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The 9 Best Over-Ear Headphones - Winter 2023 Reviews

Updated
Best Over-Ear Headphones

Over-ear headphones, also called around-ear headphones, are one of the most popular types. While they can be a little bulky and don't breathe as well as in-ears 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 and more portable counterparts.

We've tested over 345 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 Over-Ear Headphones

    The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless are the best over-ear headphones we've tested. There's a newer version of these headphones available in the Sony WΗ-1000XM5, but the previous generation offers better price versus performance. These headphones have an outstanding active noise cancelling (ANC) system that can isolate you from a wide range of ambient noise. Their bass-heavy sound profile adds thump, rumble, and punch to your audio, which is well-suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop. While mixes sound muddy to some users, their sound can also be customized with a graphic EQ and presets in the companion app.

    Their roughly 37 hours of continuous playback time will easily last through long days on the go. They also support multi-device pairing, which is convenient if you're always switching between your phone and computer. They have a premium build quality, a sleek design, and a very comfortable fit. However, they may not be the best choice if you want a good microphone performance for phone calls since, compared to some of the cheaper options listed here, the mic makes your voice sound muffled and lacking in detail.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Over-Ear Headphones

    If the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless are just outside your price range, you'll want to consider the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless. Although they aren't quite as feature-packed as their competitor, they have an excellent noise cancelling performance that easily blocks out sounds like plane engines and ambient chatter. With their ANC on, they also last over 21 hours continuously and are equipped with an auto-off timer to help conserve battery life if you forget to turn them off.

    Out of the box, their fairly neutral sound is versatile enough for most kinds of audio genres. You can tweak them to suit your tastes using their companion app's graphic EQ or presets. They also support multi-device pairing, meaning you can stay connected to your smartphone and PC at the same time. They have a plasticky design, which can seem a bit cheap at this price point. That said, it helps them stay lightweight and comfortable enough for long listening sessions.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Over-Ear Headphones

    The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless are a great mid-range pick for commuters. With an adaptive noise cancellation system that automatically adjusts the ANC to your surroundings, they easily block out other commuters' conversations and loud vehicle engines. Their plastic frame feels well-built and comfortable, though they have less padding in their headband than their predecessor, the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless, which may cause some fatigue during long listening sessions. While the manufacturer advertises them to last 50 hours continuously with their ANC on, we measured closer to 28 hours, which is still excellent for wireless noise cancelling headphones.

    Out of the box, these headphones have a v-shaped sound profile, with lots of thumpy bass and bright treble to make rock and pop music sound great. However, an underemphasized mid-range dulls instruments and vocals. If you want a different sound, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets to fine-tune the profile to your liking. Unfortunately, these headphones have a high noise floor when the ANC is set to 'Adaptive' or 'Max' mode, which can result in an audible frequency that's persistent throughout your listening experience. It won't be an issue if you can tune it out by sheer force of will. Otherwise, it can get annoying over time.

    See our review

  4. Best Lower Mid-Range Over-Ear Headphones

    While the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless are missing the 'Adaptive' ANC setting of their more expensive successor, the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless, these lower mid-range headphones still have three different ANC modes to help block out different kinds of ambient noise: 'Transport', which is designed for bus and plane engine noise, 'Outdoor', to tackle wind and traffic sounds, and 'Indoor', which focuses on blocking out voices around you and high-pitched noise. They last over 44 hours continuously with the ANC on, but sadly don't have a power-saving feature to help conserve battery life.

    Out of the box, these headphones have a bass-heavy sound profile that brings intense thump, rumble, and boom to your mixes. If you prefer a different sound, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets, so you can tweak it to suit your tastes. Like the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, they support LDAC codec, which is nice if you like to stream high-quality audio. Unfortunately, they have a different sound depending on whether you have the ANC on or off. With the ANC off, the audio sounds more hollow and thin than when the ANC is on. Some users have also experienced their unit's headband cracking with continual use.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Over-Ear Headphones

    The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless are the previous generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless. While their microphone performance isn't as good, and they don't support the LDAC codec for streaming hi-res audio, their design is mostly unchanged, meaning you can expect the same comfortable fit for a budget price. Their multi-setting ANC also performs better than the Q35 Wireless, blocking our more rumbly bus engine noise. Like the rest of the Anker models on this list, they support multi-device pairing to up to two devices at a time.

    These headphones have a v-shaped sound profile that packs extra bass while vocals and lead instruments are bright. You can tune their sound to suit your preferences using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. Unfortunately, just like the previous generation, there's a difference in sound quality depending on if the ANC is on or off. On the upside, these over-ears last for more than 44 hours of continuous use on a single charge and have a comfortable fit. However, they aren't extremely breathable, meaning they can make your ears feel warm during long listening sessions. Some users have also experienced the headband of their units break or crack over time.

    See our review

  6. Best Cheap Over-Ear Headphones

    Yes, this is the fourth pair of Anker headphones in a row, but there's a good reason: this manufacturer dominates the lower-mid to cheap range, thanks to their products' powerful ANC performances. These headphones are no exception, and while they're an earlier generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless and lack more robust customization features, they still offer decent overall performance at a more wallet-friendly price point.

    They have a comfortable fit, about 32 hours of continuous battery life, and an ANC system that's good at blocking mid-range noise like background chatter at work. Unlike the newer generations, there's only one ANC mode. You can use these headphones passively with their included 1/8" TRS cable if they run out of power. Their very excited sound profile delivers intense thump, rumble, and boom to mixes, while vocals and lead instruments seem bright and sparkly, so they're particularly well-suited to genres like pop and rock. That said, they have a bass effect feature that you can use to add more thump and boom if you prefer a different sound.

    See our review

  7. Best Audiophile Over-Ear Headphones

    If you're looking for headphones to enhance your audio experience, the Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best audiophile over-ear headphones we've tested. These headphones are different from the previous picks as they have an open-back design, allowing audio to leave the ear cup and interact with the space around you. The result is a wide, spacious, and out-of-head passive soundstage to help immerse you in your audio. They're not for everyone, as their high price point puts them well out of reach of more casual users, and you still need to invest in a good amp to power them if you don't already have it.

    These over-ears have a very neutral sound profile and can reproduce vocals and lead instruments accurately, so it's suitable for different genres. Their open-back design means they lack some rumble and punch in the bass range. They have a premium build quality and a very comfortable fit, so you won't feel fatigued when using them for long periods. They also have excellent frequency response consistency, meaning once you achieve a good fit, you won't experience deviations in bass or treble delivery. They come with several additional accessories, including a USB memory drive and a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter, meaning you can connect them to a mixer or amp. They aren't designed for use outside your home or studio as they're open-back headphones, meaning they won't isolate you from ambient sound. Instead, they'll leak a lot of audio.

    See our review

  8. Βest Mid-Range Audiophile Headphones

    Even though audiophile headphones can be very pricy, there are still some mid-range options. The HiFiMan Edition XS may not be as comfortable or well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, but they stand out from the crowd, thanks to their planar magnetic driver design. Compared to dynamic drivers, a planar magnetic design can improve soundstage performance and reproduce bass more accurately. That said, this makes their design bulkier, and if you have a small head, the ear cups can droop down your chin.

    These over-ears have a well-balanced sound profile that can reproduce vocals and instruments clearly and accurately. Thanks to their open-back design, they can also create an immersive soundstage that feels wide, open, and natural. However, they're purposely designed to leak audio, so if you want to minimize audio bleed, or block out more background sound, try the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. They're closed-back headphones, so they can naturally isolate you from some ambient noise. However, the tradeoff is that their soundstage feels less spacious, and their analytical sound can be quite piercing.

    See our review

  9. Βest Entry-Level Audiophile Headphones

    The Philips SHP9500 are a solid choice if you're on a tighter budget. While you can expect that they won't be as sturdy or premium as the HiFiMan Edition XS, they still offer a neutral sound with accurate vocals and instruments. They struggle to deliver a thumpy low-bass due to their open-back design, but they have a touch of extra high-bass to help add warmth back into your mixes. Their passive soundstage seems open, spacious, and wide.

    These headphones have a very comfortable fit, thanks to their large ear cups, which are well-padded. They also have a detachable audio cable, so if it gets damaged, you can easily replace it, and they come with a 1/8" to 1/4" adapter so you can use them on an amp. That said, there are parts of the build that feel particularly fragile like the padding, which can rip over time, and the swiveling ear cups, as they could break under moderate stress.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Bose 700 Headphones Wireless: The Bose 700 Headphones Wireless are premium noise cancelling headphones designed for business professionals, thanks to their very good overall mic performance and excellent ANC system. However, they don't block out as much ambient noise as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, and their continuous battery life of 20 hours is shorter. See our review
  • Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless: The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless are the next generation of the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless. They're 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 their predecessor or the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. See our review
  • Jabra Evolve2 85 Wireless: The Jabra Evolve2 85 Wireless are versatile wireless headphones with a very 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 Q35 Wireless, they also lack more robust sound customization features. 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 more affordable price. However, they're not as well-built as the Sennheiser, and their elongated ear cups can be quite large for some heads and extend past your jaw, which may not be comfortable during long listening sessions. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Feb 01, 2023: We've updated our article for accuracy and product availability. We've also removed the Razer Opus Wireless 2021 from Notable Mentions.

  2. Jan 06, 2023: Made the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless our 'Mid-Range' pick and recategorized the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless as a 'Lower Mid-Range' pick due to price changes. Replaced the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 Wireless with the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless as a Notable Mention.

  3. Nov 02, 2022: Replaced the AKG N700NC M2 Wireless with the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless because the ANG aren't currently available.

  4. Sep 14, 2022: We've overhauled this article to add the following picks, which better represent the over-ear market: the AKG N700NC M2 and Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless. We've also cleaned up the Notable Mentions to remove out-of-date picks and moved the Skullcandy Crusher Evo and Bose 700 Headphones Wireless to the Notable Mentions.

  5. Jun 30, 2022: Added the Bose 700 Headphones Wireless as the 'Best Over-Ears For Phone Calls' and the Skullcandy Crusher Evo Wireless as the 'Best Over-Ears With Intense Bass'. Also added the HiFiMan Edition XS and Philips SHP9500 as the 'Βest Entry-Level Audiophile Headphones' and the 'Βest Mid-Range Audiophile Headphones'.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones with an over-ear design 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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