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Best headphone brands

By Lewis Skinner

The best headphones are comfortable, durable and above all sound fantastic. They bring the most out of your music collection, with a careful balance of treble, mid-range and bass. Here's the Which? guide to the brands you can trust. 

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

Which? has put hundreds of headphones to the test at our independent lab over the years. We check the sound quality across a number of genres - from classical and jazz to pop and rock - to make sure you’ll get the most out of your music. Each pair of headphones is also tested for comfort, durability and sound leakage.

In this guide, we reveal unique information on what we've learnt about each of the biggest headphone brands, such as Bose, Sony and Sennheiser. We'll tell you which brands you can trust to be reliable - and which ones you should avoid at all costs.

For the full lowdown on all the latest models, go straight to our headphones reviews.

Best and worst headphone brands

Every year, we survey thousands of Which? members about their audio products to find out which are the most and least reliable. Our unique survey helps us identify the brands that people trust, and would recommend to a friend, with verdicts on headphones from all the major brands.

Which? members can log in now to unlock the scores in the table. If you're not already a Which? member, try full access for one month with a £1 trial and discover the benefits of having thousands of product test results at your fingertips.

Which? members can log in to see the headphone brands behind the ratings. If you're not already a member, you can take a Which? trial.

In-ear

Brand Average test score Customer score Reliability rating
69% 84%

No matter what type of headphones you are looking for, this brand is likely to have something to offer. It currently has an unrivalled three in-ear Best Buys, including a noise-cancelling model.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

72% 54%

One of the biggest names in technology, this brand has a small range of headphones - including one Best Buy. Its reliability score is great but it gets the worst customer score here.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

59% 67%

This brand has a bit of everything - from entry-level sub £30 in-ear headphones, to wireless over-ear headphones - and they prove to be fairly reliable. Test scores range from 38% to 87%, so be careful which ones you opt for.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

63% 62%

One of the pioneers of portable music, this brand has been making headphones for decades. The huge range should have something for everyone, from casual listeners to professional DJs.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

Key

Member Content

On-ear

 
Brand Average test score Customer score Reliability rating
71% 90%

No matter what type of headphones you are looking for, this brand is likely to have something to offer. It's also produced our highest scoring on-ear model.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

57% 90%

This specialist audio brand tops our reliability table with its range of colourful in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones, though it hasn't had any Best Buys to date.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

63% 80%

One of the pioneers of portable music, this brand has been making headphones for decades. The huge range should have something for everyone, from casual listeners to professional DJs.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

51% 73%

This brand has a bit of everything - from entry-level sub £30 in-ear headphones, to wireless over-ear headphones - and they prove to be fairly reliable. Test scores range from 38% to 87%, so be careful which ones you opt for.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

Key

Member Content

Over-ear

 
Brand Average test score Customer score Reliability rating
70% 88%

No matter what type of headphones you are looking for, this brand is likely to have something to offer. It currently has an unrivalled three Best Buys, including Bluetooth and noise-cancelling models.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

65% 86%

This specialist audio brand tops our reliability table with its range of colourful in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones, though it hasn't had any Best Buys to date.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

58% 77%

One of the pioneers of portable music, this brand has been making headphones for decades. The huge range should have something for everyone, from casual listeners to professional DJs.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

67% 81%  

This brand has a bit of everything - from entry-level sub £30 in-ear headphones, to wireless over-ear headphones - and they prove to be fairly reliable. Test scores range from 38% to 87%, so be careful which ones you opt for.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

59% 64%  

This brand performs well in our test lab, without quite making it to Best Buy standard. Its four star reliability rating is impressive, but its customer score is a worry.

Find out which headphone brand we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.

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Member Content

Choose the best brand of headphones

Which? has a wealth of information on Britain's favourite tech brands. Every year we ask Which? members to tell us about the technology products they own - from how happy they are to recommend a brand, to how reliable the products are. This year nearly 11,000 Which? members told us about more than 30,000 devices.

We calculate a brand's reliability and its customer score based on the results of an annual survey. This year we had enough respondents to report on popular high street headphone brands, such as Sony and Bose, as well as specialist audio brands, including AKG and Sennheiser. The most reliable brand has a score of 100%, compared to 78% for the least reliable brand.

Our reliability surveys help Which? to uncover common headphone problems that can affect owners over time. Combined with our extensive lab tests, this means we can recommend the best headphones for you to buy.

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