Best For Workouts: Jabra Sport Pulse
Minimally designed, water and shock-resistant wireless earbuds that boast a clever trick: the left side holds a heart rate monitor that’s both accurate and does away with the need for sports watches or chest straps. Ultra light and with Dolby Sound Enhancement, they’ll improve your workout immeasurably, justifying the price.
Best For Travel: Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6
The super-soft lambskin on the ear pads ensures comfort for long listening sessions (and long distance travel), while the memory foam inside adapts to the shape of your ears. An inline microphone and three-button remote are designed for life on the move, and a flight adapter and bag are included. All the materials are premium and feel luxe, while the sound is impressively balanced with a clear midrange and solid bass that never booms.
Best For Noise-Cancelling: Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones
A reboot of the already great Q15s, these feature enhanced comfort and a new folding design that means they slip into a smaller carrying case. Bose’s noise-cancelling tech has also been given a tweak, with the new sound palate being detailed, punchy and spacious. Another new feature means that if the battery dies – on a long flight, say – these cans still function as ‘normal’ headphones. The best noise-cancellers on the market.
Best For Gaming: Sony MDR-HW700DS 9.1 Channel Surround Sound Digital Wireless Headphones
Wireless headphones with 9.1 channel sound that does a pretty effective job of aping a surround sound system with multiple speakers. There are modes for cinema, voice and game – and it’s the latter where they really come into their own. The pressure-relieving earpads and 12-hour battery are also a boon for a long session in front of the plasma.
Best For DJs: Sennheiser HD8 DJ On-Ear Headphones
The German brand’s HD-25-II headphones arguably set the industry standard in DJ headgear, so anticipation was high for the launch of these last year. The HD8s feature swivelling ear cups with up to 210° of movement, as well as three different wearing positions – though the USP is their excellent sound isolation.
Best Hi-fi Headphones For Home: Grado PS1000e Professional Series Open-Backed Headphones
Yes, you might have to sell your home to afford them (ho ho), but if you’re looking for an indisputably great set of cans to last you a lifetime of home listening, these are the business. They’re built on a hybrid design of chrome-plated aluminium and hand-crafted mahogany, something that’s not just there to look awesome: it eliminates ringing and moves air through the cans in a way that has sent audiophiles into rapture. Intended for hi-fi stereo/ source listening, they’re open-backed so bleed out sound - not much good for the bus. Instead, listen to your CD/ record collection at home – and hear it properly for the first time.