We've long maintained that there is only one thing that 99 per cent of earphones bundled with MP3 players are good for; the bin. If I had a penny for every time I saw an iPod owner still using a pair of Apple earphones I'd have… well, a big bag of pennies that's for sure. Probably enough to hire a couple of heavies to go beat some sense into the offending parties.
To avoid looking like an 'audiot' - a term I've just invented to describe foolish audio player owners that use bundles earphones - you'll want to spend some cash on a decent set of phones. If I had my way, everyone would go out and buy a pair of Shure E500PTHs, but at some £230, that's probably a bit above most budgets. You could get a 16GB iPod touch for that money!
For most, the best compromise between price and audio quality is going to come from a set of single-driver earphones, such as the Sennheiser CX 95s or Shure SE210s available for around £53 and £65 respectively. If you’re a little more flush the Shure SE310s are definitely worth a punt, and sit in the £110 region. Oh yes, there's the £70-odd Philips SHE9850s, too.
"But Hugo," you ask, "I wish to spend £79.99 on a pair of noise isolating earphones, preferably with a decent set of foam tips because I hear those are good. Is there anything available that fits those specific criteria?" Funnily enough, there is just such an offering available and they come from a company called Comply (pronounced com-plea so far as we can gather). Called the NR-10 Noise Reduction Earphones, they will currently set you back exactly £79.99.
Probably the NR-10s biggest selling point is that they are, apparently, optimised to provide excellent noise reduction specifically when used with Comply's foam tips. It's not for nothing that Comply makes such a big deal of its tips; a fair few manufacturers have started bundling them with their own earphones, including Philips' SHE9850s, and they're pretty good.
The important question, then, is whether or not a bit of prowess for making earphone tips qualifies Comply to create the entire earphone package.