Over-ear headphones, also called around-ear headphones, are among the most popular types. While they can be a little bulky and don't breathe as well as in- 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, more portable counterparts.
We've tested over 370 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.
The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless are the best over-ear headphones we've tested. They're Bose's top-of-the-line model, and you can expect an outstanding noise isolation performance thanks to their premium noise cancelling (ANC) system. They can easily cut down the rumble of bus and plane engines as well as tackle ambient chatter and the hum of AC units. With their ANC on, they last over 29 hours continuously. They can even be used wired, though you'll need to still have the headphones on for them to work, and they have a comfortable fit to last through long days on the go.
They have a bassy sound out of the box that delivers extra thump, rumble, and boom to mixes. If you prefer a different sound, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets so that you can finetune their sound. The app also has Immersive Audio, which is a head-tracking feature that can make your audio seem more immersive. If that's not enough, you can pair these headphones with up to two devices at a time, which is handy if you want to stay connected to your PC and smartphone.
If you're looking for Bose headphones at a slightly more digestible price, it's worth considering the Bose QuietComfort Headphones Wireless. They offer a similar level of noise isolation and are just as comfortable, which can make all the difference during long trips. However, they don't feel as premium, and you lose out on features like Immersive Audio.
For something premium at a bit more of a manageable price, check out the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. They're not quite as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless, but what they do offer is a fantastic noise isolation performance. Overall, their ANC blocks out more ambient sound, and with ANC on, they last longer than the Bose. Their over 37 hours of playback time will be more than enough to get you from point A to B without a recharge, too.
These well-built over-ears have a very bassy default sound, which is good if you like genres like EDM and hip-hop. However, their extra bass muddies vocals and instruments. Luckily, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets if you want to adjust their sound to your tastes. They also have a spatial audio feature and support LDAC, which is Sony's propriety codec for streaming high-quality audio. They also support multi-device pairing.
The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless are a great mid-range pick. They don't feel as premium or well-built as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, but these cans still offer a well-rounded and feature-loaded performance at this price point. They have an adaptive ANC system, which automatically adjusts to your surroundings, blocking out loud vehicle engines and other people's conversations on your commute and at the office. They're pretty comfortable for most people, but their plastic frame can put pressure on the top of your head after a while. Their onboard controls aren't as easy to use, either.
Still, these headphones have a great sound suitable for many different genres. The V-shaped sound profile emphasizes the bass and the treble for a punchy, sparkling sound. There's even a graphic EQ and presets in their companion app to fine-tune their sound 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. If you can learn to ignore it, you'll enjoy around 28 hours of continuous battery life with their ANC on. It's less than the manufacturer's advertised 50-hour battery, but it's still excellent for wireless noise cancelling headphones.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless are the previous generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless. They're a great budget pick with a mostly unchanged design from their predecessor, meaning you can expect the same comfortable fit for an affordable price. If you plan to use them on the go, you'll be happy to know that their multi-setting ANC feature performs nearly as well as our previous pick, the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless. That said, you need to manually switch between the Q30's ANC settings, which isn't as convenient as the Q45's adaptive ANC system.
These headphones also have a V-shaped sound profile that packs extra bass while vocals and lead instruments sound bright. You can tune their sound to suit your preferences using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. Unfortunately, there's a difference in sound quality depending on if the ANC is on or off. They also aren't very breathable, and some users have noticed their unit's headband break or crack over time. Still, they're worth a look if you're shopping on a budget.
Check out our article on the best budget and cheap headphones for more budget-friendly options.
If you're looking for wireless over-ears and don't want to compromise on sound quality, the Focal Bathys Wireless offer the best of both worlds. These headphones are suitable for both casual use and critical listening, with a default sound that's rich in bass to bring out the thump and punch in your audio. Astute audiophiles will notice that instruments and vocals are slightly veiled, but you can make up for this using the graphic EQ and presets in their companion app. These headphones also support aptX-Adaptive codec for hi-res streaming with compatible apps, like Tidal. They even have an optional wired USB-DAC connection that converts digital audio signals to analog, ensuring a smoother sound with better audio fidelity.
However, there are a few drawbacks for either type of user. For audiophiles, their closed-back design means they won't create a wide and spacious soundstage as you would get with traditional open-back hi-fi headphones. On the other hand, if you listen to music while on the go, these headphones are bulkier, and their ANC doesn't cut out as much low-end background noise as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless. If none of this bothers you, they're still comfortable, well-built headphones worth a look.
If you want headphones to truly upgrade your listening experience, the Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best audiophile over-ear headphones we've tested. They have a premium build quality and a very comfortable fit but differ from the previous picks as they have an open-back design that allows 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 aren't designed for use outside your home or studio since they can't isolate you from ambient sound and leak a lot of audio.
They have a very neutral sound profile and can accurately reproduce vocals and lead instruments. They suit most genres, but their open-back design lacks some rumble and punch in the bass range. The equally high-end HiFiMan Arya feature planar-magnetic drivers that deliver much more low-bass, but these headphones are much bulkier than the Sennheiser. They may feel less comfortable if you prefer a lighter set of cans.
That said, this range of headphones isn't 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. Check out our article on the best audiophile headphones for hi-fi options to suit every budget.
Nov 16, 2023: We've replaced the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless with the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless since the Bose offer a slightly better overall performance. We've also replaced the Bose QuietComfort 45 Wireless with the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless as the QC45 have been replaced by the Bose QuietComfort Headphones Wireless. The Sony have more features than the Bose, which can make them a viable option for more users. Finally, we've removed the Bose 700 Headphones Wireless from Notable Mentions.
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.