Ready to turbocharge your homeworking life? With the right headphones, you’ll feel like you can achieve anything. But which ones are the best buys? Our tech expert reviews the best in the market.
For some, working from home is a welcome relief from the politics of office life and a chance to spend more time with the family. But working from home in itself can prove quite challenging, especially if there are a lot of aural distractions. The answer? Get yourself a good pair of headphones – preferably with ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) technology – to help reduce ambient noise and let you focus on the task in hand.
As if to prove a point, studies have shown that listening to sound on headphones – whether it’s streaming Spotify music or being cocooned by the sound of nature via an app like Noisli – enhances cognitive function and optimises the ability to concentrate.
There are numerous brands and models on the market, but we’ve made it easier for you by highlighting five great headphones and in-ear buds that will make your work-from-home day run a lot more smoothly.
1. Marshall Monitor II ANC
£199; Buy now
If long-term headphone comfort at the desk is of prime concern then you might not find a better fitting pair of wireless ANC headphones than these from renowned guitar amplification specialist, Marshall. The wireless Monitor II comes equipped with a raft of features, including Bluetooth, ANC and an excellent app (iOS and Android) that allows the user to customise EQ levels and the amount of noise cancelling.
The Monitor II’s 40mm dynamic drivers deliver an uncluttered and warm sound signature with crisp treble and oodles of bass. The little brass control button on the right ear cup is a major coup since it allows instant, fumble-free access to all types of media control, from volume and track skipping to answering calls. With 30 hours of wireless playtime using the ANC function and up to 45 hours without it, these handsome faux leather-clad cans are great value.
2. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT
£229; Buy now
These amazing Bluetooth connected, ANC headphones produce a tight, spacious sound signature replete with vivid treble frequencies, a decent soupçon of mid range and deep luscious bass. They are also easy to wear for hours without feeling that your head’s about to cave in. Audio-Technica’s proprietary QuietPoint active noise cancelling is especially impressive since it uses four microphones on the outer ear cups to help substantially reduce ambient noise.
The ATH-ANC700BT’s Bluetooth 5 system makes wireless listening a pleasure, though it also comes with a separate cable for those who prefer even better sound reproduction from its 40mm drivers. And like many modern Bluetooth headphones, it also comes with playback controls built into one of the ear cups. If you’re after a pair of transparent audiophile-style Bluetooth headphones with superior noise cancelling technology, then give this model a whirl.
3. Sennheiser HD 450BT
£133; Buy now
The collapsible Bluetooth-equipped HD 450BTs are not only supremely comfortable but they run for up to 30 hours on a single charge and come with some of the most effective noise-cancelling tech on the market. They are also equipped with several, albeit very small and fiddly, ear-cup buttons for track skipping and volume adjustment.
Although the HD 450BTs default sound profile errs towards brighter trebles and deeper bass, it’s very easy to adjust the tone to your own preference by launching the excellent Sennheiser app and fiddling with its tactile equalizer. These headphones also support higher quality Bluetooth codecs like aptX Low Latency and AAC, which makes them ideal for high-end streaming services like Tidal and Hi-Res audio files from a dedicated audio device.
4. Marley Liberate Air
£129; Buy now
Made partly from recycled materials – including bamboo casings – the Bluetooth-equipped Liberate Air confounds with its lively, accurate and compelling reproduction of all styles of music. In short, if you’re in the market for a pair of ‘True Wireless’ earbuds that produce a warm, uncluttered soundstage, beautifully balanced high frequencies and oodles of bottom-end grunt, then this is the model to opt for.
Although the Liberate Air doesn’t have any noise cancelling tech, the airtight fit of the ear buds ensures almost complete silence while you beaver away at the desktop. You can reasonably expect about nine hours of playback on a single charge, and up to 32 hours if used in conjunction with the natty charging case.
5. Nura Nuraphone
£309; Buy now
Here’s something completely different: a set of Bluetooth headphones that create a unique hearing profile for the user by measuring the sound waves travelling in and out of the ear canal. Aside from the main over-ear cups, the Nuraphones also feature small centrally-located in-ear buds that interface with the ear canals. Granted, it does take a while to adjust to the sensation of having rubber earbuds stuck in your ears while wearing a pair of over-ear headphones, but you soon get used to it.
Nuraphones use Haptic-Sense technology to create a very live sound that seems to float around the user. Both bass and treble response is excellent and if you switch on the ANC function, all ambient commotion magically disappears. If you’re looking for a model that produces a remarkable soundstage tailored to your specific hearing characteristics then put these sonic scintillators at the top of your shopping list.
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