Over-ear headphones, also called around-ear headphones, offer a simple design with large ear cups that fit around the ears (read our article over-ear vs on-ear headphones). They can be a little bulky, but they generally offer decent noise isolation and are very comfortable to wear for extended periods.
So far, we've tested 111 over-ear headphones and below are our recommendations for the best ones to purchase this spring.
Best Over-Ear Headphones: Sennheiser HD 800 S
Of the 111 over-ear headphones we've tested, the best ones so far are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. If you have the budget and consider yourself a hardened critical listener or an audiophile, then we strongly recommend the HD 800s.
They’re exceptionally well-built 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 unmatched by most of the headphones we've reviewed, except maybe the HiFiMan Edition X.
However, like most open headphones, the 800S have only one specific use case, critical listening, so you won’t be taking them outdoors or using them as casual headphones.
Alternative For Everyday Use: Bose QuietComfort 35 II
If you need a more versatile pair of headphones for casual use, then get the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They're a slightly upgraded version of the QuietComfort 35 and are still one of the best headphones for commuting thanks to their excellent noise cancellation. They have a sufficiently good sound to satisfy most listeners and they're comfortable enough to wear for hours.
They do not look as premium and do not isolate as well as the Sony WH-1000XM2 but they provide a better overall experience, with a more consistent sound and greater comfort. Overall, the QC35 II are great versatile headphones that won't disappoint.
Best Mid-Range Over-Ear Headphones: SteelSeries Arctis 7
For a mid-range option, we recommend the SteelSeries Arctis 7. They're a great gaming headset that also comes with an audio cable so you can use them wired with most of your devices.
These headphones have an excellent and sturdy build quality, multiple connection options and a well-balanced sound that's good enough for casual and critical listening. Unfortunately, you can't use them wirelessly with your phone, so they will not be as outdoor-friendly as the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 or the JBL Everest Elite 700. They're also a bit tight for some users since you can't adjust the headband.
If you need a good pair of headphones to primarily use at home, then they're a great choice, especially since you can use the dongle with your TV via the line input.
Alternative for Critical Listening: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
If you need a more versatile headset that you can also use wirelessly with your phone, then get the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 instead. They're a lot more affordable than the Bose QuietComfort 35 II or the Sony WH-1000XM2, and they're well-rounded enough for most use cases, even gaming. They don't isolate as well as the Bose QC 35 II but make up for it with a tough, durable build quality, a simple and efficient control scheme and an incredible wireless range.
They Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are more sturdy and have more features than the Beats Studio3 Wireless, especially for Android users, and they're also less expensive, which make them a great recommendation for a pair of mid-range over-ear headphones.
Best Budget Over-Ear Headphones: Logitech G433
The best budget option we've tested so far are the Logitech G433. These wired gaming headphones are optimized for casual use with your mobile devices and they even come with a 1/8TRRS audio cable with an inline remote for your phone.
They have a surprisingly well-balanced sound that is on par, if not better, than headphones two to three times their price range. They're comfortable, decently lightweight and moderately breathable with extra earcup pads in the box. They also come with a Boom microphone for gaming and voice chat, which makes them versatile enough for most use cases.
They're not as feature-packed as some of the other wireless noise-canceling headphones on this list like the Bose or Plantronics, but they deliver a solid experience with a satisfying sound at a fraction of the price.
Cheaper Alternative: Philips SHP9500
If you’re on a tight budget and mostly care about sound quality, then the Philips SHP9500 are a great alternative to the Logitech G433. They're excellent audiophile headphones for their level of audio fidelity and price. They're also comfortable enough to wear for long listening sessions and provide a spacious and open sound.
However, like most open headphones, they're not versatile enough for all environments and do not have all the convenient features of some of the more versatile headphones on this list. You can't control your audio since they do not have an inline remote and they're wired so they won't have the range of wireless headphones like the Beats Studio3 Wireless.
However, if you want a comfortable critical listening experience at a budget price, the SHP9500 are the headphones to get.
- Sony WH-1000XM2. Best over-ear for noise isolation and a sturdy, wireless design. Slightly inconsistent sound quality. 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
- HiFiMan HE-400i. Excellent sounding planar magnetic headphones with a decently comfortable design. Slightly weak build quality and bulky design. See our review
- Sennheiser PXC 550. Highly customizable sound and noise isolation. Comfortable, stable and well-built over-ear headphones but mediocre noise isolation. See our review
- B&O PLAY H9. Excellent build quality and design. Good comfort level but slightly too pricey compared to other similarly designed headphones. See our review
- Beats Studio3 wireless. A good alternative to the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 with a sleek and polished design. They're a worthy upgrade to the original Studio Wireless but slightly lack active features. See our review
- Sony MDR 1A. Balanced sound quality and comfortable design. A bit expensive for what they have to offer. See our review
- Astro A50. Great sound quality for critical listening and comfortable design. A gaming-oriented headset limited by the range of the base station. See our review
- Superlux HD 668B. Good, well-balanced sound quality, very affordable price range. Slightly uncomfortable and a bit cheaply made. See our review
- Sennheiser HD 700. Over-ear headphones with a premium build quality, great sound. See our review
- HiFiMan Sundara. A good alternative to the Sennheiser HD 800 S if you're looking for audiophile over-ears at a much cheaper price. See our review
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 (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).
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.