Over-ear headphones, also called around-ear headphones, offer a simple design with large ear cups that fit around the ears. They can be a little bulky, but they generally offer decent noise isolation and are very comfortable to wear for extended periods.
We've tested over 350 headphones, nearly 200 of which are over-ear, and below are our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones to purchase in 2019. See also our recommendations for the best on-ear headphones, the best earbuds and in-ear headphones, and the best Bluetooth over-ear headphones.
The best over-ear headphones for casual use that we’ve tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They’re very comfortable headphones, with a lightweight design that can be worn for hours without causing much fatigue. They feel well-built and have a simple physical control scheme that’s easy-to-use.
These wireless over-ears sound great, with a very well-balanced sound profile that lends itself well to music of virtually all genres. They can connect to two devices simultaneously, which is great if you often find yourself switching between your laptop and smartphone, and they also support NFC for quicker pairing with compatible devices. Their 20-hour battery life is great, and they have an auto-off timer that you can adjust in their companion app to help further save power.
While the QC 35 II have great noise cancelling, a recent firmware update (4.5.2) worsened it a bit. They still isolate noise very well – better than many ANC headphones we’ve tested – but their noise cancelling performance just isn’t quite as excellent as it used to be. The headphones are also quite leaky, so if you raise your listening volume to block out more noise, you may disturb those around you. That said, they’re still a great choice for use as your daily drivers thanks to their comfortable design and great sound quality.
If you want better noise cancelling and like being able to customize the way your headphones sound, then get the Sony WH-1000XM3. Their default sound profile isn’t as balanced as that of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but their companion app offers a wealth of customization options so you can fine-tune the way they sound. They also have much stronger noise cancelling. Unfortunately, their touch-sensitive controls are prone to registering unwanted commands if you use the headphones outdoors on a cold or windy day. Consider the Jabra Elite 85h as a more ergonomic option with physical controls, but their ANC isn’t as good and their companion app doesn’t offer as many customization options.
Get the Bose if you don’t feel the need to customize the way your headphones sound and prefer something with a simpler design, but if you’re all about having the most personalized experience possible, you’ll want to go for the Sonys.
If you’re looking for a versatile pair of headphones to complete your home theater setup, get the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. They’re a lot bulkier than the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but they have lower wireless latency for gaming and watching TV. They sound great and can mix audio from both their wireless transmitter and a Bluetooth source at the same time. Their microphone control isn’t adjustable like that of the SteelSeries Arctis Pro GameDAC, but they’re much more versatile and make for good mixed-usage headphones overall.
Get the QC 35 II if you want noise cancelling over-ears for your daily commute; however, if you’re looking for a powerful gaming headset that’s versatile enough to be used casually from time to time too, the Arctis Pro Wireless are the way to go.
If you prefer wearing over-ear headphones to the gym, the best over-ear headphones for working out that we’ve tested so far are the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. They’re not necessarily designed with sports and fitness in mind, but they have a lightweight, stable fit that’s surprisingly decent to work out with. They’re comfortable, well-built noise cancelling headphones that look great and feel sturdy.
They have great audio reproduction and are well-suited to a wide variety of music genres. If you’re not a fan of their neutral default sound profile, you can download the Sennheiser Captune app which provides a great parametric EQ so you can tweak the way the headphones sound to your liking, along with tons of other features like room effects and ANC control.
Being closed-back over-ear headphones with leather padding, they do trap quite a bit of heat under their ear cups. Their touch-sensitive control scheme can also be a bit difficult to use, especially while working out. The Beats Studio3 Wireless have physical buttons that are easier to use, but the headphones are bulkier overall. All things considered, if you like wearing over-ears while working out, the Sennheiser PXC 550 are likely your best bet.
If you consider yourself a serious audiophile and are looking for the best sounding wired over-ear headphones that we’ve tested so far, then get the Sennheiser HD 800 S. They’re expensive, but when it comes to sound quality, they deliver the best audio reproduction that we've measured so far.
They have a spacious soundstage, great imaging, and a well-balanced and neutral frequency response that caters well to all genres. They're a great choice if sound quality is your highest priority when getting headphones.
They're a significant investment; you need a powerful amplifier and a well-isolated listening room to experience them fully. If you already have the amp and dedicated quiet space but are looking for a less expensive option, the HiFiMan Ananda are worth considering. They perform nearly as well as the Sennheiser for significantly less money, but don’t feel as well-built and may not last as long.
If you’re passionate about sound but need a closed-back design for studio use, get the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They don’t have the soundstage of the Sennheiser HD 800 S, but their closed-back design packs more bass and they’re much more affordable. They’re often compared to the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO which feel better-built for their price, but don’t have a detachable cable and can sound a bit too bright for some. The M50x provide slightly better value since they sound a little more neutral and come with 3 different cables for increased ease-of-use whether you’re in the studio or waiting for the bus.
If you’re all about soundstage and want one of the best-sounding pairs of headphones that money can buy, you’ll want to go for the HD 800 S. However, if you’re a DJ, musician, or producer looking for something that provides better value for mixing, mastering, or recording, get the M50X.
The best over-ear headphones under $200 are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They have a durable yet comfortable design, efficient and easy-to-use physical controls, and an amazing battery.
They have an exciting, bass-rich sound that's surprisingly well-balanced. Their 30-hour battery life is outstanding, and they have lots of power-saving features. They can pair to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously and, if you have the right Bluetooth dongle, can even support aptX(LL) for enjoying video content or gaming with less wireless latency.
Although many will enjoy the way they sound, it’s a bit disappointing that their app doesn’t provide an EQ. The Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 have a more neutral sound profile, as well as a sleeker design, but they’re not as comfortable and don’t feel as well-built. Consider the JBL Live 650 BTNC if you’re looking for something with a great parametric EQ, but the BackBeat Pro 2 provide better value overall.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 are the Mpow H10. They’re not as well-built as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, but they have better ANC performance. They’re comfortable and provide a satisfactory listening experience for the price.
They have decent audio reproduction and are pretty well-suited to most genres of music. They have an impressive 23-hour battery life and have a standby mode to help save power, which is great. They also isolate a reasonable amount of noise across the board, which can help make your daily commute a bit more peaceful.
On the downside, they leak quite a bit of sound, so if you listen to your music too loud you might disturb those around you. They also feel cheaply made, especially compared to the more affordable Mpow H5. That said, they perform better overall, which makes them a decent choice if your budget permits. You may also want to consider the Anker SoundCore Life 2 which leak less and feel better-made for the price, but don’t have as good noise isolation as the Mpow.
If you don't mind a wired design and mostly use your headphones for gaming or listening to music, then get the Logitech G433 instead. They don’t have noise cancelling like the Mpow H10, but they deliver a solid gaming experience with satisfying sound at a fraction of the price of other gaming headsets. They work on PC, as well as on the PS4 and Xbox One, thanks to their standard audio jack, and even come with an extra cable that has in-line controls for mobile use. The Corsair HS60 are a bit cheaper and feel better-built, but don’t come with an in-line mic, which makes them a bit more limited for casual use.
Get the Mpow H10 if you prefer the freedom of wireless headphones and want noise cancelling for your daily travels, but if you’re looking for versatile gaming headphones with an exceptional mic and lots of accessories, the Logitech G433 are hard to beat.
The best budget over-ear headphones are the Mpow H5. They sound a bit muddy compared to the Mpow H10, but they provide a surprisingly premium-feeling experience, especially for the price. They feel rather well-made for budget headphones and come with a great hard carrying case, which is a welcome addition at this price point.
They sound alright overall and are a decent choice for fans of bass-heavy music like hip-hop. They have easy-to-use controls, a good 35-ft wireless range, and a decent 12-hour battery life. They even support multi-device pairing, so you can keep your work computer and smartphone connected to your headphones at the same time and easily switch between them.
On the downside, they aren’t the most comfortable headphones we’ve tried and they feel rather tight on the head. Mpow has released an upgraded version that is supposed to relieve some of the uncomfortable clamping force; however, we haven’t yet tested the upgrade. Even though the version of the H5 we’ve tested are a little tight, these headphones still provide great value overall.
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.