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 286 headphones 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 wireless over-ear headphones, the best travel headphones, and the best over-ear noise cancelling headphones.
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’re also a good choice for office use and are well-rounded enough to be decent for most use cases.
The QuietComfort 35 II sound great and are well-suited to a wide range of music genres, from hip-hop to classical. They’re a good choice for audiobooks and podcasts too, especially since they’re so comfortable. They have a very good battery that lasts for 20 hours, and they don’t take too long to charge. You can also use them passively with the included audio cable if their battery dies and you don’t have access to a charger.
The QC35 II aren’t as well built as the Bowers & Wilkins PX and they're a lot less customizable than the Sony WH-1000XM3. If you enjoy EQing and tweaking the sound your headphones to better match what you're listening to, the WH-1000XM3 will be a better choice. 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 800 S 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 you’re looking for a versatile pair of headphones to complete your home theatre setup, get the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. They don’t have the outstanding soundstage of the Sennheiser HD 800 S and they’re not as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but they’re very good wireless headphones with low enough latency for gaming and watching movies at home. They can mix audio from their wireless transmitter and a Bluetooth source at the same time, and they have a great dual-battery system to keep up with your longest gaming or TV binging sessions.
Their microphone control isn’t adjustable like that of the SteelSeries Arctis Pro GameDAC, but their wireless transmitter and Bluetooth compatibility makes them more versatile overall, especially for home theatre use. They’re not only great for gaming and watching movies, but they’re also an impressive choice for critical listening and are good headphones for most use cases overall.
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 uses 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 cancellation 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 Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. On the upside, the HD 4.50 have a good 22-hour battery life. They can also connect to 2 devices simultaneously and can be used passively, even if the battery is dead.
If you don’t require active noise-canceling and care more about sound quality, get the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They don’t have any active features like the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, but they’re comfortable critical listening headphones that sound great and are a very good choice for musicians, DJs, producers, and even those who just like to relax and focus on some music.
The M50x are wired headphones, which makes them less versatile than wireless headphones for everyday use. However, this means they have no latency issues, which makes them a good choice for watching movies on your laptop or gaming without a microphone if that works for you. They also come with 3 cables, one of which is coiled, for increased ease-of-use in a studio or at a home office.
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, these 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.