Last year we gave high marks to Panasonic's ErgoFit RP-HJE120 earphones, which can be had for less than $8 and sound surprisingly good with an excellent fit.
One of the minor gripes about that model is that it didn't feature an integrated microphone for making cell-phone calls, as a lot of earphones do these days.
Well, the good news is Panasonic does offer the ErgoFit RP-TCM125, a model that looks very similar to the RP-HJE120 but has an integrated one-button remote/microphone and only costs about $4 more.
The bad news is that while it sounds decent for an $12 earphone, it doesn't sound as good as the mic-less RP-HJE120.
Small design differences
Like the ErgoFit RP-HJE120, the RP-TCM125 looks like a cheap earbud-style headphone, albeit one with a bit of design flair and dash of cheerful coloring if you opt for something other than the simple black version I bought.
As you can see from the pictures, these are sort of a hybrid earphone, part hard earbud like your basic Apple earbud and part soft bud. They come with three different-size silicone eartips. At this price, you're more apt to see a hard-bud earphone, but being able to jam the soft tips into your ears helps with sound isolation and maximizes the bass output. I was able to get a tight seal with the largest of the eartips, and I actually thought the earphones were comfortable (in keeping with the ErgoFit name) and they stayed in my ears well.
I wouldn't speak too highly of the cord construction, and the wires leading up to each earbud are pretty thin. The cord does terminate in an L-shaped plug, which is good, although those with thicker "tough" cases on their smartphones may have some trouble getting the plug into the headphone jack.
Comparing the RP-TCM125 to RP-HJE120, you'll notice that the L-shaped plug on the TCM125 is different from the one on the RP-HJE120. It's a bit sleeker and more modern.