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.

In-ears up to £50
SoundMagic E10S
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Best in-ears up to £50, Awards 2014. Last year's Award winners have had an upgrade and are now even better. A genuine no-compromise proposition for the money.

 

In-ears £50-£150
Sony MDR-EX650AP
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Product of the Year, in-ear headphones, Awards 2014. From sound to fit, the Sony EX650s are everything a pair of in-ears should be. Excellent value for money.
In-ears £150-£300
Shure SE425
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Best in-ears £150-£300, Awards 2014. Could do with a bit more bass, but they really are the finest in-ears we’ve ever heard at this price.

In-ears £300+
Sennheiser IE 800
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Best in-ears £300+, Awards 2014. 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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On-ear headphones up to £100
AKG Y50
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Product of the Year, on-ear headphones, Awards 2014. Superb value and sound, the perfect upgrade for your smartphone or tablet.

 

On-ear headphones £100-£200
Philips Fidelio M1MKII
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Best portable on-ears £100-£200, Awards 2014. Never tiring, always pleasant, these are great cans.

Best portable on-ear £200-£300
Beyerdynamic T51i
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Best portable on-ears £200-£300, Awards 2014. We love their sturdy but lightweight constructon, and now you get an in-line mic as well.

 

Home on-ears up to £150
AKG K550
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Best home on-ears up to £150, Awards 2014. Rousingly musical headphones with no obvious deficiencies and now even cheaper.

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On-ear headphones £150-£300
Grado SR325e
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Best home on-ear headphones £150-£300, Awards 2014. Never mind the old-school looks: the musical, detailed sound of the Grados makes them a truly top buy.

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Best noise-cancelling headphones
Bose QuietComfort 25
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Best noise-cancelling headphones, Awards 2014. Put simply, these are the noise-cancellation headphones by which all others should be judged.

Best wireless headphones
Philips Fidelio M2BT
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Best wireless headphones, Awards 2014. 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.