What Are The Best $100 Earphones?

A few years ago, at the Nokia Go Play event in London, I received a pair of the Bose In-Ear earphones in my ‘goody bag’. These were the first pair of earphones I had ever owned that were worth more than ~$20, and I’ve been incredibly impressed with them. Unfortunately, they’ve gone out, and so I need to purchase a new pair. These are the three important things that I liked about the Bose:

1. They keep sound in. I can have the heaviest techno ever pulsating into my brain, and be sitting right next to my wife, and she can’t hear a thing. This is crucial for using them on airplanes and such, and ranks high in importance for my next pair of earphones.

2. They keep other sounds out. They’re not complete sound barriers, but with the music loud enough, I can have these in and not hear a dang thing. Again, excellent for use on airplanes and long flights, but also good for other situations, like when I really just need to get some work done.

3. They’re not completely in-ear. This is tough to explain. I also have a pair of Creative something-or-others that came with my Dell XPS M1330. While they possess the previous two features, they’re extremely uncomfortable to wear. To put them on right, you’re supposed to reach around with the opposite hand and gently pull the top of your ear up, to open the ear canal. Doing so, however, creates an odd experience that I find really uncomfortable, specifically with heavy bass. A good example is, when wearing these and walking normally, my footsteps pound in my head, as if I was a freakin T-rex. I want to avoid this type of experience as much as possible. The Bose In-Ear set fits into my ear, but not uncomfortably so, and do not produce the experience described above.

I’m not interested in any suggestions for full headphones, regardless of the price/quality. These need to be able to easily fit in *any* of the small pockets on my gadget bag or other bags, which the Bose set does nicely. My budget for headphones is $100 – the price of the Bose. I’m really tempted to just go with those, but I figured, since they were my first pair, that some of you might have better suggestions. Please make them, and I’ll try to go check them all out. Thanks.

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