Pocket Gamer headphone buyers' guide: £30-£80, and beyond...

A buyers' guide to all the best headphones for your phone, iPhone, iPod touch, PSP, DS, MP3 player or gramophone

Pocket Gamer headphone buyers' guide: £30-£80, and beyond...
iPhone + N-Gage + DS ...

Headphones are essential for any pocket gamer who wants to avoid annoying the people around him or revealing his toilet habits, which is why, yesterday, we brought you the very first Pocket Gamer guide to headphones.

Part one was limited to units up to £30. Getting into headphones is a slippery slope, however, and it won't be long after making your first serious purchase that you're hankering after some of the products we'll be looking at in today's instalment.

Not quite ruinous, these offer a good performance-to-cost ratio at a mostly sane price.

Headphones between £30 and £80

Shure SE210
RRP £99.99
Try not to pay more than £69.99

Although Shure may not have had a presence in the last part of this guide, they're masters of headphone design and produce some of the best high-end IEMs that exist. They get a lot more expensive than the SE210s, but these offer great sound that can handle a wide variety of musical genres for a very reasonable price.

Buying Tips
You're unlikely to find the SE210s for much under £65, but that's still a lot cheaper than the RRP. Good places to find this pair at this sort of price point are Play.com and the Advanced MP3 Players online store.

Sennheiser CX500
RRP £69.99
Try not to pay more than £44.99

Building on the solid foundations of the CX300s, these headphones tighten-up the big-but-flawed bass of their cheaper siblings, not to mention supplying a more detailed sound. Their unassuming looks are appreciated too, given the trend to make slightly more expensive headphones that look a little, well, odd.

Buying Tips
The CX500s turn up temporarily at a great price in all sorts of slightly unlikely online stores, but, as ever, Amazon's a good bet. Over the past month or so, they've been cheap at places like Dabs and Blahdvd. Shop around, but watch out for fakes.

Denon AH-C551
RRP £69.99
Try not to spend more than £59.99

Denon are a bit of an undercover headphone manufacturer, being known far more as a top hi-fi separates designer. However, they know their sonics, and the AH-C551s are renowned for their great bass response.

Buying Tips
A little rarer than others in this section, Denon 'phones are very difficult to find on sale cheaper than the recommended retail price. However, specialist online retailer iheadphones.co.uk is worth a shot.


At this price point, you really want to try the units out before buying. It's a pity that hygiene means that you probably won't get a chance to. Each pair is great though, so you're not going to be missing out on much.

Headphones above £80

This is the pie-in-the-sky section of our headphone buyers' guide - like looking with bright-eyed awe through the window of a Ferrari dealership, before being asked to move along by the floor manager.

Even if you're bold enough to go ahead and use the 'I'm worth it' excuse, make sure your device is too. There's not much point plugging these into a £20 MP3 player.

Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10
RRP £249.99
Try not to pay more than £199.99

Specialising in very high-end sound isolating headphones, American company Ultimate Ears was set up by Van Halen sound engineer Jerry Harvey. They may be fantastically expensive, but they're also fantastic. At least we assume they are, since we can't afford them,

Buying Tips
Ultimate Ears headphones aren't that easy to get hold of in the UK, so you'll probably have to look into a few specialist online suppliers.

Shure SE530
RRP £329.99
Try not to pay more than £210

Considered by many to be the best in-ear headphone ever made, the SE530 sound as good as the price tag suggests they should do. So expensive that you'd have trouble looking for an MP3 player that costs more these days.

Buying Tips
Although they're easy to find at a price way under the RRP, they're hardly ever available for under £200, so start saving.

Etymotic Research ER-4B
RRP £199.99
Try not to pay more than £149.99

Etymotic Research has a very serious-sounding name, and its approach to its products is no different. Focusing on accuracy and all sorts of involved stuff about frequencies, and even more scientific gubbins about how your ears work, the ER-4B is a very serious earphone.

Buying Tips
As a pretty niche product, the ER-4Bs are hard to find, let alone at a bargain price. Again, it's off to the specialist headphone retailers if you want a pair of these bad boys.

Denon AH-C751
RRP £149.99
Try not to pay more than £99.99

Looking a bit like silver bullets (or black ones if you've got the black version, obviously), these Denons may stick out of your ears a bit, but the sonic rewards will be worth it. They may not be quite up to the standards of some of the other phones in this category, but the price isn't quite as astronomical either.

Buying Tips
As with the AH-C551s, getting these at a bargain price is tricky. Again, iheadphones.co.uk are the best bet at the current time.

Have a serious think before spending this much on headphones. They are undeniably awesome though.