Small Players, Big Sound

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First Things First: Ditch the Earbuds

Illustration by Harry Campbell.
Illustration: Harry Campbell
The earphones that come packed with audio players don't do the music justice. To hear the high-quality sound of a Creative Zen Nano Plus or an iPod Nano, you need better headphones. Here are a few options--one for as low as $8.

Over-the-ear headphones: Bulky headphones aren't as portable as earbuds. But on the plus side, a set of cans tends to block out noisy disruptions. Those with closed cups that surround the ears will shut out more noise than those with smaller cups or only foam earpieces. One good pick is a former PC World Best Buy, the $150 Bose TriPort headphones. If you prefer something smaller, try the $150 Sennheiser PXC250 set, which includes a noise-cancelling feature.

In-the-ear headphones: Standard earbuds are lousy at blocking out sound. However, the $249 5 Pro earphones from Ultimate Ears have tips designed to fit snugly, as do the $500 Shure E500 Push to Hear earbuds, which at press time were expected to ship in mid-June. If these are too pricey, don't despair. We've also been impressed by the $8 Sennheiser MX 300 earbuds.

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