It appears that the whole colorful earbud thing is gaining a little momentum, and we're not unhappy to see it. There's nothing wrong with a little style in your ear. Griffin is jumping into the game with the TuneBuds Color, some very inexpensive ($19.99) sound-isolating earphones that come in six colors tinted to match the iPod Nanos and Shuffles. The 'buds offer bumping bass for the price, but audio purists will be turned off by the sometimes jarring highs.
If you're after some headphones to match that new minty green iPod Nano, the Griffin TuneBuds are the perfect fit. Indeed, you can find a color to match any iPod: they come in light green, silver, red, pink, blue, and light blue. The coloring encompasses the slightly cheap-feeling earbud housing and continues down the 46-inch cable, which terminates in a straight plug that just fits into the iPhone's headphone jack. The cable itself is a little tangle prone and feels like it may not be that durable in the long run, but this isn't a surprise with $20 earbuds.
We don't really mind giving up a little durability for budget and style--the color cable definitely turns more heads than plain black or white. Plus, we found the earbuds to be quite comfortable during extended wear. Griffin includes three sizes of washable, silicone ear tips to help ensure a secure fit. Still, this type of fitting doesn't provide as much noise isolation as the foam tips provided by the likes of Shure and Westone; we definitely experienced some sound leakage while using the 'phones on the streets of San Francisco.
Considering their low price point, the Griffin TuneBuds held up pretty well in our performance tests. We paired the 'phones with a Creative Zen V Plus set to a flat EQ and were immediately impressed by the thumping bass response. The TuneBuds really deliver on the low end, a nice trait in an ultraportable set. Mellow hip-hop, certain electronica (Goldfrapp), and some hard-rock (Deftones) tracks were rich and enveloping, with nice balance overall. However, several tracks sounded harsh, with a jarring high end and deficient mids. Certain hip-hop (minimal up-tempo tracks), new wave (The Cars), and soul/R&B (Amy Winehouse) songs were lacking or jarring in whole or parts. Still, there was always lots of low end (provided you ensure a proper seal with the ear), so if you have a hankering for bass and a tight budget, the TuneBuds are a suitable option.