Over-ear headphones, also called around-ear headphones, are one of the most popular types of headphones. While they can be a little bulky and don't breathe as well as in-ears or on-ears, most people tend to find them the most comfortable type of 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 200 pairs of over-ear headphones, 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 over-ear headphones with a wireless connection that we've tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. These premium Bluetooth headphones are very lightweight and comfortable and feel quite well-made. Their physical controls are easy-to-use, and they support NFC and multi-device pairing to easily connect them to all your devices.
Their sound profile is well-balanced with a bit of extra bass that'll provide some extra kick and thump to your music without being overpowering or boomy. Unfortunately, their dedicated companion app doesn't provide any EQ settings, so you can't customize their sound, though they should be versatile enough for most content and genres out-of-the-box.
Their ANC works exceptionally well and will not only help with keeping you concentrated in the office but does a great job at blocking out the low engine rumble of a bus or plane. Their 20-hour battery is good, and should easily last you through most long flights or a couple of work days; unfortunately, it's shorter than a lot of similar options. Overall, these are an impressive pair of over-ear headphones that are the best headphones we've tested to date.
If you like being able to customize your headphones' sound profile to match your tastes, get the Sony WH-1000XM3. They aren't quite as comfortable and lightweight as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018, and they're a bit bulkier, but their companion app offers more customization options and their ANC works even better. Their default sound profile is well-balanced enough for a wide range of genres, and you can fine-tune it with a graphic EQ in their companion app. Their ANC is the best we've ever measured and does an excellent job at blocking out all background noise, making bus and plane rides nearly silent. Their battery lasts about seven hours longer than the Bose, and they support talk-through, which uses the microphones to mix background noise into your music. Unfortunately, their touch-sensitive controls don't work in colder climates.
If you don't care about being able to customize your sound profile and want headphones that are more comfortable and lightweight, get the Bose, but if you want EQ options and the best ANC you can get, go for the Sony.
The best over-ear headphones for audiophiles that we've tested so far are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. These open-back headphones are very comfortable and deliver a virtually unparalleled listening experience. They look and feel very premium and well-built, and they're comfortable for extended listening periods thanks to their breathable open-back design.
These headphones are incredibly well-balanced and reproduce audio accurately for a wide range of genres. They do lack a little bit of bass, however, and they might sound a tiny bit muddy on some tracks, though it may not be noticeable to everyone. Their open-back design provides a spacious and natural soundstage that's nearly as immersive as listening to standalone tower speakers.
Unfortunately, these headphones are very expensive, and they require a powerful amplifier. They're also best suited for a quiet, dedicated listening environment as, like with most open-back headphones, they leak a lot of audio and block almost no background noise by design. Overall, while they're not meant for everyday use, they provide one of the best listening experiences available and are the best audiophile headphones we've tested.
If you’re looking for the best over-ear headphones for audiophiles that can pull double duty in the studio and the daily commute, check out the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They aren’t as well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S and don’t offer as spacious or natural a listening experience due to their closed-back design. By the same token, however, that also makes them far more versatile: they don’t leak nearly as much audio and block out a lot more background noise. They’re also substantially cheaper and have a well-honed sound profile that’s well suited for critical listening or for mixing and mastering. Their comfortable fit and included selection of detachable audio cables are added bonuses.
Get the Sennheiser if price is no object and you intend to use them only for listening in a quiet room, but if you expect your headphones to see more varied use, consider the Audio-Technica.
The Razer Opus Wireless are the best over-ear headphones under $200 that we’ve tested so far. They’re well-built, feature a premium design that stands out compared to the rest of Razer’s gaming-oriented lineup, and provide a very comfortable fit, with generous amounts of padding used on their headband and ear cups. An outstanding near-33-hour battery life, meanwhile, outlasts more expensive alternatives like the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless and Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018.
They have a very neutral sound profile, which should make them a good fit for all sorts of musical genres. That said, if you like to tweak and fiddle with your listening experience, you can customize how these headphones sound via a graphic EQ or presets in the dedicated Razer Opus companion app. Their ANC performance punches well above their price point’s weight class, as it does an excellent job of reducing everything from the low-rumble of construction equipment to the chatter of coworkers in a busy office.
On the downside, they lack multi-device pairing, so it might be a bit of an annoyance if you tend to repeatedly swap between listening to content on your phone and computer. Their integrated microphone also doesn’t do a great job of isolating your voice from background noise. That said, these are a great value proposition with a rich feature set, balanced sound profile, and remarkable noise cancellation performance.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 we've tested are the AKG N700NC. These Bluetooth over-ears typically sell for quite a bit more but have been available for under $100 recently, making them an excellent value. They have a much more premium look and feel than most other options at this price point, and are quite comfortable. They come with a nice array of extra accessories including a great hard carrying case, an airplane adapter, and a TRRS cable with an in-line remote so you can use them wired with your phone or gaming console.
Their sound profile is excellently well-tuned and accurate, making them well-suited for almost all genres of content, from classic rock to podcasts. If you'd rather a bit of extra bass, you can also fine-tune the way they sound with a fully parametric EQ within their dedicated companion app available for both Android and iOS. Their battery lasts nearly 18 hours, which is great, and you can use them passively if the battery runs out on you.
Unfortunately, while these headphones have an ANC feature, it's only decent and won't help much with blocking out the low rumble of bus or plane engines. They also leak a fair amount of audio, so they may not be great if you like to listen to your music loudly in a very quiet office. If you want an even cheaper pair of over-ears that have better ANC, check out the Mixcder E9 Wireless, our regular pick for this category if the AKG aren't on sale, though they don't sound as well-tuned and aren't nearly as premium overall.
The best over-ear headphones in the budget category that we've tested so far are the Mpow H10. These wireless over-ear headphones deliver good performance for the price, a comfortable fit for most head shapes, and have great 23-hour battery life. An upgraded version is available and is expected to perform pretty similarly, but we’ve yet to test them.
Their sound profile is surprisingly well-balanced throughout the entire audible range, with a slightly overemphasized bass that’ll please EDM and hip-hop fans without overpowering finer vocals or instruments. Their ANC also outperforms their price point, as it does a very good job of reducing the clatter, chatter, and rumble of the daily grind. Bluetooth latency is low for a pair of wireless headphones, but this can differ from app to app depending on optimization.
On the downside, they leak quite a bit of audio, especially for pair of closed-back headphones: if you work in a quiet office and like to blast your music loud, these might not be the best option available. While they feel reasonably sturdy, they’re also not especially premium-feeling: consider the similarly performing but more expensive Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless as a better-built alternative. Still, the Mpow are a very good choice for the price and are the best headphones under $50 we’ve tested to date.
07/13/2020: Added Razer Opus Wireless in new 'Best Under $200' category.
06/12/2020: Removed the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 and Replaced the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 with the Mpow H10 for consistency.
05/15/2020: Replaced the Mixcder E9 with the AKG N700NC to reflect current pricing changes.
04/17/2020: Replaced Mpow H5 with Anker Soundcore Life Q20.
02/21/2020: Removed gaming-related picks, 'Best Under $200' and '$100', as well as 'Best For Working Out' categories.
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.