DMP earbud recommendation

I have a Zune (which I think is great, BTW). The stock headphones, of course, suck rocks, so I bought a pair of JVC Marshmallow earbuds. For 20 bucks, these things sound amazing – surprisingly rich bass and sharp highs. They have a squishy foam insert that molds to the inside of your ear, effectively blocking out outside noise, which is key to me as I listen almost exclusively on the subway to and from work.

The downside is the foam inserts don’t have a very long life. They get a bit dirty from ear wax (they are stuffed into your ear, after all), but that can be cleaned off. The issue is that the constant compression/molding causes the tip of the foam to crack, and I’ve found that a set of inserts (you get two with the 'phones) only lasts about 3 months before they need to be trashed. Replacement inserts for the Marshmallows are not available at retail, and only available from JVC online in Japan for $5/set.

So, 6 months in and I’m looking for a recommendation on a replacement set of earbuds. I would ideally like something that doesn’t cost $100, so Shures are pretty much out. And I’ve grown accustomed to the noise-cancellation/blocking. I don’t think I could go back to straight buds. I’d like something that I can jam in my ear canal and block out the subway noises.

What do you know? What do you like? What do you use?

I love my Sennheiser CX300 ear canal headphones. They’re like an affordable version of the Shures. I use them on the oldest subway in America, the old Green Line in Boston, and they do an amazing job at shutting out all the noise. It comes with three earbud sizes so you can get a good fit, and I find them quite comfortable

Very highly recommended.

Uh, those things cost more than I paid for my Shure E2G’s, which I love. If you look, you can find Shures of all models cheaper than retail, and it’s well worth it. They come with a 3-year warranty and replacement during that time period is always free and fast, so I don’t see why you’d hesitate.

I have Shure earbuds, which sound great but I hardly ever use them (planes only) because they hurt my poor fragile ears. Would the squishy inserts for the JVCs fit on the Shures, or are there aftermarket inserts specifically for the Shures made from the squishy material? My google-fu is weak.

I have some panasonic ear buds that seal in to your ear, except they use a flexible thin rubber instead of foam, so they last forever and are easily cleanable.

Something like this

But I guess they don’t make my model anymore, because they aren’t on there.

As far as I remember the high end Shure E5C’s had a bunch of different earbuds including squishies, those should fit on the cheaper Shures as well (but I have no clue where to buy them seperately).

I’d love a pair of the new Shures - complete with microphone, so you don’t need to take them off to hear WTF people are shouting at you…

So you’ll look for cheaper than retail prices for Shure but not for Sennheiser? ;)

The CX300s are fifty bucks on Amazon.

Thanks Hanzii. As far as I can tell from the photos on Shure’s site, though, the E5Cs come with the same set of sleeves as my much cheaper E2Cs. Some of them are made of silicone, but they’re not deformable. I think I’ll try just buying some cheap deformable silicone earplugs and see if I can turn them into ersatz sleeves for the Shures.

What’s the wire attenuation like on the cx300s? I tried a pair of older Sennheiser in-ear phones, and found the wire noise totally distracting.

I have Senn HD560 cans for my computer at home, and they are FANTASTIC. Just not practical for the subway!

I recommend the Sony line of earbuds. They come with three different sized silicone sleeves for comfort and noise blocking, and they sound fine in any environment that you’re going to be using portable devices in. They may/may not be “100%” noise blocking depending on what you’re used to, though. They’re cheap enough to be worth a shot; I’ve been very happy with mine on the plane and bus with my PSP.

I’ve been using the same in-ear Sony Fontopias since 2001, and I’ve also been very happy with them. A bit bass-heavy (I have to choose ‘Treble Booster’ from my iPod’s limited menu of EQ settings), but -as mouselock notes- they seal out the noise pretty well and they’re cheap. I can also guarantee that the same earpieces will last for upward of six years! (Yes, I wash them…) Do avoid the Fontopias with active noise cancellation, though, as all accounts suggest that the effect is barely noticeable, plus you’ve got to buy a new AAA battery every now and then.

I’m also considering upgrading to a pricier brand, though, and my choices have narrowed down to either Shures or Etymotics. If the Fontopias don’t grab you, you might want to take a look at their lineups.

I’m not sure I know what you mean by wire attenuation. If you mean signal degradation through the length of the wire, it’s a non-issue. The sound is very clear, and if anything it has too much amplification. On my DS, for example, my ordinary earbud headphones would need the volume turned up to max and still be a little hard to hear on the subway, whereas with these Sennheisers I only turn the volume up to 25-33% and can hear just fine.

If you’re talking about wire noise as in picking up the sound of the wire moving or having things brush against it, it’s present as you’d expect from any in-ear headphones, but I don’t notice it at all unless I’m doing something where the wires are bouncing all over the place. I wouldn’t recommend them for jogging on a treadmill, for example.

I’ll also add that I find them very comfortable. I’ve worn them for 6 hours straight on a number of plane trips and haven’t tired of having them inserted.

You can get them at Amazon or the Shure website I believe.

I also have a Shure e2c (got mines for about $50 on sale) and highly recommend the Shure line of earbuds. They have excellent warranty support. The only problem I have on the e2c is that it doesn’t really do good bass but from what I’ve heard the higher end models have fixed that.

OK, I picked up some deformable silcone ear plugs, formed them into rough spheres, poked holes with the tip of a pen, and pushed the speaker tubes of my Shures through. Works like a charm. Naturally, less convenient and less durable than the proper sleeves, but very comfortable. Will use this trick for long flights from now on.

Yeah, I guess I was talking about wire noise. Thanks for the clarification. I’m very sensitive to that.

At lunch, I picked up a pair of JVC HA-FX55V buds at Future Shop. I figured they would have something in common to the Marshmallows, which are part number HA-FX33. They have the silicone ear pieces instead of the foam ones. They were on sale at Future Shop for 40 bucks ($45 with tax) in black; the white ones were still regular price at $52.

At first listen, they seem almost as good as the Marshies. I have 30 days to test 'em out before returning them for full refund.

I found a guy on a trading board I frequent who claims to have a BNIB set of cx300s and he’ll ship 'em to me for $32. It’s probably worth grabbing them at that price, huh?

Ha! Nice work. I should try that… mine are all either kinda icky or the wrong size.

You described them as cheap Shures. Doesn’t really motivate me to go hunting for them when I already have Shures. Do the Sennheisers have a 3-year warranty?

I can’t be assed finding out about the warranty, but I’ve abused the shit out of my CX300’s and they’re still working perfectly after 1 1/2 years.