There are so many alternatives to Apple's iPod earphones that it's almost impossible knowing where to start when looking to buy a new pair. In recent months, we've looked at offerings from Yahba, whose budget earphones were reasonable, and Etymotic, which are going to be hard to beat.
Coming in at just £25 are the Sennheiser MX 500s - the blue version has been around for a while, but Sennheiser has finally adopted the iPod's signature colour of white. At first glance they look uncannily like the iPod's supplied earphones, but that's pretty much where the similarity ends.
The earphones themselves have a volume control, which is incredibly handy if your iPod is in your bag or pocket, and the volume range that can be adjusted with this slider is impressive.
The sound quality itself is great for such a low-price set of earphones. The MX 500s offer stunning bass response and there are no signs of distortion - no matter how loud you play your music. Both Apple's in-ear and standard iPod earphones cost £25, but we favour the MX 500s; Apple's in-ear earphones slip out of the ear, no matter which size tips you use, and the iPod earbuds have a very short lifespan.
One tip Sennheiser could take from Etymotic is the use of eartips instead of the usual buds. Earbuds don't comfortably fit all ears, whereas Etymotic's flanged eartips mould to each individual user. If eartips were used, then Sennheiser could indeed have the best pair of iPod earphones on the market.
Some manufacturers feel the need to add a stupidly long cable to their earphones, but Sennheiser has chosen a decent length cable that doesn't get caught in your zip or tangled around various items that are in your bag.
As far as sound goes, the Sennheiser MX 500s cannot be faulted and the 2-year warranty gives you temporary peace of mind. If the earbuds were swapped for eartips, these earphones would be perfect. Michelle Morris