For about the last six months I'd been concerned that I was losing my hearing because I kept having to turn my iPod up louder and louder to listen to music. This didn't seem likely because I'm not any kind of headbanger, so I did a little more testing and it turned out that my iPod earphones were probably just worn out. They had served me well, but alas, they had lost a tonne of volume, and the bass response was almost nonexistent. I kept telling myself I should get new ones, but earphones are exactly the kind of little hidden expense I absolutely hate, like guitar cables and light bulbs. I also didn't want to find out that no, I really am going deaf. Besides, I was very proud of those earphones because I kept them in good enough shape that they wore out before I broke them by sitting on them.
I finally did something about it before I left for Paris and ordered a cheap pair of Sony earphones on Amazon. I toyed with the idea of getting both a noise-blocking pair and a non-noise-blocking pair (for the bus/plane and for walking, respectively), but in the end I decided to go with just the non-noise-blocking pair. It seems like it's not too hard to find a decent-sounding pair of cheap earphones if you're willing to forego the noise-blocking aspect. Also, they'd lead me into a lot less traffic.
Unfortunately, the Amazon order was delayed and I really didn't want to get on a long flight with only my worn-out iPod earphones, so I went to Target and bought a simple pair of Sony noise-blocking earphones. Happily, they confirmed that I wasn't going deaf, and they really were great to have on the plane. The box they came in also proudly proclaimed in capital letters on the front that these earphones had "RICH SOUND", which I was happy to hear (literally) after months of my tinny old earbuds.
Sony make good earphones. One thing I noticed as I walked through Harrods in London is that all Sony earphones come in a box with a short description prominently displayed on the label. For example, each box might say things like "SURROUND SOUND", "CARRYING CASE", "FOR MP3 PLAYER", or "GREAT INSULATION". But they only say one such thing, so the marketing people and engineers must have to choose which one would be most flattering to say about their top of the line earphones, which I assume satisfy all of the above descriptions. I have no reason to doubt them: mine do sound rich.
Anyway, when I got back to Berkeley the Amazon package with my regular earbuds had arrived. I opened it up and the earphone box said "GOOD SOUND".
It's true, they do sound good.