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Sony unveils new ‘smart’ wireless headphones

Over-ear 1000X headphones adjust sound based on movement and air pressure

This year’s IFA tech show in Berlin has been packed with exciting new audio products, including ‘smart’ headphones from Sony and an unusual wearable speaker from JBL.

We’ve seen headphones of all shapes and sizes launched this week, from major audio brands including Sony, Audio Technica and JBL. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the key announcements.

Best Buy headphones – comfy headphones that sound as good as they look

Sony headphones at IFA 2017

Sony has announced a range of new audio products, alongside its compact RX0 action cam and new wireless connected speaker.

First up are the wireless Sony WF-1000X headphones, which come with built-in noise cancelling. They could be a good fit for runners or gym goers thanks to their tiny design, and Ambient Sound Control means the sound will change depending on whether you’re moving around or not. Sony promises nine hours of battery life, but we’ll see how we get on when we test them for ourselves later in the year. They’ll be priced at around £200.

WI-1000X (left), WH-1000XM2 (middle), WF-1000X (right)

Sony’s over-ear WH-1000XM2 headphones are far chunkier, also arriving with Ambient Sound Control. You can place your hand over the earcup to temporarily lower volume without having to remove the headphones, and Sony says a 10-minute charge will give you 70 minutes of play. These will set you back around £330.

Then there’s the Sony WI-1000X headphones. These Bluetooth headphones wrap around your neck to make them easy to use on the move, and the band will vibrate when you have an incoming call. Available from September, these will cost £300.

Don’t fancy waiting around to pick up Sony’s new arrivals? Head over to our Sony headphone reviews for our recommendations on models available now.

New arrivals from Audio Technica

Audio Technica is battling against Sony at IFA this year. From November, you’ll be able to pick up the ATH-AR5BT headphones for £169. These over-ear headphones can be used wirelessly via Bluetooth and support NFC (near-field communication), which means you can tap them against compatible devices for near-instant pairing. A microphone is included and there are physical buttons on the left earcup for switching tracks and adjusting volume.

ATH-AR5BT (left), ATH-CKR75BT (right)

Looking for a new set of in-ear headphones? Audio Technica has three new options to consider – the ATH-CKR75BT (£149), CKR55BT (£89) and CKR35BT (£55). Unsurprisingly, the most expensive of the three, the ATH-CKR75BT headphones, are a step ahead. That’s thanks to a larger audio driver and an aluminium casing, said to reduce vibrations that can have a negative impact on audio quality. All three of these in-ear headphone models will be available to buy from October.

For more details on this brand’s other headphones, see our Audio Technica headphone reviews.

JBL audio range includes odd wearable speaker

JBL has been busy, showing off headphones suitable for the morning commute and some colourful sets for children. It’s aiming to rival Apple’s AirPods with its new earbuds, called Free, said to offer up to four hours of wireless playback between charges. They come with their own smart charging case and can be used to take hands-free calls, due to go on sale in October for around £120.

The Bluetooth-equipped JBL E65BT headphones come with noise-cancelling technology, while the eye-catching JBL Jr headphones are designed for younger ears. They’re aimed at children up to 10 years old and can last up to 12 hours. There are a couple of features included to keep parents happy, such as Safe Sound, which limits the maximum volume. These wireless child-friendly headphones will be on sale for £40, while the even cheaper wired alternative will be just £20.

For more on budget-priced headphones, we suggest you take a look at our guide on the top five best cheap headphones for 2017.

JBL Free (left), JBL Soundgear (middle left), JBL E65BT (middle right), JBL Jr (right)

Although we can’t class the JBL Soundgear as a pair of headphones, we have to mention it as it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before. This curved wireless speaker sits around your neck so you can ‘carry’ your music around with you, potentially making it handy if you’re running errands around the house and don’t want to wear headphones. It’ll go on sale for £200 in November and we’re looking forward to getting our hands on it.

Top headphones for 2017

While our range of Best Buy headphones have impressed our audio experts with booming bass and crystal-clear sound, their Don’t Buy alternatives aren’t worth your time. In fact, the worst headphones we’ve had in our test lab are uncomfortable to wear and hardly fit for a true audiophile. Thankfully, our testing proves you don’t need to spend big to land yourself a set of Best Buy headphones.

We’ve rounded up the best headphones around to make sure you’re guaranteed value for money. To see which models topped our tests and impressed our listening panel enough for a Best Buy title, see our guide to the top headphones for 2017. Otherwise, head over to our headphone reviews for our verdict on the latest releases from the likes of Apple, Bose and Sony.

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