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We've recently released our Test Bench 1.7 update for Headphones! Read the Noise isolation R&D Article to learn more.

The 6 Best Over-Ear Headphones - Spring 2024 Reviews

Updated Jun 14, 2024 at 10:32 am
Best Over-Ear Headphones

Over-ear headphones, also called around-ear headphones, are among the most popular headphone types. While they can be a little bulky and don't breathe as well as in- or on-ears, most people find them the most comfortable headphones for extended listening periods. They often have more features than many in-ear or earbud options and have longer batteries than their smaller, more portable counterparts.

We've tested over 375 pairs of over-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the top 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 wireless headphones.

  1. Best Over-Ear Headphones

    The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless are the best over-ear headphones we've tested. They're this manufacturer's top-of-the-line model, and you can expect outstanding noise isolation performance thanks to their premium active noise cancelling (ANC) system. They can easily cut down the rumble of bus and plane engines as well as ambient chatter and whining computer fans. With their ANC on, they last over 29 hours continuously. You can even use them wired in a pinch, though you'll need to still have the headphones on for them to work. It's in the name—their comfortable fit lasts through long days on the go.

    They have a bassy sound out of the box that delivers extra thump, rumble, and boom to mixes. If you prefer a different sound, their companion app offers a three-band graphic EQ and presets so that you can fine-tune their sound. The app also has Immersive Audio, which is a head-tracking feature that can make your audio seem more immersive. If that's not enough, you can pair these headphones with up to two devices at a time, allowing you to stay connected to your PC and smartphone simultaneously.

    Consider the Bose QuietComfort Headphones Wireless if you're looking for Bose headphones at a slightly more digestible price. They offer a similar level of noise isolation and are just as comfortable, which can make all the difference during long trips. However, they don't feel as premium, and you lose out on features like Immersive Audio.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Over-Ear Headphones

    For something premium at a somewhat more manageable price, check out the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. These aren't quite as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless, but they have a similarly high-end design and even offer fantastic noise isolation performance. Overall, their ANC blocks a significant amount of environmental noise, and with ANC on, they last longer than the Bose. Their ANC isn't as good at blocking wind noise, but their over 37 hours of playback time will be enough to get you from point A to B without needing a recharge.

    These well-built over-ears have a very bassy default sound, which is good if you like genres like EDM and hip-hop. However, their extra bass muddies vocals and instruments. Luckily, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets if you want to adjust their sound to your tastes. They also have a spatial audio feature and support LDAC, Sony's propriety codec for streaming high-quality audio. They also support multi-device pairing.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Over-Ear Headphones

    The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless are a great mid-range pick. They don't feel as luxurious or well-built as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, but they still offer a well-rounded and feature-loaded performance at a lower price point. Unlike the Sony headphones, their adaptive ANC system has a wind reduction mode to effectively reduce unpleasant-sounding interactions between the wind and exterior ANC mics. The ANC automatically adjusts to your surroundings, blocking out loud vehicle engines and other people's conversations on your commute and at the office. They're pretty comfortable for most people, but their plastic frame can put pressure on the top of your head after a while. Their onboard controls aren't as easy to use, either.

    Still, these headphones have a great sound that's suitable for many different genres. Their V-shaped sound profile emphasizes the bass and the treble for a punchy, sparkling sound. There's even a graphic EQ and presets in their companion app to fine-tune their sound to your liking. Unfortunately, these headphones have a high noise floor when you set the ANC to 'Adaptive' or 'Max' mode, which can result in an annoying sound that's persistent throughout your listening experience. If you can learn to ignore it, you'll enjoy around 28 hours of continuous battery life with their ANC on. The 28 hours you get is less than the manufacturer's advertised 50-hour battery life, but it's still excellent for wireless noise cancelling headphones.

    If you like the sound of the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless but often use your headphones for calls, consider the Sony ULT WEAR Wireless. They're more expensive but feature a much better microphone and are more stable on the head, so they might be more useful if you plan to use your headphones while out and about.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Over-Ear Headphones

    The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless are a previous generation of the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless. They're a great budget pick with a similar design to their successor, meaning you can expect the same comfortable fit at an affordable price. If you plan to use them on the go, you'll be happy to know that their multi-setting ANC feature performs similarly to the Q45's. That said, you need to manually switch between the ANC settings, which isn't as convenient as the Q45's adaptive ANC system.

    These headphones also have a V-shaped sound profile that packs extra bass while vocals and lead instruments sound bright. You can tune their sound to suit your preferences using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. Unfortunately, there's a difference in sound quality depending on if the ANC is on or off. They also aren't very breathable, and some users have had their unit's headband break or crack over time. Still, they're worth a look if you're shopping on a budget.

    Check out our article on the best budget and cheap headphones for more budget-friendly options.

    See our review

  5. Best Sounding Over-Ear Headphones

    If you're looking for wireless over-ears and don't want to compromise on sound quality, the Focal Bathys Wireless offer the best of both worlds. These headphones suit both casual and critical listening, with a fairly neutral sound that delivers solid warmth and punch. Astute audiophiles will notice that instruments and vocals are slightly veiled, but you can make up for this using the graphic EQ and presets in their companion app. These headphones also support aptX Adaptive codec for streaming higher-quality audio with compatible apps, like TIDAL. They even have an optional wired USB-DAC connection that converts digital audio signals to analog, ensuring a smoother sound with better audio fidelity.

    However, there are a few drawbacks for either type of user. For audiophiles, their closed-back design means they won't create a wide and spacious soundstage as you would get with open-back headphones, but you can take closed-backs with you on a commute without bothering anyone with leakage. For those looking for casual headphones to use on the go, these are bulkier than the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless, and their ANC doesn't cut out as much low-end background noise. However, the Focal headphones have a more granular EQ for discerning listeners. Overall, they're still comfortable, well-built headphones and are worth a look.

    See our review

  6. Best Audiophile Over-Ear Headphones

    For those who prioritize sound quality above all else, the Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best audiophile over-ear headphones we've tested. They have an incredibly spacious soundstage and a neutral sound that accurately reproduces vocals and instruments. Their premium build quality and extremely comfortable fit make them perfect for long listening sessions and analytical audio work.

    Unlike our other picks, these are open-backs. This design allows audio to leave the ear cup and interact with your environment, creating a spacious and immersive listening experience. The major downside of this design is that open-back headphones don't isolate your audio from your environment or your environment from your audio. As a result, they aren't a good choice for commuting or working in public places like offices, but they'd work well in a studio or private room. They also often lack additional features like microphones and Bluetooth connections. If you're looking for great-sounding headphones that you can use at work or for wireless calls, you'll want to stick with our previous pick, the Focal Bathys Wireless, which use a closed-back design and have additional features like noise cancellation.

    The Sennheiser headphones are expensive and lack a little low bass. If you're happy with an open-back design but want something cheaper or with a little more thump, try the HiFiMan Edition XS. They're bulkier and heavier, so if you prefer lighter headphones, you might find them uncomfortable for long listening sessions. However, they're more affordable and have planar magnetic drivers that deliver a thumpy, rumbly low-end.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Apple AirPods Max Wireless: The Apple AirPods Max Wireless boast superb noise isolation thanks to their adaptive ANC. With Apple-exclusive niceties like the H1 chip and Apple Spatial Audio, you can experience seamless device switching and immersive audio. Their mesh ear pads feel nice and lend airflow, but they're not as lightweight as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless, which supply the same features regardless of whether you use Apple iOS or Android. See our review
  • Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless: The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless are comfortable, well-built wireless headphones with a bass-heavy sound profile that delivers extra thump and rumble to mixes. However, they're leaky at high volumes, and their ANC doesn't block out noise as well as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. See our review
  • Jabra Evolve2 85 Wireless: The Jabra Evolve2 85 Wireless are versatile wireless headphones with good mic recording quality and an intuitive control scheme, which is great if you make many calls. They can receive audio via USB-A or their 1/8" TRS cable. However, the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless are better built and can block out more background noise. See our review
  • Skullcandy Crusher Evo Wireless: The Skullcandy Crusher Evo Wireless are over-ears with a haptic bass feature, meaning you can customize the amount of thump and rumble in your mixes. This feature is great if you like genres like EDM and hip-hop, but it overwhelms and bloats vocals and lead instruments. Unlike the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless, they also lack more robust sound customization features. See our review
  • Philips Fidelio X2HR: The Philips Fidelio X2HR are entry-level open-back over-ears that are more affordable than the Sennheiser HD 800 S. They have a very comfortable fit and a balanced, detailed sound profile with an immersive passive soundstage. However, they're bulky, leak a lot of audio, and lack the Sennheiser's premium build quality. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jun 14, 2024: The HiFiMan Edition XS replaced the HifiMan Arya as a comparison to the Sennheiser HD 800 S due to their superior bass performance and lower price. We also added the Sony ULT WEAR Wireless as a comparison to the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless because of their superior microphone quality and stability.

  2. May 17, 2024: We've made minor updates to the text and checked that the products are in stock. However, our recommendations have remained unchanged.

  3. Apr 19, 2024: The Apple AirPods Max Wireless have been added as a Notable Mention. The picks on this list are unchanged, but minor text changes have been made to reflect the Test Bench 1.7 update on noise isolation, where applicable.

  4. Mar 22, 2024: We've checked this article to ensure product availability and text accuracy, but we haven't changed our recommendations.

  5. Feb 23, 2024: We've made small changes to the text to improve readability and checked to ensure all our picks remain in stock and the pricing remains the same.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best over-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.