As I'm always, I'm not the most delicate user when it comes to my own gadgets. I'm clumsy and slightly reckless at times, which also goes toward explaining my tendency to bruise at the shins, hips, and wrists (or anyplace at coffee table, counter, or door knob level). It's always reassuring to be reminded that I am not the only one with such issues. This week's questioner, for example, can't seem to make his earbuds last out the year. You are not alone.
Q: I go through headphones like crazy! The cord always breaks or the wiring comes apart. Currently, I am using Creative earbuds that came with my Zen MP3 player, and they have lasted about eight months, but now the cord is coming out of the connector. Do you have any suggestions on what would be a good pair? I am always on the go, normally wrap the headphones up loosely, and then put them in my case for my player. I need them to have good audio quality and last at the very least a year, but be no more than $50 to $75. Any help would be greatly appreciated.--J., via e-mail
A: Based on your experience, I recommend that you look for a pair of earphones that comes with a good warranty. Shure is always a great company to look at for this--the earphones include a two-year warranty and the company has an excellent reputation for sending replacement products--but the cheapest headphones available, the SE110, are a little above your price range at $100. (You might decide that's worth it, though!) Koss, which makes quite a few cheaper choices, also has a good reputation for replacing products and offers a limited lifetime warranty on its headphones. The KEB79 has good sound quality and can be found for about $70 online.
Of course, there are other manufacturers that provide good warranties as well. This information is often best gleaned from user reviews and forums, as the headphone owners are familiar with long-term use scenarios. As always, I invite readers to comment below with their own experiences--good or bad!
MP3 Mailbox Monday is a recurring feature where I answer a selection of questions about MP3 players and accessories, such as headphones, speakers, and music services and software. Check back often to see if the advice presented here might be of some use to you, or send your questions directly to me. (Note: We never include last names, but if you prefer to remain completely anonymous, please state as much in your e-mail.)