Headphones are not only a great way to enjoy your favourite tunes wherever you are; they’re also a relatively inexpensive way of enjoying music in decent sound quality. So long as you buy the right ones, of course.
These ‘right ones’ span many styles: in-ears, on-ears, over-ears; wired, wireless or true wireless; studio or noise-cancelling. So which type should you invest in?
Below is a quick checklist of what you should consider when shopping for a new pair, followed of course by G80 top recommendations of best headphones across the board. And there really is something for everyone…
How to choose the best headphones for you
If you desire a pair for domestic use, to plug into your hi-fi device or tune player, then a pair of wired over-ear headphones is in all likelihood best. You’ll then have to pick out whether or not you prefer an open-back graph (which leaks sound however gives sonic advantage.
For a pair to use with your telephone on the go, though, you would possibly favor some thing extra portable. And if it truly is the case, you will have to determine whether or not you desire the uber-portability of in-ear earbuds or the much less intrusive suit of on-ear headphones – and each patterns differ in phrases of price range and features.
Your subsequent selection is between wired and wireless. Wireless headphones and wi-fi earbuds are splendid for their cable-free convenience, however it is a technological know-how that commonly attracts a greater fee tag in contrast to wired counterparts of comparable sonic quality.
In recent years, Sony has struck upon a winning formula that has seen it build some of the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market. Each iteration has looked pretty similar to the last but it has been the gradual improvements in sound quality, noise-cancelling and call quality that have kept the WH-1000 line of headphones one step ahead of the competition
Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless noise-cancelling headphones was probably the biggest headphone launch of 2020.
Why? Well they just happened to replace the Bose-baiting, Sennheiser-slaying, What Hi-Fi? Award-winning WH-1000XM3, one of the most popular pairs of headphones on the planet. They’re quite a big deal.
Instead of just rebadging the old model and changing the ‘3’ to a ‘4’, Sony claims the WH-1000XM4 deliver a more comfortable design, better noise-cancelling, better audio, better call quality and more useful features compared with their predecessors. If they live up to all that, we’re in for a treat; but if they don’t, this could all end in tears.
Apple AirPods Max
The unexpectedly huge price of the Apple AirPods Max makes them considerably dearer than the great majority of premium.wireless noise-cancelling headphones but they really do justify that extra outlay.
You need an iPhone or iPad to get the most out of them. They will work with non-Apple products using standard Bluetooth 5.0, but you’ll miss out on many of their unique features.
Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X
Beyerdynamic refers to the DT 900 Pro X as premium studio headphones. Ultimately, these Beyerdynamics fulfill their ‘studio’ brief by delivering all the resolution, stability and control required to dissect a recording, but at the same time manage to convey the emotional impact of the music as well as anything. If you’re looking for a quality pair of headphones at this price, put these at the top of your shopping list. Once you have a listen you’ll be glad you did.
Panasonic isn’t a brand that immediately springs to mind when you think of cheap wireless earbuds. But perhaps it should be. The RZ-S500W are the company’s first foray into wireless noise-cancelling earbuds and they’re sensational performers for their outlay.
Specs are thorough, with noise-cancelling tech, an Ambient Mode, twin mics for voice calls, and battery life that totals 19.5 hours (6.5hrs from the buds and 13hrs from the charging case). A 15-minute USB-C quick-charge can deliver 70 minutes of playback. The touch controls on each bud are responsive and intuitive, allowing you to control your music and switch between noise-cancelling modes with zero fuss.
The Prestige range of headphones has been at the core of Grado’s output since it was first introduced three decades ago. While the series has developed over the years, Grado has always done so in small evolutionary steps. The story remains the same for this new ‘x’ generation.
Put the range-topping SR325x next to its immediate predecessor (the What Hi-Fi? Award-winning SR325e), and there’s little to separate them, apart from the new flatter foam earpads, updated cable and lighter coloured stitching on the firmly padded headband. Still, the difference is in the listening: the SR325x sound notably cleaner and clearer than their predecessor.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
There are true wireless headphones that have proven so consistently commendable over the years that a new iteration is hard to ignore when it comes along, and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are one of them.
Entering their third generation here, two years on from the launch of the sophomore efforts, the wireless noise-cancelling earbuds remain on the top rungs of an increasingly tall ladder with an improved performance that’s right up there, a competitive spec sheet that offers great battery life (28 hours) and Bluetooth codec support (aptX Adaptive), and the bonus of extra in-app personalisation features. Oh, and a welcome new launch price below those of the former Momentum models.
Only bettered for value by their successors above, these Sonys build on the original Sony WF-1000X .
with a Bluetooth chip that sharpens up music synchronization and a noise-cancelling processor which Sony claims offers a 40 per cent improvement on its predecessor. Which is not to be sniffed at.
It works. Even without music playing, you can tell they cancel out more noise than their forebears.
There’s better in-ear grip than before too, but more to the point, these just sound great. They’re clear, expressive, detailed and deliver all the musical energy you could need to get you through the day. They have subtlety in spades, and impressive pacing. Proceedings are lent a fantastic sense of musicality and balance that’s guaranteed to enhance tracks of all genres.
Shure Aonic Free
If you can get past the slightly bulky case and earpieces, lack of active noise cancellation and a somewhat retro design, there’s a great deal to enjoy in Shure’s debut traditional true wireless earbuds.
The earpieces, while large, fit securely, a fact helped immeasurably by the premium comply memory foam tip options supplied, in a total of three sizes. Unlike other designs which sport touch-capacitive controls using sensors (often with varying degrees of success), there’s a single tactile button on the top edge of both earbuds here. Because of the size of the units, the buttons are easy to find and they work really well. The ShurePlus Play App is slick, intuitive, reliable and offers more performance tweaks than we’re used to seeing at this level, t