Best headphones for music lovers

Best headphones for music lovers
From over-the-ear wireless to in-ear, here are 13 of the best headphones available right now.

If you’ve got a smartphone or tablet, you’ll probably have access to pretty much all your music, as well as a wealth of audiobooks, podcasts and video – and if you’re really into music, those files could even be high-quality MP3 or WAV files. If you really want to get the most out of your mobile content – and any content for that matter, it’s really worth investing in a pair of decent headphones.

If you’re clutching the Apple earbuds or the free headphones you got with your smartphone right now, don’t worry, because we’ve put together a list of the best gear for listening to music, audiobooks and anything else with sound. Interested? Here’s our list of the best headphones in 2016.

Best in-ear headphones

1. RHA MA750i

Price: $209.95

At the top of our list are the humble RHA MA750i, built by British manufacturer, Reid Heath Acoustics.

They're not the last word in clarity or refinement, and bass fiends may prefer the Sennheiser Momentum In-ear’s more forceful low-end, but if you’re after a balanced, weighty sound without spending a fortune, they're amazing for the money.

2. Sennheiser Momentum In-ear

Price: $169.95

The Sennheiser Momentum In-Ears are a different kettle of fish to the RHA MA750i, but nonetheless, they are a fabulous listen at this price.

They’re not up to the level of more expensive, multi-driver models, but if you like your bass full and juicy, you’re won't be disappointed.

3. RHA T10i

Price: $319.95

Given their love of the lower-half of the frequency spectrum, the RHA T10i may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, they deliver a big, weighty sound from a tiny in-ear package, offering a refined, truly high-end performance for £150.

Throw in RHA’s generous three-year warranty, and the T10is are destined to keep on dubbing for many, many years.

4. Etymotic ER-4PT

Price: from $391

The ER-4PTs are truly great in-ear headphones, capable of reproducing an extraordinary amount of detail.

They’re aimed at professionals and those who take their music very seriously indeed, so the bass output can lack oomph compared to consumer models. However, they bring music to life in a way many other in-ear headphones we’ve listened to simply can't match.

5. KEF M100

Price: from $239

If you listen to bass-heavy music that demands an explosive range, you’re better off going for a cheaper, more blunt set of earphones such as the Sennheiser Momentums or the RHA T10i.

However, the balanced, laidback performance of the M100s, and their classy, attractive looks makes them well worth considering. They're great for all types of music.

Best on- and over-the-ear headphones

1. Bose QuietComfort 35

Price: $499

It took a while for Bose to finally bite the bullet and combine wireless with noise cancelling, but the result was well worth the wait. The QuietComfort 35 are, and will remain for some time I suspect, now the ultimate headphones for frequent travellers.

They're ultra comfortable, cut out ambient noise like no other headphones on the market right now and, impressively, they also sound wonderful. And although the sound signature won't please audiophiles, who seek a flat signal response no matter what, they're definitely fun to listen to. Plus, with NFC for quick pairing, volume dependent automatic EQ, and more-than-decent battery life of 20 hours with Bluetooth and noise cancelling active, it's hard to find fault.

If you have the money to spend, do yourself a favour and go and try out a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort 35. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

2. Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless

Price: $499.95

They're not noise-cancelling, but the B&W P7 – the firm's top line wireless headphones – are among the best wireless headphones we've ever listened to. Plus, they're super comfy, the squared-off earcups and slender chromed steel arms and leather padded headband look wonderfully boutique.

If you're an audiophile and just can't bring yourself to splash out on the Bose QC35, these are equally good – for very different reasons.

3. Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II

Price: $379

With Bose, you know what you're getting and that's no different with its SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II.

Sound quality is great, the headphones are well-built and incredibly comfortable to wear, they feature hands-free calling (with a noise-cancelling microphone for clarity) and it comes with a handy carry case too. While battery life is rather excellent, if you do find yourself without any charge, Bose has included a 3.5mm aux cable so you can keep listening.

4. Sennheiser Momentum 2 Wireless

Price: $499.95

The Sennheiser Momentum 2 Wireless is a serious pair of headphones, both from the perspective of price and performance. They're an over-the-ear design, super comfortable, fold up nice and compact, and have both aptX Bluetooth for high-quality wireless connectivity and active noise-cancellation.

One annoying feature is that you can't disable the noise cancellation, but with 22-hour claimed battery life and the ability to plug the headphones in with a 3.5mm cable, this shouldn't prove too much of a problem. They're pricey, but brilliant.   

5. Blue Microphones Mo-Fi

Price: from $389

Despite being a debut pair of headphones from Blue Microphones – a company more associated with microphone production – the Mo-Fi sounds absolutely fantastic.

While the built-in amplifier can really make your music shine, they do have the unwelcome side-effect of bringing out distortion in any low-quality tracks you may have. For the same price you could pick up a pair of Beats by Dr Dre Studio – but the Mo-Fi's sound infinitely better.

6. Onkyo H500BT

Price: from $269

Onkyo isn't the first name that springs to mind when you think of big headphone manufacturers, but its Hi-Res audio-ready H500BT is a great pair to listen to.

They're Bluetooth headphones with support for aptX, AAC and SBC codecs, super comfortable and have built-in microphones so you can respond to phone calls without taking them off. The only big thing they're missing is noise cancellation, but you can't have everything for under $300 - and they sound absolutely brilliant.

7. Plantronics BackBeat Sense

Price: $199

For their low price point, Plantronics' BackBeat Sense is a tempting overall package.

Not only is audio quality among the best at this price range, but they're also solidly constructed and clever as well – they'll pause your music automatically when you take them off your ears.

8. Denon AH-GC20 Globe Cruiser

Price: $599

Denon is a well-known name in hi-fi circles, but these noise-cancelling, Bluetooth headphones are just as good when you’re on the move.

They’re stylish in an understated way, but what we like best about them is the comfort. Simply put, the Denon’s around ear design means they’re comfortable for long periods of listening - so they're perfect for long flights or commutes. And the sound is good too: Clear and punchy when they need to be, the Globe Cruisers bring your music to life – but do a good job of keeping out the stuff you don’t want to hear.

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