FOR THE MUSIC-LOVER-ABOUT-TOWN
Price: $129 at Sam Ash, 2100 Route 38, Cherry Hill,
Why they’re worth it: We thought the silver-and-white plastic earmuffs and matching tin case were tacky at first — but we got over that as soon as we sampled the iCans. They fit snugly without making you sweat, offer incredible sound, and supposedly contain a new-tech filter that helps protect your ears. Choosing to keep the volume down helps, too.
FOR THE TRAVELER
Bose Quiet Comfort 3
Price: $349 at Bose,
the Plaza at King of Prussia,
Why they’re worth it: Avery, one of the so-knowledgeable salesmen here, explained the technology behind Bose’s newest headset — something about built-in microphones dishing out enough noise to balance out incoming noise, blahblahblah. But all you really need to know is that these suckers drown out everything — noisy plane engines, crying babies, yappy flight attendants. Skeptics can sample the system at the store: On a recent visit, Avery cranked up the engine-noise machine, and we didn’t hear a thing but the music. Which, CHOP pediatric audiologist Sheetal Vyas will attest, helps preserve hearing, because you’re less inclined to turn up your music. Plus, this headset comes with a rechargeable battery, leather carrying case, 30-day return policy and one-year warranty.
FOR THE RUNNER
Price: $160 at Bang & Olufsen, the Court at King of Prussia,
Why they’re worth it:
Thanks to the coolest adjustment/fitting system we saw on any of the models we tried, these suckers won’t go anywhere, no matter how fast you run or how slippery your workout sweat may be. A lightweight metal hydraulic system lets you position the buds in exactly the right spot, and rubber ear hooks ensure that they stay in place. B&O throws in a six-foot extension cord, two sets of foam covers and a leather case. Even treadmill-trampled sets are eligible for an exchange under the company’s three-year warranty. Recent studies suggest that you can safely listen to music through headphones at a volume of six for an hour — when you use on-top-of-ear headphones. So with these buds, remember not to listen at too high a volume, or for too long.