What Hi-Fi (UK)




Soundmagic E11C £50

Best in-ear headphones under £50, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

The latest version of Soundmagic’s budget in-ears continues to impress with a full-bodied, energetic and informativ­e sound. In-line controls Yes Cable length 1.2m

Beyerdynam­ic Soul Byrd £69

April 2019 ★★★★★

You’ll struggle to find a better pair of in-ear headphones costing less than £70 than these Beyerdynam­ics.

In-line controls Yes Cable length 1.2m

Sennheiser Momentum M2 IEI £70

Best in-ears £50-£100, Awards 2017 ★★★★★

You wouldn’t think anything so small could sound quite so good – not for just £70. But they are wonderfull­y smooth, expressive and balanced. In-line controls Yes Cable length 1.3m

Klipsch T5M Wired £70

Best in-ear headphones £50-£100, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

Not only do they have some of the most comfortabl­e tips around, but these T5M Wireds also show a maturity that’s rare at this price. In-line controls Yes Cable length 1.3m

Shure SE425 £185

Best in-ears over £100, Awards 2019 ★★★★★

If you’re serious about the quality of your in-ear headphones, we’d point you here. The energetic, immersive performanc­e is irresistib­le. In-line controls Yes Cable length 1.6m

Shure Aonic 3 £190

Best in-ear headphones over £100, Awards 2020 ★★★★★ Breathtaki­ngly musical and comfy to wear, the Shure Aonic 3s set a new benchmark for in-ear headphones at this level.

In-line controls Yes Cable length 1.2m

Sony WI-1000X £206

February 2018 ★★★★★

The best of both worlds thanks to great sound and fine noise-cancelling capabiliti­es. Absolutely worth your time and money.

In-line controls Yes Cable length 1m

AKG N40 £249

Best in-ears £300+, Awards 2018 ★★★★★

These sound great, but you’ll need a decent portable DAC and hi-res tracks to make the most of them, so they’re not for the casual user. In-line controls No Cable length 1.2m

Shure KSE1500 £2549

November 2016 ★★★★★

At this price they won’t be for everyone, but they are the finest in-ears we’ve heard and arguably one of the best headphones money can buy. In-line controls Yes Cable length 1.3m

AKG Y50 £69

Best portable on-ear headphones, Awards 2019 ★★★★★

Our Product of the Year cans for 2019 are portable on-ears, and deliver a rhythmic, clear, detailed, dynamic sound. At this price they’re amazing. Type Closed Connection 3.5mm Weight 190g

Grado SR80E £99

Best on-ear headphones under £150, Awards 2020 ★★★★★ These Grados aren’t the most relaxing listen, but the excellent treble and midrange make for an exceptiona­l performer. Type Open Connection 3.5/6.3mm Weight 210g

Austrian Audio HI-X50 £199

May 2021 ★★★★★

If you’re looking for well-designed wired on-ear headphones for portable or domestic use, these Austrian Audios should be at the top of your shortlist. Type Closed Connection 3.5mm Weight 285g

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 £199

Awards 2018 ★★★★★

We love the design, but it’s more than just pretty – these Momentums are comfortabl­e on your ears and fold away neatly when not in use. Type Closed Connection 3.5mm Weight 240g

Grado SR325E £350

Best on-ear headphones £150-£400, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

If you don’t mind the amount of sound leaking from them, you’re free to enjoy the fluid dynamics and wonderfull­y musical presentati­on. Type Open Connection 3.5mm/6.5mm Weight 330g

Beyerdynam­ic Amiron £520

Best on-ear headphones over £400, Awards 2020 ★★★★★ Beyerdynam­ic has produced a pair of headphones that sound as good as they feel. Be careful though; their open-backed nature leaks sound. Type Open Connection 3.5mm/6.3mm Weight 340g

Audio Technica ATH-W1000Z £530

March 2017 ★★★★★

The 11th version of the W1000z opts for evolution over revolution and with a spacious sound that packs power and punch, it’s a good choice. Type Closed Connection 6.3mm Weight 320g

B&W P9 Signature £699

December 2016 ★★★★★

They’re not cheap but there’s no doubt these are talented cans. A retro look, stunning sound and a comfy fit make these worth their price. Type Closed Connection 6.3mm/lightning in 2017 Weight 413g

Beyerdynam­ic T1 (3rd Generation) £899

February 2021 ★★★★★

The latest T1 over-ears are a step up in performanc­e and compatibil­ity from their predecesso­r; among the best headphones at this price.

Type Open Connection 3.5mm/6.3mmweight 360g

Sony MDR-Z1R £1650

April 2017 ★★★★★

The finest closed-back headphones we have heard. Feed them with quality electronic­s and there is no doubt the Z1RS will shine. Type Closed Connection 3.5mm/6.3mm Weight 385g

Sennheiser HD820 £1999

October 2018 ★★★★★

Probably the best-sounding closed-back headphones we’ve heard. They have lots of detail, plenty of punch and a strong bass performanc­e. Type Closed Connection 4.4mm/6.3mm/xlr4 Weight 360g

Focal Utopia £3499

June 2017 ★★★★★

With these cans Focal has aimed for the moon and reached it, delivering one of the finest pairs of headphones we’ve heard. Type Open Connection 6.3mm Weight 490g

Earfun Air £55

Best wireless in-ears under £75, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

If you’re looking for inexpensiv­e, good-sounding waterproof buds, the Earfun Air are tough to beat.

Controls Yes Battery 7 hours (35 hours with charging case)

Panasonic RZ-S500W £100

May 2021 ★★★★★

The RZ-S500W make for a classy debut as Panasonic’s first noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds. Detailed presentati­on and fine noise-cancelling. Controls Yes Battery 6.5 hours (plus 13 hours via charging case)

AKG Y400 £110

Best wireless headphones under £150, Awards 2020 ★★★★★ If it’s an affordable, portable pair of energetic wireless on-ears you’re after, the AKG Y400s are currently unbeatable. Controls Yes Battery 20 hours

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 £120

Best wireless in-ears £75-£150, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

These budget-conscious in-ears offer a cohesive, expansive and rhythmical­ly driven sound, and an intuitive, playful soundstage that few match at this price. Controls Yes Battery 9 hours

AKG Y500 Wireless £129

Reviewed online, 2018 ★★★★★

This second-generation wireless on-ear is robustly made and nicely finished. Sonically, they’re nicely balanced and as refined as they come.

Folding Yes Battery 33 hours

JBL Reflect Flow £130

February 2020 ★★★★★

Solid performers sonically and with a nicely secure fit, the JBL Reflect Flow are about as good as it gets for a truly sporting pair of true-wireless buds Controls Yes Battery 10 hours (plus another two full charges from the case)

Grado GW100 £169

December 2019 ★★★★★

Grado’s first pair of wireless headphones are truly excellent.

They won’t be for everyone, but for sound there’s not much to beat them. Controls No Battery 15 hours

Sennheiser Momentum M2 IE Free £170

Reviewed online, 2018 ★★★★★

These wireless in-ears continue the Momentum range’s fine reputation by delivering a comfortabl­e sound packed with insight. Controls Yes Battery 6 hours

Jaybird Vista £195

December 2019 ★★★★★

Ideal for runners, the fit is the best we’ve yet tested. These are a front-runner in the niche, true wireless sport category. Controls Yes Battery 16 hours

AKG N60 NC Wireless £195

Best wireless headphones under £300, Awards 2018 ★★★★★

They’ve lost the cable, but the N60s retain the superb character of their wired equivalent­s. These are a great pair of portable noise-cancellers. Folding Yes Battery 15 hours Noise-cancelling Yes

Sony WF-1000XM3 £220

Best wireless in-ears £150-£200, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

A new benchmark for true wireless earbuds, the WF-1000XM3S combine effective active noise-cancelling with a real sense of musicality. Controls Yes Battery 6 hours

Bose Quietcomfo­rt Earbuds £249

February 2021 ★★★★★

The Bose Quietcomfo­rt Earbuds deliver an energetic, balanced sound and brilliant noise-cancelling. A serious candidate for best-in-class.

Controls Yes Battery 6 hours (18 with case) Noise-cancelling Yes

Sony WH-1000XM3 £249

Best wireless headphones £150-£250, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

Our favourite headphones of last year are still superb, and are now more affordable. Jack of all trades and master of all too…

Folding Yes Battery 30 hours Noise-cancelling Yes

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 £279

Best wireless in-ears over £200, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

These Sennheiser­s are among the most refined-sounding wireless earbuds we’ve tested - if your budget can stretch this far, you won’t be disappoint­ed. Controls Yes Battery 7 hours (28 with case) Noise-cancelling Yes

B&W PX £330

Best wireless headphones £300+, Awards 2017 ★★★★★ The PXS are a fantastic package, boasting excellent sound quality, successful noise-cancelling and a smart design. Folding Yes Battery 22 hours Noise-cancelling Yes

Sony WH-1000XM4 £350

Best wireless headphones over £250, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

We weren’t sure if Sony could improve on the XM3S, but somehow the WH-1000XM4S have managed it; a serious hike in quality for the money. Folding Yes Battery 30 hours Noise-cancelling Yes

Apple Airpods Max £549

March 2021 ★★★★★

There’s no denying that they cost a lot more than typical products in this class but, if sound quality is king, there’s equally no denying that they’re worth it.. Folding No Battery 20 hours Noise-cancelling Yes

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