It's a minefield out there, with more knock-offs than you can shake a 3.5mm jack at. So how do you make sure the headphones you're buying are the genuine article? Our guide can help.

It's a common predicament: you've seen a great deal on a pair of headphones, but aren't sure whether the seller is genuine. If you risk it, you could save yourself a fortune, but at the same time, if you're buying from an unauthorised dealer, you could end up with a pair of fake headphones that perform nowhere near as well as the real thing. What do you do?

If you've ever found yourself in this situation, you've come to the right place. This guide will advise you how to make sure every pair of headphones you buy are 100 per cent genuine, come with a full guarantee, and provide you with many hours of listening pleasure. Let's get started.

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Only buy from authorised dealers

Buying from authorised dealers not only ensures the product you get is genuine, it also means you get a high level of pre- and post-sales service.

When you buy from an authorised dealer, whether at a shop or online, you can be sure you're buying a genuine, factory-new product. Authorised dealers will have access to the latest product knowledge, so can better serve your needs, and can offer a full warranty in case the headphones don't work as advertised. 

See the links below for authorised dealers.

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Buying safely from auction sites

While Amazon is an authorised online dealer of many headphone brands, a lot of third-party resellers who sell through Amazon are not. To make sure you're buying from an authorised reseller, make sure you check where the product is being "shipped from and sold by". This should be clearly stated on the product page.

Many headphone sellers on eBay aren't authorised resellers either. Buying from them means you won't get the warranty or the level of after-sales support that manufacturers provide.

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More after the break

If in doubt, ask

If you're in any doubt about the retailer you're considering buying from, check the manufacturer list below. Still uncertain? Contact the manufacturer directly before you buy.

It's well worth checking the serial number with the manufacturer to see if it's genuine. Many are not.

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Understand the risks

If you do buy from an unauthorised dealer, it's important to know what you're getting yourself into. The headphones you buy could be faulty, fake or even stolen. And if they do develop a fault, you'll have no warranty to fall back on. 

Headphones sold by unauthorised dealers can come from a variety of sources. They could have been bought from a 'grey' secondary market (often somewhere outside of Europe with no warranty cover). They may be damaged or defective stock (so-called 'B' grade stock). They could even be stolen, or fake (ie. not produced by the manufacturer).

Many unauthorised resellers sell via sites like Amazon Marketplace and eBay, but it has also been known for some more established stores to obtain stock through these unauthorised channels.

In some cases, unauthorised resellers have changed their name, website address and location to avoid dealing with customer problems. So if you do have an issue, you're on your own.

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Where to buy safely online

Before buying a pair of headphones, we'd strongly advise you to check that you're buying from an authorised dealer. Click the links below to find authorised dealers for each brand.

AKG

Audio Technica

B&W

B&O

Bose

Denon

Etymotic

FiiO

Grado

Jaybird

JVC

Monster

Sennheiser: John Lewis, Currys, Dixons Travel, HMV, Maplin, Argos, Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Norman (Ireland), Littlewoods Shop Direct

Shure

Sony

Soul Electronics: Amazon, Richer Sounds

SoundMagic

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