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You have plenty of choices when it comes to them, from over-ears to on-ears, full-sized wireless to true wireless. Choosing the right kind can seem impossible with all the options available.
Below we’ve listed the best headphones we’ve ever tested. To gauge whether these headphones offer value for money, we’ve listened to plenty of music, tested their noise cancellation, compared them to similar priced headphones, and compared them to others of similar price.
Here, we’ve covered a wide range of headphones at different price points, so there’s something for everyone. In addition to full-sized noise cancellers, true wireless headphones, and wired headphones, we’ve reviewed a wide variety of types of headphones and will add more if they are worth adding.
Which are the best headphones?
- Best wireless headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5
- Best ANC earbuds: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
- Best for professional use: Røde NTH-100
- Best affordable true wireless: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+
- Best wired on-ears: Grado SR325x
- Best affordable noise cancellers: Final UX300
Sony WH-1000XM5 Pros
- Comfortable and spacious
- Performance with a rich and musical sound
- Noise cancellation that is natural and clean
- The ambient mode works very well
- Quality of calls is excellent
Sony WH-1000XM5 Cons
- Design that cannot be folded
- Areas with high traffic can experience choppy connections
It follows in the footsteps of Bose’s NC 700 HP and Apple’s AirPods Max in offering a more modern design than the Sony WH-1000XM4 earcups that won’t fold flat. We tested this new design to see if it reduced wind noise and provided a more satisfying noise cancelling experience. However, this change was made in order to improve noise cancellation performance. As a result of this redesign, the WH-1000XM5’s noise canceling performed better, even when it came to higher frequency sounds.
We did feel that the XM4 model handled voices a touch better in our assessment of the headphones however. All other noises were reduced to a hush, including crowds and commuters. Our tests found that the Ambient Mode offered a significant improvement over a clearer, natural sound with eight microphones to assist with noise cancellation. Also, incremental improvements have been made to the audio performance, which we found to sound slightly richer and more detailed, with better definition and clarity of instruments and voices in the mid-range. We also noticed that music takes place within a wide soundstage, and that bass has a much more distinct texture than on older models. All in all, it’s an excellent listen for any genre of music.
This phone has much the same features as the XM4. Quick Attention filters outside sound in real time, and Speak To Chat pauses your music while you talk. The battery life remains at 30 hours. These headphones last around a week, but if you prefer longer-lasting headphones, you may want to consider the Technics EAH-A800 and Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless instead.
- A noise-cancelling earbud that is class leading
- The quality of the sound is neutral
- Ensures comfort
- A transparent mode with excellent quality
- Batteries last on average
- Codecs for Bluetooth that are higher in quality are not available
- Noise from wings has an impact on design
Especially if you need supreme noise cancellation performance, we highly recommend Bose QuietComfort Earphones if you prefer convenience wireless in-earphones.
This is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds we’ve tested, reducing sounds from traffic to large gatherings. The noise cancellation also helps to protect hearing, as you don’t need to increase volume to hear music.
QuietComfort Earbuds are large in size, but they are comfortable to wear thanks to StayHear Max ear-tips, which keep the earphones in place. They are water and sweat resistant and make a good option for exercise use, although the design amplified wind noise, something Bose’s Sport Earbuds did not.
There is a neutral and detailed sound to the audio, with the top end of the frequency range being sharp and bright, the midrange being expansive and detailed, and the bass bringing some weight and power to the overall audio experience. Bose has added treble and bass EQ options to the app since the launch of the QuietComfort Earbuds. While they aren’t as musical-sounding as the Sony WF-1000XM4, nor nearly as rich as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, these earphones are perfect for those who prefer a sound without coloration.
Battery life of the Bose earbuds is shorter than other high-end earbuds. Compared with the WF-1000XM4 and the Sennheiser, the QuietComfort Earbuds have only 18 hours. Although they are durable, they will need to be recharged fairly often as a result of regular use over the course of the day. While the original model is still available for £100 less online in some stores, the QuietComfort Earbuds II have improved noise canceling performance, so it might be better to grab the originals, which have been replaced by the QuietComfort Earbuds II.
Røde NTH-100 Pros
- Ensure all scenarios are conveyed with a persuasive and articulate voice
- A strong, durable construction
- I find him attractive (in a purposeful way)
Røde NTH-100 Cons
- There aren’t many people who appreciate sonic evenhandedness
- It’s not for everyone to have a hard-wired setup
- Over time, earpads become hot
In terms of balance and detail, the NTH-100 are a great choice for professional use, showcasing a balanced and detailed audio profile, which makes them an excellent mixing reference, especially when dealing with lossless audio files.
The bass carried plenty of depth without the typical superficial excitement usually associated with cheaper headphones. The midrange revealed every detail of a song, along with the top-end that made listening to these headphones enjoyable.
On this list, wireless headphones like Sony’s WH-1000XM5 and Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds lack the features. With the NTH-100, you get a very long cable, 2.4 meters (1.2 meters are available at extra cost), and a clever fitting system called FitLock, which locks the headband in place so it stays in the right position all the time.
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus Pros
- Sound quality for the price is impressive
- Batteries that last long
- Quality of calls is good
- Assistance with apps
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus Cons
- It may not be a good feeling for some to be connected
- A busy area can have spotty connections
First launched at £119.95 in 2021, the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ are now available for just £49.95, making them a great budget-friendly option.
The Melomania 1+ won the award for best affordable true wireless, lacking any noise cancellation to reduce distractions. Instead, the design relies on a passive noise isolating approach to reduce any inconveniences. With physical push buttons, they proved to be more reliable than touch controls due to their bullet-shaped design. A design like the OneSonic BXS-HD1 might appeal to those who don’t like the plugged in feeling of the buds.
Cambridge doesn’t offer noise cancellation or transparency, as we mentioned above. As seen on the Melomania Touch, these apps aren’t just basic offerings; the Melomania app comes bundled with features like the ability to customize the audio equaliser, touch controls, and switch between audio modes for better sound quality.
Changing the modes affects battery life, with a Low Power mode lasting 9 hours and 41 minutes or a High Performance mode lasting 7 hours and 35 minutes more. Both figures are very good for a true wireless device.
In our opinion, the sound on this Melomania is much better than on the original. The bass is much more powerful, and with more punch and weight than on the Melomania 1, it sounds feeble. Compared to the original, we found the Melomania 1+ strikes a better balance across the frequency range with smoother tone and sound larger where they previously sounded small, and while the original has crisper and sharper high frequencies, the new one strikes a better balance in general. This is a bargain not to be missed at this price.
Grado SR325x Pros
- The presentation is informative, detailed, and spacious
- Design that makes a statement
- Adapters with low impedance
Grado SR325x Cons
- There are some who may have issues with comfort
- Portability isn’t particularly good
The SR325x would be immediately identifiable as one of Grado’s if you’re familiar with the brand. Grado’s open-backed on-ear headphones are a design approach that’s been at the center of its offerings for decades. With their open-back design, these on-ears offer a more spacious, bigger soundstage.
As a result, they sound leaky, so if you’re using them on public transportation, you might have to face people looking at you as you listen to your favorite songs. Grado SR325x offer excellent balanced sound with fantastic clarity with instrumental and vocals, ensuring a natural tone and great clarity. These headphones produce an excellent stereo image, with sharpness and definition giving music a sense of fidelity that we found to be exceptional.
The wired headphones will require high quality files before they can deliver their best performance, but with their 38 ohm impedance, you can use them with a variety of devices without additional amplification.
Aside from its premium design, the brand’s ‘F’ style earcups are one we found to be exceptionally comfortable during use, as well as its durable metal housing for each earcup. If you have a large ear, you might experience pinching with on-ear headphones, which is why an over-ear like the Monolith M1070 might be recommended. Although they lack the price tag, these on-ear headphones are insightful, precise, and detailed.
Final UX3000 Pros
- ANC that works
- The sound is rich and warm
- Battery life is excellent
- Easy to use
Final UX3000 Cons
- Features that have been stripped down
- It can be difficult to distinguish minimalist looks from bland ones
You do not need to spend a fortune on good noise canceling headphones if you can afford the award-winning Sony WH-1000XM5.
Although they do not have many features, they do well in the face of persistent noise, busy traffic junctions, and crowds. The active noise cancellation is controlled using a simple button, and the headphones are not powered separately. With ANC on, you don’t have to power on the headphones either. It sounds better with it on, just like the Ausounds AU-XT ANC.
A confident, musical performance was evoked by the tracks we played with the audio here being among the best we’ve heard for less than £150. The bass felt heavy and the midrange had a rich tone. Though the UX3000’s sound isn’t quite as detailed or incisive as either the Austrian Audio Hi-X25BT or the Cleer Enduro ANC, with solid dynamics and a decently wide soundstage, it has a better overall performance over music than either of these two rivals.
With ANC off, it can reach up to 35 hours of battery life, which is enough for a week of general use. Shibo is an ancient term for wrinkled leather papers with a minimalistic appearance. Shibo texture repels dust and dirt on these headphones. Using the UX3000 is easy with physical buttons covering volume, automatic noise cancelation, and playback. For commutes into work, we found them comfortable for extended periods of time.