Over-ear headphones, also called around-ear headphones, are one of the most popular types of headphones. While they can be a little bulky and don't breathe as well as in-ears or on-ears, most people tend to find them the most comfortable type of headphones for extended periods. They often have more features than many in-ear or earbud options and have longer batteries than their smaller and more portable counterparts.
We've tested over 250 pairs of over-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones to purchase. Also, make sure to check out our recommendations for the best on-ear headphones, the best earbuds and in-ear headphones, and the best Bluetooth over-ear headphones.
The best wireless over-ear headphones that we've tested are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. These well-built over-ears have a very comfortable fit and a well-balanced sound profile that ranks them among the best headphones we've tested. Their 20-hour continuous battery life can easily get you through long days on the go, too.
Thanks to their balanced sound, these headphones are well-suited to listening to a wide variety of audio content. Their active noise cancelling (ANC) feature does an outstanding job blocking out background noises, so they're a solid choice to wear during your commute or while working in a noisy office. You can even pair them with up to two devices at a time, making it easy to switch your audio source between your phone and your laptop.
Unfortunately, these headphones leak a bit of sound when you play your music at loud volumes, so they may not be ideal to wear to a quiet library. They also don't offer any sound customization features in their companion app, which is disappointing for such premium headphones. That said, they have a very versatile overall performance that can please a wide range of listeners.
If you like to customize the sound of your headphones, consider the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless instead. While they aren't as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018, these headphones have a graphic EQ and presets available in their companion app to help you adjust the sound to your liking. They're very well-built, and their bass-heavy sound profile can please fans of genres like EDM and hip-hop. Like the Bose, their ANC feature is incredible at isolating against background noises so you can focus on your music. Their over 37-hour continuous battery life ensures that you won't have to worry about recharging them daily, either.
If you want a more comfortable pair of headphones, check out the Bose, but if you like to customize the sound, consider the Sony instead.
The best over-ear headphones for audiophiles that we've tested are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. These open-backs are very comfortable and deliver a virtually unparalleled listening experience. They look and feel very premium and well-built, and they're comfortable for extended listening periods thanks to their breathable open-back design.
They're incredibly well-balanced and reproduce audio accurately for a wide range of genres. However, they lack a little bit of bass, and they might sound a tiny bit muddy on some tracks, though it may not be noticeable to everyone. Their open-back design provides a spacious and natural soundstage that's nearly as immersive as listening to standalone tower speakers.
Unfortunately, they're very expensive, and they require a powerful amplifier. They're also best suited for a quiet, dedicated listening environment as, like with most open-back headphones, they leak a lot of audio and block almost no background noise by design. Overall, while they're not meant for everyday use, they provide one of the best listening experiences available and are the best audiophile headphones we've tested.
If you’re looking for the best over-ear headphones for audiophiles that can pull double duty in the studio and the daily commute, check out the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They aren’t as well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S and don’t offer as spacious or natural a listening experience due to their closed-back design. However, by the same token, that also makes them far more versatile: They don’t leak nearly as much audio and block out a lot more background noise. They’re also substantially cheaper and have a well-honed sound profile that’s well suited for critical listening or for mixing and mastering. Their comfortable fit and included selection of detachable audio cables are added bonuses.
Get the Sennheiser if price is no object, and you intend to use them only for listening in a quiet room, but if you expect your headphones to see more varied use, consider the Audio-Technica.
The Razer Opus are the best over-ear headphones under $200 that we’ve tested. They’re well-built, feature a premium design that stands out compared to the rest of Razer’s gaming-oriented lineup, and provide a very comfortable fit, with generous amounts of padding used on their headband and ear cups. Meanwhile, an outstanding near-33-hour battery life outlasts more expensive alternatives like the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless and Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018.
They have a very neutral sound profile, which should make them a good fit for all sorts of musical genres. That said, if you like to tweak and fiddle with your listening experience, you can customize how these headphones sound via a graphic EQ or presets in the dedicated Razer Opus companion app. Their ANC performance punches well above their price point’s weight class, as it does an excellent job of reducing everything from the low-rumble of construction equipment to the chatter of coworkers in a busy office.
Unfortunately, they lack multi-device pairing, so it might be a bit of an annoyance if you tend to repeatedly swap between listening to content on your phone and computer. Their integrated microphone also doesn’t do a great job of isolating your voice from background noise. That said, these are a great value with a rich feature set, balanced sound profile, and remarkable noise cancellation performance.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 that we've tested are the Mixcder E9. These comfortable wireless over-ears have a decently versatile performance that can please many different listeners. Thanks to their over 18-hour continuous battery life, these are a solid choice for long days on the go.
Overall, their default sound profile is quite neutral and well-balanced, making them suitable for listening to a wide variety of music genres. There's also an active noise cancelling (ANC) feature, which does a very good job blocking out ambient noise, including bass-heavy sounds like engines and sharper sounds like voices and AC units. As a result, you can enjoy your favorite tunes without a lot of distractions during your commute or while working in a noisy office setting.
Unfortunately, while they don't feel as cheap as some of the others in their price range, they still have a slightly plasticky build. They don't offer any sound customization features, either, so you can't adjust the sound to your liking. That said, they rank among the best over-ear headphones under $100 that we've tested.
The best over-ear headphones in the budget category that we've tested are the Mpow H10. They have a comfortable fit and a versatile performance for everyday casual listeners. Their over 23-hour continuous battery life means that you won't have to worry about recharging these headphones on a daily basis, which is convenient.
With a decently neutral default sound profile, they're suitable for listening to lots of different music genres. They pack an extra thump and punch in the bass-range, too, which can please fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. Also, they have an impressive noise isolation performance, so they're a solid choice for your commute or other noisy environments.
Unfortunately, they leak a bit of noise, so you may disturb the people around you if you crank up the volume too loud. They also feel a bit flimsy due to their plasticky build, so they don't have the best build quality. However, their versatile performance ranks them among the best headphones under $50 that we’ve tested.
10/09/2020: Replaced the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless with the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. Added the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Jabra Evolve2 85 Wireless as Notable Mentions.
09/11/2020: Minor changes to the text and verification for accuracy.
08/12/2020: Replaced the AKG N700NC with the Mixcder E9 to reflect current pricing changes.
07/13/2020: Added Razer Opus Wireless in new 'Best Under $200' category.
06/12/2020: Removed the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 and Replaced the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 with the Mpow H10 for consistency.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best over the ear headphones to buy for most people in each price range. 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 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.