The 7 Best Over-Ear Headphones - Fall 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best Over-Ear Headphones
648 Headphones Tested
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Over-ear headphones, also called around-ear headphones, are one of the most popular types of headphones. While they can be a little bulky and don't breathe as well as in-ears or on-ears, most people tend to find them the most comfortable type of headphones for extended periods. They often have more features than many in-ear or earbud options and have longer batteries than their smaller and more portable counterparts.

We've tested over 305 pairs of over-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best 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 over-ear headphones.


  1. Best Wireless Over-Ear Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless

    7.1
    Neutral Sound
    8.1
    Commute/Travel
    7.2
    Sports/Fitness
    7.7
    Office
    5.8
    Wireless Gaming
    7.4
    Wired Gaming
    6.7
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless are the best wireless over-ear headphones that we've tested. These well-built headphones have a lightweight, very comfortable design. Their active noise cancelling (ANC) system delivers outstanding performance, so they can effectively isolate you from noises like rumbling engines, background conversations, and humming A/C units.

    Their long battery life of about 37 hours should easily last you through a long flight or a few 9-5 workdays without recharging. Their bass-heavy sound profile adds extra thump, punch, and boom to your music, which fans of genres like EDM and hip-hop may like, but if you prefer a different sound, you can also customize it with a graphic EQ and presets in the companion app. Their latency with iOS and Android devices is low enough for streaming video on your phone.

    Unfortunately, they aren't ideal for making phone calls since their integrated mic makes your voice sound muffled and thin and struggles to separate it from background noise, even in moderately noisy environments. Otherwise, if you're looking for over-ear headphones, these are comfortable, customizable, and offer an exceptional ANC performance.

    See our review

  2. More Comfortable Alternative: Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018

    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    If you're looking for over-ear headphones with a more comfortable fit, you may prefer the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. Their ANC system doesn't block out as much noise as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, and they aren't as well-built, but they don't clamp onto your head as hard, which may be more comfortable for some. Their ear cups are also more breathable. The ANC feature does a fantastic job of blocking out ambient sound, and it's adjustable in the companion app, so you can change how much ambient sound you hear. They also have a long, roughly 20-hour continuous battery life and a well-balanced sound profile. It's suitable for a variety of content, but unfortunately, the Sony| Headphones Connect app lacks sound customization features like an EQ or presets.

    If you want the over-ear headphones with a better ANC performance or a customizable sound profile, go for the Sony, but try the Bose instead if you're looking for a more comfortable and breathable fit.

    See our review

  3. Best Audiophile Over-Ear Headphones: Sennheiser HD 800 S

    8.5
    Neutral Sound
    4.0
    Commute/Travel
    5.5
    Sports/Fitness
    4.7
    Office
    4.8
    Wireless Gaming
    6.9
    Wired Gaming
    1.7
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best headphones for audiophiles that we've tested are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. These high-end open-back headphones have an impressive build quality. They also have a very comfortable fit with large, spacious ear cups and soft padding, so you can wear them for long listening sessions without feeling fatigued.

    These headphones offer a very neutral and accurate sound profile that highlights detail in your mixes. They can also deliver audio consistently, so you won't have to adjust their fit or position each time you use them. Their open-back design helps them reproduce an immersive and spacious soundstage that seems like it's coming from speakers placed in the room around you. They also come with a carrying pouch to help protect them from dust, an additional audio cable, and a USB memory drive, which are nice additions.

    Unfortunately, they lack a bit of thumpy low-bass, although this is to be expected from open-back headphones. This design also means that they won't block out any background noise and bleed a lot of audio. Also, to get the most of these headphones, you need an amp to help power their drivers. However, if you're looking for purely audiophile headphones to listen to high-fidelity audio, they're among the best audiophile headphones we've tested.

    See our review

  4. Planar-Magnetic Alternative: HiFiMan Arya

    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Planar Magnetic

    If you prefer planar magnetic audiophile headphones, check out the HiFiMan Arya. While they don't feel as sturdy or well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, their planar magnetic transducer has a few advantages over headphones with a dynamic transducer. Thanks to their design, they can reproduce a better bass response, and even though their low-bass is still underemphasized, it's more extended than that of the Sennheiser. Their passive soundstage also is perceived as immersive, spacious, and open. Overall, they have a very neutral and accurate sound profile that's well-suited for lots of audio content. However, they don't come with additional accessories like an extra audio cable or a protective pouch to help protect the headphones when you're not using them.

    Consider the Sennheiser if you're looking for more premium-feeling headphones. However, if you want headphones with a more extended bass response due to their planar magnetic transducer, try the HiFiMan instead.

    See our review

  5. Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $100: Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless

    6.5
    Neutral Sound
    7.7
    Commute/Travel
    6.9
    Sports/Fitness
    7.2
    Office
    5.5
    Wireless Gaming
    7.1
    Wired Gaming
    6.7
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless are the best over-ear headphones under $100 that we've tested. These headphones have an adjustable ANC system that you can set to better suit the kind of noise surrounding you. Using their 'Transport' mode, they can block out an outstanding amount of sound like the low rumble of bus engines.

    Out of the box, they have a v-shaped sound profile that delivers intense thump and boom to mixes while vocals and lead instruments are bright. You can also customize their sound to your liking using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. These over-ears have a comfortable and well-built design. They last over 44 hours continuously and can be paired with up to two devices at a time, which is handy if you want to stay connected to your phone and laptop simultaneously.

    Unfortunately, they leak audio at high volumes, which could annoy those around you. Their over-ear design also traps in a lot of heat, and it could make your ears feel warm over time. That said, if you're looking for more wallet-friendly headphones with a customizable performance and powerful ANC, they're worth checking out.

    See our review

  6. Alternative With Less Leakage: Mixcder E9 Wireless

    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    If you're looking for headphones with a better leakage performance, consider the Mixcder E9 Wireless. While they don't feel as well-built as the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless, they bleed less audio at high volumes, which is nice if you don't want to bother others around you. They also have a more neutral sound profile, so they're versatile enough for most kinds of audio content, though they don't have any customization features like an EQ to help you adjust their sound. They deliver over 18 hours of continuous playback time and support playback while charging, which is handy in a pinch. Their ANC system does a good overall job blocking out background sounds, but it isn't as strong a noise isolation performance.

    If you prioritize noise isolation performance, take a look at the Anker. However, if you want to reduce audio leakage when listening to your favorite audio at high volumes, check out the Mixcder instead.

    See our review

  7. Best Budget Over-Ear Headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless

    8.0
    Neutral Sound
    7.1
    Commute/Travel
    7.2
    Sports/Fitness
    7.2
    Office
    6.0
    Wireless Gaming
    7.6
    Wired Gaming
    6.8
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless are the best budget over-ear headphones that we've tested. While some of their color variants are found outside the budget range, you can still get their 'Bone' variant at a lower price. They offer over 24 hours of continuous battery life, which should last through long days on the go, and you can even use them passively, thanks to their included audio cable.

    These headphones have a stable, lightweight, and decently comfortable fit. They're also well-suited for a variety of audio content as they have a very neutral sound profile. Although they're not as customizable as other headphones on this list, their companion app offers a couple of EQ presets to help you tweak their sound. They also support multi-device pairing, meaning you can stay connected to your smartphone and laptop at the same time.

    While they have an ANC system, they struggle to block out low-bass noises like the rumble of bus engines, which could be annoying if you commute to work. Some users have also reported that the headband of their unit has cracked or broken over time. However, if you're looking to save some money without sacrificing too much on audio quality, they're a suitable choice.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless: The Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless are the next generation of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018, and while they're similarly comfortable and well-built, they lack an adjustable ANC level. See our review
  • Razer Opus Wireless: The Razer Opus Wireless are a solid alternative to other high-end ANC headphones like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 and Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. However, the model that we tested is the first-generation variant and is out of stock. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50x: The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are a viable alternative to the Sennheiser HD 800 S if you're looking for more wallet-friendly audiophile headphones. However, they aren't as comfortable or neutral sounding. See our review
  • Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless: The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless are comfortable headphones with a good noise isolation performance, thanks to their ANC system. However, they don't have a companion app and have a very excited sound profile, which some users may find overly boomy. See our review
  • Jabra Evolve2 85 Wireless: The Jabra Evolve2 85 are premium, versatile headphones with a comfortable fit, but their audio delivery isn't as consistent as our top picks. See our review
  • Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless: The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are very versatile headphones, but they don't have as many features as the newer Sony WH-1000XM4. See our review
  • Bose 700 Headphones Wireless: The Bose 700 Headphones are noise cancelling headphones with a balanced, neutral sound profile. However, they don't isolate as well as the Sony WH-1000XM4. See our review
  • Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless: The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are versatile over-ears with a surprisingly stable fit, which is great if you like to work out in over-ears, but our top picks perform slightly better overall. See our review
  • Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless: The Sennheiser Momentum 3 are comfortable wireless headphones with a well-built design and a good, bass-heavy sound profile. They can be leaky at high volumes and don't block noise as well as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II or the Sony WH-1000XM4. See our review
  • Jabra Elite 85h Wireless: The Jabra Elite 85h are easy-to-use ANC headphones that sound very good and are highly customizable but don’t isolate very much in the bass range. See our review
  • Beats Studio3 Wireless: The Beats Studio3 are decently versatile wireless over-ears but expensive for what they offer overall. See our review
  • HiFiMan Ananda: The HiFiMan Ananda are 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
  • JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless: The JBL Live 650 BTNC are comfortable, customizable over-ears, but their battery life, build quality, and ANC performance are worse than the comparably-priced Razer Opus Wireless. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Nov 17, 2021: Removed the Razer Opus Wireless as we haven't tested the new variant of these headphones and our model's variant is no longer available.

  2. Oct 18, 2021: Verified that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.

  3. Sep 24, 2021: Checked picks to make sure they represent the best recommendations in their categories and that the products are in stock.

  4. Aug 27, 2021: We have checked our picks for accuracy and product availability. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.

  5. Jul 29, 2021: Checked picks to make sure they represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.

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.

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