There are a million ways to listen to music on your phone or tablet nowadays, but there’s no point trying to enjoy it all if the headphones you’re using resemble a gramophone wrapped in cotton wool and bubble wrap.
Thankfully there’s so much choice today that you don’t have to fork out thousands for a solid set of headphones, with a variety of options on offer, and in this instance all for under £100. Here are our top picks.
Panasonic RP-HTX7 on-ears – £29.99
An oldie but a goodie, Panasonic’s HTX7s are the most affordable cans in the lineup and whilst we wouldn’t exactly say they’re the no-frills option here, they’re by far the most basic.
The obvious attraction is their aesthetic, which takes on a heavily retro feel with high gloss ear cups and a colour-matched faux leather headband. You can nab them in a range of colours to match your style including cream, black, white, red and green (blue and pink options are also available in the US), and there’s an integrated 1.2 meter headphone jack.
The 40mm drivers do a respectable job of delivering enjoyable audio and that deals only going to get sweeter as the price continues to drop.
AKG Y 50 on-ears - £49.99
If you’re looking for a balance of affordability, audio quality and style, AKG’s Y 50 on-ears are just the ticket. They’re clearly aiming for a younger market with bolder colour options like red, yellow and teal (as well as black) on the table compared to AKG’s more traditional fare, but that doesn’t mean they don’t offer excellent, dynamic sound, particularly for the price.
The Y 50s are durable with aluminium throughout the build and ear cups that fold inwards, slotting into an included soft pouch for when you’re not listening to your tunes. They also pack a 3.5mm lead with an inline remote for basic control over your music or voice calls and you can plug them into your home system too thanks to an included 6.3mm adapter.
urBeats in-ears - £79.95
If you’re a Beats addict looking for the most inexpensive way to enjoy the brand’s signature sound, then urBeats are the best place to start. The audio experience is unsurprisingly tweaked to push bass over mids and highs, although the latest generation of in-ears feel considerably more balanced than previous iterations.
Part of the attraction is the brand’s signature style and urBeats can be had in six different colourways; from the iconic red on black to the newer rose gold and white – a perfect complementary option for the iPhone 6s. Unsurprisingly now being part of the Apple family means the inline remote on every pair of Beats buds and cans has been optimised for iOS - something to bear in mind for those rocking devices on rival operating systems.
Sennheiser Momentum in-ears - £89.99
We’ve come to know and love Sennheiser’s Momentum headphones family, but the company trod new ground this year with the first in-ear offerings in the lineup.
They’ve got a slick, modern aesthetic to them with touches of metal and a high gloss finish on the back of each bud, colour matched to the two-tone elliptical anti-tangle cable. There’s an inline remote for media and call controls which depending on the version you pick up, is tailored for Android and Windows Phone or iOS devices.
Naturally Sennheiser’s included a handy hard case, again with colour-matched red stitching and inside you’ll find four sizes of interchangeable buds for a better fit. As ever the best bit about these in-ears is that they offer excellent sound quality for the price and size, making for one of the strongest offerings in this lineup.
Jabra Sport Coach wireless in-ears - £99.95
This year Jabra expanded its wireless headphones line with two new fitness-centric offerings; the Sport Coach and Sport Pulse. The former serves as a strong pair of wireless in-ears with the added bonus of motion tracking and a digital audio coach.
They charge via microUSB, come with a myriad of ear bud and wing tip designs to ensure a snug fit during vigorous activity and are sweatproof thanks to their IP55-certification. Battery life is a little on the short side at around five hours, but you get a lot beyond the convenience of wireless in-ears with a virtual personal trainer working in tandem with the Coach’s integrated TrackFit motion sensor to count your reps during a workout.
Jabra’s Sport Life app is compatible with Android or iOS devices and lets you manage your routines, fitness data and music collection. What’s more thanks to Dolby’s handwork in sculpting the audio experience, the Sport Coach in-ears offer a pretty respectable auditory experience if you just want to kick back with some tunes.
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