Headphones are in an interesting place right now. Whereas previously most people stuck with the standard earbuds that came with their phone or MP3 player, nowadays more people than ever are upgrading to a pair of more premium cans.
There are some excellent reasons for doing so, a good pair of headphones can completely transform your music listening experience.
The right headphones will make your music sound detailed and lively, and can even make you feel as though you’re right there in the room with them, rather than just hearing them through two speakers that you’re wearing on your head.
But what’s almost as important is finding a pair of headphones that matches the way you like to listen to music, whether it’s throwing them into a gym bag for a quick run, or settling back in a comfortable armchair in your own home.
So where should you start when you’re looking to find your ideal pair? We think you should focus on two things, your budget, and the form factor of headphones that you require.
When it comes to budget, if you’re not careful you can end up spending hundreds, if not thousands, on a pair of headphones. But don’t fret, if you’ve run out of kidneys to sell you can rest assured that it’s perfectly possible to find a great sounding pair of headphones at a very reasonable price.
The second decision you’ll have to make is around form-factor. You want a pair of headphones that are going to provide the right mix of portability and sound quality, and in order to do that you’re going to need to decide between in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones.
While it’s perfectly possible to get a great sounding pair of more portable headphones, in our experience a comparatively priced pair of bulkier cans will offer a better sound overall.
We’ve organised our guide to the best headphones available today into sections based on form-factor and price. We’ve picked our favourite pair of headphones in each form factor, and then we’ve selected an additional budget option for the price-savvy consumers.
Don’t forget we’ve also got our form-factor specific guides to the best in-ear headphones , the best on-ear headphones and the best over-ear headphones in addition to our guides to the best noise-cancelling headphones and the best wireless headphones if you can’t find what you’re looking for on this list.
We’ve prepared a short video guide below to help you make the choice, and when you’re done watching that you can dive into our full guide to the best headphones available.
This type of headphone, more commonly referred to as an earbud or earphone, is usually the cheapest and easiest way to pump audio into your ears. If you’ve purchased an MP3 player, or more recently, a smartphone, it’s likely that a set was included with the purchase.
Earphones rest in or just outside the ear canal, creating a tight seal to keep air out and sound in. Compared to other types of headphones, these are the most discreet ones you’ll find. Their small form-factor also makes them the king/queen of portability and the prime choice for athletes.