Cheap earphones are not hard to come by, but finding a pair that also offers decent construction and solid sound quality can be a bit more of a challenge--especially if you only want to spend about 20 bucks. For this reason, we're always pleasantly surprised to come across a pair like the MeElectronics M9 sound-isolating earphones. This set sells online for $19.99, and though it doesn't offer the cleanest or richest sound we've come across, the combination of good design, useful extras, and passable audio make it a top choice in this price range.
The MeElectronics M9 earphones are easy on the eyes but not in your face in terms of style. You can choose from two color options, silver or black, both of which are fairly low-key but offer a bit of jewelry-like appeal thanks to the slightly shimmery cables coated in clear plastic. The earpieces are a little shiny and are compact overall, though the apertures are on the large side and may cause a bit of discomfort for some users. We found them to be comfortable for an hour or so before the pressure began to cause some cartilage pain.
On the plus side, we achieved a secure fit and good seal with the ear using one of the four sets of silicone tips (three standard sizes and one double-flanged model are included). However, it's worth noting that the noise from the cable moving across the body is noticeable. The nice thing is that the cord of the M9 sound-isolating earphones is reasonably thick and flexible, which bodes well for long-term durability--a rarity in headphones at this price. Also, cable connections at the earpieces and the angled, gold-plated plug are reinforced and there's a slider at the Y junction to prevent tangles, all of which should help the earphones last longer.
Another surprise for earbuds at this price: MeElectronics includes a fair amount of handy extras. In addition to the aforementioned tips, there's a cable wrap, a shirt clip, and a dual-pronged airplane adapter. Plus, you get a nice, zippered carrying case with an internal pocket. The only thing that's missing is an earwax cleaning tool.