Sennheiser: the very word screams quality. Since 1945, this German company have produced some of the finest audio equipment available. Until the early-1990s, in the UK at least, they were only widely known of in audiophile circles, but these days you can find stockists almost anywhere.
The MX-500 are aimed at the iPod market (yes, they're white) and as a replacement for the ones shipped with Apple's world-conquering gadget they are a very affordable option. At around £20 they are leaps and bounds better and more robust than the ones in the box from Cupertino, CA.
They're slightly on the large side for earbuds headphones, but I was surprised at how comfortable they were. The sound was impressive too, but this wasn't much of a shock, as I've not yet heard a bad pair of Sennheisers. Not much sound leaked out either, making these a good choice for commuters and those heeding recent US research that suggests that cheap in-ear headphones can permanently damage your hearing.
Prolonged periods of skull splitting musical bombardment is never a good idea, so investing in a decent set of headphones has never been more important. All we at Pocket-Lint would like to say is: be sensible with that volume control. Oh, and no Girls Aloud, obviously.
So for 20 quid, the MX-500s, with modern styling, neat stowage spool and an in-line volume control make for a stylish way to keep deafness at bay.