We round-up the best of the best – from in-ear to on-ear, wireless to noise-cancelling – to bring you the ultimate headphones buying guide.

If you want to know the best headphones to buy, you've come to the right place. Whether you're after the best wireless, Bluetooth or noise-cancelling cans, and whether you prefer in-ear or over-ear, we've got it covered. We've even tested sports headphones and the best bets for the iPhone.

Since the rise of the iPod and MP3 player, and more recently smartphones and tablets, the popularity of headphones has rocketed - and so too has the choice available on the market.

Big brands such as Beats by DreBose and Sennheiser dominate, but there are plenty of other options to consider (and indeed much better options in the case of the Beats headphones).

The What Hi-Fi? headphones Best Buys page picks out one of the best headphones in each category, but simply click the links to our respective round-ups at the end of each section for more options at a range of price points.

MORE: Awards 2015: best in-ear headphones

MORE: Awards 2015: best on-ear headphones

Best in-ear headphones
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Tested at £90

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We're big fans of Sennheiser's over-ear Momentum headphones, and this in-ear version is just as desirable - no wonder they're our headphone Product of the Year for 2015.

The Momentum In-Ears mix a modern look with a classy finish. Two versions are available: the M2 IEi for Apple devices and the IEG, which carries the relevant control/mic combo for Android phones.

MORE: Sennheiser Momentum M2 in-ear review

MORE: Best in-ear headphones 2016

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Best on-ear headphones
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Tested at £80

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We've always been fans of a good pair of on-ear headphones: for listening at home and on the move, and the Y50s feature arguably the best combination of sound performance and portability.

Their bold look is perhaps a little out of character for the Austrian company, but it’s a clear step to attract a younger market. But don't worry, it's not style over substance - the sound quality is top draw, too.

MORE: AKG Y50 review

MORE: Awards 2015: best on-ear headphones

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Best over-ear headphones
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Tested at £250

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If you're after a pair of headphones for the office or home, then a pair of over-ears are likely to deliver the best sound-per-pound performance. 

The K550s are big in every way, with large earpieces featuring 50mm drivers, a broad headband, and a long, chunky cable. Despite looking like a pair of road-digger's ear-defenders, they're relatively light and comfortable. Oh, and they sound fantastic too.

MORE: AKG K550 review

MORE: Best over-ear headphones to buy 2016

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Best noise-cancelling headphones
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Tested at £230

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The N60s are ultra-portable and offer brilliant noise-cancellation, leaving them free to present a punchy, musical, balanced sound.

If you shop around you can pick them up for under £200, which is an added bonus.

MORE: AKG N60 NC review

 
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Best wireless headphones
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Tested at £150

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By wireless standards, they’re excellent. Clarity and insight are particular strong points, but the Y50BTs are also a great design.

MORE: Best wireless headphones 2016

MORE: 5 of the best Bluetooth headphones

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Best sports headphones
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Tested at £50

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Soul Electronics might be up against household headphone brands, but win extra points for practicality and performance. They make ideal headphones for running and sports.

MORE: Soul Electronics Flex review

MORE: Best headphones for running and sports

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Best budget headphones
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Tested at £40

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Improving on their E10 predecessor in almost every way, the E10Ss deliver greater refinement and minimise harshness at the top end. Bass is well judged and vocals are exceptionally clear. 

The SoundMagic E10Ss look, feel and sound like they’re worth way more than £40 but at that price, replacing the cheap freebie buds that come with any smartphone with these is a no-brainer.

MORE: SoundMagic E10S review

MORE: Best budget headphones under £50

MORE: Best budget headphones under £100

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Best iPhone headphones
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If you want to make the most of the iPhone's audio quality and hear your music at its best, you should invest in a decent pair of earphones, such as these Sennheiser Momentum M2 IEis (see above). The good news is it needn't cost a fortune.

So if you're after some alternatives to the Apple EarPods or simply want to upgrade your iPhone headphone experience, take your pick from this selection.

MORE: Best headphones for iPhones

See all our headphone reviews