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18 Aug 2019

Plug in and jet off: are these new headphones ideal for travelling?

Which? expert headphone reviews uncover the best headphones for those long journeys

To see which headphones will keep you entertained on your way from A to B, we test everything from sound quality to sound leakage. We've recently had our hands (and ears) on headphones from Jabra, Samsung and Sony, but are any of them Best Buys?

If you're looking for some headphones to join you on your travels, noise-cancelling options are a safe bet. But without consulting our expert reviews, you might grab a pair that fail to cut out all the unwanted noise.

We've also just named the best music streaming service that will perfectly complement your new pair of headphones. So if you want to know which is top for music recommendations and availability of content, you'll want to listen to our recommendations.

Best headphones- crystal-clear audio with your favourite albums

Which headphones are ideal for journeys?

Commuting to work every day? You'll probably want to hush the noise at a busy train station or on a packed double-decker. We recommend noise-cancelling headphones in this case.

Some noise-cancelling headphones we've tested use ambient sound mode to eliminate certain sounds around you. And if you opt for a wireless pair, you won't have to untangle your cables when you dig the headphones out of your bag. Different types of headphones have their own pros and cons:

  • In-ear headphones - design reduces sound leakage, although some people can struggle to get a good fit in their ears
  • On-ear headphones - easy to put on, but not all of them are comfortable for long listening sessions
  • Over-ear headphones - generally good for comfort, but can sometimes be let down by bulky design
  • Wireless headphones - no tangled wires, but you'll need to charge them before long journeys
  • Noise-cancelling headphones - they can block out external noise, but the technology packed inside can raise the price

The latest headphones on test

Jabra Elite 65t (£149)

These truly wireless in-ear headphones from Jabra arrive in their own charging case like Apple's AirPods. You can use them hands-free, thanks to built-in support for Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa.

If you're trying to listen out for a service announcement at the train station, you can use ambient sound mode to temporarily let outside noise through the headphones. Once you've got the information you need, you can lose yourself in your music again.

We've tested these wireless Jabra headphones in our lab to see whether they're reliable commuting companions. See how we got on with our full Jabra Elite 65t review.

Jabra Elite 85h (£280)

If you really want to immerse yourself in that album you've been obsessing over, these over-ear headphones might be on your radar. A foldable design means you'll have no trouble chucking them into your bag.

The Jabra Elite 85h headphones use noise-cancelling technology to block out the outside world. By downloading the Jabra smartphone app, you can turn on SmartSound. This mode uses the built-in microphone to decide how loud you'll want your music based on your location - there are unique profiles for 'In public', 'In private' and 'Commute'.

But is the sound good enough to justify the price tag? See how these headphones compare to similarly priced rivals with our Jabra Elite 85h review.

Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 (£129.99)

If you want to keep costs low, take a look at the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 headphones - they're cheaper than most high-end wireless pairs. These over-ear headphones are available in white, blue and black and have controls on the side to let you change volume and skip tracks.

Like the Jabra headphones above, the BackBeat headphones are bundled with a 3.5mm cable so you can use them in wired mode if the battery dies. As the earcups twist 90 degrees to lie flat, you'll have less of a problem sliding these headphones into your bag.

Whether you're listening to classical, pop or rock, are these headphones up to scratch? Our Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 review has the answer.

Sony MDR-EX15AP (£6.39)

Jetting off on holiday and shopping for a cheap pair of headphones for the plane? These simple in-ear headphones from Sony could be a good fit.

Sony's basic headphones are compatible with standard 3.5mm ports on smartphones and tablets. You can control your tunes with the in-line remote, which lets you skip a track without having to dig into your pocket for your mobile. Your phone's voice assistant is also accessed with these buttons.

How much can you expect from a pair of headphones costing less than £10? Catch the thoughts of our expert listening panel in our Sony MDR-EX15AP review.

Samsung Galaxy Buds (£139)

Samsung's truly wireless in-ear headphones are serious rivals to the Apple AirPods. Unsurprisingly, they work best with Samsung smartphones and tablets, also supporting the brand's Bixby assistant for hands-free voice control.

Like Jabra's Elite 65t headphones, Samsung's buds use ambient sound mode to keep you slightly aware of what's going on around you. You can tap the earpiece to play or pause music, skip tracks and answer calls. As there are no physical buttons, you'll need to put in some time to learn all the commands.

If you have a Samsung wearable strapped around your wrist, you can pair up the Galaxy Buds through Bluetooth. The Galaxy Wearable smartphone app lets you transfer your favourite songs to the wearable in a couple of minutes, so you'll have no trouble building a playlist for your evening jog.

We like the stylish design of the Samsung Galaxy Buds, but do they pair good looks with great sound quality? Our Samsung Galaxy buds review has the details.

How do you listen to your music?

Once you've used our expert reviews to find the perfect headphones, you might be debating which music streaming service to sign up to. There are plenty of perks - streaming music wirelessly saves space on your smartphone, and family packages mean everybody can build their own playlists.

But not all music streaming services are equal. In fact, our latest Which? member survey revealed two services that scored a measly two stars for value for money.

On our mission to find the best free and paid-for options for music fans, we surveyed more than 1,600 Which? members who use at least one music streaming service. Our top scorer has a dizzying selection of music covering all the genres you can think of. It sits comfortably at the top of our customer score table.

At the other end of our table is an underwhelming streaming service that's put to shame by its rivals. With the lowest customer score of the lot, it's let down by a limited music selection and inaccurate song recommendations.

Spotify or Apple Music? Deezer or Amazon Music Unlimited? We've found the best music streaming services around.