I remain a steadfast fan of noise-isolating earbuds, which I think deliver much better sound--and greater comfort--than your garden-variety earphones.
Don't believe me? Drop a tenner and see for yourself. Buy.com has the Q:Electronics Noise-Isolating Earbuds with Volume Control for $9.99 shipped.
That's right, volume control: These babies have an inline slider that lets you raise and lower the volume without having to reach in your pocket to fiddle with your player's controls. (Why don't all headphones have this?)
The buds' other claim to fame: interchangeable "pads" that come in seven different colors. Alas, they're all medium size; only the black ones come in small, medium, and large. But unless you have
freakishly unusually small or large ears, you should be fine.
What's that? Colored pads don't matter because they're effectively invisible once you stuff them in your ear canals? Hey, don't pester me with details. I don't go to where you work and rock the Slurpee machine.
Suffice it to say, these earbuds will probably not sound as good as a $100 set of Etymotics. But for anyone who finds regular earphones uncomfortable and/or wants a spare pair of throwaway 'buds, the Qs look pretty hard to beat. Great gift item.
There's only one user review over at Buy.com, but it's extremely positive. If by chance you've tried these yourself, let your fellow Cheapskaters know how they fare. And, um, sound.