Ear Candy

Ultimate Ears UE-10 Pro, $900
Custom-made for your ears only from impressions taken by an audiologist (which cost extra), they sound so spectacular, you might find those low-bandwidth MP3s just aren’t good enough anymore. (At Ultimateears.com.)

Grado RS1, $695
Fantastic retro handcrafted mahogany earpieces make you look like an audiophile, but the much cheaper Grado SR60s (below) sound almost as good. (At Lyric Hi-Fi, 1221 Lexington Ave., nr. 82nd St.; 212-439-1900.)

Sennheiser HD650, $500
Too large for anyone except musicians. (And for optimal use, tack on $250 for a headphone amp, available at headphone.com.) But unbelievable clarity and detail. (At Harvey Electronics, 25 W. 45th St., nr Fifth Ave.; 212-575-5000.)

Shure E5C, $390
Even with several different sizes and types of ear tips, these feel awkward, and the behind-the-back cord is easy to get tangled in. Great for bass lovers. (At J&R Music and Computer World, Park Row nr. Beekman St.; 212-238-9000.)

Etymotic ER4 MicroPro, $250
The most bang for the buck, they go right into your ear canal, which feels slightly odd but helps block out noise. (Etymotic also makes hearing aids.) That means they won’t fall out—and they sound great. (At J&R Music and Computer World.)

Sennheiser HD280 Pro, $100
Forget the pretty Bose headphones at the Apple store. These “sealed” models (they keep music in, noise out) offer better sound at two-thirds the price. (At B&H Photo-Video Pro Audio, 420 Ninth Ave., at 34th St.; 212-444-6615.)

Grado SR60, $69
Terrific sound at a great price, but take them on the subway and the whole car will stare: They leak like crazy. Also, a little bright for R&B/hip-hop listeners. (At Lyric Hi-Fi.)

Sony Fontopia MDR-EX71SL, $50
The replacement for Sony’s sports line has much-improved sound and comes in white to match your iPod. But they fall out too easily. (At Sony Style, 550 Madison Ave., nr. 56th St.; 212-833-5336.)

Photo: Davies and Starr

Coby CV-H64, $29.99
Marginally better than the standard iPod earphones, but the sound is awfully bright, and the design is very 2001. (At A2Z Computers and Electronics, 605 Fifth Ave., nr. 48th St.; 212-355-6717.)

Ear Candy