Engadget's holiday gift guide 2011: headphones

Welcome to the Engadget Holiday Gift Guide! We're well aware of the heartbreaking difficulties surrounding the seasonal shopping experience, so we're here to help you sort out this year's tech treasures. Below is today's bevy of curated picks, and you can head back to the Gift Guide hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the holiday season.

We imagine many a PMP or smartphone will be changing hands this holiday season -- iPhone 4S or Galaxy Nexus, anyone? And what better way to accessorize your brand new mobile gadget than with a set of headphones? Fret not audio lovers -- we've rounded up nine of our top picks that we think you'll really enjoy while on the move. We're talking headphones that'll let you control your playlists and chat with friends, all without exposing those precious new gizmos to the harsh winter elements. It's all just past the break, so what are you still doing here? Click on through to the other side!

For starters

Sony NWZ-W260 Walkman in-ears

Engadget's holiday gift guide 2011 headphones

PMP? Who needs one? Not anyone rocking this set of in-ears from Sony. These Walkman-branded 'buds come with a choice of two or four gigs of storage for your tunes, leaving behind any worries about pocket space. Better yet, the water-resistant design should hold up to a fair amount of sweat, appeasing fitness buffs and marathon runners alike -- you'll have eight hours between charges to put that durability to the test.

Key specs: 2 or 4GB of built-in storage, water-resistant, eight-hour battery.

Price: $60 - $80 on Amazon

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Engadget's holiday gift guide 2011 headphones

Klipsch S4i / A

You've probably heard of Klipsch's S4 in-ear headphone line. Whether you're an Android faithful or an iOS junkie, these 'buds will keep your mobile life in control with an inline remote / mic and great sound to boot -- all without breaking the bank.

Price: $100 on Amazon

Engadget's holiday gift guide 2011 headphones

AiAiAi Swirl w/ mic

Keep it simple, keep it stylin'. If that's your mantra, then AiAiAi's Swirls are sure to rock your holiday this year. With a plethora of color options, a right-angle connector and a three-button remote / mic, you'll have all your mobile bases covered.

Price: $80 on Amazon


Bowers & Wilkins C5

Engadget's holiday gift guide 2011 headphones

This may only be the company's second set of headphones to date, but given the pleasing performance we experienced with them, it's obvious that B&W has swiftly attained a knack for this mobile audio thing. This micro-sized kit packs a number of perks, including Tungsten Balanced earbuds with Secure Loops for an excellent fit, and a Micro Porous Filter for wide soundstaging. The set's aluminum build not only looks classy, but will also hold up in your day-to-day rigors. Lastly, iPhone users will no doubt appreciate the inline mic's tactile controls while skipping through songs on the move.

Key specs: Tungsten Balanced aluminum earbuds, Secure Loop fit, iOS-compatible remote / mic, Micro Porous Filter, hardshell carrying pouch.

Price: $180 on Amazon

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Engadget's holiday gift guide 2011 headphones

Klipsch Image One

Want that S4i-type vibe, but hate jamming silicon in your ears? Klipsch's Image One offers its signature sound in an on-ear package -- and there's a similar iOS-compatible remote / mic here as well.

Price: $150 on Amazon

Engadget's holiday gift guide 2011 headphones

Nokia BH-905i

Bluetooth isn't just for dinky earpieces, you know. This headset looks like a normal set of cans, but features A2DP Bluetooth functionally, on-ear controls and eight microphones for noise-cancelling. There's a duo of mics for phone calls and a rechargeable battery too.

Price: $183 on Amazon

Money's no object

Sony MDR-NC200D noise-cancelling headphones

Engadget's holiday gift guide 2011 headphones

When it comes to city life, finding some peace and quiet can be tough. Of course, anyone with noise-cancelling headphones knows such silence can be blissfully simulated, and we found that Sony's MDR-NC200Ds admirably fit the bill. This portable on-ear set can hush harsh sounds for up to 22 hours on a single AAA-battery, all while automatically analyzing your surroundings to achieve optimal noise-blockage. Best of all, you may even forgot you're wearing them thanks to the extra comfortable padding and lightweight design.

Key specs: Intelligent noise-cancellation, foldable design, talk-through mode, detachable cable, included carrying case.

Price: $200 on Amazon

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Engadget's holiday gift guide 2011 headphones

Westone 4 R-series

Looking for massive sound in a small package? This IEM set can pack a serious punch thanks to its quad-driver array, all the while being small enough to fit in your pocket. Swap out the detachable cord with an optional EPIC MICS "smartphone interface cable," and you've got a mobile headset fit for an audiophile.

Price: $500 at Westone

Engadget's holiday gift guide 2011 headphones

Bowers & Wilkins P5

We can't say it enough -- the P5s remain one our favorite iOS-compatible, noise-isolating headphones. With a comfortable on-ear fit thanks to soft leather earpads, you'll be able to rock on the go for hours, and take the occasional phone call while you're at it.

Price: $300 on Amazon