14 brilliant pairs of headphones comprise What Hi-Fi? Awards 2017 winners

Arguably, apart from your smartphone your headphones are the piece of hi-fi tech you use the most.

From the moment you get up in the morning to your final trip home, and even into the evening, chances are you're frequently pumping music through your faithful companions.

That's why it's so important to make sure that, however much you're paying for your in-ear, on-ear or wireless headphones, you buy the best you can. But with so many to choose from, where do you start? Right here, that's where!


Sennheiser's Momentum M2 in-ear headphones (£90) once again walk away with an Award, just as they did in 2015 and 2016. Their musicality, expressive tone and comfortable fit make them a hard act to top.

There was predictably stiff competition where budget in-ear headphones are concerned, but in the end Beyerdynamic's £50 Byrons (above) came out on top. A tough decision for sure, but the Byron's ability to reveal greater detail in your music pips the livelier presentation from the like of SoundMagic's E10Cs.

At the more expensive end of the in-ear spectrum, the Shure SE425s (£240) claim victory in the £100-300 price range, while the £350 AKG N40s remain locked as our high-end favourites. Both of these in-ears won their respective categories in 2016 too - a testament to their enduring quality.


From in-ear to on-ear. The impressive AKG Y50s (£80, above) win an Award for the fourth year running, taking the 'Best portable on-ear headphones under £150' category.

For those happy to fork out a bit more, the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Over-Ear (£200) win for their fantastic, full-bodied sound - and just how easily you can take them out and about.

Bumping off the AKG K92s for 'Best home-use on-ear headphones under £100' are the Grado SR80e (£100) - they are joined by their Grado SR325e siblings (£280), which slide into the £200-£400 price bracket.

Sitting between the Grados, the AKG K550s (£150) take the Best Buy in the £100-£200 category. Their beefy build and spacious sound mean it will take something special to bump them from their perch.

Right at the top of the sector, winning 'Best home on-ear headphones £400+', come the Beyerdynamic Amiron (£550). The transparency and range of these headphones mean if you put high-quality sound in, you'll get high-quality sound out. Really, what more can you ask for?


With more manufacturers killing the 3.5mm headphone jack (Apple's iPhone 8 and Google's Pixel 2 are emerging as the go-to jackless devices in the high-end smartphone market), wireless headphones are becoming a much more attractive proposition.

Deeply impressive in this regard are the Bowers & Wilkins PX (£330, top). They hit our test rooms only very recently, and have become a What Hi-Fi? favourite thanks to their excellent dynamics, impeccable sense of timing and clever, intuitive features - including noise cancellation.

Joining them as our wireless winners are the Philips SHB8850NC (£90) and AKG N60NC Wireless (£250) - and claiming a special place as our favourite in-ear wireless headphones are the Sony WF-1000X (£200, above).

The first wireless in-ear headphones we've given five stars to, the Sonys' darting rhythmic agility, bass weight and impressive dynamic range set a high bar for their competitors. The same, indeed, could be said for all these Best Buys.

MORE: Awards 2017: In-ear headphones

MORE: Awards 2017: On-ear headphones

MORE: Awards 2017: Wireless headphones

Simon Lucas is a freelance technology journalist and consultant, with particular emphasis on the audio/video aspects of home entertainment. Before embracing the carefree life of the freelancer, he was editor of What Hi-Fi? – since then, he's written for titles such as GQ, Metro, The Guardian and Stuff, among many others.