Everybody needs a good pair of headphones. Commuting to work, soundtracking your gym session, drowning out boring colleagues or actually indulging in some me-time to listen to your favourite records, decent headphones are essential.
Of course, there are thousands of different makes and models on the market, all specialising in different areas. Some are for super-nerdy audiophiles while some are purely designed to not slip out of your sweaty ears while running, and you don't really know whether you've made the correct choice until it's too late. But that's where we come in!
Below, we have scoured the reviews on TechRadar (who have tried every headphone under the sun) to bring you the best of the best for different needs. If you want a cheap pair or just something for the office, these are the best options for you.
The best noise-cancelling headphones
Crystal clear noise-cancelling headphones that are better than Bose
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 23g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 10 hours | Wireless range: 33 ft | NFC: Yes
Bose might be the go-to headphones for all your noise-cancelling needs, but that’s all about to change with the Sony WH-1000XM2 – outdoing the swanky Bose QC35s in terms of performance and sound quality, but costing just as much.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 also has a few tricks up its sleeve compared to its Bose rivals. There’s a Quick Attention mode, letting in all outside noise so you can have a quick chat with a co-worker then dive right back into your work and cranking up the riffs. The Sony headphones also come with an Ambient Noise mode which only lets in mid-to-high frequencies, so you can still hear train announcements while still ignoring everything else around you.
However, the hinges on the headphones are a bit on the fragile side, and the controls could be simpler. But for sound quality and noise-cancelling ability, don’t look any further than the Sony WH-1000XM2.
The best over-ear headphones
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro
Professional headphones that know how to have fun
Acoustic design: Open | Weight: 370 g | Cable length: 9.8 ft or 3.9 ft | Frequency response: 5-40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 102dB | Impedance: 250 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A
You might not have heard of Beyerdynamic, but they’ve been delivering some of the best sounding headphones on the market for years. Their DT770, DT880 and DT990 are all top drawer, but it’s the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro the stands head and shoulders above its counterparts.
It’s essentially an open-back version of the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro, meaning the DT 1990 Pro is ideally suited for home-use (or in the studio if you’re serious about music) for an in-depth, analytical listening experience. It’s an audiophile’s dream with stunning resolution, soundstage and build quality.
What’s more, the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pros are used by some of the world’s leading audio engineers – so you know you’re in good company.
The best business headphones
Philips Fidelio X2
Brilliant headphones for a brilliant price
Acoustic design: Open | Weight: .85 pounds | Cable length: 9.8 feet | Frequency response: 5-40,000Hz | Drivers: Two 1.9" speakers | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100 dB @ 1mW | Impedance: 30 Ohm | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
If you’re after some over-ear headphones for your business that are packing some unbelievable sound quality and then look no further than the Philips Fidelio X2s.
They offer premium comfort, meaning they can be worn for long periods in the office thanks to the memory foam construction of the earpads. And they don’t swap quality for comfort, the sound rivals any headphones a professed audiophile can recommend.
And they won’t cost you an arm and a leg! They’re affordable, comfy, sound great and are exactly what you need for pulling a late one and losing yourself in a world of music.
The best in-ear headphones
1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone
Your search for great sounding, good value in-ears ends here
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99 dB/mW | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
For less than £100, you’re not going to find a better-sounding or better built in-ear headphone than the 1MORE Triple Driver. While in-ears might not be considered as good audio-wise as over-ears, these earphones are on another level to others on the market.
These 1MORE Triple Drivers not only have an attractive design, but great build quality and (perhaps most importantly) they offer sensational audio. It’s really quite hard to find a fault with them, to be honest. The control feels a bit naff, but why should that really matter when you look at the price and have stellar sound quality blasting around your cranium?
The best cheap in-ear headphones
These simply have no right to sound this good
If you’re going for a run, popping to the shops or you just can’t be bothered carrying around some weighty on-ear goliaths on your noggin, earbuds are exactly what you need to drown out the world at a moment’s notice. And the RHA S500 is the affordable, connoisseur’s choice.
For less than £30, the RHA S500s sound phenomenal. And they’re comfortable! Something often lacking at the budget end of in-ear headphones. They have amazing clarity and precision, and their shape acts as a nifty little noise barrier so you can pretend not to hear your annoying neighbour shouting at you.
The best wireless headphones
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Premium headphones that include industry-leading noise-cancellation
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.68 pounds | Cable length: 3.94 feet | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 20+ hours | Wireless range: N/A
The Bose QC35s are excellent and very very popular – we must see at least 10 people a day wearing them on the way to work – but now they’ve been updated with the Google Assistant! That’s right, in these Black Mirror times, you can carry Google around on your head like you’re living in the actual future.
And you still get the first-class noise cancellation that Bose is so famous for. Oh, and they’re super-comfy and sound great! It’s a wonder why we’re not all wearing them all the time. Of course, if you don’t have the dosh spare for the Mark IIs then get yourself the original Bose QuietComfort 35.
The best running headphones
Monster iSport Victory In-Ear Bluetooth Headphones
Basic Bluetooth but ideal for quality on a budget
Weight: 15g | Battery life: 10 hours | Heart rate monitor?: No | On-ear controls?: Yes (on the neckband)
If you’re super into exercise you might want some headphones with more bells and whistles (like a heart monitor) but the durability, comfort and low cost make them one of the best choices for all you runners and joggers out there.
The iSport Victory won’t fall out of your ears while running either, thanks to their snug fit and rubber wings. They’re also sweat resistant, so your ears won’t stink when you get home from the park – unlike the rest of you.
They’re lightweight and the battery lasts ages, but the sound quality could be better. Although if you’re getting on board the trend of listening to audiobooks while running then you probably won’t notice the difference.
Best On-Ear (wired and Bluetooth)
OneOdio On-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphones
Weight: 281g | Battery life: 30 hrs | Wireless: Yes (can also be wired)
- Bargain priced
- Compact folding design