The first thing you're likely to do upon obtaining a new MP3 player is load it up with all your favorite music. Once that's done, the next best step is to replace the shoddy earbuds that came packaged with it. Of course, not everyone wants to drop a wad of cash on a new pair of headphones, which is where sets like the JVC Marshmallow come in. These comfy and colorful earphones have an MSRP of just $20 and often list for much less than that, and in addition to providing a more secure fit than stock 'buds, the Marshmallows offer a significant improvement in sound quality.
The JVC Marshmallow headphones are typical of in-ear models in design. A small earbud features a protruding aperture onto which you attach an eartip. In the case of the Marshmallows, the included sleeves (two sets) are the compressible foam variety, which tend to offer better passive sound isolation and a more comfortable fit for most users. We were able to wear the set for a couple hours without discomfort, and they stayed put with some light tugging on the cable, making them a good choice for gym-goers. (However, because of the sound isolation, these are probably not optimal for runners.)
For Nano owners who are interested in earphones with a hint of style, the JVC Marshmallows should be a good fit. They come in 13 colors that are shaded to match the third- and fourth-generation iPod Nanos, which themselves vary slightly in tint from one generation to the next. For example, there are two shades of green, two shades of blue, and two shades of red. The color coat extends from the earbuds, which have a shiny clear coat, all the way down the 40-inch cord, which terminates in a gold-plated straight-plug. Although the cable is quite thin at the Y, it includes a slider for preventing cables and the bottom section seems pretty durable--certainly more so than most earbuds that list for about $10.
The real shock with the JVC Marshmallow headphones is the sound quality--it's actually decent. In fact, it's downright impressive given the price point. Although the audio isn't as clear and sparkly as what you'd get from a $100 set, bass is thumpy and the midrange is warm and enveloping. Sounds do tend to get muddled together somewhat, but on the whole, we found that every genre of music was more than tolerable during playback. Certainly, the Marshmallow earphones are a huge step up from stock for a very small investment. They're definitely worth checking out.