Your buying guide for the best headphones in 2017
The headphones supplied with most modern devices such as smartphones or tablets, if you even get any, tend to be pretty rubbish and probably won't last long. Upgrading is a must for most consumers and we have 10 of the best headphones to choose from here.
We've reviewed headphones of different shapes, sizes and prices to give you a broad range of options. We have in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones.
If you're a bit more strapped for cash try our round-up best budget headphones. You might also be interested in the best wireless headphones and best headphones for kids. We've also got the best headphones deals.
You might be thinking "I have an iPhone 7 without a headphone jack, do I need something else?" but do not fear because the headphones below are still relevant. Apple supplies the phone with a Lightning to headphone jack adapter and you can also use wireless or Lightning-enabled headphones, of course.
Walk the streets of any town or city and you will see myriad people locked in to their own world, listening intently to headphones plugged in to smartphone, tablet or even - surely not - an MP3 player.
The digital audio revolution has happened, although vinyl is experiencing a surge, and we can't be the only ones who travel to work in a train carriage silent to the outside world as fellow travellers concentrate on music, podcasts, audiobooks and video to make the commute more fun (endurable). Find out how to stop earphone cables getting tangled or twisted.
Headphones are more than just a functional device. Like the display on your PC they are the crucial part in the link between you and your favourite portable device. As such it is worth investing in a good set of headphones.
Moreover not all headphones are made equal: you can spend a lot of money on something that looks - rather than sounds - good. And for some people that is the key thing.
Even within the realm of good audio fidelity there is choice. We may wrinkle our noses at the bassy stylings of Beats by Dre Studio headphones, but we know plenty of DJs who swear by them. And that's before you get into questions of on-ear, in-ear or over ear.
Which type of headphones you prefer will depend on your physical shape, your needs, your musical taste, and the size of your wallet.
The types of headphones on offer are fairly self-explanatory but in-ears are small earbuds which you put into your ear canal, on-ear headphones have a headband but the cup sits on your ear while over-ear have larger cups so encompass your ear.
Most headphones are wired but you can also get ones with Bluetooth to get a wire-free experience. Those who travel a lot will want to look out for pairs with noise-cancelling to shut out distractions.
Regardless, here are the pick of all the headphones we have reviewed that are on the market right now. We've got a wide range of headphones covering a broad set of prices so we hope you find something that fits your needs.
There are so many pairs of headphones on the market that we'd need to spend all our collective time, and then some, to review them all. So do bear in mind that these are the best of what we've had through the lab, not every pair ever made! We will be regularly updating this article as we review more headphones, so stay tuned.
Best headphones 2017 UK - best headphone reviews
- Reviewed on: 7 December 2016
If you can stomach the price, the Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature are an outstanding pair of over-ear headphones. They look great, sounds incredible and are even fairly portable. They are a fitting 50th anniversary product but we wouldn't blame you if the P7 headphones are a more suitable and sensible purchase.
Read our Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature review.
- Reviewed on: 19 October 2017
The Bose QC35 II headphones fix many of the complaints with the first-generation headphones, including the lack of control over noise cancellation. The introduction of Google Assistant is interesting and may be of use to some Android users, but we can’t see it being the main reason for making the purchase – especially when the headphones are so comfortable and produce outstanding sound quality.
It’s not worth the upgrade for first-gen owners, but we’d recommend the Bose QC35 II headphones to anyone looking.
Read our Bose QC35 II headphones review.
- Reviewed on: 4 February 2016
We found the Denon to deliver a fantastic overall package as a portable headphone with the AH-MM400. However, we did not find it capable to dethrone or compete with the older Denon AH-D600, D7100, D2000, D5000 and D7000 headphones, which simply outclassed the MM400 in almost every single aspect but for portability. The Denon AH-MM400 therefore provide current Denon owners with a great way of having a similar sound signature headphone on-the-go. In comparison to its competition in the portable headphone market, we felt the Denon AH-MM400 was almost unrivaled by its overall sound quality and build quality, making the headphones an easy recommendation for portable listeners.
Read our Denon AH-MM400 review.
- Reviewed on: 6 October 2016
The Sharkk Bravo hybrid electrostatic headphones are a leap forward in audio technology. The sound quality is impressive, but shouldn't be compared to the sound fidelity found in full-blown electrostatic headphones. Nevertheless, the Sharkk Bravo provide a full bodied sound, stylish design and durability.
- Reviewed on: 31 December 2013
The Bose QC20 headphones make for an impressive set of in-ears which you're unlikely to regret if you travel a lot. Although sound performance isn't the best, the sensational noise cancelling, comfortable design and handy aware mode make these a great buy.
Read our Bose QuietComfort 20 review.
- Reviewed on: 3 February 2017
Overall, the RockJaw Resonate is an excellent IEM which serves up brilliant sound quality along with great build quality (including detachable cables) at an amazing price.
Read our Rock Jaw Resonate IEM review.
- Reviewed on: 19 May 2015
While original P5 owners don't need to jump at this upgrade, the P5 Series 2 are one of the best pairs of on-ear headphones we've tested. The price tag might be a little high for some but Bowers & Wilkins has done a sterling job once again of combining design and build with decent comfort, noise isolation and excellent sound quality.
Read our Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2 review.
8. KEF M500
- Reviewed on: 12 July 2013
KEF has come up trumps with its first pair of headphones offering excellent build quality and a stylish comfortable design. After running in, the M500 headphones sound clear, punchy and balanced but won't blow you away quite as touted. They are also pricey for our liking and you can find similar or better sound quality for less.
Read our KEF M500 review.
- Reviewed on: 9 June 2016
Sony has done a great job of combining style, functionality and great sound quality into a pair of headphones which aren't too expensive for what you're getting. Most importantly, the wireless sound quality is excellent and we're impressed with the noise cancelling, too. Build quality is good for plastic and extra features such as NFC and easy to use controls add to the experience. These are a great choice for anyone looking for wireless over-ear headphones with noise cancelling and solid sound quality.
- Reviewed on: 27 October 2016
If you have trouble with in-ear headphones, or just want custom moulds without breaking the bank, Snugs are an excellent solution. The new scanning tech is quick and easy and you’ll find it hard to go back once you get used to the feel of a custom tip. As well as fit, the moulds benefit noise isolation and leakage. We like the sound of the new own-brand S10 drivers but you may as well spend the extra tenner on SoundMagic’s E10S. Bear in mind that the firm might be able to make tips for your current headphones.
Read our Snugs Original S10 review.