Best headphones

Best headphones 2018

A decent pair of headphones can revitalise the music stored on your smartphone or music player - and they can also team up with more traditional hi-fi system without any hassle.

Here's our round-up of the best headphones on the market right now. We've covered a range of styles and price points so you've got the best chance of finding the right pair for you.

MORE: Best headphone deals

In-ear

AKG N40

Impeccable build and comfort from AKG - pair the N40s with a worthy source and they're capable of stunning results.

SPECIFICATIONS

Swappable filters | Universal remote and mic | Flight adapter

Reasons to Buy
Excellent build
Comfortable as in-ears get
Capable of stunning sound
Reasons to Avoid
Need a serious source to get more than mediocrity from them
Swappable filters seem unnecessary

On-ear

AKG Y50

The Y50s have a bold, modern look that might be a little out of character for the company, but it’s a smart, sensible step that appeals to a younger market. Sound quality is superb for the money, too.

SPECIFICATIONS

On-ear design | 50mm driver | 4 finishes

Reasons to Buy
Rhythmic, clear and detailed
Time well
Dynamic and punchy
Well-built
Portable
Reasons to Avoid
Sources might need to be turned up
Ears get warm after a while

Over-ear

Philips Fidelio X2

More than worthy of a listen, these Philips cans are a smoothly neutral listen with oodles of detail and a real knack with rhythms. Punchy bass rounds off a nap hand.

Reasons to Buy
Smooth, neutral sound
Rhythmic
Taut, punchy bass
Good insight
Reasons to Avoid
Tough competition

Noise-cancelling

Bowers & Wilkins PX

Given this is B&W's first pair of noise-cancelling headphones, we can safely say the company has a 100% record of brilliant noise-cancelling headphones.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth/noise-cancelling | 22hr battery life | Proximity sensors built-in | USB-C connector

Reasons to Buy
Transparent, detailed sound
Excellent dynamics
Impeccable sense of timing
Clever, intuitive features
Impressive noise-cancelling
Good battery life
Fine build
Reasons to Avoid
Nothing significant

Wireless

AKG Y50BT

The Y50BTs mimic the styling of their wired siblings and they sound just as good as they look. Clarity and insight are particular strong points.

SPECIFICATIONS

Built-in battery | 20hr battery ife | Micro USB charging

Reasons to Buy
Impressive clarity, detail and dynamics
Easy to use
Comfortable
Reasons to Avoid
Nothing at this price

Sports

Bose SoundSport Wireless

Excellent in-ears in their own right, and with the fit and resilience to be the perfect work-out companions. 

SPECIFICATIONS

Rechargeable battery | 6 hour battery life | 2 hour charging time

Reasons to Buy
Comfortable
Fun sound
Strong wireless performance
Reasons to Avoid
Less-than-stellar battery life

Budget

Koss Porta Pro

Absolute proof that 'affordable' doesn't automatically exclude 'fun'.

SPECIFICATIONS

Foldable | On-ear design | Open-backed

Reasons to Buy
Time brilliantly with decent punch
Decent though not hi-fi standards of detail
Extremely lightweight and portable
Reasons to Avoid
Considering the price, no real complaints

iPhone

Sennheiser Momentum M2 IEi

To make the most of the iPhone's audio quality and hear your music at its best, we'd consider ditching Apple's EarPods in favour of the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ears.

SPECIFICATIONS

1.3m cable | 3.5mm jack | Inline controls

Reasons to Buy
Comfortable fit
Attractive design
Wonderfully clear and detailed sound
Tight, full-bodied bass
Expressive mids and highs
Reasons to Avoid
Nothing of note

Money-no-object

Sony MDR-Z1R

The finest closed-back headphones we've heard - fed by the right electronics they're an absolutely thrilling listen.

SPECIFICATIONS

70mm drive unit | Claimed frequency reach of 120kHz | Detachable balanced and single-ended leads

Reasons to Buy
Excellent detail resolution
Even tonal balance
Powerful bass
Plenty of scale
Superb build and finish
Comfortable
Reasons to Avoid
Demand quality electronics