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Sennheiser LX 70 Sport Headphones

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There’s a remarkable wealth of technology available to avoid using headphones with a portable music player – the house favorite is a tiny transmitter, such as the Griffin iTrip, to play them through a nearby FM radio. Clearly, this isn’t always appropriate behavior. Turning someone’s radio into in impromptu jazz station is likely to be grounds for fisticuffs or pistols at twenty paces.

The alternative – stuffing plastic discs into your ears – just isn’t natural. The ear buds that come with most music players appear to have been designed for the ears of creatures other than human beings. Uncomfortable and prone to dislodging themselves during any movements more vigorous than REM sleep, they’re a poor substitute for a decent audio reproduction device.

You can replace the ear buds that came with your iPod, of course – conventional headphones are available for these devices. They’re a bit too conventional, however – headphones that allow you to experience your music to the exclusion of all other auditory stimuli leave you likely to find yourself blithely crossing the street and wondering absently about the hitherto unnoticed bus bearing down upon you, about to void the warranty for your player.

Sennheiser’s LX70 headphones are an innovative replacement for ear buds. They have a head band of sorts, a springy coil of plastic that exerts just enough pressure upon their tiny speakers to keep them in place. The headphone transducers themselves rest in your outer ear, rather than burrowing their way into your skull like something turned down by the SciFi channel.

Light, comfortable and bright green, the LX70 headphones are a masterpiece of sneaky engineering. Five minutes after you clamp them on your dome, you’ll forget you’re wearing them.

Unlike most of the manufacturers of ear buds, Sennheiser has been making high-end audio devices since the beginning of time, and they’re good at it. The sound quality of the LX70 headphones is superb. Perhaps more to the point, while they’ll fill your brain with music, they won’t exclude everything around you while they’re doing it. Important noises – car horns, bellowing traveling companions and erupting volcanoes will all be free to interrupt your listening with important news.

The LX70 headphones come with a set of larger ear adapters for people with big heads, a set of foam ear cushions which I found to be supremely comfortable and a plastic case that looks suspiciously like a small wheel of French cheese, but which in fact pop open to protect the phones.

Easily among the best iPod accessories I’ve ever sprung for, the Sennheiser LX 70 Headphones cost about as much as a CD, take up almost no space and can turn wherever you are into a concert. If they were any cooler, your brain would freeze.