Once you dip below the $50 mark in the portable headphone market, you're generally going to be looking at a noticeable drop-off in sound quality. That's why we're always pleasantly surprised to come across a pair of earphones that manage to provide good audio at a low price--even better if they're comfortable, as well. The Yamaha EPH-30 is one such set, and though it's not without its pitfalls, we have no qualms about recommending these $40 earbuds.
The Yamaha EPH-30 earphones aren't going to win any awards for quality in the design department, although we're willing to cut them a little slack because of their low price and solid sound. The cable is thin and tangle-prone and seems fairly fragile, and the earpieces are made of cheap-feeling plastic. On the plus side, you can choose from either white or black versions, both of which offer a splash of style with some chrome-colored accenting. This makes the earpieces slightly more jewelry-like, which may be more appealing to some than others. It's worth noting that the white version picks up dirt pretty easily. Also, these earbuds feature a staggered Y-cable with the right side longer than the left so that you may wear the cord behind your neck more easily--good for working out. The cable measures 48 inches in all and terminates in a gold-plated straight plug.
Despite the Yamaha EPH-30 headphones inexpensive feel, we're not without some praise for the design. The earbuds are teeny tiny, which allows an easy fit for small-eared users. Yamaha includes three sizes of silicone eartips, all of which tend toward the small side (those with larger ears should take heed). We found the earphones to be quite comfortable after more than an hour of wear. Even better, they offer some passive sound isolation, and there is no noise from the cable brushing against the front of the body.