There are probably a select few who can entertain the possibility of buying the $55,000 Sennheiser Orpheus headphones suggested as a holiday gift by Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle website, Goop. But for the rest of us who lack that kind of extra cash—or mind-set—particularly around the holidays, there are thankfully other options.
In fact, we've compiled a list of five great but affordable portable headphones that will suit just about any kind of activity, from jogging or hiking to just lounging around the house. You might even decide to wear them while contemplating how you might spend the $54,900 you just saved ignoring Goop's recommendation.
AKG by Harman Y23 ($40)
These in-ear AKG headphones are pretty barebones when it comes to extras. For instance, they lack volume or other function controls. But they deliver where it matters most: very good sound quality. They’re also very lightweight, so they won’t bog you down if you’re exercising. And like many in-ear models, the ear-insert design muffles many external noises and sounds.
Philips ActionFit Sport SHQ2305 ($40)
If you're an active, outdoors type, consider a set of headphones with a more rugged design. This model claims to be sweat and moisture proof, which makes them well suited for strenuous workouts or for hiking or biking in rainy weather. But its weather-resistant design doesn't come at the cost of its audio performance—this model provides very good overall sound.
Skullcandy Strum ($50)
If you like your headphones to have a cool, edgy design, this model might fit the bill. Each earbud is adorned with a tiny skull logo. But it’s not just about looks: It has very good sound quality. It even comes with a carrying case, so your headphones won’t get tangled up with your other gear.
Motorola Moto Surround ($80)
Our headphones Ratings show that wireless headphones are typically pricier than those without this feature. But this pair from Motorola, which delivers very good sound quality, will likely fit into many budgets. A distinctive feature of this wireless Bluetooth model is its contoured collar, which wraps around the back of the neck. Motorola says the band, which includes all the controls for functions such as changing audio tracks and adjusting volume, is constructed to resist movement. When not in use, the earphones can magnetically attach to the band.
Phiaton BT 100 NC ($100)
If you crave quiet in the midst of a noisy environment or while traveling on a plane or train, noise-canceling headphones can provide the peace and serenity you seek. Most, however, tend to be pretty pricey. This wireless model, by Phiaton, breaks that trend, while adding wireless Bluetooth capability. The BT 100 NC combines active noise-cancellation with a passive in-ear design to provide decent noise reduction, along with very good overall sound quality.
Copyright © 2005-2015 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.