I've been listening to podcasts on my daily bike rides down the Hudson and around Central Park. I put on the headphones at the half-way point. While I'm warming up I want my all my hearing. For some reason, after 1/2 hour of riding, I feel I can handle a little impairment. So I listen to the latest Fresh Air, Planet Money or This American Life, my three current favorite podcasts. Sometimes the New Yorker book podcast, or the NY Times Science podcast. Also these days I like to mix in a little Talking Heads music from the old days.
I've never been able to use earbuds, they just fall out of my ears. I don't know if it's physiology or something I don't understand about earbuds. It's no big deal, because Sony makes excellent over-the-ear buds that cost $10. And the sound quality is pretty good. They wear out, get clogged with wax, the quality breaks down with workout sweat. But for $10 -- buy two. I've probably been through 20 or 30 of these babies over the years.
All the while wondering if there isn't better quality to be had for $40 to $80 because Sennheiser, a venerable name in headphones, makes similar products to the $10 Sonys. So I decided to find out and bought the $57 model. The reviewers all said they were wonderful. I've learned to be skeptical of headphone reviews. I buy lots of them, all kinds and sizes, but only rarely have I been blown away by the quality. Usually what people rave about on Amazon are basically plain headphones with competent sound.
Net-net: The $57 Sennheisers sound about the same as the $10 Sonys. Let's see if they last 5-6 times as long. I suspect they won't. And the Sony phones wrap nicely around my iPod and fit in my pocket, the Sennheisers have to go around my neck from the start of the ride. So convenience goes to the cheaper Sony phones.
One more thing, the headphones that blew me away -- as the reviewers on Amazon said they would -- are also from Sony, their studio headphones that amazingly cost only $78 and sound as good as or better than $400 headphones from others. Amazingly clear sound, rich bass, and a sublime sense of presence. You feel like you're in a theater listening to a great sound system. I literally seek out opportunities to listen to music with them. There are other nice phones out there, but none that are so rich for so little money. And they seem to stand up to some amount of abuse. I just throw them in my bag and forget about them. If you've got a $78 hole burning in your pocket you'll just love these headphones, I say go for it.