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.
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 2014...
Best portable on-ear headphones under £100
Tested at £130 (Now available for £50)
Serving up impressive detail and clarity in a good-looking and portable guise, the AKGs are by far the best portable on-ear headphones at this price. A recent price-drop has made them an even more attractive buy.
MORE: AKG K451 review
Best portable on-ear headphones under £200
Tested at £160
The Fidelio M1s are a classy, comfortable and capable set of headphones. They provide fantastic detail and will be your best friend over long listening sessions.
The M1s ran away with the Award for best pair of portable on-ears in the £100-£200 category this year.
Best portable over-ear headphones under £300
Tested at £260
One of the more stylish pairs on our list are the Sennheiser Momentum headphones. Taking a different path to other fashion-conscious cans, the Sennheisers offer a balanced presentation with full-bodied bass and stupendous amounts of detail.
Best home headphones under £200
Tested at £110
The Grados are a perfect example of what can be achieved from a set of over-ear headphones when an open-backed design is used. They leak sound by the bucket-load, but compensate for by providing a wonderfully detailed performance.
MORE: Grado SR80i
More after the break
Best home headphones under £300
Tested at £250 (Now available from £130)
We said earlier how big headphones can look a little embarassing in public… well, the K550s are no different.
However, with great size comes great capability. The AKGs are able to deliver a balanced presentation, while also providing comfort for those longer listening sessions.
MORE: AKG K550 review
Also consider: AKG K551
Also Consider: PSB M4U 1
Best home headphones under £400
Tested at £330
Taking top honours in the most expensive category, the Bowers & Wilkins P7s come in over the £300 mark, but they sure are worth it. They can handle any genre with comfort, which, combined with a good-looking design, and foldable ear-cups for portability, make them a worthy investment.
MORE: B&W P7 review
Best wireless on-ear headphones
Tested at £250
Like their non-Bluetooth counterpart, the Philips M1BTs provide superb sound reproduction. However, wireless connectivity, higher-quality aptX streaming support and the ability to work with hands-free calls make them a very desirable package.
Best noise-cancelling headphones
Tested at £280
The only noise-cancelling headphones that have consistently wowed us over the years. Bose has been the champion in noise-cancelling headphone tech for ages now, and the QuietComfort 15s are a testament to that.
Also consider: Logitech UE9000
Also consider: PSB M4U 2
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