Risk, Loss, and Earphones

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Last Friday I lost my Etymotic Er-4P earbuds at my local 24-Hour Fitness. Fortunately, my fellow members of 24-Hour fitness are an honest bunch, and someone turned them in to lost and found. I suppose it probably helped that the eartips, which started out life white, have turned a slightly greenish yellow from ear-wax stains - not the most enticing for appropriation...

But, during the period when the Etymotics were lost I was more than slightly perturbed at the idea of shelling out for a replacement pair of ER-4Ps. I thought about how much I use them, which is about six hours a week; and how much I enjoy using them, which is a lot - replacing them with something less expensive wasn't an option.

That got me thinking about my own personal price-point comfort zones when it comes to portable headphones. For me, $300 is the magic number - many of my favorite earphones are in this particular price-point. The Etymotic ER-P4s, Beyer DT-880s, Sennheiser HD-600s, Audio-Technica AD-900s, and B&W P-3s are all around this price (give or take $50) and they're all fine earphones.

For several months after I got them, I used the Ultimate Ears In Ear Reference Monitors at the gym. But after a couple of momentary panics when I couldn't find them after getting home from a workout I decided that using $999 in-ears at the gym exceeded my personal comfort zone. Because, if I lost the Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors, my knee-jerk reaction would NOT be buying a replacement pair - at nearly a grand I would have to think about it, and plan it into my budget.

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When I travel I also leave home the Ultimate Ears in favor of something less pricy. Usually I travel with the double-duty combo of the Etymotic P-4s with a pair of V-Moda M-80s or BeyerDynamic DT-660s. Total investment for both pairs of headphones is quite a bit less than one pair of Ultimate Ears in Ear Reference Monitors and if I lost a pair during my travels I'd have no qualms about replacing them tout-sweet...

So my question to you is simple, "What's your own personal earphone price-point comfort zone?"

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