1. FIND YOUR FAVOURITE STYLE
Over-ear headphones envelope your entire ear, offering top sound quality through their larger speakers – and doubling as ear muffs when it’s cold!
On-ear headphones sit lightly on your ears and combine decent sound with fashion-forward design.
In-ear headphones ‘plug’ the entrance of your ear canal, sealing in the sound. Their snug fit makes them ideal if you’re exercising, and they won’t mess up your ‘do, but the audio quality can’t compete with a decent set of full-size ‘cans’.
2. WIRED OR WIRELESS?The venerable 3.5mm jack has been the default way to connect headphones to your music player for generations, but improved Bluetooth now means you can hook them up wirelessly (although staying tangle-free comes at the price of having to charge your headset regularly).
Meanwhile, JBL and Philips have produced headphones that connect through your handset’s charging port, making sense of the rumours that Apple is ditching the 3.5mm jack altogether on its next iPhone.
3. CONSIDER NOISE CANCELLINGIf a snoring passenger or screaming child has ever made you wish you’d packed a parachute in your hand luggage, I suggest you buy headphones with active noise-cancelling, like these new QuietControl 30 earphones from Bose.
A microphone identifies the sounds around you, and then emits opposing signals to cancel them out, so you can enjoy your in-flight movie in peace.
Some are rechargeable, others are powered by a good-old AAA battery, or Philips has a set that plugs into your iPhone’s Lightning connector and draws power from its battery.
4. GET A SPORTY SET FOR THE GYMPower through the toughest gym session to the beat of the ultimate workout playlist with lightweight headphones designed to fight off sweat and stay securely in your ears.
A head or neckband will hold them in place, and an in-line control can be used adjust the volume, skip tracks or answer the phone without having to pull out your phone mid-jog.
Some sporty phones even have waterproof earbuds that you can wash off after your workout.
You can jump up, jump up and get down to your heart’s content in the wireless SHQ8300 Action-Fit Bluetooth sports headphones, £69.99 from Philips (above). They’re sweatproof, and if you buy two pairs, your gym buddy can listen to the same music streamed from your phone.
5. THINK ABOUT PORTABILITYBar headphones made to hook up to your high-end home hi-fi, most are designed to be worn on the move. If you’re risking them in the depths of your bag, see if they come with a case to protect them from scratchy keys, crumbs and sweaty gym kit.
On- and over-ear cans sometimes fold down to take up less room – like this set of h.ear on MDR-100ABN over-ear headphones, £220 from Sony.
In-ear designs might also have tangle-resistant cords. If you’re lucky, you might even get a free adaptor that lets you connect to in-flight entertainment systems with dual headphone jacks. AmyTweet