As we've said more times than I can count, bundled earphones supplied with portable media players are (almost) inevitably awful. Sadly, there are too many non-discerning users out there who, frankly, don't give a damn how good or bad their earphones sound and wouldn't justify spending £10, let alone £100 on an upgraded pair.
While their argument has some weight to an extent, enjoyment of music isn't entirely dependant on the reproductive quality, it's a simple fact that if you listen to a song with a better pair of earphones it will sound better - it really is as uncomplicated as that. It's pretty much par for the course that the more you pay, the more you get, too.
Luckily you don't have to spend a huge amount of money to get a decent pair of earphones. Personally, I'd recommend most buyers look in the £70 region because that's where the best selection, in terms of price versus performance, sits. At this price point you'll be looking at single-driver stuff, but if you want to be more discerning a £70 budget is a ludicrous proposition. Best of all, in the single-driver ballpark, pretty much the entire crème de la crème of the market sits under £80.
At such a price point, then, we have the Shure SE210s, the Philips SHE9850s, Ultimate Ears super.fi 4s and the comply NR-10s, to name but a few. Between them they offer enough range to suit anyone's musical tastes. And if you take my word for it, the Philips SHE9850s were probably the pick of the bunch.
The reason I'm using the past tense there, if you noticed, is that Shure has a new set of single-driver earphones. They're called the SE102s and for the £70-odd you can pick them up for online right now, they are pretty much a must buy. I kid you not, Shure is well and truly back with a vengeance.
It must be admitted that Shure has made a few trade-offs to get this quality of earphone at such a low price. But, and this is a big 'but', the compromises that have been made, are applied to the right areas and aren't likely to be noticed by anyone buying into this price point.