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 400 headphones, around 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 wireless over-ear headphones that we've tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They're extremely comfortable Bluetooth headphones, thanks to their lightweight design that can be worn for hours without getting too hot or uncomfortable. They have a well-built and premium design and simple physical controls that are easy-to-use.
These headphones have a well-balanced sound profile that provides just the right amount of thump and punch in the bass range. Their bass isn't overpowering, however, and they're well-suited for a wide variety of genres from dubstep to classical, and everything in-between. They're among the best noise cancelling headphones that we've tested to date, and their ANC does a great job at blocking out both the low rumble of engines and background speech. This, combined with their remarkably comfortable design, makes them an excellent choice for commuting as well as using in the office. They have a great 20-hour battery life which should easily get you through a couple of days of work, and only take 2 hours to charge.
Unfortunately, the Bose Connect app isn't great and doesn't offer an EQ of any kind to change the headphones' sound profile. They also tend to be quite leaky, and those around you may hear what you're listening to, especially if you blast your music. Overall, however, the QC35 II are a good pair of well-rounded headphones that should be able to handle almost anything you can throw at them.
If you use your headphones in a very noisy environment or want a more customizable sound profile, get the Sony WH-1000XM3. They aren't quite as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II, and their out-of-the-box sound profile isn't as well-balanced, but their ANC is better, and they have a great companion app. While not quite as comfortable as the Bose, they're still very comfortable headphones that sport a premium and very well-built design, that should be able to withstand a few accidental drops and bumps without taking too much damage. Their ANC is the best that we've tested to date, and they do an incredible job at blocking out engine rumble as well as background chatter. If you aren't happy with their slightly bass-heavy sound profile, you can fully customize it via a graphic EQ in Sony's great Sony | Headphones Connect app. The app also gives you access to a lot of other features like ANC control, room effects, and sound position options.
If you want an extremely comfortable pair of headphones that don't require any tinkering to get the best performance, get the Bose, but if you listen to music in very loud environments, or like to be able to fully customize your headphones to make them your own, go for the Sony.
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 like wearing over-ear headphones at the gym, the best over-ear headphones for working out that we’ve tested so far are the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. They aren't specifically designed with exercise in mind, but their lightweight build and stable fit make them a good choice for using while working out. They feel well-made with a mix of metal and dense plastic throughout, and large and heavily cushioned ear cups. They're one of the more comfortable closed-back headphones we've ever tested, though they're just tight enough to give them a good stable fit on your head that shouldn't fall off.
Their sound profile is well-balanced and neutral sounding and should be suitable for most genres of music. Fans of bass may find them a bit lacking, however, as they won't give you that extra thump that many other headphones do. While they have ANC, it's only decent and will do a better job at blocking out background speech in the office than it will at blocking the low engine rumble of a bus or train. Luckily, they don't leak much audio so you can crank your volume to help block out ambient sound without bothering those around you.
These headphones have an almost 28-hour battery life, which is great, and can be fully charged in 2 hours, which is also very good. They can also be used passively by plugging in a 1/8" audio cable when your battery dies, which is a nice touch. Overall, these are a decent pair of over-ear headphones that are comfortable and stable enough to be able to withstand some moderate exercising.
If you consider yourself a serious audiophile and are looking for the best neutral-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 Audio-Technica provide slightly better value since they sound a little more neutral and come with three 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 Sennheiser. However, if you’re a DJ, musician, or producer looking for something that provides better value for mixing, mastering, or recording, get the Audio-Technica.
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 Plantronics provide better value overall.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 we've tested so far the Mixcder E9. They're comfortable noise cancelling headphones with large, padded earcups and have a great control scheme that's very easy-to-use. They feel fairly well-built, especially for the price, and come with a nice hard carrying case which can help protect them on-the-go.
These headphones sound pretty good and have a very well-balanced sound in the bass and mid-ranges. They lack detail in the treble range, so they're not ideal for brighter genres of music like jazz or classical, but are suitable for more bass-heavy popular genres of music. Their noise cancelling is decent and their 18-hour battery life will last you a full work day.
While their battery life is good, they don't have any power-saving features, so you'll need to remember to turn them off when you're done using them. The Mpow H10 Wireless have a better battery life plus a standby mode to help save power. They even have better noise cancelling, but they feel a lot more cheaply made. Overall, the Mixcder are versatile over-ears that provide good value for the price, especially under $100.
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 aren't noise cancelling like the Mixcder E9 Wireless and can't be used wirelessly, 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 Wireless 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 Mixcder 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 microphone and lots of accessories, the Logitech are hard to beat.
The best budget over-ear headphones are the Mpow H5. They provide a surprisingly premium-feeling experience, especially for the price. They support Bluetooth, have active noise cancelling, and even come with a great hard carrying case, which is a welcome addition considering how little they cost.
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 since they're rather tight on the head. Mpow has released an upgraded version that's 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.
11/20/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.
10/22/2019: Replaced Mpow H10 with Mixcder E9. Refreshed text.