Do yourself a favour - if you've just bought a new smartphone or tablet, ditch the free-in-the-box buds and upgrade to a decent pair – you'll be amazed at the difference they make. And if you need a serious set of cans for home hi-fi listening, we've got a broad selection of Best Buys to choose from.

Headphones have become something of a fashion statement in recent years, but they serve a more serious purpose: making the most of your music, whether that's via your smartphone when you're out and about, or at home through your hi-fi for when you want to indulge in some serious listening.

There's a bewildering choice of models on the market, so we've slimmed that down to our pick of the best at various prices and for various uses. Whether you want a pair of budget in-ears, or seriously high-end home hi-fi headphones, here are the models we've rated as the best.

E10S
SoundMagic E10S
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Last year's Award winners have had an upgrade and are now even better. A genuine no-compromise proposition for the money.

 

MDR-EX650
Sony MDR-EX650
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From sound to fit, the Sony EX650s are everything a pair of in-ears should be. Excellent value for money.
MMX 101iE
Beyerdynamic MMX 101iE
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Best in-ears £80-£150, Awards 2013. Superior sounding buds for your portable or smartphone.

SE425
Shure SE425
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Best in-ears £150-£300, Awards 2013. Could do with a bit more bass, but they really are the finest in-ears we’ve ever heard at this price

IE 800
Sennheiser IE 800
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Best in-ears £300+, Awards 2013. The IE 800s shine a light on Sennheiser’s entire operation. As headphones for your portable device, though, they’re probably overkill.

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K451
AKG K451
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Product of the Year, Awards 2013. Now even better value and the perfect upgrade for your smartphone or tablet.

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Fidelio M1
Philips Fidelio M1
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Best portable on-ears £100-£200, Awards 2013. Never tiring, always pleasant, these are great cans.

SR325e
Grado SR325e
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Never mind the old-school looks: the musical, detailed sound of the Grados makes them a truly top buy.

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P7
B&W P7
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Best portable on-ears £300+, Awards 2013. An ambitious pair of headphones for B&W, but that ambition pays off in spades.

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K550
AKG K550
AKG K550
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Best home on-ears £150+, Awards 2013. Rousingly musical headphones with no obvious deficiencies.

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QuietComfort 25
Bose QuietComfort 25
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Put simply, these are the noise-cancellation headphones by which all others should be judged.

Fidelio M2BT
Philips Fidelio M2BT
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These headphones have all the selling points of the M1BTs, plus NFC. A does-it-all product every bit as good as its Award-winning predecessor.