The 20th annual Pocket-lint Awards is almost upon us, where we celebrate the best devices and products across 21 hotly contested categories, from cars and cameras, to speakers and smartphones.
Every category has six shortlisted products that are in with a chance of scooping the big prize, and each of them has been tested in full by the Pocket-lint team in the last 12 months – or is a previous nominee that remains at the top of its game.
This category is focused on over-ear headphones across all budgets (we have a separate award for in-ear headphones), and it just so happens that all of this year’s nominations offer noise cancellation, too.
The shortlisted nominees for Headphones of the Year 2023 are:
Beats Studio Pro
The Beats Studio Pro are the long-anticipated successor to the Beats Studio, released six years ago, and replace them as the flagship headphones of the Beats headphones line.
With a striking over-ear design, they’re instantly recognisable as Beats, but their sound is perhaps less so – with a more grown-up neutral presentation prioritising balance and vocal clarity over bass thump. It’s still there; it’s just a touch more refined.
There’s also high-bitrate wired connectivity – with USB-C and 3.5mm on offer – plus easy multi-point pairing whether you use an Android phone or an iPhone for universal appeal.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones
The Bose QuietComfort Ultra surprise probably no one by being a superb pair of headphones, particularly for anyone travelling and commuting. They offer market-leading noise cancellation and a confident, detail-oriented performance that makes the most of whatever music you throw at them.
A new Immersive Mode brings one of the most convincing spatial audio presentations I’ve heard, and while pricey, they leave very little to grumble about if you have the budget.
B&W Px7 S2e
The B&W Px7 S2e was an updated version of one of our favourite pairs of headphones last year, the Px7 S2, but with some clever software to make them sound better than ever.
Packing an extensively upgraded DSP and re-tuned acoustic platform, based on learnings from the much pricier Px8, these headphones serve up a more refined, even more detailed performance – not to mention look gorgeous while they do it.
We love flagship overears as much as the next music fan, but Sennheiser’s Accentum proves you don’t need to spend the best part of $400 on a pair of headphones to get a great sound.
Costing well under $200, they’re comfortable and sound excellent but still look almost identical to the more expensive Momentum 4 Wireless, especially to the untrained eye. It’s a seriously impressive bundle.
Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2
While the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 won’t win awards for their noise cancellation, it serves as a nice-to-have next to the blow-you-away sound. They’re an audiophile’s dream.
Add that to the long battery life, the ability to listen to Hi-Res codecs, and a really comfortable, premium build; the second generation Aonic 50 is a brilliant choice.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 remain one of the best pairs of overears you can buy and aren’t far from our lips when asked for a recommendation for noise-cancelling headphones.
The refined design that Sony brought to the range last year joins fantastic noise cancellation and a sound performance that just works – with all music you might throw its way. There’s a reason these are best sellers, and they continue to hold their own against new releases, too.
How the Pocket-lint Awards judging works
The winner for the Best Headphones category is decided by the Pocket-lint team, along with a panel of expert judges from publications across the industry. Following a vigorous scoring process, the Best Headphones winner for 2023 will be announced at an in-person event on 9 November 2023, along with the winners from the other 20 categories.
A Product of the Year winner will also be announced, chosen from the winners of the 21 categories, and a winner of the EE Superfast Award will also be revealed at the event. On the night, we will announce the results on the Pocket-lint Twitter handle as they unfold, and there will also be a feature detailing the winners once the Awards are over.
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