The 12 best headphones you can buy in 2017
It’s a cold truth that if you’re still using the headphones that came with your phone you must just hate music.
A recent survey found that 53% of millennials own three or more pairs and wear headphones for nearly four hours a day.
Like yesterday’s luxury watches, headphones are today’s fashion statements.
Wired or wireless, in-ear, on-ear, over-the-ear, noise cancelling… today’s headphones don’t just play music, they operate wirelessly, send messages, read out texts and block out noise so you don’t have listen to the screaming baby next to you – even when it’s yours.
Here is a round up of some of the best.
1. The Grado GR10 In Ear Headphones
Put simply, the best of the best. Admittedly rather expensive for in-ear headphones, but there’s a reason. The Grado GR10 In Ear Headphones are breathtaking from the first moment you put them in.
An odd shade of green they may be, but as soon as you start to listen, the clarity, balance separation and overall sound is, well, extraordinary.
Recommended for headphone wearers who take their music seriously.
Grado GR10 In Ear Headphones, £399.99, amazon.co.uk
2. RHA MA650 Wireless Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones
These babies have a 12-hour battery life, a 10-metre range, great sound and they come with a remote to switch between music, calls and digital assistants like Siri.
A button acts as a ‘wake up’ or connector to your smart device assistant and lets you ask it for directions, to make calls, read recipes or dictate messages.
The vibrate function is also good – if you leave the phone in your handbag and it’s on silent then the headset (even if it is just loose around your neck) lets you know a call is coming through.
Also, no matter what shape your ears, these headphones will have a ear bud to fit you, with ten different pairs so at least one of these is going to work.
RHA MA650 Wireless Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones, £99.95, amazon.co.uk
3. Libratone Q adapt in-ear headphones
When Apple felt free to ditch the audio jack from its iPhone 7, it posed a problem: how will you plug a pair of headphones into this smartphone? While most manufacturers pushed wireless, some companies opted to build headphones with Apple’s own Lightning connector.
Libratone’s new Q Adapt In-Ear Headphones are among the world’s first lightning-powered headphones and have a smooth sound and sloped, well-fitting buds.
There are four levels of noise-cancelling available and, instead of needing batteries to power the noise-cancelling features like other headphones, these use the Lightning connector to draw current from your iPhone. It’s not a lot – just a few per cent drop max over an hour and a half commute.
4. Urbanista Tokyo Dark Clown headphones
Tokyo true wireless Urbanista are good value at under £100.
Just launched a few weeks ago, Tokyo in-ear wireless earphones have Bluetooth 4.2 technology and a built-in microphone. Ideal for being on the move, in the gym or at work, these offer up to 2.5 hour playtime, and come with a charging case so you can recharge on the go.
Don’t worry about water – they are great in the rain and are sweat resistant.
Urbanista Tokyo Dark Clown headphones, £99, uk.urbanista.com
5. Jam Ultra Truly Wireless Earbuds
JAM Ultra wireless buds give you three hours’ running time without a charge and you can charge them 10 times in the charging case before you have to charge the case back up again.
Easy to connect, a great fit and they don’t fall out – which is a nice touch when running for a train.
They have superb sound quality with a fantastic amount of bass. Bonus that the case also doubles as a backup battery for your phone.
6. Sol Republic Amps Air Wireless Bluetooth Earphones
Sol Republic Amps Air were my pick of the bunch. From the moment I took them out of the box they looked the business.
They pair up with your phone almost immediately, answer calls without issue and the sound quality is fantastic.
The case is small enough to fit in your pocket and also charges the buds. Water and sweat resistant, they also will charge your phone, have an integrated microphone for calls, play/pause music control, and are super light with silicone air grooves for long lasting comfort and a good fit.
7. Sony MDR-1000X Noise Cancelling Over Ear Headphones
Sony’s MDR-1000X closed dynamic headphones offer a truly supreme, high quality wireless listening experience.
They have exceptional noise-cancelling, which is adjustable via touch control on the headset.
High Resolution Audio and LDAC wireless technology ensure a seriously impressive audio quality without the wires, and the headset feels very luxe.
Sony MDR-1000X Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones with Mic/Remote, £294.99, johnlewis.com
8. Urbanista Seattle Wireless earphones
Crisp sound and impressive bass make listening to these a pleasure and their advanced swipe technology means you can answer calls, play or pause music and change tracks using your fingertip. They are easy to use and their sound quality is absolutely brilliant. These have a power cord, are very comfortable and can be worn for hours.
You won’t believe how good they are for a relatively low price.
Urbanista Seattle Wireless earphones, from £59.99, amazon.co.uk
9. B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H4 Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones
The B&O Play by Bang and Olufsen H4 Audio quality is superb. These are comfortable, super-stylish Bluetooth headphones with up to 19 hours battery life on a full charge.
The sound is super and the headphones block out all city noise. Using a Beoplay app, you can really personalise them by matching sound profiles to particular activities or environments. Select a preset ToneTouch sound profile for working out, listening to podcasts, commuting or relaxing or the app can intuitively adjust the tonality so you’re good to go.
There is no carry case, and they don’t fold so make sure you have a roomy bag or wear DJ style around your neck.
B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen H4 Over Ear Headphones, £245, qvcuk.com
10. Grado SR80e Open Backed Headphones
Unusual in that they’re on-ear but have open backs. Good for listening at home but not on the train as anyone a few metres away can judge your taste in music. A favourite of purists because the sound is stupid beautiful with superb treble detail and a base that’s tighter than JLo’s ponytail.
And a good price point – their clarity and dynamics are all-but-unmatched at under £100.
Grado SR80e Prestige Open Back Headphones, £98 www.amazon.co.uk
11. Monster Elements Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
Long haul will never be the same with these stylish over-ear bad boys. With wireless Bluetooth connectivity, high-resolution audio and up to 24 hours of battery life on a single charge, they are ideal for a flight or road trip. You can also switch from natural mode to club when you want extra bass and they can be folded away into the (included) carry case for easy storage and protection.
I love that the ear cups pivot in case you need to have one ear uncovered to hear the sounds of say, your station being called. Comfortable, padded ears makes them easy to wear but there’s nothing subtle about these sexy beasts.
Monster Elements Wireless Over-Ear Headphones, £149, ao.com
12. Beats by Dr. Dre Solo 3 Wireless MNET2ZM/A On-Ear Wireless Headphones
These were my favourite on ear headphones. These cushioned ear cups are the bomb. If you use them with an Android phone they seem like normal headphones but if you use them with an iPhone, they turn high tech – communicating directly with your phone.
They instantly set up – just power on and hold them near your iPhone – and then simultaneously connect to your Apple Watch, iPad and Mac (this will work with iPhones using iOS 9 or newer).
The battery length is beyond. These headphones last for up to 50 hours (!!) and charge fast (a full recharge takes just an hour).
Great for noise blocking, play and pause controls let you manage your top playlists, and the built-in microphone means you can take calls wherever you are.
Beats by Dr. Dre Solo 3 Wireless MNET2ZM/A On-Ear Wireless Headphones, £219, ao.com