Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006, Part 4: Gifts for Non-Geeks

Etymotic Research Inc. ER6 Isolator Earphones

The Etymotic Research Inc. ER6 Isolator Earphones

After our relaxing holidays are over and all of the fruitcake has been eaten, our loved ones will be forced back into the cold, hard, working world of subways, taxis, school buses and airplanes. For the lucky few who receive the Etymotic Research ER6, however, the transition won't be so hard.

These earphones fit and seal into the ear canal for optimal sound and bass response, as well as high noise isolation. That means highly accurate music and good bass, without the honking of taxis or the chatter of that guy next to you on the plane. If you're jogging to get rid of the extra holiday weight you packed on, the attached shirt clip keeps the ER6s in place without them getting tugged out of your ears.

We were impressed by the accuracy of the sound, which was so incredible that we swore we heard parts of songs we'd never noticed before. Stick the ER6s in your ears, turn on your favorite song, and prepare for the same tingly adrenaline rush you feel at a live concert.

The ER6s weigh less than 1 oz and are extremely small, but pack a large punch with a maximum 120 dB output. They come packaged with a pair of 2-flange ear tips, as well as a foam pair. Replacement filters and a protective pouch are also included.

If you are uncomfortable with earphones that fit inside your ear canal, it is also possible to order the ER6s with a custom ear mold for maximum comfort. You can also get a host of other accessories, including an airline adapter jack and ear tips in various colors and sizes.