We are pleased to announce the headphones category winners of the T3 Awards 2022, comprising the Best Fitness Headphones, Best Noise Cancelling Headphones, Best True Wireless Headphones, Best Value Headphones, Best Wired Headphones, and of course the overall Best Headphones winner.
There are headphones here to suit all: from wired-only audiophile top-tier cans, to true wireless in-ears or epic over-ears, encompassing a wide range of price options. Perhaps more than any other category in this year's T3 Awards we've seen a lot of headphones launch, making the competition particularly strong and the winners all the more compelling.
This year's Headphones T3 Awards 2022 categories have been graced with many super products and brands, delivering the very best that audio has to offer, or the latest active noise-cancelling (ANC) goodness. So let's get down to revealing the all-important big winners in this category.
Best Fitness Headphones: Beats Powerbeats Pro
The world of fitness headphones has changed drastically in recent years, as advances in technology have led to the introduction of gym-and-run buds that are essentially the same as any true wireless headphones, but waterproof.
It's still worth using a specialist though, and it seems increasingly unlikely that anything will ever surpass Beats' veteran Powerbeats Pro.
Sure, the case is huge and they look a little eccentric, but the fit is perfect, the sound unsurpassed, and they cannot be dislodged by anything short of wearing them in a washing machine on its fastest spin cycle.
All of which makes the Powerbeats Pro an ideal fitness headphone choice – and a worthy winner of the Best Fitness Headphones trophy at this year's T3 Awards.
Best fitness headphones shortlist
Beats Fit Pro, Jabra Elite 7 Active, Shokz Openrun Pro, Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EQ, Jaybird Vista 2, Beats Powerbeats Pro
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5
Noise cancelling – often called ANC for short – has gone from strength to strength over recent years, as the ideal tech to help dial out the outside world's noise and leave you cocooned in a bubble of audio bliss.
There have been some front runners in this category over the years, but of them all it's Sony that has really excelled – and its 2022 launch of the WH-1000XM5 showed it could advance its already class-leading cans into an even more sophisticated product.
The 1000XM5 deliver ANC that's among the world's best, whether you want it to automate its response to your surroundings, or dial in the precise levels you want. Add to that a sound quality that's second to none and these headphones are jaw-droppingly impressive.
Best noise cancelling headphones
Sony WH-1000XM5, Bose QuietComfort 45, Philips Fidelio T1, JBL Tune 660NC, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, Mark Levinson No. 5909
Best True Wireless Headphones: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Just a few years back this product category didn't really exist. Fast-forward to today, however, and there are dozens of brands blatting out all manner of true wireless earbuds – the vision being to cut the cord and give you wireless sound without cables or distractions.
While we've seen great success from the likes of Apple with its mass appeal AirPods, if you turn the dial up further and are seeking more prestigious in-ears then, for our money, it's the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds that sit top of the tree – which is why they take the T3 Award gong in this category.
As a combination of sound quality, comfort and particularly noise-cancellation, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds would take some beating. Sure, they do protrude more than many true wireless earbuds – but they fit well and sound great in addition to that magical ANC ability.
Best true wireless headphones shortlist
Sony WF-1000XM4, Philips Fidelio T1, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+, Apple AirPods 3
Best Value Headphones: Sony WF-C500
To buy a pair of headphones with superb sound and a decent array of features, it’d be easy to think that you need to spend a bucket-load of money, but that’s simply not true.
Proving once and for all that outstanding value headphones really do exist are the Sony WF-C500 wireless earbuds. They’re basically a streamlined version of the Sony WF-1000XM4, but cost a third of the price. That's why they take the prestigious T3 Awards 2022 trophy.
But that's not all: these in-ears also sound superb, are super comfortable to wear, and you can adjust the sound to exactly how you like it. Their simple bullet-shaped design twists into your ears which means they stay put and they’re very discreet – something that even more expensive headphones don’t always get right.
Sure, there's no ANC, and the battery life (at 20 hours total including the case) isn't the most accomplished. But these points are ultimately what helps keeps the price so low and make them the best value earbuds we think you can buy today.
Up against other similarly priced headphones, the WF-C500 stand out as the best in our book. So if you don’t want to spend hundreds on your next pair then trust us: these are worthy winners of the Best Value Headphones award.
Best value headphones shortlist
Panasonic RZ-S500W, Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+, JBL Tune 660NC, Sony WF-C500
Best Wired Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT900 Pro X
Wired headphones are a special breed, aimed usually at more niche markets – whether audiophiles looking for the plushest of materials and largest drivers for an unrivalled listen – but make a lot of sense for at-home listening or studio work.
There are fewer wired headphone releases given the prevalence of Bluetooth wireless in today's world, but there's still loads of positives to say for the selection of wired products in our shortlist – which spans entry-level budget cans to pricey in-ear options.
Of them all, however, it's the Beyerdynamic DT900 Pro X that stands out and takes the T3 Awards crown. These studio headphones aren't even trying to compete with the likes of Bose or Beats, existing in a world of their own. But it's a world that's all about premium sound.
The Beyerdynamic DT900 Pro X are superb sounding headphones. That's why they're the winner. And without a ludicrous price tag, they're accessible too. So if you want a pair of headphones to listen to your favourite music at home, these beautifully engineered cans will more than satisfy.
Best Wired Headphones shortlist
Beyerdynamic DT900 Pro X, Rode NTH-100, Meze Audio Rai Solo, Sennheiser IE 600, Meze Audio Liric
Best Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5
The big one: the king of kings (or headphones of headphones) can only go to one winner. For 2022 that accolade is granted to Sony's WH-1000XM5. These exquisite headphones have really raised the bar for not only the company's own XM over-ear range, but raised the bar for the headphones market as a whole.
While the prevalence of true wireless earbuds has certainly risen over recent years, there's just something so satisfying about over-ear cans such as these. Especially, as Sony has demonstrated, when they're so well designed and packed full of technology that makes everyday life better: whether answering calls through the beam-forming mics, or losing yourself in a world of music.
There's no doubt the competition is particularly thorough across the wide range of headphones categories that we've seen and reviewed at T3 over the past 12 months. But none have impressed us as much in the consumer market as the Sony WH-1000XM5. Simple as that: they're 2022's best overall headphones.