I read that Apple has invested millions designing a pair of unibody earbuds. What difference it will make remains to be seen, as the current set offered with their iPods are notoriously bad. A friend of mine showed me the new cans he’d picked up over the weekend – a pair of Bose AE2 headphones. This is already the third pair of headphones he’s bought in something like a year. The last set he showed me were the Bang & Olufsen, what the company itself bills as high-tech jewelry. The Bose sounded better than most of what’s offered around here, and they are reassuringly sober-looking compared to the fashion accessory headsets seen everywhere nowadays. But their sound didn’t really blow me away or anything – vocals seemed subdued, and bass was wanting. Also, as they aren’t noise-cancelling headphones, they must be played at loud volumes to drown out outside noise, and Korea is one of the noisiest places on earth. I needed a new set of headphones, preferably something I could use when shooting video and for listening to music on my computer. So they had to be portable. I checked out the recommendations over at headphoneinfo.com, the most objective site on the Net. For under $100, the Etymotic Mc5 earphones fit the bill: a fairly flat frequency response up until around 10,000 hz, inaudible distortion, 32 decibels of isolation, and great tracking. I just worried because I prefer the comfort of headband style headphones. Now that I’ve used them and listened to everything from Jay-Z and the Police to Lester Bowie and Beethoven, I can say their reputation is justified. My only complaint is they must be jammed into your skull pretty tight in order to obtain the best sound, especially the bass. This morning another friend wanted to compare the Mc5s to the AE2s. He plugged the Bose into his Galaxy Note, listening for at least ten minutes. I asked if he wasn’t going to try out the Etymotics. He put them on for a few seconds, then without a word, yanked them out. Shoving silicone tips all the way into your ear canal isn’t for everyone, no matter how good they sound!