I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

My favorite portable headphones

Last year, I happily switched my portable headphones of choice1 to the Sennheiser PX 200-II, which I liked in every way except for the big, heavy volume-control module permanently attached in the middle of the cord:

The volume-control module is just heavy enough to make the cord dangle and swing around uncomfortably while walking unless it’s clipped down, and it’s not quite far enough from the top for me to be able to clip it to the rim of a pants pocket, so I need to clip it awkwardly to the bottom of my shirt instead.

For headphones intended for use while walking, among other activities, this is a major oversight. It’s almost annoying enough to make me return the PX 200-II and look for a better model, but I don’t think I’d find one. I wish Sennheiser just offered these with a normal cable sans volume control.

I never stopped being annoyed by that volume-control module. And when the clip snapped off, making it completely unusable, I didn’t even seek a replacement pair from Sennheiser — I didn’t want one.

Soon afterward, after my brief failed fling with the B&W P5, Sennheiser made the perfect portable headphones for me: the PX 200-IIi. (The “i” on the end is the important part.)

It’s just like the 200-II, but Sennheiser replaced the bulky volume-control blob with a tiny, weightless iPhone-clicker module. (It’s just like the clicker on the iPhone earbuds: volume-up/down buttons, play/pause/next/previous center button, microphone for calls.)

(Images from HeadRoom. Note the different volume-control blobs in the cords.)

I’ve been using these everywhere I walk for a few months, and they’ve held up perfectly. They sound better than almost all other headphones in this size class, and they fold up nicely to fit into most jacket pockets and small bags.

And they’re the first headphones I like that have the iPhone-clicker module, so for the first time ever, I’m able to use it. (It’s great. I know, welcome to 2007.)

Highly recommended. Buy the PX 200-IIi on Amazon and I’ll get a small commission.

(And for not-very-portable use, like playing music in an open office so you can work and block out background noise, I still recommend my favorite headphones: the Sennheiser 280 Pro. My original pair from 2005 is still going strong despite being worn for many hours a day on average.)

  1. I wish I could comfortably wear earbuds or canalphones. I’ve tried. I’m just not compatible with them. So all of my headphones are the traditional type: supra- and circum-aural. ↩︎