It amazes me that manufacturers bother to include headphones with digital music players these days. After spending months and possibly years developing their products, attempting to persuade consumers that their player is best, coming up with innovative navigations systems, including masses of memory and adding video capability, 99 per cent of them then go and hobble their products by giving little or no thought to the headphones they include.
Why not be honest, I wonder, and not include them at all? The manufacturers could make a tiny bit of extra profit, would save on landfill (which is where most of this rubbish will inevitably end up), or better still, sell the product at a slightly lower price and allow the consumer to make the choice.
I suppose there's little chance of that right now, given that there's still a significant majority of people who don't seem to care that they're listening to the height of technology through the equivalent of a small plastic drainpipe. But, if you're reading this, then there's probably a good chance that you've at least started on the path to enlightenment. Are v-moda's £24.99 Bass Fréqs a good place to start?
Well, for this money, you're not going to be getting anything approaching audiophile in sound quality. But what you do get is surprisingly good. The Bass Fréqs are a semi-noise cancellation design of headphone - they're inserted into the ear canal, but not as deep as some other noise cancellation headphones, such as my now-venerable Shure E2Cs or our current mid-range faves, the Shure SE210s.
The result is that they're a little more comfortable, but don't cut out quite as much extraneous ambient noise. It's a good balance if you want to have some awareness of the outside world while walking down the street, for instance, but they do require an extra twist of the volume knob in noisy environments such as the London Underground.
At this sort of money, surprisingly, you're not short-changed on extras either. The headphones come with three sizes of silicone flanges so you can get the best possible fit, and a v-shaped silicone cable tidy - which v-moda calls a Modawrap. The latter is particularly useful if you're frustrated by cables that dangle out of the bottom of your jacket - you just wrap any loose cable around the silicone stick and lock it in place using the notches at each end. Simple yet effective.