Christmas gift ideas: top Christmas gifts for 2014

Whether you want to buy headphones to go over the ear or in the ear, to be worn in the home or the gym, this selection won't disappoint.

Celebrity headphones

Skullcandy Mix Master Mike - £160

Skullcandy Mix Master Mike

These headphones sport the name of Beastie Boys DJ Mix Master Mike and feature DJ-style rotating earcups. They're comfy and have a mute button on the right earcup, as well as an input on each side so you can hook up to either one or attach a second pair of headphones. The sound quality is good, but suffers as you crank up the volume.

SMS Audio Street by 50 Cent - £110

SMS Audio Street by 50 Cent

The only wired cans in 50 Cent's Street range, the SMS Audios feature earcups that, while feeling squidgy and comfy, are huge and fairly heavy. The large and bendy headband makes them feel rather loose, and sound is leaked before it even reaches your ears. What does get through sounds good, but the low-end isn't as beefed up as the Beats.

House of Marley Destiny TTR - £185

House of Marley Destiny TTR

These distinctive headphones are the flagship model from House of Marley, which prides itself on using sustainable materials. The TTRs are built from recyclable aluminium and stainless steel, but it makes them heavy. The audio performance is strong and the on-board noise-cancelling tech proves its worth. The cable is covered in woven fabric, so it stays tangle-free.

AKG Quincy Jones Signature Line Q460 - £90

AKG Quincy Jones Signature Line Q460

Bearing the name of legendary producer Quincy Jones, these on-ear headphones are much smaller and lighter than any of the others here.

They look plasticky, but padding on the earcups and the underside of the thin headband makes them comfy to wear. Audio performance is excellent thanks to the closed-back design, which means little sound is lost.

Beats by Dre Studio - £200

Beats by Dre Studio

The king of celeb headphones has to be the Beats range from Dr Dre. The Studio cans feature noise isolation and are powered by a pair of AAA batteries.

Available in a kaleidoscope of colours, the Beats will certainly get you noticed, although the shiny finish is a fingerprint magnet and the cable is annoyingly prone to tangles. The bass performance is second to none - fantastic for dance tracks or booming movie soundtracks.

In-ear headphones

Beats by Dre Tour - £120

Beats by Dre Tour

With a huge range of speakers, headphones and earphones bearing his name, Dr Dre has established himself as king of bass.

The Beats by Dre Tours are no exception - their sound is one of the heaviest and deepest we've heard from such tiny earbuds. Sadly, the trebles lack clarity, but if you're into dance or hip-hop they're ideal. We like the neat flattened cord, and the fact that they block a lot of background noise.

Klipsch Image S4A - £50

Klipsch Image S4A

The S4As' tapered design and chrome finish may look like something from the jet age, but they pack some futuristic features. There's a dedicated smartphone app so you can change the functionality of the built-in button, and the flattened cord is impossible to tangle. They sit comfortably in the ear and give a sound that's punchy and clean. They do a decent job of blocking out background noise, too.

Bose IE2 - £90

Bose IE2

These headphones can be a little fiddly at times, but they provide a snug, comfortable fit that prevents them from dropping out, even during vigorous exercise. As you'd expect from the experts at Bose, the sound quality is exquisite, with finely tuned drivers directing music both into and around your lugholes. Our sample only consisted of the headphones themselves, but they're available with smartphone controls, too.

Sony XBA-3 - £156

Sony XBA-3

These may be the biggest headphones in our test, but it's with good reason: they pack a woofer and a tweeter, which makes them more like hi-fi speakers. As a result, they deliver muscular bass and crisp trebles, without any muddying between the two.

They're a lot more comfortable than they look, and they come with a nice range of tips for the perfect fit. The only let-down is the cord, which can be a little awkward to use.

House of Marley Zion Midnight - £54

House of Marley Zion Midnight

These eco-friendly headphones are as good for your tunes as they are for the planet. They include a selection of rubber tips for different types of music - the defaults deliver nice wide bass, while the longer ones enhance trebles, making them ideal for the spoken word. The braided cord is tangle-free, and the FSC-certifi ed wood finish adds a nice organic feel.

Headphones for the gym

Sennheiser Adidas PMX 685i - £50

Sennheiser Adidas PMX 685i

Despite its streamlined look, this light headset feels very durable. The remote is connected to the left-hand side, so you might notice a pull if you thread them under a jacket, but the buds stay put. On the sound front there's a decent 120dB of power, with an improved frequency response for a richer, more detailed sound. The bass is somewhat lacking, though.

Yurbuds Inspire Duro 2 - £42

Yurbuds Inspire Duro 2

Yurbud claims that its TwistLock technology ensures these buds will stay put, and after testing, we can't argue with that. They don't always feel very secure, though, which can be off-putting.

Unlike many of their rivals, the Yurbuds let in ambient noise, which is good if you like to know what's going on around you, but means that the audio lacks some vibrancy.

Sony XBA-S65 - £57

Sony XBA-S65

Sony's sporty earbuds feature lasso-style hangers that adjust around your ears to provide a secure fit during running. Weighing just 10g, they're barely noticeable in your lugs, although part of the reason they're so light is that there's no remote control.

The narrow earpieces use armature drivers instead of dynamic drivers, producing a crisp, clear sound with strong vocals and bass that doesn't distort even at higher volume levels.

Monster iSport Victory - £130

Monster iSport Victory

Yes, these are pricey, but in our view you get enough features to warrant the extra investment. The tangle-free cord actually lives up to its billing and sound is excellent, with great noise isolation and deep, intense bass. Last but by no means least, with a hygienic, anti-microbial coating and sealed housing, they're easy to keep clean and sweat-free.

Pioneer SE-E721 - £40

Pioneer SE-E721

Pioneer's 'skull fit' design lives up to its billing - these earhooked 'phones clamp around your ears with no intention of letting go until you're ready to take them off, but are comfortable at the same time.

The 9mm speaker units produce a supremely bassy sound, making them ideal for up-tempo workout music. They've been designed with extreme sports enthusiasts in mind, but they're also suitable for just a jog around the park.