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The 6 Best Over-Ear Headphones - October 2018
Reviews

Best Over Ear Headphones
272 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 (read our article over-ear vs on-ear headphones). 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 138 over-ear headphones so far and below are our recommendations for the best ones to purchase in 2018.

  1. Best Over-Ear Headphones: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 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
    Home Theater
    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 provide a slightly better experience overall than the Bowers & Wilkins PX and the Sony WH-1000XM3.

    The QC35II are not as well built as the PX and they're a lot less customizable than the Sonys. The WH-1000XM3 will be a better choice if you enjoy EQing and tweaking the sound your headphones to better match what you're listening to. 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 800s 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 a headphone.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Over-Ear Headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 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
    Home Theater
    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 use cases 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 Studio 3 Wireless.

    Overall, they are one of the best wireless headphones you can get in this price range.

    See our review

  4. Alternative for Gaming and TV: SteelSeries Arctis 7

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

    If you primarily use your headphones at home, then get the SteelSeries Arctis 7 instead of the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They're a great gaming headset that is versatile enough for most use cases. However, they are not Bluetooth headphones like the Plantronics, you will have to rely on the proprietary audio cable for devices not compatible with their USB dongle transmitter. On the upside, they have a good build quality, multiple connection options so you can use them with your TV, and a well-balanced sound that's good enough for casual and critical listening. Overall, the SteelSeries Artcis 7 are a great choice if you're a gamer or mostly use your headphones indoors but they are versatile enough that you can use them wired outside.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Over-Ear Headphones: Mpow H5

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 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
    Home Theater
    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, the H5 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

  6. Gaming and Critical Listening Alternative: Logitech G433

    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.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Sony WH-1000XM3. Best over-ear for noise isolation and a sturdy, wireless design. A great alternative to the Bose QC35 II. See our review
  • Bowers and Wilkins PX. 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 Studio3 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. 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 681. 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, 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

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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