Whatever your audio needs, our handy buying guide will help you to decide which headphones to buy.
Types of headphones
Whether it's for a workout, the commute or for serious gaming, find the best headphones to suit your needs.
Wireless and True Wireless
True wireless ear-buds are worn independently in each ear without a connecting wire for maximum freedom.
- Are a frequent traveller or commute daily
- Have a lot of meetings on the go
Then choose in-ear wireless headphones because they’re:
- Easy to store
- Immersive and noise-cancelling, as they insert directly into the ear canal
- Available in every price category, from budget to premium
- Commute by bike
- Have sensitive ears
- Want headphones that are more compact
Then opt for on-ear headphones because they:
- Feature flat ear pads rather than cupping ears completely so you can still be aware of the environment around you
- Deliver excellent sound
- Ensure sensitive ears aren’t overwhelmed
- Want fully immersive sound
- Will be listening for hours
- Have more room to transport headphones
Then choose over-ear headphones because:
- They have larger cups that fully enclose the ear
- They offer greater comfort for longer use
- Many models offer high resolution audio for excellent sound quality
- Many models include noise cancelling and sound isolation
- They include iconic options that simply look great
There are now so many headphones and earphones available offering the most innovative audio technology.
But which features suit your personal listening needs?
These models have microphones built into the headphones, then produce signals that reverse outside noises and cancel them out. They're especially good for commuting, allowing you to enjoy clear audio without having to turn the volume up too high (and minimising the impact on other commuters' journeys).
Also known as sound isolating, or noise isolating, these models block sound using a seal on the ear bud that is pressed against the ear. Also a great benefit when on a busy commute, minimising external noise for you and lessening the chance on creating noise pollution.
These models use bluetooth technology, allowing you to listen to audio without tangling wires. It works at close range. These are generally the go-to option for people with busy lives who are often on the move, giving you the freedom to enjoy great personal audio in almost any situation.
For maximum freedom, Bluetooth-enabled in-ear wireless earphones and headphones are designed to fit securely in your ears, so not a single wire gets in your way. This allows for maximum freedom when listening on the go, whether commuting, at the gym or in the office.
This feature is great for those who are active, as it provides protection from rain and sweat for maximum performance.
Thanks to the built-in mic you can keep your earphones or headphones on while you talk. If a call comes through on Google, Skype, Facetime or whatever social app you are using, it's a perfect way of ensuring that everyone around you doesn't get to listen in on the conversation.
If you have a specific activity or moment in mind when you normally use your headphones, here we highlight what to look out for when selecting a model to suit your specific needs.
Designed with younger ears in mind, these models usually have a protective volume limiter. Lightweight, they are generally padded and adjustable for comfort and longevity.
Boost any workout with music. Lightweight sports headphones free you up to move more. They are often sweat or water-resistant too. Alternatively, to avoid the tangle of wires in the gym, choose true wireless headphones that sit separately in each ear canal.
Music can spur you on when running but you still need to be aware of your surroundings. The best running headphones sit on your cheekbones to deliver sound straight to your inner ear rather than past your eardrum – letting you enjoy your music but still hear passing traffic.
With the outstanding audio quality involved in video games now, sound levels are all about deep immersion. Geared towards serious gaming, specially designed noise-cancelling headsets take the experience to a new intensity and maximise your play.
Ensure your headphones stay in excellent condition with these tips:
- When you get your headphones, read the manual or quick start guides before use
- Store your headphones in a clean, dust-free environment and don’t expose them to high temperatures
- Avoid damp contact with buttons, slots or plugs
- Use a soft cloth to clean your headphones – no cleaning products or solvents
- If you have in-ear headphones, use a dry cloth to clean them
- Ear adaptors can be removed and should be cleaned regularly (and replace them if damaged or worn)
- Avoid extreme cable twisting and knotting, and be cautious when cleaning the cable