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 104 over-ear headphones and below are our recommendations for the best ones to purchase this winter.
Best Over-Ear Headphones: Sennheiser HD 800 S
Of the 104 over-ear headphones we've tested so far, the best ones 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 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.
Alternative For Everyday Use: Bose QuietComfort 35
If you need a pair of headphones for more casual use, then get the Bose QuietComfort 35. They're great 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 might not be as sturdy or as isolating as the Sony WH-1000XM2 over-ear headphones, but they provide a better overall experience and a more consistent sound quality. Overall, the QC35 are great versatile headphones that won't disappoint.
Best Mid-Range Over-Ear Headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
For a mid-range option, the best over-ear headphones are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They're a lot more affordable than the Bose QuietComfort 35 or the Sony WH-1000XM2, and they're well-rounded enough for most use cases, even gaming. These over-ear headphones don't isolate as well as the Bose QC 35, 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.
Alternative for Critical Listening: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
If you really care about sound quality, we recommend the Audio-Technica M50x over-ear headphones. Like the Sennheiser HD 800 S, they offer a more focused experience. These headphones do especially well for critical listening and studio recording thanks to their high comfort level and amazing audio reproduction.
They block a decent amount of ambient noise and do not leak as much as open headphones such as the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro, which have a slightly better sound but cannot be used in more varied environments. If you care about sound quality but not as much about active features, then get the M50x; they are a great recommendation for most people.
Best Budget Over-Ear Headphones: Philips SHP9500
If you’re on a tight budget, the best over-ear headphones we've tested are the Philips SHP9500. They're great audiophile headphones that are significantly cheaper than most open headphones with their level of audio fidelity.
Like most open headphones, they're not versatile enough for all environments but if you want a comfortable listening experience at a budget price, the SHP9500 are the headphones to get. They’re well-built and comfortable, open-back headphones that accurately reproduce the ambiance of a well-mastered track.
Cheaper Alternative: Superlux HD 681
If you want an even cheaper alternative to the Philips SHP 9500, get the Superlux HD 681. They're more comfortable than the Superlux HD 668B with the same great sound that's surprisingly well-balanced for their price range.
While they are nowhere near as comfortable or as well-built as the Philips, their semi-open design leaks a little less. They're also considerably cheaper while delivering a comparatively good sound quality.
- 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
- 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-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
- SteelSeries Arctis 7. A well-rounded gaming over-ear headset with a wired connection for casual outdoor use. Slightly bulky and wireless only with its transmitter which is a bit limiting. 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
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.