Sony MDR-EX71. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best in-ear headphone for active use of an iPod Shuffle. It has a short cord, so when I clip the Shuffle to my collar, there’s no excess cord. It has an offset yoke that goes behind your neck, so that it doesn’t get in the way when I’m leaned over the bike. Then there’s the sound. Glorious, full bass, and very fine detail. Yes, I ride with headphones. And no, I’m not interested in the safety debate as it’s not the point of this entry. Bear with me a moment.
I use headphones so much, in so many walks of life that I eventually kill those Sony earbuds and have to buy new ones. They’re not as common as they once were, but that’s what eBay is for. So I noticed that there was a Hong Kong seller who had those Sony earbuds in black, which would be nice since they wouldn’t show the grime as much. But even better was the price: $20 vs $40. So I bought a couple pair just to stock up for the future. After the right speaker of my most recent Sony suddenly cut out, I pulled out one of those black earbuds for service. Much to my chagrin, they totally sucked. The soft rubber around the speaker housing didn’t conform as it should have, the in-ear cushion felt different, and the speakers sounded so tin-like that I immediately went into despair. Where was all the lovely bass? What was wrong? I looked at all the packaging and warrantee literature that came with the headphones, wondering if they had changed the design somehow. Then I looked up MDR-EX71 online, and it turns out that I had purchased a counterfeit product.