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 most people tend to find them more 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. Easily portable while remaining comfortable and sleek, they're a great choice for anyone looking to finally cut the cord on wired tech.
Whether you're on a flight or in the office, the superb noise cancelling of these headphones will reduce most of the background noise around you, making it easier for you to concentrate on your audio. They're suitable for a wide variety of audio genres as they produce a well-balanced sound. Those who like a little more bass will also appreciate the added touch of thump and punch. With their 20-hour battery life, you wouldn't have to worry about running out of juice before the end of your 9-5 work day.
Unfortunately, their companion app can be limiting for those who like to customize their sound as there's no EQ. However, the app has an auto-off timer that you can set at different intervals if you're worried about forgetting to turn your headphones off. Overall, these are great headphones and are among the best noise cancelling headphones we've tested so far.
If you prefer being able to customize the way your headphones sound in detail, then get the Sony WH-1000XM3. They're not quite as comfortable as the the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018, and they sound a bit boomy out-of-the-box, but they're a lot more customizable. Sony's app provides not only a graphic EQ, but room and sound positioning effects, as well as different audio codec options. Their active noise cancelling is also one the best on the market, able to block out even more noise than the Bose. Their controls aren't as user-friendly, unfortunately, especially in cold weather where they might simple fail to work properly at all, but their overall design does feel a lot more premium.
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 feature-packed headphones that aren't as expensive, then you'll want to consider the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They don't isolate noise as well as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 or look or feel as premium, but they provide excellent value for the price thanks to their excited yet well-balanced sound and remarkable battery performance. Unfortunately, their active noise cancelling feature is rather mediocre but they don't leak much audio, so you should be able to turn your music up to block out background noises without disturbing those around you too much.
You'll want to get the Bose if money is no object, but if you want something more affordable then it's hard to beat the Plantronics.
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best audiophile over-ear headphones we've tested so far. If you're looking to get the best sound possible and money is no object, then these headphones deliver a virtually unparalleled listening experience, unlike other headphones we've currently reviewed.
For those focused on sound quality, these well-balanced headphones reproduce audio accurately for most genres. Those looking for something for neutral listening will additionally appreciate the open-back design, fostering a spacious yet natural soundstage that'll immerse you in your audio. Their comfortable and sturdy design also means that you can listen to audio for hours without getting fatigued.
Unfortunately, these headphones are prohibitively expensive and are a significant investment. Serious audiophiles might want to even consider purchasing an amplifier and using them in a well-isolated listening room to get the full experience. While they're not meant for everyday use, they provide one of the best listening experiences available and are among the best studio headphones.
If you're looking for well-balanced headphones that are more versatile for use on-the-go, then get the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X. They don't have the same immersive soundstage of the Sennheiser HD 800 S, but their closed-back design makes them more versatile, whether you're recording, mixing, or mastering tracks in the studio, or commuting to your 9-to-5. They don't isolate very much noise, and they don't have an in-line mic for making calls, but they reproduce audio well with a bit of extra bass that fans of hip-hop and EDM will especially appreciate.
If you're an audiophile looking for headphones that you can enjoy at home for hours, the Sennheiser are the ones to get. But if you're looking for something with a more utilitarian design to keep up with your day-to-day, the Audio-Technica are the way to go.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 we've tested so far the Mixcder E9. Comfortable and decently noise cancelling, these headphones are a great choice for those who are on a budget but don't want to sacrifice the look or feel of over-ears.
These headphones are well-balanced and are suitable for most kinds of audio. With over 18 hours of battery life, they should help you power through your work day. Those who work in offices or cafes will especially appreciate the active noise cancelling performance of these headphones, which can help cut down ambient chatter while you work.
Unfortunately, these headphones have a slightly plasticky build which can feel a bit cheap and lacking in durability. The treble is uneven, and these headphones don't come with a companion app, so you'll have to look elsewhere for a compatible EQ. Still, these headphones provide good value for their affordable price point.
The best budget over-ear headphones we've tested so far are the Mpow H5. Similar in design to the Mpow H10 Wireless, these entry-level headphones are slightly more affordable and are suitable for those keeping a close eye on cost.
For their price point, they're decently sturdy and comfortable. The physical controls located on both ear cups make it easy to track skip or change the volume. These headphones also have a decent sound profile that should be okay for most casual listeners. They have up to 12 hours of battery life, which should be enough to get you through your work day or commute. Even if the battery dies, you can still use them passively with the included audio cable.
Unfortunately, these headphones have a tight fit and their ear cups might not be spacious enough for everyone. Their active noise cancelling doesn't stand out either, especially if you're looking to block out plane or bus engines. however, if you're on a tight budget, these headphones are an affordable over-ear choice that shouldn't break the bank.
03/20/2020: Replaced Mpow H10 with Mpow H5. Mpow 10 is now in notable mentions.
02/21/2020: Removed gaming-related picks, 'Best under $200' and '$100' as well as 'Best for Working Out' categories. Updated text.
01/22/2020: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; Updated Notable Mentions to reflect current availability.
12/23/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.
11/20/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.
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.