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Headphones that look as good as they sound

The ubiquitous Beats By Dre headphones look stunning, but critics say they're all style, no substance. We review some of the most popular over-the-ear pairs, inside and out

1 of 5

Most eye-catching Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviators ($199.99) More about style than music – much like Jay-Z himself lately. Sound: Bright and robust on louder things, a tad bland on quieter ones. Tunes: For best results, break out something punchy, whether it’s Mobb Deep or Megadeth. Looks: Their sunglasses-inspired design is so fresh that the nice sound is merely a bonus.

2 of 5

Audiophile’s choice: Audio-Technica ATH-M50 ($179.99) Like being in a recording studio, in the dark. Sound: Easily the best value for money. Crisp highs, warm mids, clear bass. Tunes: Everything sounds good on them, though bass addicts may miss the over-the-top thump of less precise units. Looks: Dull as dishwater. But if all you care about is audio, search no further.

3 of 5

Biggest bass Pioneer HDJ-1000 ($168.99) For real DJs, and those who wish they were. Sound: If bass is the first thing you listen for, you’ll love them. Otherwise, they’re a bit muffled. Tunes: Anything that you’d hear in a nightclub with subwoofers you can feel in your ribcage. Looks: Less boring than most, though that’s not saying much.

4 of 5

Best celeb-endorsed pair: AKG Q701 Quincy Jones Signature Line ($399.95) An old-school pro endorses headphones for old-school pros. Sound: Well balanced over all, but particularly shines in the warm, rich mids. Tunes: Great with anything, though they impress most with (surprise!) jazz and soul. Looks: Trendy? Nah, but they’re not bad for a man his age.

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5 of 5

Most colourful Urbanears Plattan ($69.99) They go with your outfit. Bonus: they also make noises. Sound: Better than your iPod earbuds, but only just. The highs can be gratingly tinny. Tunes: You and your BFF’s karaoke jam – they come with an extra jack so you can both listen at once. Looks: With 11 styles, these are fashion accessories first and audio gear second.

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