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Intended for active pursuits such as jogging and exercising, Sony's MDR-A35G headphones ($19.99 list) are lightweight headband models with in-ear drivers. Like other members of Sony's S2 Sports lineup, the 'phones feature a white-and-gray color scheme that's toned down compared to the bright yellow styling of the company's older Sports models. A comfortable, ultrasecure fit and sweat-resistant earphones make the MDR-A35Gs a leading choice for working out.
The MDR-A35Gs aren't exactly brimming with extra features. A collapsible headband makes the 'phones easy to store and transport, although a protective carrying case would've been a welcome addition. But that's not a major knock, since the streamlined design is among the most comfortable that I've ever auditioned for sweat sessions. While wearing the MDR-A35Gs, I jogged on the treadmill at the gym and outside in 80-degree weather. The results were so good that the MDR-A35Gs are now my primary workout 'phones. The in-ear drivers never felt sweaty and didn't budge from my ears, even during the most rigorous phases of my run. The four-foot dual-cord design (a cord runs to each earphone) is less tidy than that of single-entry cords, but tugging still wasn't a problem. Unlike neckband headphones, the MDR-A35Gs didn't interfere with the fit of my sunglasses (though, as with vertical headband models, those with well-coiffed hairstyles may want to look elsewhere). In comparison, the 'phones also offer a very secure fit, but they clamped my head excessively, causing mild discomfort by the end of workouts.
Although the MDR-A35G's performance isn't superlative, it's better than average for a set of sub-$20 headphones. The MDR-A35Gs were efficient enough to play loud even when connected to my underpowered portable MP3 player. Snoop Dogg's classic track "Gin and Juice" had a respectable amount of low-end bass. Treble and midrange frequencies sounded smooth rather than brash or tinny. Essentially, the MDR-A35Gs deliver middle-of-the road-performance, not overemphasizing any part of the frequency spectrum. They sound fine.
If you're looking for a set of inexpensive sports headphones, the MDR-A35Gs should be near the top of your list. Although Aiwa's offer better sound, they tend to require occasional adjustment while you're running.