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. 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, these are a good pair of well-rounded headphones that should be able to handle almost anything you can throw at them.
If you want a better noise cancelling performance and the ability to customize the sound through the companion app, try the Sony WH-1000XM3. They have very similar features to the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II, but Sony's app is truly impressive in the number of customizations that are offered, ranging from presets to a graphic EQ, ANC controls, button mapping, and room effects, as well as Sony's proprietary feature called DSEE HX, which upscales compressed music to make them sound better. The active noise cancelling on these headphones is also one the best on the market, able to block out noise across the entire frequency range. Even with ANC enabled, these headphones can last up to 27 hours and only take 2 hours to charge. They may not be as comfortable as the Bose, but they make up for it with a premium build quality.
If you want a pair of headphones that sound great out of the box without any tuning, get the Bose, but for those who like to tinker with the EQ, the Sony are a better choice.
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 Bose 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 SteelSeries are the way to go.
The best over-ear headphones for working out are the Beats Studio 3 Wireless. They have well-padded ear cups that are comfortable, and because they're wireless, you won't have to worry about cables getting in the way. Being over-ears, though, they may slide a little bit depending on the type of workout or the intensity. If they do happen to fall off, the build quality is very good and they should be able to survive a few accidental drops. Heat may also be an issue since these are closed-back headphones and are designed to create a good seal. They do have great noise isolation when it comes to ambient chatter, however, but they'll struggle to block out noise in the bass range, where the rumbles of bus engines sit.
Although these headphones use the W1 chip that makes pairing with Apple devices easier, there's no app support except for the active noise cancelling feature through the general Bluetooth settings. With a 23-hour battery life, these headphones should be able to get you through a few workouts before needing a recharge; unfortunately, there aren't any auto-off features available.
As for sound, they have a deep bass but tend to sound boomy, and the mid-range can sound rather muddy. If you like to watch videos during your workouts, just know that there's quite a bit of latency, so the experience may not be ideal, but otherwise, these are a decent choice for the gym.
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 the price of the Sennheiser HD 800 S seems high, there are cheaper alternatives that can still perform well, like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X. These headphones have been on the market for some time now and they're still highly revered. They may not be the most stylish with their function-over-form aesthetic, but they do sound good. The bass is deep and thumpy, while the mids and treble are well-balanced. There's a spike in the treble that can sound sharp, especially on tracks that are already bright, but the overall sound signature is fairly neutral, making them great studio headphones. Their noise isolation is sub-par, however, and they don't have an in-line remote or microphone for calls.
If you want to experience the best soundstage from a pair of headphones, the Sennheiser are the ones to get. But for the more budget-conscious crowd, the Audio-Technica are a great value.
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.
12/23/2019: Replaced Sennheiser PXC 550 with Beats Studio 3 Wireless, minor text and structure changes.
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.