Five of the best headphones on the market

Jonathan Weinberg

Whether you’re enjoying music, podcasts or internet radio, a decent pair of headphones can make a big difference to the quality of your audio experience.

But do you go for in-ear or over your lugholes? How much should you spend? Which are better for your MP3 player? And which blocks out the most noise around you?

Below we pick five of the best. You can be safe that all sound great, so we’ve highlighted the key features to make your listening easy.

We’re showing their RRPs but a quick search of the internet can find much cheaper deals.

Best premium - Sennheiser MM550 Travel - £349.99

There's very little these cans can't do and they really hit the spot with built-in wireless Bluetooth technology to pair them with an iPhone, iPod touch or Bluetooth-enabled MP3 player.

Very comfortable with large cups sitting tight over the ears, any extra external noise is dealt with by a quick press of the NoiseGard button to electronically dull the world around you.

A built-in microphone allows hands-free calling while volume and track buttons feature on the right-hand cup with a button to boost bass.

They fold up neatly for travelling and while you do have to charge them, a cable is available if needed on a plane.

Once you’ve got to grips with the many buttons, these compare favourably to rivals such as Bose QuietComfort and Bowers and Wilkins P5s with plenty of extras for the cash.

Best for pros – Beats Pro by Dr. Dre - £349.99

If you DJ, edit audio or simply desire classy sounds, then these are Monster by name of manufacturer and monster by nature.

They do remain surprisingly lightweight though with each side able to flip up to hear what’s happening around you.

The Dr. Dre range does include cheaper versions for the average audiophile but with the professional price tag these create a stonking sound with deep bass while tight comfortable cups ensure no leakage out or in.

A handy extra port allows another set of headphones to share the party raging inside your head. The volume here can be cranked to the max without degrading the experience.

Best for comfort – Etymotic mc2/mc3 - £75

These won’t break the bank and won’t keep slipping either as the plastic tips have a clever ridged design formed by three different sized cups.

Sitting neatly in your ear canal, they won’t budge, no matter how much head-banging you do.

A quality sound experience is complemented by decent noise isolation, with makers Etymotic claiming it’s the most accurate at that price.

An inline microphone control allows you to make calls using your smartphone while the mc3 model features the same technology but extra buttons specifically for iPhone, iPod or iPad.

The best thing about any Etymotic headset is the ability to visit one of 300 outlets around the UK and pay £70 for personalised moulds to match the exact shape inside your ear for unrivalled performance.

All Etymotic m3 owners can also download the AWARENESS! iOS app to program different volume settings for different environments.

Best for iPhone/iPad – Bowers & Wilkins C5 - £149.95

The clever Secure Loop design means these C5s fit even more snug than traditional ear buds.

A tough plastic loop slots in the ridge at the top of your ear, holding the tip in place inside the canal. Despite being quite rigid, it does have a comfortable cushioned feel.

The Apple-approved controls are housed in a sleek black tube so you can make calls and control music on your iPhone and iPad.

Functions work by the number of clicks for example, two moves tracks forward and three goes back a song.

You can be confident of audio quality too as this British company, founded in the 1960s, provide loudspeakers for the famous Abbey Road Studios.

Best for value – Ministry of Sound MOS006 - £39.99

Many over the ear headphones are either too bulky or look cheap and flimsy. These walk that design tightrope perfectly.

With a value-for-money price, they deliver crystal sound whether you’re listening to traditional Ministry dance or the latest cheesy pop.

I love the cushioned foam headband, which soon feels like it’s not even there and the gun metal ears provide a stylish premium look.

There are no controls on the cable but it’s a coiled and thick piece of plastic that won’t tangle.