Best portable audio 2012: 9th Pocket-lint Gadget Awards nominees

Headphones just kept on sounding better in 2012. More than once we were amazed at the level of audio quality that could be had from such a small and compact piece of technology. Value also kicked it up a notch, with plenty of kit providing a plush and premium experience at a decent price.

Then there was the humble mp3 player which, thanks mostly to Apple, remained an exciting proposition. Finally we have the rise of the portable AirPlay speaker, which again proved to be a much more formidable concept in 2012. But what really stood out? Read on to see our nominations for best portable audio in 2012.

Philips Fidelio X1 headphones

Price
£250
Released
October 2012

Looking good and sounding great, these top-of-the-line headphones were one of few products which achieved a full five-star rating. Not much can claim such an accolade from Pocket-lint.

Why exactly? A combination of comfort, style and exceptional sound quality made the Fidelio X1s the headphone to have in 2012.

READ: Philips Fidelio X1 review

iPod Touch fifth generation

Price
£250
Released
October 2012

The iPod Touch proved it could fight its corner against its bigger iPhone brother in 2012. A new-look design impressed from the off and it was good times from there on in.

The usual app-stocked feature set made for a great user experience and there was the added bonus of the bigger screen from the iPhone 5. 

READ: Apple iPod Touch fifth generation review

Phonak Audeo PFE 232 earphones

Price
£399
Released
January 2012

They weren't cheap, but these Phonak Audeo headphones represented some of the best-quality audio our ears have ever heard. A clever party trick was the Audeo's ability to have every single part replaced, should any of them fail.

The comfort levels of the Audeo were also a bonus, especially when you think how compact and portable they are. For a product to justify such a high price tag is tough, but the Audeo more than managed it.

READ: Phonak Audeo PFE 232 earphones

Bowers and Wilkins P3

Price
£169
Released
June 2012

Design and sound quality combined, the P3s were an outstanding set of headphones. They were relatively compact and came with a tough carrying case so they could easily be put in a bag or rucksack.

The P3s boasted a highly natural sound, with very clear separation of bass and treble. Not for everyone, but with the right kind of music, they were fantastic.

READ: Bowers and Wilkins P3 review

Jawbone Big Jambox

Price
£259
Released
June 2012

Small but boasting a big sound. Jawbone's Big Jambox was a product we particularly looked forward to after being impressed by the quality of the smaller Jambox. 

That extra size meant you got audio quality that started to rival bigger and more expensive Hi-fi systems. The looks were also a bonus, especially the front grille, which varied depending on which colour you chose. 

READ: Jawbone Big Jambox review