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.

Want to know the best headphones to buy? The best Bluetooth or noise-cancelling cans? How about in-ear and over-ear? You're in luck. We've rounded-up the best headphones from our hundreds of headphone reviews to bring you the ultimate headphones buying guide.

Since the rise of the iPod and the MP3 player, and in turn smartphones and tablets, the popularity of headphones has sky-rocketed - and so too has the number of earphones on the market.

Big brands such as Beats by Dre, Bose, Sennheiser and Skullcandy may dominate the High Street in 2014, but there are plenty of other options to consider (and indeed plenty of better options in the case of the infamous Beats headphones).

Featuring our 2013 award-winners and the best of the products reviewed before and since, whether you want the best headphones that money can buy or a bargain pair for under £50, we've got you covered.

 

Best in-ear headphones

If you want a pair of headphones to use when you're out and about and don't fancy lugging a chunky pair of cans around, or want a pair for running or in the gym, in-ear headphones are probably the way to go.

Don't bother with the cheap earphones you get free with your mobile phone, instead spend a bit of cash to hear your music at its best. And the good news is you don't have to spend much, with impressive headphones available under £100 or even under £50.

Fancy something a little higher up the quality range? Take your pick from the best buds from brands such as AKG, Grado and Shure. Also worth considering is whether you want an in-line mic and remote (Apple and now Android options are available).

From budget to high-end, it's all in our best in-ear headphones round-up.

MORE: Best in-ear headphones to buy in 2014

 

Best noise-cancelling headphones

If a hefty pair of over-ear headphones just isn't substantial enough for your noise-isolating needs, then you can always put some power behind your efforts.

Active noise-cancelling headphones not only block outside noise thanks to the design and fit, but also by creating its own sound waves (using a rechargeable battery) that cancel out ambient noise.

Believe it or not – you should, it's true – we have options from under £30, right up to more accomplished efforts at up to £300. The choice is yours.

MORE: Best noise-cancelling headphones to buy in 2014

 

More after the break

Best on-ear and over-ear headphones

We've always been fans of a good pair of over-ear headphones: for listening at home, in an office or any other noisy environment the best on the market deliver good sound coupled with the added bonus of noise isolation (for you and those around you).

We have portable on-ear headphones and larger, over-ear models in our round-up, alongside our favourite noise-cancelling and bluetooth headphones.

B&W, Bose and Philips all make an appearance but no, there's no Beats by Dre. Sorry, Doc. Find over-ear headphones from £130 to £330 in our round-up.

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Best wireless headphones to buy in 2014

The world and his dog has gone wireless in recent years, so it's no surprise wireless headphones have joined the wire-free party. Undoubtedly convenient and usable with computers, your TV, provided you remember to charge them, just be aware there will usually be a drop in sound quality as a result.

Bluetooth and RF models are available, while aptX Bluetooth headphones tend to offer the best sound quality for wireless transmission, provided your source is also aptX compatible (more and more smartphones and tablets, soundbars and more).

Again, cheap wireless headphones are available – we have a favourite under £100 – but spend more if you can simply to get better sound and a more solid wireless performance.

MORE: Best wireless headphones to buy in 2014 

Best budget headphones

You would have had to have been living under a rock these last few years to have missed the fact that most freebie smartphone earphones really aren't much good. And that's if you get any. The Google Nexus phones don't even lob in a pair of headphones.

So, you should be looking to buy some buds for your mobile music enjoyment. The good news is you needn't spend a fortune, so we've found 10 of the best budget headphones whether you're after a cheap pair of in-ear buds or over-ear cans.

MORE: Best budget headphones under £100

 

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