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.
We've tested 283 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones to purchase in 2018. If you're looking for budget over-ears, see also our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones under $50.
The best over-ear headphones we have tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They're one of the best options for commute and travel thanks to their excellent noise cancellation, comfortable design, and well-balanced sound. They provide a slightly better experience overall than the Bowers & Wilkins PX and the Sony WH-1000XM3.
The QC35II are not as well built as the PX and they're a lot less customizable than the Sonys. The WH-1000XM3 will be a better choice if you enjoy EQing and tweaking the sound your headphones to better match what you're listening to. However, the Bose have a slightly better default sound, they're easier to use and they're a bit more comfortable, which makes them the best recommendation for most listeners.
If you consider yourself an audiophile or a serious critical listener, then the Sennheiser HD 800s are a far better choice than the Bose QC 35 II. They won't have the versatility of the Bose, which is to be expected since they are open-back critical listening headphones. However, 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 also have a closed-back variant, the Sennheiser HD 820, which won’t have the same spacious soundstage but will leak less. If you’re looking for cheaper open critical listening headphones, go with the HiFiMan Ananda which will have similar performance to the great HD 800S at a cheaper price, but their build quality may not last as long.
If the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are too expensive, the best over-ear headphones we've tested in the mid-range category are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They don't isolate as well as the QC 35 II or the Sony WH-1000XM3.
On the upside, they have an exciting bass-rich sound, a good build quality, and great controls. They also have an excellent wireless range and battery life. This makes them a well-rounded headphone for most use cases and they're even a suitable option for gaming and watching TV if you have the right dongle. They can even outperform more expensive headphones like the Beats Studio3 Wireless.
Overall, they are one of the best wireless headphones you can get in this price range.
If you’re the type of person who likes to have customization options to find a sound profile which suits your mood or music genre, get the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC instead. They don’t have the sturdier build of the Plantronics and are a bit less comfortable, but they have a compatible app that gives you access to a great parametric EQ and presets. The HD 4.50 also have a better noise cancelation feature than the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2.
The control scheme isn’t the best to use and feels lackluster. You also don’t get access to all the features the Sennheiser app offers. If you want to get access to all of them, get the more expensive PXC 550 Wireless. On the upside, the HD 4.50 have a good 22-hour battery life, they can also connected to 2 devices simultaneously and can be used passively, even if the battery is dead.
If you primarily use your headphones at home, then get the SteelSeries Arctis 7 instead of the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They're a great gaming headset that is versatile enough for most use cases. However, they are not Bluetooth headphones like the Plantronics. You will have to rely on the proprietary audio cable for devices not compatible with their USB dongle transmitter.
On the upside, they have a good build quality, multiple connection options so you can use them with your TV, and a well-balanced sound that's good enough for casual and critical listening. Overall, the SteelSeries Artcis 7 are a great choice if you're a gamer or mostly use your headphones indoors but they are versatile enough that you can use them wired outside. If you’re a PC gamer, we suggest going with the SteelSeries Arctis Pro GameDAC. They might be more expensive than the Arctis 7, but the provided DAC gives you many customization options and features at your fingertips without even needing to use the app.
If you're looking for an even more affordable headset than the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, then get the Mpow H5. They're not as well built and do not sound as good as the Plantronics. Also, their noise isolation is not very strong and won't isolate as well as the more premium recommendations on this list.
On the upside, the H5 are a budget wireless headset with surprisingly good sound quality and a unique yet well-made design that feels a bit more premium than their price range would suggest. They have easy-to-use controls, a better than average wireless range and a decent 12-hour battery life.
The Mpow Bluetooth Over-Ear 059 are a more comfortable and cheaper option than the H5 and would also be a good budget recommendation. However, they are not as versatile and have a weaker, cheaper feeling build quality overall.
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're not wireless like some of the other gaming headsets we've tested. However, the G433 are great wired gaming headphones that will work with your PC, consoles and most of your devices thanks to the regular audio cables and USB DAC adapter provided in the box. One of the cables even has an in-line remote that will work with your phone so you can use them casually outdoors.
They're comfortable, decently lightweight and moderately breathable. They also come with a detachable boom microphone for gaming and voice chat. Overall, they deliver a solid experience with a satisfying sound at a fraction of the price of other gaming headsets and more critical-listening-focused headphones. If you prefer an even cheaper option, get the very versatile and well-built Corsair HS60 for low-profile looks and a detachable boom mic.
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.