There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and uncomfortable iPod earbuds. Enter Ultimate Ears's versions, which can be used with any MP3 player and are customizable for maximum comfort. Until recently, the company focused on high-end, handmade, cost-ya-a-kidney earphones like the $900 UE-10 Pro. Now, they're in cahoots with the folks at Apple to offer $200 and $250 earbuds to those with (somewhat) less hefty bank accounts.
"We took everything we knew about handcrafting custom products and brought it to the masses," says Mindy Harvey, Ultimate Ears's president and co-founder. The result is a sleek set that includes earphones and five sets of silicone tips, each of which varies in width and offers a different level of external noise control.
The logic? Ears come in many shapes and sizes, sure -- but you also might want to wear looser earbuds when you're on the Metro (and actually hear some of what's going on around you) than when you're jogging on a treadmill. The Super.fi 5EB ($200) is big on bass and ideal for hip-hop fans, while the Super.fi 5Pro ($250) offers a well-rounded sound good for grooving to Bach and Bauhaus alike. At Ultimateears.com, Apple stores or Guitar Center.
Janelle Erlichman Diamond
at Guitar Center.