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
The Sennheiser HD 800S are the best headphones for critical listening that we’ve tested so far. If you have the budget and consider yourself a hardened critical listener or an audiophile then the HD 800s are a good option. They’re well-built and durable open headphones with expertly matched dynamic drivers that deliver an accurate audio reproduction. Their open design also recreates the ambiance of a good stereo speaker set up for an immersive listening experience. However, like most open headphones, the 800S have only one specific use case so you won’t be taking them outside.
If you want a more versatile option to use as your everyday headphones, get the Sony MDR 1000x. These over-ear headphones a lot more practical for the casual listener and still deliver an above average audio reproduction that’s even better if you use them wired. They’re well-designed, sturdy headphones that have the best noise canceling measured so far. This means they do comparatively better than most headphones in loud environments and are especially good if you have a noisy commute or you’re a frequent flyer.
Best Mid-Range Over-Ear Headphones
If you’re looking for a more affordable, wireless option to the versatile MDR-1000x, then the Plantronics Backbeat Pro are a good mid-range alternative. They do not isolate as well in loud environments, so they let in more ambient noise when commuting. However, they have a tough build, a simple and efficient control scheme and an incredible wireless range. Combined to a very low wireless latency, these headphones are well rounded enough for most use cases, even gaming.
The Audio-Technica M50x, like the HD800s, are a more focused experience. These over-ear headphones do especially well for critical listening and studio recording thanks to their high comfort level and amazing audio reproduction. However, they’re also closed-back headphones so you can use them in more varied environments. They do not leak as much as open headphones and block a decent amount of ambient noise. If you care about sound quality but not as much about active features, then the M50x are a good recommendation for most casual and some critical listeners.
Best Budget Over-Ear Headphones
The Philips SHP9500 are great critical listening headphones that are significantly cheaper than most open headphones with their level of audio fidelity. If you’re on a tight budget or if you just want the best critical listening experience under 100$, then get the SHP9500. They’re well-built and comfortable, open-back headphones that accurately reproduce the ambiance of a well-mastered track. However, like most open headphones, they’re not really versatile.
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
- Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro. Great build and audio quality. Stable and comfortable design but a bit tight on the head. 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 are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference and listening habits will matter more in your selection.