The first thing you're likely to do upon obtaining a new MP3 player is load it up with all your favourite music. Once that's done, the next best step is to replace the shoddy earbuds that came packaged with it. Of course, not everyone wants to drop a huge wad of cash on a new pair of headphones, which is where sets like the JVC Marshmallow come in. These colourful earphones cost around just £15 and can often be found for less. In addition to providing a more secure fit than stock earbuds, the Marshmallows offer a significant improvement in sound quality.
Comfy and colourful
The Marshmallow headphones' design is typical of in-ear models. A small earbud features a protruding aperture onto which you attach an eartip. In the case of the Marshmallows, the included sleeves (two sets) are the compressible foam variety, which tend to offer better passive sound isolation and a more comfortable fit for most users.
We were able to wear the set for a couple of hours without discomfort, and they stayed put with some light tugging on the cable, making them a good choice for gym-goers. Because of the sound isolation, however, they're probably not the best choice for outdoor runners.
For iPod nano owners who are interested in earphones with a hint of style, the Marshmallows should be suitable. They come in 13 colours that are shaded to match the third- and fourth-generation nanos, which themselves vary slightly in tint from one generation to the next. For example, there are two shades of green, two shades of blue and two shades of red.
The colouring extends from the earbuds, which have a shiny, clear coating, all the way down the 1m cord, which terminates in a gold-plated, straight plug. Although the cable is quite thin at the Y junction, it includes a slider for preventing tangles, and the bottom section seems pretty durable -- certainly more so than most earbuds that cost this much.
The real shock with the Marshmallows is the sound quality -- it's actually decent. In fact, it's downright impressive, given the price point. Although the audio isn't as clear and sparkly as what you'd get from a more expensive set, bass is thumping and the mid range is warm and enveloping. Sounds do tend to get fairly muddled together, but, on the whole, we found that every genre of music was more than tolerable during playback.
For a very small investment, the JVC Marshmallow earphones are a huge step up from stock earbuds. They're definitely worth checking out.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet