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The 6 Best On-Ear Headphones - Summer 2022 Reviews

Best On-Ear Headphones

Many people find on-ear headphones to be a good compromise between the portability of in-ears and the comfort of over-ears. They have smaller ear cups that fit directly on your ears, which makes them generally more compact and breathable than over-ears without needing to have earbuds sticking inside your ear. However, they tend to fit tighter than over-ears, which can put an uncomfortable amount of pressure on your ears, depending on the design. The best on-ears have a fit that works for you, along with a sound profile that suits the type of music you listen to. The best models even have additional features like Bluetooth support and active noise cancelling (ANC).

We've tested over 65 pairs of on-ear models, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones with an on-ear design. Also, make sure to check out our recommendations for the best headphones, the best over-ear headphones, and the best wireless Bluetooth headphones.

  1. Best On-Ear Headphones

    The JBL Live 460NC are the best on-ear headphones that we've tested. These headphones support extra features like multi-device pairing, meaning you can stay connected to your PC and smartphone at the same time. They also have active noise cancelling (ANC), and even though it does a sub-par job of blocking out the low rumble of traffic, it offers better performance when tackling mid-range noise like office chatter. Out of the box, these headphones have a fairly neutral sound profile that's versatile enough for most kinds of audio content. You can finetune them to your liking using their companion app's parametric EQ or presets if you prefer a different sound.

    These on-ears have over 29 hours of continuous battery life, which should easily get you through long days on the go, and you can use them passively via their 1/8" TRS cable. They're also well-built and decently comfortable. They have a somewhat high clamping force, which can become uncomfortable over time.

    See our review

  2. Best Budget On-Ear Headphones

    The best budget-friendly on-ear headphones we've tested are the JBL Tune 510BT Wireless. Although these headphones are simple in design, they have over 38 hours of continuous battery life, making them well-suited for long days on the go. They also support multi-device pairing, meaning you can connect to your smartphone and PC at the same time. While they don't have any sound customization features, their slightly v-shaped sound profile delivers extra warmth and kick to tracks, while vocals and lead instruments are bright and detailed. They also have an easy-to-use control scheme, and their integrated mic offers decent recording quality, ensuring your voice sounds clear and natural.

    Their fairly comfortable fit has a wide range of articulation to help accommodate different-sized heads. Unfortunately, they have a mostly plasticky design which doesn't feel very sturdy. They also have a bad noise isolation performance and won't block out the low rumbles of bus and plane engines or ambient chatter.

    See our review

  3. Most Durable On-Ear Headphones

    If a premium build matters to you, the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless are the most durable on-ears we've tested. These headphones have a high-grade plastic build with sturdy yokes and thick memory foam padding. They also have ANC and can block out a great amount of ambient noise, like bus engine rumbles and ambient chatter. With their ANC on, their battery supplies over 37 hours of continuous playback time, and they have a standby mode to conserve battery life when you aren't using them.

    Out of the box, these high-end on-ears have a very bass-heavy sound profile that's well-suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop. However, their extra boom and warmth can muddy vocals and lead instruments. They lack sound customization features like an EQ or presets, so you can't adjust their sound to your liking. They support aptX and aptX HD codecs, which is nice if you want to listen to audio with higher resolution and can be paired with your laptop and smartphone simultaneously.

    See our review

  4. Best On-Ear Headphones For iPhone

    The Beats Solo Pro Wireless are the best on-ear Bluetooth headphones for iPhone users we've tested. Although they've been discontinued, they're still available through most major retailers. These iconic on-ears have an H1 chip, which lets you seamlessly pair them with other devices in your Apple ecosystem. If you like to stream video, they also have low latency when you're connected to an iOS device. They have ANC and do a good overall job of blocking background noise, although they struggle a bit when tackling the low rumble of bus engines. With their ANC turned on, they last for 24 hours continuously and charge via lightning cable.

    They have a great build quality and come in a variety of colors to suit your style. They're lightweight and fairly comfortable too, but if you have a large head, their fit can be a bit tight, and their headband may not extend far enough to accommodate you well. Although their integrated mic has a sub-par recording quality, and your voice sounds muffled and lacking in detail, it can still separate speech from background noise decently well, which is important if you take a lot of calls on the go.

    See our review

  5. Best Sports-Oriented On-Ear Headphones

    The best on-ear wireless headphones for sports that we've tested are the JBL Live 400BT Wireless. You may prefer on-ear headphones when exercising if you experience discomfort wearing earbuds. These headphones have a tight and breathable fit that should stay in place while jogging, even though they can feel a bit tight on the top of your ears. They also have easy-to-use physical controls with a talk-through setting, so you can quickly chat with others without taking off your headphones.

    Their default sound profile is fairly neutral, making them a versatile choice for most audio content. However, you can adjust their sound to suit your tastes using their companion app's parametric EQ and presets. They also have a continuous battery life of over 30 hours, which should last through long workouts. That said, their plastic design feels a bit cheap. They also lack ANC and offer a mediocre overall noise isolation performance, which isn't ideal if you want to block out noise on the track or in the park.

    See our review

  6. Best Wired On-Ear Headphones

    The best wired on-ear headphones that we've tested are the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x. If you're looking for wired headphones for listening to music or day-to-day use, these have a comfortable fit and aren't too tight on your head. They come with a detachable cable and two 1/8" to 1/4" adapters, meaning you can also connect them to a mixer or amp. Keep in mind that they're for audiophiles, so they don't have a mic or onboard controls. As a result, you can't use them to make phone calls or easily skip a track when you're on the go.

    Their sound profile is neutral and well-balanced, so they're suitable for fans of a variety of genres and types of content. While most of the bass response is very accurate, there's some overemphasis in the high-bass range that adds a touch of extra boom and warmth to mixes. Vocals and lead instruments still sound present and clear, though. These over-ears are also decently breathable, comfortable, and well-built. They even come with a soft pouch to keep dust off the headphones when they're not in use.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Jabra Evolve2 65 Wireless: The Jabra Evolve2 65 Wireless are call-oriented headphones and come optimized for either United Communications (UC) or Microsoft Teams. They're comfortable but have a poor noise isolation performance. You also can't detach their boom mic for a more casual look. See our review
  • Beats Solo3 2019 Wireless: The Beats Solo3 2019 Wireless have a longer continuous battery life than the Beats Solo Pro Wireless, but they aren't as well-built, and their sound profile isn't as neutral. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jun 13, 2022: Removed the JBL CLUB 700BT Wireless and Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-Ear/HD1 On-Ear from Notable Mentions as they're not available. Also changed 'Best Wireless On-Ears' to 'Best On-Ear Headphones'.

  2. May 12, 2022: Made the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless the 'Most Durable On-Ears'.

  3. Apr 12, 2022: Removed the Beats EP, Beats Solo3 2018 Wireless, Marshall MID ANC Wireless, Koss Porta Pro KTC, and Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-Ear/HD1 On-Ear as they're no longer available. Also added the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless as 'Better Built Alternative'.

  4. Mar 17, 2022: Removed the Status Audio BT One Wireless from Notable Mentions as it's no longer available. Checked out picks for accuracy and product availability.

  5. Feb 14, 2022: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best on-ear Bluetooth headphones and on-ear wired headphones for most people to buy. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones 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).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for on-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.

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