X
CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Best headphones for Christmas

Treat yourself or your significant other to an audio upgrade with our picks of the best cans around.

Jason Jenkins
Jason Jenkins is the director of content for CNET in EMEA. Based in London, he has been writing about technology since 1999 and was once thrown out of Regent's Park for testing the UK's first Segway.
Justin Yu Associate Editor / Reviews - Printers and peripherals
Justin Yu covered headphones and peripherals for CNET.
David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
Jason Jenkins
Justin Yu
David Carnoy
bowers-and-wilkins-p5-series-2-product-photos03.jpg
1 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bowers and Wilkins P5 Series 2

It's Christmaaaaas and there's one tech gift that's bound to put a smile on anyone's face: headphones. We all know that the ones that come with phones and MP3 players are rubbish, so why not treat yourself or your significant other to an audio upgrade? Here are our picks of the best you can buy right now.

Let's start with the new P5 Series 2s -- comfortable, warm-sounding on-ear headphones that you can easily listen to all day long.

beats-solo-2-04.jpg
2 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats Solo 2

These Solo 2 cans may not win audiophile hearts and ears, but for their intended audience -- namely, people looking for exciting-looking headphones with lots of high-quality bass -- these are excellent on-ear headphones.

£135.20 at Amazon

bose-quietcomfort-25-product-photos27.jpg
3 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose QuietComfort 25

Bose can't put a foot wrong with its noise-cancelling headphones, and the new QC 25s are no exception. The new design features better audio performance and noise reduction, plus an improved folding design that allows them to fit in a more compact carrying case.

£269.95 at Amazon

Plantronics_BackBeat_Fit_35835140_-5.jpg
4 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat Fit

In-ear wireless sport headphones have proved difficult to do well. And while the Plantronics BackBeat Fit aren't perfect, they're one of the top picks in the category and cost less than some of their rivals.

£73.51 at Amazon

klipschr6i-in-ear-headphones-product-photos04.jpg
5 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Klipsch R6i In-Ears

If you're shopping for a fan of hip-hop or techno (and variations of those genres) looking for comfortable in-ear headphones with very plump bass, the R6i will certainly fit the bill.

£79.00 at Amazon

Sennheiser_Momentum_On_Ear_35830652_35830649_35830650__35830651_35830652_35830653_35830654_05.jpg
6 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear

The Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear headphones deliver the type of sound you'd expect from a pair of cans in this price range. They have a smart look to them too, with good build quality.

£128.95 at Amazon

beyerdynamic-dx-160-ie-in-ear-headphones04.jpg
7 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beyerdynamic DX 160 IE

Perfect for the audiophile on your gift list, the Beyerdynamic DX 160 IEs deliver a metric tonne of bass with a dynamic range of sound.

£64.90 at Amazon

grado-sr-80e-headphones-product-photos02.jpg
8 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Grado Prestige Series SR80e

We've long been fans of Grado headphones and are really impressed by the quality of sound you get from this new £100 model. If you don't need the isolation of a closed-back design or a built-in microphone for phone calls, they're great headphones for the money.

£99.95 at Amazon

KEF_M500_35823842_05.jpg
9 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

KEF M500

Great sound makes these headphones a winner for anyone looking to replace a pair of stock headphones with a serious upgrade.

£241.36 at Amazon

beats-powerbeats-2-wireless-product-photos04.jpg
10 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats Powerbeats 2 Wireless

If you can overlook their inflated price tag, the Beats Powerbeats 2 Wireless are a solid choice for those looking for an in-ear Bluetooth sports headphone.

£135.99 at Amazon

v-moda-xs-headphones-product-photos05.jpg
11 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

V-Moda XS

These are very well built, relatively comfortable headphones that offer strong performance in the sub-£200 price range.

£170.00 at Amazon

Beats_Studio_Wireless_35834962-06_1.jpg
12 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats Studio Wireless

Some say the Beats Studio Wireless are overpriced. They would be right. But they are also well-built, comfortable wireless headphones, with excellent sound and strong battery life.

£215.19 at Amazon

05bose-freestyle-earbuds-product-photos.jpg
13 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose Freestyle Earbuds

While they may not be the best sounding in-ear headphones for the money, the Bose Freestyles' design and comfort level are excellent, and they make a great gift for people who want in-ears but don't want the tips jamming into their ear canals.

£114.95 at Amazon

sony-mdr-10rbt-headphones-product-photos01.jpg
14 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony MDR-10RBT

If you want a quality full-size wireless headphone, but don't want to spend more than £150, the Sony MDR-10RBTs are arguably your best option.

£126.11 at Amazon

plantronics-backbeat-pro-product-photos13.jpg
15 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat Pro

If you -- or someone you know -- works in an open-office environment, Plantronics' feature-rich BackBeat Pros are worth checking out.

£164.99 at Amazon

audio-technica-ath-m50x-product-photos07.jpg
16 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

The ATH-M50x have loads to offer, with superb performance and a comfortable fit to go along with the detachable-cord system and extra cords.

For loads more gift ideas, check out the rest of our Christmas Tech Gift Guide 2014.

More Galleries

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera
A houseplant

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera

20 Photos
Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra
magic-v2-2024-foldable-1383

Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

10 Photos
The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum
Samsung Galaxy S24

The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum

23 Photos
Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design
The Galaxy S24 Ultra in multiple colors

Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design

23 Photos
I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites
img-0368.jpg

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

34 Photos
Do You Know About These 17 Hidden iOS 17 Features?
Invitation for the Apple September iPhone 15 event

Do You Know About These 17 Hidden iOS 17 Features?

18 Photos
AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?
img-1599-2.jpg

AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

17 Photos