What It Is: Master & Dynamic's solid brass and palladium ME05 in-ear buds combine sleek style with 8mm drivers, and come with a carrying pouch, a clip, and a cleaning cloth.
Why We Like It: When's the last time you wore a pair of earbuds for the sound quality? The truth: A lot of earbuds kind of suck. You don't expect much from them, but they're great because you can store a pair in your suit jacket, jeans, or carry-on. But Master & Dynamic knows what it's doing when it comes to audio for your ears. We're fans of the on-ear MH30s, but the newest iteration of the ME05s, which the manufacturer released this month, give inner earphones a good rap.
The bottom line is that your music sounds good. We listened to our favorite tunes all over New York — in the subway, in our apartment, and on the streets — and we never had trouble hearing the song over the city noise, or had to constantly readjust them to fit our ears like other, cheaper headphones we've used in the past. The flat rubber cord and the earpieces feel sturdy and durable. But what surprised us the most is how the ME05 made it almost sound like we were using on-ears at times. Switching from other inner-ear units to the ME05s, we couldn't believe how much our other gear had been leaving out with each song.
Nitpick: Two hundred bucks is a serious amount of money to spend on a pair of buds. So if you're not looking for a high-quality set, and you want a cheap pair to run to the gym with or you prefer the feeling of on- or over-ear models better, then these probably aren't your next set of headphones. Beyond the price, we initially had trouble finding the best ear tips, but the phones conveniently come with three other options and felt comfortable. If you're used to something like Apple's earbuds, for example, you might need some time to get used to the inset buttons on the built-in remote. And while it's not really a complaint, after a few instances, our ears hurt from turning these up so high, and it was totally worth it. [$199; masterdynamic.com]