Over-Ear headphones offer a simple design with large ear cups that fit around the ears. They're usually comfortable and easy to wear but can get a little bulky. Below are our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones we have tested so far.
Best Over-Ear Headphones $600+
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are excellent sounding reference over-ear headphones. They are ideal for critical listening and have a have crisp and well-balanced audio reproduction. They're comfortable and sturdy but not versatile headphones. They are best used in private or in a studio while mixing, where you can fully experience the exceptional, open sound that they have to offer without being distracting to anyone around you.
The HifiMan Edition X are the best alternative to the 800S for critical listening. They deliver a spacious soundstage thanks to their super comfortable and large open earcups. They reproduce tracks with remarkable fidelity and have a bit more bass than the 800 S. Furthermore, the low impedance planar magnetic drivers do not require an amp and can be powered by your mobile device. However, they're the bulkiest headphones we've reviewed so far and their build quality is not as durable as the HD 800 S.
Best Over-Ear Headphones $300 to $600
The MDR-1000x are versatile headphones that do well in most situations and use cases. They have a good set of active features, they're sturdy, comfortable and have one the best noise cancellation that we've measured so far. This makes them especially good for commuting and isolating you in loud environments. They sound balanced good enough for most listeners but their mediocre treble performance might not be ideal for pure critical listening.
The Sennheiser HD 650 are great over-the-ear headphones for critical listening. They deliver an outstanding sound quality that accurately reproduces the stereo image, instruments, and vocals. However, they're not as durable or comfortable as the HD 800 S but are a lot cheaper. They also have a brighter and slightly clearer representation of instruments and vocals than the DT 990 PRO.
Best Over-Ear Headphones $150 to $300
The Plantronics Backbeat Pro are a decent pair of wireless headphones, with one of the most easy-to-use and ergonomic control schemes we have tested so far. They sound good if a little bass heavy. However, they're a little bulky, heavy and the noise canceling produces a low audible rumble when turned on.
The AKG K701 deliver a great audio reproduction. They're not as well-built as the DT 990 Pro, but they deliver a more balanced and immersive sound quality. However, like most open-back headphones they're a bit bulky and not meant to be a versatile headset you can use in loud environments or outdoors. Also, unlike the K702 the audio cable is not detachable.
Best Over-Ear Headphones $75 to $150
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are above-average studio headphones that have an outstanding, well-balanced audio reproduction. They are remarkably well priced for their sound quality, but their studio design lacks some features for everyday casual use. Also since they have a closed-back design, they're a bit more versatile than open-back headphones (see the differences between open-back and closed-back headphones).
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO deliver a superb audio reproduction at a great price. Their sound quality is well balanced, open and spacious. They're sturdy, durable and well-padded headphones, but they're a bit tight on your head. Their open design is also not suitable for all environments, and the audio cable is not detachable or replaceable if it gets damaged.
Best Over-Ear Headphones below $75
The Philips SHP9500 are affordable yet well-built open headphones, with an excellent sound for critical listening. They're lightweight, comfortable and feel sturdier than some pricier open-back models. They're not the most versatile over-ear headphones due to their open design but they're a great option for critical listening.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M30x are above-average budget studio headphones. They have a decently well-balanced audio reproduction. However, they're not the most versatile. The audio cable is not replaceable, they feel a bit plasticky and lack a few features for everyday casual use in moderately loud environments.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best Over-Ear headphones to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
A few examples of Over-Ear headphones that didn't make the cut:
- Bose QuietComfort 35. Outstanding noise isolation and a comfortable, wireless design. However, they're relatively leaky headphones. See our review
- Sennheiser PXC 550. Highly customizable sound and noise isolation. Comfortable, stable and well-built headphones but mediocre noise isolation. See our review
- Sony MDR-7506. A good substitute to the M50x at a much lower cost. However, they don't sound as good but leak a little less. See our review
- Oppo PM3. Balanced sound quality and comfortable design. Planar magnetic drivers make the headphones expensive for what they do. See our review
- V-MODA Crossfade M-100. Great build and audio quality. Stable and comfortable design but a bit leaky and weak noise isolation. See our review
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for over-ear headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no perfect over-the-ear headphone. Personal taste, preference and listening habits will matter more in your selection.