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Which headphone brand?

Top headphone brands for 2017

By Daniel Nissenbaum

Article 2 of 6

We surveyed thousands of people to find the headphone brands you can rely on and which ones keep their customers happiest.  

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.

Our product testing may be rigorous, and our reliability rankings calculated painstakingly, but sometimes a simple question can give you the most illuminating answer. Your opinions are collected in our huge member surveys, giving us a pretty clear picture of the headphone brands that are keeping customers the most satisfied.

We've ranked the most popular headphone brands, such as Beats, Bose, Sennheiser and Sony, to find out which one is the most popular with its customers. We asked more than two thousand headphone owners how satisfied they were with their products, and how likely they'd be to recommend them to a friend. We then turned these results into a customer score for each brand, and ranked them accordingly. 

Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive ratings and verdicts in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, sign up for a £1 trial to get instant access.


In-ear headphones

Brand name Average review score Reliability star rating Customer score Verdict
66% 83% This is a high-end audio brand with a reputation for sound quality, and our survey points towards this reputation being deserved. Customers are very happy with its products and they do well in our testing, too. A pair of headphones from this brand is likely to be a savvy choice.
63% 81% A smaller brand that specialises in cheaper in-ear headphones might not be expected to come out near the top of our rankings, but that's just what this brand has done. We've only tested one of its models, but it scored a respectable 63% and customers seem to love them. What's more, you can get a pair for around £35 - a bit of a bargain.
63% 74% One of the most famous names in headphones, this brand does fairly well in our rankings. It makes a huge range of headphones, not all of them great, and that pulls its scores down to just 'above average'. Customers are still relatively happy with their products though, and with some great in-ear models available for very cheap prices, this brand is well worth a look.
51% 65% This electronics giant also makes a huge range of headphones, but, unfortunately, too many bad apples means it gets a disappointing average review score. Its customer score isn't up there with the best brands either. If you're buying in-ear headphones from this brand you'll need to check our reviews first - you might end up with a dud pair.
67% 57% This brand isn't famous for its headphones, but they do very well in our testing - it has the highest average test score of any brand. Unfortunately, customer score is where it falls down. People don't seem to be happy with their in-ear headphones from this brand, so you should think twice before buying a pair.

Table notes
Results based on June/July 2017 reliability survey of 688 in-ear headphone owners. Data correct at August 2017.


Member Content

On-ear headphones

Brand name Average review score Reliability star rating Customer score Verdict
59% 88% This brand is well known in the audio world, but doesn't release as many models as the biggest headphone brands. It's relatively inconsistent in our product testing - some gems mixed with some disappointing models means its average score is only 59%. Customers love them and they're very reliable, so, on this evidence, they're definitely worth a look.
- 87% This high-end audio brand hasn't actually released any on-ear models in a while - you couldn't buy any at the time of writing. However, if you're buying second hand they might be a good bet. Reliability is excellent and the customer score is good enough that you might struggle to find someone selling a pair.
62% 78% Another brand that has a real audio pedigree but doesn't quite hit the heights in our on-ear headphone testing. Customers are pretty happy with its products though - 94% of them reported themselves satisfied, and more than 90% would recommend their product to someone else.
47% 68% This electronics giant does poorly in our on-ear headphones testing. However, its customer score isn't too bad. This can perhaps be explained by the fact that most of its on-ear pairs are fairly cheap - customers seem to be getting what they expect.

Table notes
Results based on June/July 2017 reliability survey of 508 on-ear headphone owners. Data correct at August 2017.


Member Content

Over-ear headphones

Brand name Average review score Reliability star rating Customer score Verdict
67% 89% This brand doesn't release too many models, but the ones it does tend to come through our tests with flying colours. It's a well-known name in audio, and with a fantastic customer score of 89%, it's clear that it hasn't gained its reputation for nothing.
68% 85% This respected audio brand also has a small range. We've only tested one of its over-ear models, but it's a good one, scoring 68%. If you buy one it seems that you're unlikely to be disappointed - customers are extremely positive about their headphones from this brand.
65% 78% This brand is pretty consistent, whether it's making in-ear, on-ear or over-ear headphones. Customers are generally happy with its products. For its over-ear headphones, more than 90% reported themselves satisfied, and 88% would recommend their product to someone else.
54% 77% This brand gets disappointing test scores. However, its customer score isn't bad. It keeps more than 90% of its customers satisfied with its over-ear headphones. They're reliable, too. If you find a pair for a decent price they may well be worth a look.
63% 60% This brand has rapidly become a big name in headphones. Its average test score of 63% is fairly average, but its customer score is disappointing. Less than three quarters of respondents in our survey said they'd recommend it to a friend.

Table notes
Results based on June/July 2017 survey of 1,020 over-ear headphone owners. Data correct at August 2017.


Member Content

Choosing the best brand of headphones

As you can see from the tables above, whether you're looking for an in-ear, on-ear or over-ear pair, there are brands to go for and brands to avoid. Buying a pair of headphones from the top over-ear brand gives you a great chance of getting a pair you're happy with. Compare this to the bottom-ranked brand, which has comparatively poor reliability and hasn't convinced its customers that they've made a good choice.

The best way to avoid disappointment is to read our reviews. While the scores and ratings above are a good guide to what you might expect from brands, you won't know how an individual model compares. Also, some brands, such as Sennheiser and Sony, make a much larger range of models than the others. The scores above are just an average of their whole range, so checking the reviews will let you see if there are any models that buck the trend for that brand. 

How we calculate the best and worst brands

Every year we carry out a huge member survey. Thousands of people are asked about the products that they own, and how satisfied they are with them. We also ask how likely they are to recommend their products to someone else. We use these figures to calculate a percentage score so we can rank brands on how customers feel about their products.