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 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 330 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 Sony WΗ-1000XM4 Wireless are the best over-ear headphones we've tested. These well-built, comfortable headphones are the previous generation of the Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless but outperform their successor. They have an outstanding active noise cancelling (ANC) system that can isolate you from sounds like the low rumble of bus engines and ambient chatter. They also support multi-device pairing, meaning you can connect them to your laptop and smartphone at the same time. Their roughly 37 hours of continuous playback time will easily last through long days on the go. They have a bass-heavy sound profile that 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.
These headphones are often compared to the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless, which are over-ears with similar performance. The Sony's ANC can block out more noise, but you may still prefer the Bose if you prioritize a very comfortable fit. They have a somewhat plasticky design and don't feel as well-built as the Sony, but they're lighter and don't clamp as tightly on your head, which feels better if you're wearing your headphones for long periods.
The best upper mid-range over-ear headphones we've tested are the AKG N700NC M2 Wireless. Although they aren't as comfortable or well-built as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, these over-ears shine in their well-balanced sound. They have a touch of extra bass, but it doesn't bloat or overwhelm vocals and lead instruments. Their companion app also has a parametric EQ and presets, so you can fine-tune their sound to suit your tastes. You can pair these headphones with up to two devices at once, so you can easily stay connected to your PC and smartphone simultaneously.
Like the Sony headphones, they have an ANC system. While it doesn't offer nearly the same level of noise isolation when it comes to bus engine rumbles, its ability to tackle ambient chatter and high-pitched noise is equally matched, making these headphones a solid choice for busy offices. With their ANC on, they have over 20 hours of continuous battery life and are equipped with an auto-off timer to help conserve battery life when not in use. Unfortunately, some users have reported that their unit's hinges broke with continuous use, which is disappointing at this price point.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless are the best mid-range over-ear headphones we've tested. While their ANC system doesn't perform quite as well as that of the AKG N700NC M2 Wireless, they 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 ambient chatter and high-pitched noise. They also have a longer continuous battery life, and with their ANC on, they last over 44 hours continuously. They 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. However, if you prefer a different sound, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets, so you can tweak them to suit your tastes. Like the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, they also 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 crack with continual use.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless are the best budget over-ear headphones we've tested. These over-ears are the previous generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless and don't support LDAC codec. Their microphone performance isn't as good either, but their design is mostly unchanged, meaning you can expect a comfortable fit. Their ANC performance is better, and even though it has the same level of customization as the Q35, these headphones can block out more rumbly bus engine noise. They support multi-device pairing too, which allows you to stay connected 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, there's a difference in sound quality depending on if the ANC is on or off. With the ANC off, your audio sounds a bit thin and hollow. On the upside, these over-ears last for more than 44 hours of continuous use on a single charge and have a comfortable fit, although they aren't extremely breathable, so 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.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless are the best cheap over-ear headphones we've tested. Yes, this is the third pair of Anker headphones in a row, and there's a good reason for it: 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.
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.
The best mid-range audiophile headphones we've tested are the HiFiMan Edition XS. These open-back headphones aren't as well-built or as comfortable as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, but if you don't want to spend quite as much on a pair of headphones, they offer a neutral sound profile and an immersive listening experience. They use planar magnetic instead of dynamic drivers, which gives them a bigger, bulkier frame but also helps them reproduce bass more accurately. As a result, your audio has a bit more thump and punch. The rest of their sound profile is very well-balanced and versatile, with clear and present vocals and lead instruments. They also create a natural and spacious-seeming passive soundstage.
They're well-built and have a comfortable fit for long listening sessions, although the headband feels heavy compared to other headphones in the manufacturer's line-up. If you're sensitive to pressure on the top of your head, you may prefer the HiFiMan Sundara 2020's ski-band headband, which helps distribute their weight more evenly. However, their sound profile isn't as neutral, so they don't deliver as much thump and punch in the bass range.
The best entry-level audiophile headphones that we've tested are the Philips SHP9500. If you're looking for headphones for music but don't want to spend the premium price for higher-end audiophile headphones, these are worth a try. They have an open-back design, which helps them create a wide and open-seeming passive soundstage, though it doesn't feel quite as immersive as the HiFiMan Edition XS. Like other open-back headphones, their sound lacks a bit of thump and rumble, but there's a small bump in the high-bass that adds warmth to your audio. They otherwise have a very neutral sound profile suitable for different genres, with detailed, accurate instruments and bright, present sibilants.
They're amazingly comfortable and have good breathability, so music lovers can listen for hours without experiencing much fatigue. They're also decently well-built and have a detachable audio cable, so you can replace it if it gets damaged. The metal headband also feels sturdy, but some parts of the build feel fragile, like the ear cups and padding. These headphones are best suited for use at home or in another quiet space since, by design, they leak a lot of audio and don't block out ambient noise.
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.
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'.
May 20, 2022: Removed the Mixcder E9 Wireless and the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless from Notable Mentions. Checked our picks for accuracy and product availability.
Apr 22, 2022: We've replaced the HiFiMan Arya with the HiFiMan Edition XS as we haven't tested the new 'Stealth Magnets' Arya yet and don't know how they perform compared to the original model.
Mar 23, 2022: Replaced the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 with the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless because the QC35 II have been discontinued.
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.