Headphones, they’re any avid music listeners absolute pride and joy. Whether it be from giant “hamburger” noise-cancellers or super-minimalist earbuds, headphones are an absolute essential for privately enjoying your sounds, but how much should you be paying for decent quality?

A recent piece published by Gizmodo (via A Journal Of Musical Things) has investigated the price vs quality argument with a focus on earbuds, revealing some pretty interesting findings, attesting that one should never, ever buy cheap earbuds as you’re simply being ripped-off.

The argument Gizmodo make is that there is little to no difference between majority of earphones $100.00 and below, suggesting that one only begins to see a promised “higher quality” when paying upwards of $100.00, talking down to such brands as Skullcandy as opposed to a cheap pair of buds from a discount bin at JB-HiFi.

This seems a little off, how on earth could $49.98 Skullcandy earbuds be of the same quality as some no-name brand that only sting $3.99? Gizmodo have an answer for this, they are virtually the same earphones, just with different branding.

How can this be possible, you ask?

Each year two enormous tradeshows take place in Hong Kong: The Global Sources Fair and the Hong Kong Electronics Fair, which features many different technological topics, including earphone design. The earphone aspect focuses on both product parts and the finished product, where guests are able to roam through and examine final design.

After which, the companies present at the fairs are provided with catalogues that display advertisements of manufacturers and suppliers who actually offer to copy any of the popular earphone designs seen at the fairs, a purchasing company simply needs to buy the certain type of headphone to attach their own form of branding to disguise it as their own, unique product.

Shockingly, one of the advertisements reads exactly as follows: “When we say our earphones, headphones and other items are customizable, we mean it, just select the model of your choice, and you can adjust the parameters, colors, logos, prints and even choose the packaging.”

Seth Burgett, president and CEO of Yurbuds made comments of this phenomena, “there are probably thousands of different manufacturers of 15mm earbud speakers, but only a handful of those have any significant acoustic competence,” he says. “Some make good copies of the market leaders’ designs. But some of the market leaders are using copies, which means that some are copies of copies, including the mistakes.”

Basically, it’s a cycle of poor quality headphones, with different price tags being slapped on virtually the exact same headphones depending on branding. If you’re after higher quality sounds permeating through your headphones, we beg of you to save your pennies and purchase a pair of earphones that are over $100.00 with a trusted, well-reviewed product.