The white ear buds. They’re ruining everything for every one. Not only are they a very ordinary sounding headphone, they are florescent marker screaming “I have an expensive bit of easily fence-able consumer electronics in my pocket, come and mug me!”

The sad bit is no one seems to even consider that there are better options out there. A set of ear buds comes in the box with a portable-digital-music-device, people pop them in their ears and happily have them pressure drive their ear canal like a plunger trying to extract unspeakable muck from a drain. Never stopping to wonder if they could achieve nice smooth bass and crisp treble without buying a one-way ticket to Tinnitus Town.

Well you can, and you will get very good results without hurting your hip pocket too badly. Small, low cost phones that would sound extraordinarily flat and tinny at a distance can sound fantastic when they are strapped to the side of your head. They can even sound better than speaker systems two and three times the cost. Better yet, splash out on an up market set of headphones and you can really get the feeling there is a rock band or an orchestra where your brain should be.

I know a lot of people have doubts,

“But Tom,” you say, “I need something portable and compact!”
Well almost all reputable headphone manufactures make over-the-ear models that will fold up smaller than a set of sun glasses, and if you can’t fit that in your pocket then you need some new pants.

“I’m just listening to low bit rate MP3s. What does it matter?”
They will still sound better. Let me relate a personal story: Some time ago I bought my lady friend a set of quite nice headphones as part of a Christmas present. It didn’t go over very well. The dirty look I got may have been softer if I’d gotten her a dead rat. Never the less, she tried them out on her MP3 player for a while and came back to me with a slightly surprised look on her face; “There’s bits of that song that I’ve never heard before” she told me. Success!

“I’m going to look like a dork with those chunky cans on my head!”
Let’s be honest with ourselves for one moment shall we. I know I look like a dork, but it has nothing to do with the ‘phones on my ears. If you think ear buds, white or otherwise, are going to make you look cool then you really should re-examine your self image.

If you’re still not convinced, come in, bring your player, hook up a set of AKGs or Sennheisers to it, play your favourite track and just listen to the difference for your self.