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The 26 best headphones of 2014: the best sets of earbuds and headphones for iPhone, iPad, Android and more

We review and rank the 26 best sets of headphones you can buy

Headphones review

We review the top 26 headphones you can buy in the UK right now. Get the most for your money with our best headphones for your smartphone or tablet. 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 - 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 travelers concentrate on music, podcasts, audiobooks and video to make the commute more fun.

Headphones are more than just a functional device. Like the display on your PC they are the crucial part in the ling 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.

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, and so on. Enjoy! We will be updating this article as we review more headphones, so stay tuned.

Top 26 best headphones of 2014

26. Sennheiser Momentum Black

Sennheiser Momentum Black
  • Reviewed on: 15 July 13
  • RRP: £260 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 6 out of 10

We found the Sennheiser Momentum headphone to be a surprising step away from the classic, level Sennheiser sound, if sadly toward the muted and tuneless thump of fashion 'phones popularised by Beats. There's little treble content to cause offence, but we found them just as wearing from excessive bass boom.

25. Onkyo ES-HF300

Onkyo ES-HF300
  • Reviewed on: 15 July 13
  • RRP: £179 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

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.

24. Monster iSport Victory

Monster iSport Victory
  • Reviewed on: 26 August 13
  • RRP: £129.99
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

There are much cheaper in-ear headphones that deliver the same quality sound. Nevertheless, the Monster iSport Victory sit quite well in the ear and perform well in all conditions.

23. Noontec Zoro HD

Noontec Zoro HD
  • Reviewed on: 30 July 13
  • RRP: £50 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

Decent audio quality, solid build quality, and a price that is guaranteed to shift. There's not much to dislike about the Noontec Zoro HD headphones, just don't mention Dr Dre.

22. iT7x

iT7x
  • Reviewed on: 3 December 12
  • RRP: £150 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

Well-built and stylish, the iT7x headset is a full-featured, high-performance set of Bluetooth earphones. The sound isn't as good as the best wired audio equipment, but in general we are fans.

21. Sennheiser Amperior

Sennheiser Amperior
  • Reviewed on: 27 July 12
  • RRP: £259.95 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

Sennheiser's new Amperior headphones offer rugged good looks and excellent sound quality. Read our review to find out more.

20. V-Moda Crossfade M-100

V-Moda Crossfade M-100
  • Reviewed on: 16 July 13
  • RRP: £270
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

Expensive but with so much care poured into the construction and bundled accessories, it's not hard to see these are the brainchild of a music-first company. Yes, we would have liked more insight into the details of recording, but there are other headphones for that. For these Crossfade M-100s, it's about shameless audio enjoyment.

19. Philips CityScape Downtown

Philips CityScape Downtown
  • Reviewed on: 6 November 12
  • RRP: £59 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The Philips CityScape Downtown headphones offer comfort and style for a very affordable price. Sound quality is respectable but not astounding, but we didn't expect anything more for the asking price.

18. Motörheadphönes Iron Fist

Motörheadphönes Iron Fist
  • Reviewed on: 14 November 12
  • RRP: £99.99
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

Don’t be misled by the posturing look and mock-gothic script printed over these ‘phones. They’ll suit a wide range of music – and that includes rap and metal. If you are a Heavy Metal fan then the Motörheadphönes will be Ace, and you should Bite The Bullet, make the Sacrifice and buy a pair straight away to show your allegiance. Lemmy have ‘em! If you’re more of a Mantovani person they’ll be a little Overkill and you might prefer to be Deaf Forever.

17. Tracks HD

Tracks HD
  • Reviewed on: 29 October 13
  • RRP: £99
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The Sol Republic Tracks HD are sleek and simply designed, plus customizable down to the colour of the cord. Their sound quality is nothing to sneeze at, either.

16. Plantronics BackBeat Go 2

Plantronics BackBeat Go 2
  • Reviewed on: 30 September 13
  • RRP: £69.55 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 earbuds produce decent quality sound for a reasonable price and are a big improvement over the original model. However, we still long for improved battery life and better quality bass.

15. Logitech UE 9000 headphones

Logitech UE 9000 headphones
  • Reviewed on: 21 January 13
  • RRP: £299 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The high price of the Logitech UE 9000 is what’s stopping us recommending them outright. If you can find them for a significant discount where they begin to compete with the Audio-Technicas, Boses and Polk Audios in the sub-£200 price range, we’d give them serious consideration for the convenience of the combination of Bluetooth and high-capacity internal battery.

14. SteelSeries Flux headset (luxury edition)

SteelSeries Flux headset (luxury edition)
  • Reviewed on: 16 September 13
  • RRP: £53.99 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

If you're looking for a solid headset for gaming, the Luxury Edition of the SteelSeries Flux is a good investment. It could use some refinement though, especially when it comes to padding under the headband.

13. Griffin WoodTones Over-the-Ear headphones

Griffin WoodTones Over-the-Ear headphones
  • Reviewed on: 8 November 13
  • RRP: £75 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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.

12. KEF M500

KEF M500
  • Reviewed on: 12 July 13
  • RRP: £250 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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.

11. Beats by Dre Studio

Beats by Dre Studio
  • Reviewed on: 13 September 13
  • RRP: £269.95 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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.

10. iT7s2

iT7s2
  • Reviewed on: 24 July 14
  • RRP: £99 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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.

9. MeElectronics Atlas Orion

MeElectronics Atlas Orion
  • Reviewed on: 14 April 14
  • RRP: £75 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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.

8. Sony MDR-HW700DS 9.1 wireless headphones

Sony MDR-HW700DS 9.1 wireless headphones
  • Reviewed on: 2 June 14
  • RRP: £450 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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.

7. Sony MDR-1RBT

Sony MDR-1RBT
  • Reviewed on: 1 March 13
  • RRP: £339 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

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.

6. Creative Hitz WP380 wireless headphones

Creative Hitz WP380 wireless headphones
  • Reviewed on: 11 April 14
  • RRP: £89.99 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

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.

5. RHA MA450i

RHA MA450i
  • Reviewed on: 31 July 14
  • RRP: £40 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

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.

4. Bowers & Wilkins P3

Bowers & Wilkins P3
  • Reviewed on: 5 July 12
  • RRP: £169
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

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.

3. Denon AH-W150 Wireless Fitness

Denon AH-W150 Wireless Fitness
  • Reviewed on: 27 September 13
  • RRP: £89 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

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.

2. Bose QuietComfort 20

Bose QuietComfort 20
  • Reviewed on: 31 December 13
  • RRP: £239 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

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.

1. Denon AH-D600

Denon AH-D600
  • Reviewed on: 11 July 13
  • RRP: £350 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

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.

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