We round up the best on-ear and over-ear headphones to buy in 2015, from fantastic £80 portables, to £430 pairs of engineering brilliance

Earphones can provide a good sound thanks to noise isolation, but for truly impressive and immersive sound reproduction, on-ear or over-ear headphones are the way to go.

While some sets of cans are simply too big to wear in public, others can prove to be top-notch performers. Still others are perfect for serious hi-fi listening at home.

The 2014 What Hi-Fi? Awards ushered in seven new pairs of on-ear and over-ear headphones. So, whether you're looking for portable, wireless, noise-cancelling or just an accomplished pair for home, here are the best pairs of on-ear headphones to buy in 2015...

Best portable on-ear headphones up to £100


Product of the Year, Awards 2014

Five stars

Tested at £80 - Compare Prices

AKG has bettered its own previous Award-winner with the Y50s. They replace the K451s as the best portable on-ears up to £100 thanks to a new, refreshing style and an all-round solid performance for their size and price. It's also because of this, that the Y50s walked away with the Product of the Year title too.

MORE: Read our full AKG Y50 review




Best portable on-ear headphones £100 - £200

Philips Fidelio M1MKII

Best portable on-ears £100-£200, Awards 2014

Five Stars

Tested at £180 - Compare Prices

The Fidelio M1MKIIs replace their MKI predecessor as our favourite portable on-ears up to £200. They keep the same impressive amounts of detail, but improve in virtually all other areas, namely precision, clarity and sense of space. Philips has taken a winning formula, and made it even better.

MORE: Read our full Philips Fidelio M1MKII review


Best portable on-ear headphones £200-£300

Beyerdynamic T51i

Best portable on-ears £200-£300, Awards 2014

Five Stars

Tested at £245 - Compare Prices

The T51is finally include the in-line microphone we've been longing for to make them truly portable and suitable for smartphone users. As with their predecessor, the T51is sound truly superb and are easily some of the best at this price. 

MORE: Read our full Beyerdynamic T51i review


Best home over-ears up to £150

AKG K550

Best home over-ears up to £150, Awards 2014

Five Stars

Tested at £250, now available for £99 - Compare Prices

The K550s have long been a favourite of ours and won the award for best home headphones £150+ at the 2013 What Hi-Fi? Awards. They've since had a price reduction and now can had for under £100, making them an absolute steal. 

MORE: Read our full AKG K550 review


More after the break

Best home on-ears £150 - £300

Grado SR325e

Best home on ears £150 - £300, Awards 2014

Five Stars

Tested at £300 - Compare Prices

The SR325es are the first pair of third generation Grados, and with them, they bring a new generation of sound. They're dynamic, balanced and well-detailed and hardly ever put a foot wrong. Their open-back design does lead to sound leakage, but it's because of this design that they sound so wonderful.

MORE: Read our full Grado SR325e review

Best home over-ear headphones £300+

Shure SRH1540

Best home over-ears £300+, Awards 2014

Five Stars

Tested at £430

Heads up for a real treat - if you want to enjoy great sound in pampering comfort all day long, give these a go.

MORE: Shure SRH1540 review



Best wireless on-ear headphones

Philips Fidelio M2BT

Best wireless headphones, Awards 2014

Five Stars

Tested at £250 - Compare Prices

Philips has once again held on to first place in 2014 with the new and improve M2BTs. They sound largely the same as the M1BTs, but that's no bad thing. They remain detailed and don't succumb to harshness often found in wireless headphones. A few cosmetic changes and the addition of NFC keep the Philips Fidelio M2BTs well above the competition. 

MORE: Read our full Philips Fidelio M2BT review

Best noise-cancelling headphones

Bose QuietComfort 25

Best noise-cancelling headphones, Awards 2014

Five Stars

Tested at £270 

When it comes to noise-cancelling headphones, there can only really be one winner. Consistently proving to be the best option when it comes to blocking out unwanted noise, Bose once again prevails. The QC25s build on the QC15s long running success by improving sound quality and design to be the ultimate noise-cancelling package.

MORE: Read our full Bose QuietComfort 25 review

MORE: Awards 2014: Best on-ear headphones







Janet X.'s picture

Audiotechnica ATH-PRO700

Thanks, man. Great review. Was a bit surprised not to see Audiotechnica in the list. I recently got TH-PRO 700 DJ Edition, and they rock!!! Great sound for this money (ca. $100). Got a great deal from Amazon, btw, it is still there. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004KCLIFA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004KCLIFA&linkCode=as2&tag=thougpictuand-20&linkId=3JNH6TT4QIUTKZBF
Yohan Star's picture

No classics?

I've tried most of the above and my vote would go to either the Sony MDR-V6 or the Audio Technica ATH-M50X, a new kid on the block is the TakStar Pro80 which is a kind of BeyerDynamic DT 770m clone but in all honesty is a great set of cans in its own right, the only difference is like the DT770 it doesn't fold but sounds 10 times it's price tag. I find that companies that make good microphones generally make the best cans

Menno Schepers's picture

So where are the over-ear headphones?

This article title is "over-ear headphones to buy in 2015", the URL says "best-over-ear-headphones-to-buy-in-2014" and in the article is only talk about on-ear headphones and nothing about over-ear.

Can somebody fix this? Thanks.

Andy Clough's picture

Over-ear headphones

For the purposes of our Awards last year and this article, we treated on-ears/over-ears as the same thing (as opposed to in-ears) as the distinction between the two is slight. Some of the models mentioned here - such as the Shures and AKG K550s - could be described as over-ears as they are quite large.

Mike Pearce's picture

"as the distinction between the two is slight"

Andy, no it isn't. One goes OVER the ear and one goes ON the ear. Supra-aural versus cirumaural headphones, the distinction is great and the title of the article is misleading and frustrating (and quite possibly link-bait, as the URL is 2014).

There are differences in sound quality, performance and, most obviously, comfort.

Dissappointed that such a comment could come from someone at WhatHIFI.

Andy Clough's picture


You have a point Mike, the challenge during the Awards is that there are so many product categories now we had to simplify things particularly in the Headphones category.

For the avoidance of doubt I've updated the headline and some of the sub-heads so the over-ear models are clearly identified as such.

dennislindridge's picture

over ear

Well done Andy for listening to Mike. There is a vast difference twixt 'over' and 'on' ear headphones, the clue is in the words.

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