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The 8 Best Over-Ear Headphones - Spring 2019
Reviews

Best Over Ear Headphones
347 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

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.

  1. Best Over-Ear Headphones: Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.4
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.9
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.7
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    7.1
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    7.8
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    6.0
    TV
    Score components:
    5.6
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    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.

    See our review

  2. Alternative For Critical Listening: Sennheiser HD 800 S

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Open-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    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.

    See our review

  3. Alternative For Gaming And TV: SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    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.

    See our review

  4. Best Mid-Range Over-Ear Headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.3
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.7
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.4
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    7.1
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    7.5
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    6.2
    TV
    Score components:
    5.9
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    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.

    See our review

  5. More Customizable Alternative: Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    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.

    See our review

  6. Wired Alternative For Critical Listening: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    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.

    See our review

  7. Best Budget Over-Ear Headphones: Mpow H5 Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.7
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.3
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    6.5
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    6.8
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    6.7
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    6.0
    TV
    Score components:
    5.8
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    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.

    See our review

  8. Gaming And Critical Listening Alternative: Logitech G433 Gaming Headset

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    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.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless:  Best over-ear for noise isolation and a sturdy, wireless design. A great alternative to the Bose QC35 II.  See our review
  • Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless: A well-built and premium looking wireless over-ear with great noise isolation but a poor fit and an inconsistent sound.  See our review
  • Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless: Highly customizable sound and noise isolation. Comfortable, stable, and well-built over-ear headphones but mediocre noise isolation.  See our review
  • Beats Studio 3 Wireless: A good alternative to the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 with a sleek and polished design. They're a worthy upgrade to the original Studio Wireless but slightly lack active features. See our review
  • Sony MDR-1A: Balanced sound quality and comfortable design. A bit expensive for what they have to offer.  See our review
  • Astro A50 Wireless: Great sound quality for critical listening and comfortable design. A gaming-oriented headset limited by the range of the base station.  See our review
  • Superlux HD 668B: Good, well-balanced sound quality, very affordable price range. Slightly uncomfortable and a bit cheaply made.  See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 700: Over-ear headphones with a premium build quality and great sound.  See our review
  • HiFiMan Ananda: A good alternative to the Sennheiser HD 800 S if you're looking for audiophile over-ears at a much cheaper price. See our review
  • Corsair HS70 Wireless: Above-average gaming headset with great build quality, comfort, and sound. Poor noise isolation and inconsistent bass delivery. A nice wireless alternative to the Logitech G433. See our review
  • Audeze LCD 2 Classic/LC2C: Well-built and great-sounding planar magnetic open-back headphones for critical listening. See our review
  • SteelSeries Arctis 7 Wireless 2017: Great wireless gaming headphones that provide good value if you don't need all the connectivity features of the Arctis Pro Wireless. See our review
  • SteelSeries Arctis Pro GameDAC: Similar to the Arctis 7, great gaming headphones with a ton of customization options but not as versatile as the Arctis Pro Wireless. See our review

All Reviews

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.

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