design was much better than the stock earbuds.
These days, I commute by train into NYC so I use my earbuds every day. Recently, the connector on my EarThumps died and figured it was time to invest in some better earbuds. As I begun to research a new pair, I noticed price variations from $5 to $500.
First of all, $500 is more than my freakin’ iPod cost. Given that I’m not what one would call an audiophile, there’s no way I could justify that kind of expense. (Especially to my wife. But that’s another story… 😉 )
So I began to wonder, what is “Good Enough” and how much will “Good Enough” cost me?
To be honest, I didn’t take any for a test drive. (I don’t know about you, but sticking a pair of demo earbuds into my ears that may have been used by 500 other people is not exactly on the top of my list of things to do.) That said, I did do quite a bit of online research.
Ultimately, I decided on a pair of Shure SE110 Sound Isolation Headphones. At $99, I found that I could justify the expense as they double nicely as a pair of reference headphones while recording or editing my podcast.
Compared to my previous pair of earbuds, the overall quality is unbelievable. The sound is clear and balanced, and while they could use a little more bass response, the deficit is minor.
By far, the sound isolation is the most impressive feature. I wore them so that I could listen to a podcast while mowing the lawn yesterday – and I could barely hear the lawnmower! The podcast was a recorded presentation delivered by Tim Bray from eTech and I could hear every word clearly. I was really surprised.
I can’t help but wonder: Would I notice the difference between the SE110’s at $99 and the SE530’S at $499?
Somehow I doubt it, but I’m sure there are a million people out there who will tell me I’m wrong.