Toss your iPod Headphones in Favor of Aural Bliss
The video iPod is a great MP3 player, but the ear buds that come standard with the unit don't really do it justice. The best thing you can do if you want to improve your sound quality is to ditch those weak ear bud-type iPod headphones and avail yourself of a third-party manufacturer's ear buds or headphones for your iPod. If you want high-quality sound, expect to pay quite a bit - almost as much as an iPod itself in some cases. The ultimate choice in iPod headphones or ear buds has to be the in-ear headphones by Shure. This company makes a line of the best-sounding, best-reviewed in-ear headphones for your iPod or other audio devices. The Shure E3Cs are a good deal at around $179.99 retail (one site had them for a bit over $150 though), especially since the highest end pair of Shure headphones will run you $499 for their E500PTH earphones. As pointed out earlier, it's one of those cases where the headphones cost as much as an iPod (possibly more).
E Series is now available
The E series of in-ear headphones are for iPods, other MP3 devices, and regular audio devices. Due to their design, which sits in the ear canal, they also block out some of the ambient noise. They provide a clean, clear, and accurate (but nuanced) sound. Just don't expect them to provide a tremendous amount of bass. It can be difficult learning how to properly insert them, but once you do you will be amazed by the quality. The E series earphones also come with sleeves so you can adjust your fit. For more bass response, you could try the E4Cs instead, but they retail for around $299.95. If you're still stumped on how to wear them, visit the shure.com website. They have a whole how-to section to help confused customers out. The E series headphones come in white or black.
Slightly more conventional ear buds that you may like are the Bang & Olufsen A8s. They cost $159.95 retail and hook over the ears. They have aluminum and rubber earpieces, and they are easily adjustable. The A8s provide a clean sound but don't block ambient sound out, which is a good thing if you need to pay attention to your surroundings. These earphones come in a two-tone black and silver only, but they go well with anything.