Best headphones: 10 top headphones for sound quality

The carbon fibre carry case supplied is too big for the cleverly folding cups of the 297g (10.5oz) R300, and adds a further 283g (10oz). Inside is a choice of woven audio 120cm (47.2-inch) cables with in-line control for Apple or Android/Blackberry/Windows devices, as well as a plain cable, a two-prong airline seat adaptor and a 6.35mm jack plug adaptor.

Bose QuietComfort 15 - £300/US$300/AU$400

Best headphones: 10 top headphones for sound quality

A brand beloved of business class delivers on its promise

Lightweight and partially foldable (they lay flat), these are an expensive option for travellers. Most likely to be seen at the front of the aircraft, the Bose QuietComfort 15s are very comfortable to wear, with reasonably small enclosing cups well padded. However, those cups are nicely angled and kept in place by a headband that sits a little further back than we're used to.

The QuietComfort 15s are all about top-quality noise cancelling; flick a switch beside the battery compartment on the right-hand side (it takes an AAA type) and surrounding sounds are dampened significantly, but there's no battery-free mode.

That's annoying, but what we did like was the in-line control option that pauses music and adjusts volume, though both are terminated in proprietary Bose connectors. And the 213g (7.5oz) carry case, which also houses a two-prong airline seat adaptor, is too big.

Noticeably lighter than the Ferrari R300 at 181g (6.4oz), the QuietComfort's sound isn't as powerful, yet it's pleasant enough. Vocals can sound a little thin and there's a definite slant towards the other end of the frequency range, but the rich bass leanings are enjoyable nonetheless, and there's plenty of detail around the edges. Noise cancelling is first class.

Shure SE535 - £400/US$480/AU$450

Best headphones: 10 top headphones for sound quality

Three drivers reside in these pricey but brilliant in-ears

Stylish and good-looking they are not, but the Shure SE535s do sound utterly fantastic.

The units themselves are fairly chunky. They need to be, since each one contains three separate drivers, with two woofers and a tweeter in each one. This makes music played through the SE535s shimmer with crystal clarity.

The highs are crisp and clean, the bass is deep and silky smooth, while the oft-forgotten mid-range is full-blooded, meaty and wholesome.

There are caveats; they're certainly not cheap, and if you're looking for some iPod replacement earphones these probably aren't for you. They're bulky and can be a tad fiddly to put in your ears.

However, it's only when you treat yourself to a pair of earphones like this that you realise how good music can sound. These earphones are brilliant, and if you can afford them they'll do your music justice in ways most earphones can only aspire to.

Read our Shure SE535 review

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and He also edits two of his own websites, and that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),