Back to School: In-ear 'phones

I think it’s safe to say that 90 percent of you Collegians have iPods and 100 percent of you probably use those eardrum-popping white earbuds. Get rid of those immediately because I doubt you’ll want to trade them in for hearing aids in a few years. As I’ve said in the past, in-ears are where it’s at, so you better jump on the wagon. And we’re not going to recommend those crap in-ears from Bose or Sony. It’s worth the extra $50 you’ll be spending on the following in-ears. Trust us.

Over-the-ear cans are clunky and if you wear glasses or sunglasses then you know how annoying they can be after 15 minutes of wear. Besides you’ve got enough crap in your bag since Amazon hasn’t rolled out their college-edition Kindle.

Oh, and don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the gamers.

I have yet to receive my review unit of the SE102MPA’s, but based on the Shures’ I’m using right now to listen to Led Zeppelin’s How the West Was Won, I’m going to go out on a limb and say they’ll do you just fine. If you’re like me and listen to tunes or watch videos on your mobile phone, then they’re the perfect solution for your iPhone or BlackBerry Curve, and the 3.5mm jack ensures you’ll be able to use them with just about every device. They’re coming next month, so hold out a bit longer if you can and set aside $120.

I also have a set of Ultimate Ear monitors and they’re by far the best in-ears I’ve ever encountered. But they were hand-me-downs from a friend who’s a professional sound engineer and I couldn’t justify paying for them, which is why I’ve selected the 4’s. They pump out some nasty bass but don’t skimp on the mids or highs and bestow -26dB of isolation and passive noise isolation. They include a custom case and a wide range of foam and rubbery ear tips to ensure a perfect fit. Musicians and sound professionals alike pimp Ultimate Ears so rest assured you’re getting what you pay for, which happens to be $130.

Rounding out the in-ear recommendations are the 6i Isolator earphones from Etymotic. These are made specifically for the iPod, but I doubt any of us would know the difference if they were used with your Zune or Zen or whatever you’re using. However, I’m not the biggest fan of long-ass cords and the 6i Isolator’s come with a five-footer, but they do come with a shirt clip. These are a bit more at $150.

And now for the gamers in the audience, let’s all take Devin’s word and grab the Razer Piranha’s. I’ve grilled him about these and he assures me they’re great and cost effective. Check out his review here in case you missed it.