Kyle and I have plenty of friendly arguments about audio gear, because he's a straight-up audiophile and is always looking for the best gear, while I'm a lot more interested in the best-cheapest. For a long time I've standardized on Sennheiser MX 400 earbud headphones, because they're a reasonable-sounding headphone but they're only $12 or so at the Virgin Megastore down the street from my office. Which is good, because I'm always leaving headphones droop out of my bag and then stepping on the earbuds. Oops.
(The MX 500 is the same headphone, but with an on-cord volume slider. I actually find the slider annoying, especially when biking, because invariably the slider will get trapped under my bag strap and shoved down to 0.)
When I started watching video on the train on my iPod and PSP I found that the train was just too noisy to hear dialog (especially on the notoriously quiet PSP). The real solution would be a pair of Ear Canal Headphones, but those things start at $100. So I got a pair of faux ECHs - Griffin Technology TuneBuds (known as EarThumps when I bought my pair) with three sizes of squishy silicone baffles that cut out a fair amount of background noise. Enough, at least, to hear dialog on the train.
But the TuneBuds turned out to be terrible for biking. With the baffles tight in my ears, I felt like I was too insulated from background noise -- I take the calculated risk of wearing headphones while biking but I'd like to be able to hear shouts of "the bridge is out!" or such. And (un)fortunately, the baffles don't stay down in my ears -- the motion of riding makes them slowly work their way out of the ear, whereupon they add a terrible wind-whistle to the mix.
So I headed over to Virgin at lunch to pick up another pair of MX 400s... and they were out of stock! Horror! I decided to get a pair of JVC Gumyphones (model HA-F120) because a) they were only $10 and b) they came in cool colors like pink and green. I got the coolest of all colors -- black. But what the packaging conceals (and oddly enough, was the impetus for this post at all) is that whatever color of earbud you choose, the cord is a unappetizing mix of dirty grey and dusty pink. With it's titular "gumy" feel and these terrible colors, the cord looks like I've got a toy's intestines stretched between my ears and my iPod. Gross.