Compared to on-ear and in-ear headphones, which are loved for their portability and generally low asking-price, over-ear headphones tend to be the best option to get if you’re looking for the most immersive sound experience and don’t mind a bigger set of headphones.
10. Denon AH-MM400
Walnut-finished with serious audio quality
Great all-round audio experience
Well-built, well-designed chassis
Denon’s AH-MM400 headphones really impress. They do just miss out compared with the more expensive Oppo PM-3 headphones in a straight fight on separation and complete audio detail, but at this rarified end of the audio market the differences are marginal; you’d have to listen hard to discern where the planar magnetic drivers of the Oppos pull ahead of the standard dynamic drivers in the MM400s.
But that doesn’t stop the MM400s from being a lovely pair of headphones, with great, natural sound and a warmth of tone that easily justifies their price.
9. Bowers & Wilkins P7
Possibly the most regal looking headphones out there
The P7 offers wonderful sound, and if you couldn’t tell, they look dashing. Dressed to the nines in leather and shiny metal detail, the prowess expressed in design carries over into the robust sound quality pumped out of the drivers. But for nearly $400, we recommend finding a set to try on before taking the big plunge.
8. Sony MDR-1000X
Noise-cancelling headphones that care about Hi-Res Audio
Quick Attention mode
Lengthy battery life
The MDR-1000X are definitely the closest competitor to Bose’s QuietComfort series I’ve ever had the pleasure of testing. Some high-end codecs (LDAC, AAC and aptX) help the 1000X sound even better than the QC35s, but ultimately the noise canceling is a bit less effective in Sony’s pair of cans.
What should drive your decision on whether to buy the MDR-1000X is your music player – if you’re a Sony Xperia owner, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair of headphones that sound as good as these with noise canceling tech built-in. Even if you’re not, Sony’s wares are still worth a listen – and maybe a purchase – if you aren’t too put out by its $400 (£330 or AU$700) price tag.
7. Bose QuietComfort 35
Bose cut the wires off its flagship cans with great success
Broad and clear soundstage
Amazing noise cancellation
Bose has finally brought its fantastic noise-cancelling technology to a pair of wireless headphones and it’s done so without any of the traditional drawbacks of wireless headphones. They sound great, and their battery life is long enough for all but the longest of flights.
At $349.95 (£289.95 / AU pricing tbc) the QC35s sit firmly at the premium end of the spectrum, but if you want the best noise-cancelling headphones available right now then you can’t get any better.
6. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
Incredible audio fidelity backed by a serious price
Everlasting battery life
These no-holds-barred wireless headphones are oozing with positive qualities, but for many, they’re almost prohibitively expensive. However, if you’re an audio lover that can spare the expense, do not hesitate on this comfortable, hard-working set of headphones that will likely last for years.
5. Sony MDR-ZX770BT
Affordable wireless headphones that deliver big
Fantastic battery life
Sometimes, sacrifice isn’t necessary. Sony’s wizards stuffed a glut of features, cool design and a long-lasting battery into the MDR-ZX770BT, making this cheap set of wireless headphones a must-buy.
4. Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7
These over-ear headphones bring both performance and value
Includes lots of goodies
Incredible sound performance
It can be an expensive journey if you’re looking for a set of headphones that sound as good as they look. That’s why Audio-Technica’s MSR7 are a sight (and sound) to behold if good sound and sharp build quality are priorities.
These wired headphones retail for $250 (£199, AU$349), which isn’t cheap, but we think you’ll love these. Why? First off, the sound is incredibly well-balanced, pushing out crisp highs and deep lows without distortion. Second, the build materials and included goodies help to offset the cost.
3. Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro
Recording studio pedigree, at a price
Beautifully crafted soundscape
The Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pros are a stunning pair of headphones. Are they expensive? To some no, to most yes; but for the sheer listening experience they deliver you’d be hard pressed to take them off after putting them on, even using them with portable HRA players and mobile phones.
That said, they really do push the boundaries of what you can do with a dynamic driver. All praise to Beyerdynamic for putting together such a wonderful product.
2. Philips Fidelio X2
Brilliant headphones for a brilliant price
The Philips Fidelio X2’s are a superb pair of headphones offering premium comfort and build quality with a sound that rivals even the most vaunted audiophile cans.
1. Oppo PM-3
Closed back planar magnetic headphones from the gods
Stunning sound quality
The Oppo PM-3’s are a truly stunning pair of headphones. Make no mistake, we’ve reviewed a lot of headphones in the last 10 years but none have we become more fond of than the PM-3.
They’re equally comfortable being plugged into a headphone amp at home as they are commuting through the hustle and bustle of a big city, and they stand head and shoulders above rival products from bigger brands. We really can’t recommend them highly enough, they’re just amazing.