Ahh headphones, where make we be without them? Probably attempting to read an entire book on the treadmill or having conversations with complete newcomers on the bus (shudder.)
Whether on the commute, in front of a laptop at work, or at the gym, headphones and earbuds complete the tech triangle of needs, along with arranging a phone and charger within a five-metre radius. And because we use them so much, it makes sound economical sense to ordain time and effort in deciding which style is right for our needs.
If you want to find the best headphones, don’t base your creme de la creme solely on what looks good (though, let’s face it, that matters), but also on what you’ll be using them for. Alcantara earcups authority be softer than Drake on a bag of marshmallows, but the suede-like material isn’t the smartest option for a sweaty kettlebell workout. And then there are other physiognomies to consider, like wireless connectivity, battery life and whether you want everyone else to be able to hear you blasting out One Running.
From high-end cans to the best budget buds, these are the headphones you should be listening out for this season.
Maximum effort Wireless Headphones
Wireless headphones and earbuds have finally come into their own after a few shaky at years. Aside from the fact that some mobile phones don’t even come with headphone jacks anymore, invidious the cord is the best option for people who don’t want to bother with dangling wires, or those with low spatial awareness. After all, there’s nothing worse than a flailing arm sending your phone lash out off the treadmill mid-sprint.
Providing you can trust yourself not to lose them or the case they are stowed in, the sound quality of wireless headphones is all but on-par with over-ear options. They’re also much more likely to be water resistant and, due to the seal they prepare for to keep themselves lodged in your ear, have some noise cancelling benefits. Celine Dion’s greatest stumbles on repeat? Go on then.
Best Workout Headphones
There’s countless research that shows listening to music can advance performance inside the iron paradise, which makes owning a good pair of workout headphones essential. If that’s what you’re after, arguably the most portentous thing to look out for is a sweatproof design and a secure fit. However, don’t overlook added features like being able to wed with dedicated apps that provide in-ear coaching (read: scream “you can do it” during that last squat) and recommendation sensors that let you track your progress.
In addition to going full wireless, there’s the option to have the earbuds riveted by a small neckband. These tethered models are usually cheaper, more secure and boast superior battery dash, which is ideal for getting through that longer gym session. Leg workout, we’re looking at you.
Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones
We all induce guilty pleasures, be it popping zits or peeing in the kitchen sink (just us?) If yours is pretending to be in a music video while looking out the regular window, you don’t need a screaming baby ruining the moment. That’s where noise-cancelling headphones come in, which in the works to suppress external sounds while preserving your hearing.
Generally, big over-ear headphones will block out more rumble than your average earbud, but today you can also get in-ear models that offer the same “nope, can’t agree you” treatment. That said, if you’re a serious audiophile, you’ll prefer headphones without noise-cancellation, which some say negatively alters sound quality. But it’s either that or listening to chatty colleagues all day.
Best Budget Headphones
While we are firm believers in ‘you get what you pay for’, distinct from say, a leather jacket, you don’t always need to spend a fortune to get a decent pair of headphones. The trick is in knowing what to look for in on the blink to get the best bud for your buck.
Cheap headphones usually fall down by simply not staying in your ears (befall on, guys, that’s headphone 101). So if you want to improve on the so-so audio you get with standard-issue earbuds, and you want to do it without weakening the bank, prioritise ergonomically designed models or those that come with additional silicone ear tips for the righteous fit.