If there's one thing you can be sure of at CES in Las Vegas each year, it's brand new headphones from all your favourite audio companies. 2018 is no different, and a plethora of new in-ear and on-ear headphones have landed.
- CES 2018: TVs, smart displays, laptops and connected devices to get excited about
- Best in-ear headphones: 10 great wired, wireless and wire-free earphones
- The best Bluetooth headphones 2018: top on/over-ear wireless headphones
This year's giant tech show has seen new designs from Audio Technica, Sony, Audeze and many of the usual suspects. There are a few key trends emerging here though: active noise cancelling (ANC), completely wire-free earphones and the rise of built-in smart assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Read on to find out more about the headphones you should be looking out for later in 2018:
No list of headphones is complete without at least one offering from well-regarded Japanese manufacturer, Audio-Technica. This year, the company launched a few different headphones at CES, but two stand out: the ATH-DSR5BT neckband in-ears and the ATH-ANC700BT.
Starting with the latter, these are the latest in AT's QuietPoint range of noise-cancelling headphones. The company claims they block out 90 per cent of external ambient noise. What's more, they support aptX audio wirelessly, and can playback high-res audio using the included cable.
Perhaps more crucially, the battery life matches some of the best out there. With noise cancelling turned on, they can last 25 hours on a single charge, or up to 45 hours in wired mode. They'll be available from Spring for £199.
Audio Technica ATH-DSR5BT
Perhaps more impressive than the new over-ears is the new pair of neckband in-ears. The new ATH-DSR5BT feature the manufacturer's Pure Digital Drive system which helps deliver a brilliant completely digital signal.
Inside the earbuds you'll find dual phase push-pull drivers which pairs a 9.8mm driver opposite an 8.8mm one, they move in opposite directions and set out of phase, which helps reduce distortion. In short, they should sound fantastic.
It supports Bluetooth aptX HD, meaning you get 24-bit Hi-Res audio over a wireless connection if you have the compatible files and supported device. You also get the advantage of latency free response for all your other audio files too.
The new neckband earphones will come to the market in Spring 2018 and cost a healthy £349.
JBL Everest 310GA
A duo of on/over-ears appeared from JBL, the Everest 310GA and 710GA, with an exciting built-in feature: Google Assistant.
Yep, the voice-assistant from Google is available at the touch of an earcup. It's as simple as that. Ask a question out loud and Google responds right into your ears. You don't even need to say "Hey Google" to activate.
The Bluetooth-enabled 310GA cut the wires, while voice control means you needn't worry about getting your phone out of pocket. There are also physical controls on the earcup if you prefer to go hands-on with the controls.
The Everest 310GA will be available from Spring 2018, priced $199.
Audeze iSine LX
If you've never heard of Audeze, that's not really surprising. Their products are little different to everyone else's, but they're superb. So far, its Planar Magnetic iSine and Sine earphones have been priced pretty restrictively. The latest pair, however, are priced to be more attainable.
The Audeze iSine LX borrow much of the same technology found in the immense iSine 10 and iSine 20, but put inside a cheaper, and differently-styled body. Rather than the big, black TIE fighter look, this is more friendly.
Despite the cheaper $199 price, Audeze claims you'll still get incredible performance. They have Fluxor Magnets and Uniforce voice-coil technology to keep the clear accurate sound, with well controlled and deep bass capabilities.
Like the previous models, you can pay extra to get the Cipher cable which connects the earphones to your iPhone using a Lightning connector, but adds the benefit of having the audio handled by a dedicated DAC. In our experience, the music quality is noticeably enhanced using this DAC/Amplifier.
They're built in California available to buy in the US from now.
B&O Play H9i
Bang & Olufsen's lifestyle arm has introduced two new models of over-ear headphones, but the best of the two is undoubtedly the H9i. As the name reveals, it's an updated version of the brilliant BeoPlay H9 headphones.
The H9i comes with a more refined design, which specifically means larger aluminium discs equipped with touch controls on the outside, and slimmer ear cushions.
It's not just design that's been improved though, the H9i has an improved ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) system which is better at blocking out voices around you.
This ANC feature also has a new transparency mode which lets you instantly shut off music and be aware of your surroundings. Using a proximity sensor, the headphones can also detect when you take them off and automatically pause your music.
What's more, there's an added bass port for improved bass response, so the sound should be even more immersive than before. As a bonus, you also get better battery life than its predecessor. It's four hours longer, in fact, thanks to redesigned internal circuitry.
The H9i will be available to purchase from 25 January for the princely sum of £449. But if our experience of the previous H9 is anything to go by, they'll be worth the outlay.
House of Marley Uprise
While the new Uprise wireless earphones might not rock the boat in terms of specifications, there is one good reason to look out for them: sustainable design. They're built from a non-toxic silicone and wood fibre composite resin.
What's more, House of Marley has partnered with non-profit group One Tree Planted, and will give a percentage of each sale to them to help with global reforestation and sustainability efforts.
They cost just $99.99 and - with their IPX5 weather resistance - are built to endure your workouts, whether they're indoors or outdoors.
Jabra Elite 65t and Elite Active 65t
Jabra's Elite Sport earphones have always reviewed well. Thanks to their impeccable wireless connection, decent sound and useful sports features. For 2018, Jabra's redesigning its wire-free earphones, and loading them up with a couple of new features.
The Jabra Elite 65t and Elite Active 65t buds are two versions of the same product, the latter of which is designed more for sports use, while the former is more for daily listening.
Like its predecessor, the 65t can be personalised through the dedicated Jabra Sound+ app, but more importantly, can last up to five hours outside of the charging case. Combined with the battery in the case, they can achieve up to 15 hours of use before needing to be plugged in.
The built-in four microphone system should ensure crystal-clear voice calls, while the built-in Alexa assistant gives them an edge.
For the extra $20 you'd need to pay for the Elite Active, you get IP56 sweat and dust resistance, a more snug fit and an accelerometer for activity tracking. Sadly, no heart-rate monitor is mentioned at all.
You'll be able to buy the Elite 65t for $170 in mid-January, while the active variant won't be out until sometime in April, and will cost $190.
Not to be outdone by its competition, Libratone has launched its own pair of high-end neckband style earphones. Named Track+, they're designed to be easy, discreet and comfortable to wear and they happen to be IPX4-rated against sweat and splashes.
Like many other flagship earphones these days, they also have their own take on Active Noise Cancelling. In fact, Libratone's latest creation lets you choose between four different levels of ANC, depending on how much noise you want to let through.
One of these is a "Hush" mode that lets in all external noise so that you can hear what's going on around you without taking out the earphones.
The Libratone Track+ will be launched later this year, in the summer, and priced at £169. There will also be another pair launched without ANC that costs £120.
Over the past couple of years, Sony has really upped its game in both the over-ear headphone and in-ear market. Last year's wire-free WF-1000X won the Pocket-lint Award for the best in-ears of 2017, and the company's set to bring similar performance to the sports market.
Sony's latest announcement is the WF-SP700N, which it claims is the first pair of wire-free in-ears with both noise-cancelling and splash-proof design. That means you can wear them out and about in the city, or during a sweaty workout, and they should survive.
They've been designed to stay snugly in your ears, thanks to the arc-supporting fin that sticks out from each bud. As a bonus, these will eventually have Google Assistant capabilities too.
Perhaps the only downside here is that they won't be available to buy until June 2018, but will only cost $180, which is certainly affordable for a device with these features.
How about something extra special? AKG's top-end in-ear headphones bring together everything of the brand's expertise for an unparalleled in-ear audio experience. And an unparalleled price, at $1,000/£1,000.
Sure, they're expensive, but if you want audiophile grade and the best-of-best in every feature then the N5005 has you covered.
With a five driver system, the N5005 delivers reference in-ear sound. However, the sound profile can also be adjusted by fitting one of four filters to enhance bass, highs, mids. Clever.
The detachable cable system means top-end sound - up to 40,000Hz, high-end listeners - or removal for aptX HD and Hi-Res Audio compliant sound via Bluetooth is also possible (with an eight hour battery life).
Each N5005 comes with its own unique production number, featuring a carry case, cleaning kit, flight adapter, and four sets of ear-tips (plus three sets of SpinFit tips).
Best get saving up if unbeatable in-ears are your dream way to listen to music.