We review the best headphones you can buy in the UK in 2015. Get the most for your money with our top headphones for your smartphone or tablet. including best in-ear headphones, best on-ear headphones and best over-ear headphones. Updated on 14/7/15. See also: Best headphones for kids.
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, and I can't be the only person who travels to work in a train carriage silent to the outside world as my fellow travellers concentrate on music, podcasts, audiobooks and video to make the commute more fun (endurable).
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. I may wrinkle my nose at the bassy stylings of Beats by Dre Studio headphones, but I know plenty of DJ friends 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.
If you really are strapped for cash, check out our best budget headphones group test where all entries are under £50.
The types of headphones on offer are fairly self-explanatorybut 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.
Regardless, here are the pick of all the headphones we have reviewed that are on the market right now. Best headphones for value, best headphones for audio, best headphones for exercise, best Bluetooth wireless headphones, and so on. 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 UK 2015
20. Onkyo ES-HF300
- Reviewed on: 15 July 13
- RRP: £179 inc VAT
We found lots to like in the ES-HF300 headphones, starting with their good insight into the music mix, and low scope that didn't drown out everything above. Like many far-eastern voiced headphones, they have a crisp, trebly quality that throws the window open to detail, although that can also make them over analytical.
Read our Onkyo ES-HF300 review.
- Reviewed on: 8 July 15
- RRP: £249 inc VAT
If you can afford the price, the Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless headphones provide decent sound over Bluetooth offering punchy bass without going over the top. There are handy features such as NFC, a touchpad for control and a microphone for calls, but build is a little on the plastic side and these headphones are pretty bulky.
Read our Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless review.
- Reviewed on: 8 November 13
- RRP: £75 inc VAT
At £75 the WoodTones aren’t exactly cheap, but the quality construction, excellent sound, and elegant design make them well worth the investment. The ability to manipulate your device via the inline controller is a very useful one, and the wood finish elevates the WoodTones above the sea of plastic that is usually on offer.
- Reviewed on: 13 September 13
- RRP: £269.95 inc VAT
The Beats Studio is two things; firstly they are powerful headphones that are great for hip-hop or electronic music, secondly they are a desirable fashion accessory/statement. If that’s what you’re after then these are great - if you’re looking for a more rounded audio performance then you might be better off looking elsewhere, especially for the price.
Read our Beats by Dre Studio review.
- Reviewed on: 24 July 14
- RRP: £99 inc. VAT
Comfortable to use, well built and offering decent if not great audio, there's not a lot to dislike about the iT7s2. They are easy to use and offer decent battery life. Our only real quibbles are the generally poor quality of almost all Bluetooth audio, and the price. But you can't really go wireless and complain about the former, and in the post-Beats world a hundred quid is actually pretty reasonable. A good, solid headset for the gym.
Read our iT7s2 review.
- Reviewed on: 14 April 14
- RRP: £75 inc. VAT
Good to look at, nicely put together and comfortable to use. With only a couple of minor caveats we are impressed with the MeElectronics Atlas Orion. Audio quality is good but not great. But at this price that makes the MeElectronics Atlas Orion a headset worth purchasing.
Read our MeElectronics Atlas Orion review.
- Reviewed on: 2 June 14
- RRP: £450 inc. VAT
Although expensive, we rate the Sony MDR-HW700DS wireless surround headphones as a compelling alternative to a physical multichannel speaker setup, and they're a great practical solution when it's just not possible to crank things up.
13. Rock Jaw Kommand
- Reviewed on: 27 May 15
- RRP: £119 inc VAT
The Kommand IEM is a step up from the Alpha Genus and any other sub-£50 headphones, but you'd expect that at more than twice that price. There's lots to like about their sound quality, but some might find the ear hooks uncomfortable.
Read our Rock Jaw Kommand review.
12. Sony MDR-1RBT
- Reviewed on: 1 March 13
- RRP: £339 inc VAT
Sony’s MDR-1RBT headphones sound equally good whether you’re listening wired or wirelessly. Hooking up with Bluetooth does give a bit of a bump to bass and treble, too, as well as the convenience of no cords. The convenience of NFC - if you’ve got a compatible mobile - is even better.
Read our Sony MDR-1RBT review.
- Reviewed on: 11 April 14
- RRP: £89.99 inc. VAT
We were impressed with the Creative Hitz WP380 wireless headphones, for sound quality, comfort and wireless freedom. Once you tried Bluetooth headphones going back to wired models seems rather primitive. Sound quality is great and these headphones are comfortable to wear and don’t leak much noise to the outside world.
- Reviewed on: 20 October 14
- RRP: £179.99 inc. VAT
The Sennheiser MM 400-X Bluetooth headphones offer true portability with excellent wired and wireless audio. At £179 they're not cheap but they feel comfortable and robust and boast sound that beats other Bluetooth headphones we've tested. The two-year warranty is also appreciated.
9. RHA MA450i
- Reviewed on: 31 July 14
- RRP: £40 inc VAT
The MA450i isn't the cheapest pair of headphones you can buy, but you get indisputable benefits for the extra money. Good design, plenty of features and great quality – all without breaking the bank.
Read our RHA MA450i review.
- Reviewed on: 5 July 12
- RRP: £169
Bowers & Wilkins has delivered an excellent balance of price, design, build quality and sound performance with the P3. For the reasonable price of £169 you get a comfortable and stylish pair of portable headphones with balanced and clear sound.
Read our Bowers & Wilkins P3 review.
- Reviewed on: 6 July 15
- RRP: £329.99 inc VAT
We said in our Series 2 review that some might find the £249 price a little hard to swallow, and it’s harder still to stump up £80 more for the removal of a cable. Yet, if you are specifically after wireless headphones, these are one of the best pairs we’ve tested.
Read our B&W P5 Wireless review.
6. KEF M500
- Reviewed on: 12 July 13
- RRP: £250 inc VAT
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: 19 May 15
- RRP: £249 inc VAT
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.
- Reviewed on: 27 September 13
- RRP: £89 inc VAT
Although Denon's AH-W150 Bluetooth earphones are not for audiophiles, they produce excellent sound quality and volume at an affordable price point, particularly considering they are wireless.
Read our Denon AH-W150 Wireless Fitness review.
- Reviewed on: 31 December 13
- RRP: £239 inc VAT
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: 14 July 15
- RRP: £79 inc VAT
Well-balanced and versatile, the Audio-Technica headphones are revealing without becoming tiring – either sonically or in comfort terms. They deliver in sound quality and with a dramatic price drop are a great buy.
Read our Audio-Technica ATH-WS99 review.
- Reviewed on: 11 July 13
- RRP: £350 inc VAT
The AH-D600 headphones offer armchair comfort with analytical insight into the musical mix. These headphones possess comfort levels that rise above lighter street-friendly designs, but that will make them a little bulky and ostentatious for most people to use on the move. Nevertheless, if you want a great taste of high-end head sound the Denons will deliver with majestic and relaxed sound.
Read our Denon AH-D600 review.