There are headphones, then there are headphones. You can cup some cans around your little lobes and enjoy so-so sounds, or you can enter an engrossing sonic journey before the 7.57 pulls into Paddington.
If you know someone inclined towards the latter, this collection of impeccable ear-feeders is certified to bring them audio delight this Christmas.
Note: not actually certified. But they're really darn good.
Bose QC35 (£289)
Yes, they're a bit pricey. But, yes, they're also arguably the best in-flight cans money can buy: the noise cancelling tech is top notch.
Comfortable and sweet-sounding to boot, the Bluetooth-enabled QC35s also pack a battery good for 20 hours - which should more than cover any long-haul hop - whilst the built-in mic is crystal clear, so you can call your mates to tell them just how good your new 'phones are.
AKG K92 (£45)
Proof that you don’t have to fork out a fortune for a pair of classy cans, AKG’s K92s punch well above their weight.
There’s no fancy Bluetooth or noise cancelling here - instead, if good old-fashioned sound quality is top of your wishlist (and you still require a 3.5mm headphone jack at the end of the cable), these gold-tinged AKGs are well worth an audition.
Beyerdynamic T1 Generation 2 (£690)
If you’ve absolutely, positively got to have the best pair of headphones in the room, then these are the ones for you.
Beyerdynamic's T1 Generation 2s just claimed What Hi-Fi's headphone of the year award, and for good reason: they’re incredibly comfortable, the shielded textile braided cable is detachable and, yes, they sound absolutely phenomenal.
Of course, you’re going to need a top quality source and an amplifier to help them really shine - but any self-respecting audiophile’s already got that sorted, right?
Soul Electronics Flex (£42)
Committed jogger in the family? The good news is you don’t have to spend much to buy them some proper, rather great sports earphones.
This £50 pair has hooks to keep the buds securely in their lugholes - rather than dangling near their chest - and controls for volume and skipping tracks. They can even answer calls while sweating on a treadmill. Best of all, they sound ace - and there’s nothing like sweet-sounding tunes to to provide last-mile motivation.
Soundmagic E10C (£40)
You could buy your loved one a pair of earphones for a tenner, but, if you really love them, you should stretch the budget to this fine pair.
Not only do they sound stellar for the price, they're also attached to a decent quality cable and come with a range of tips - so they'll sound sweet to every ear. Oh, and there's a three-button remote, too, for volume and music control.