The 8 Best Over-Ear Headphones - Fall 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best Over-Ear Headphones
623 Headphones Tested
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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 290 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.


  1. Best Wireless Over-Ear Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless

    7.1
    Neutral Sound
    8.1
    Commute/Travel
    7.2
    Sports/Fitness
    7.7
    Office
    5.8
    Wireless Gaming
    7.4
    Wired Gaming
    6.7
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best wireless over-ear headphones that we've tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. These impressively well-built headphones are equipped with a fantastic active noise cancelling (ANC) system. It does a great job of blocking out a wide range of ambient noise, from the low rumble of bus and plane engines to high-pitched sounds like humming A/C units.

    They have a bass-rich default sound profile that brings extra thump and rumble to mixes, and if you prefer a different sound, you can customize it with a graphic EQ and presets in their companion app. They're also very comfortable, thanks to their well-padded earcups, and they have a very long continuous battery life of roughly 37 hours. They have low latency when you connect to iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth, and they support multi-device pairing.

    Unfortunately, their integrated mic doesn't have the best overall performance. It can make your voice sound thin and muffled and struggles to separate your voice from background noise, so your voice could be drowned out by noise if you're talking on the phone somewhere like a busy street. Otherwise, they're a great choice if you're looking for versatile, customizable over-ears with ANC.

    See our review

  2. More Comfortable Alternative: Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018

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

    If you want over-ear headphones with an even more comfortable fit, you may prefer the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. They aren't as well-built as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, and their ANC system doesn't block quite as much noise, but they're less tight on your head, which some may find more comfortable. They're also much more breathable. Their ANC is adjustable, unlike the Sony, so you can customize how much ambient sound you hear, and their battery lasts for roughly 20 hours of continuous playback. Their default sound profile is well-balanced and neutral, so it's well-suited for a variety of content, but their app lacks sound customization features like an EQ or presets.

    Try the Sony if you want the best ANC performance or sound customization features are important to you. However, take a look at the Bose instead if you want more comfortable, breathable over-ear headphones.

    See our review

  3. Best Audiophile Over-Ear Headphones: Sennheiser HD 800 S

    8.5
    Neutral Sound
    4.0
    Commute/Travel
    5.5
    Sports/Fitness
    4.7
    Office
    4.8
    Wireless Gaming
    6.9
    Wired Gaming
    1.7
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best headphones for audiophiles that we've tested are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. These high-end open-back headphones have an impressive build quality. They also have a very comfortable fit with large, spacious ear cups and soft padding, so you can wear them for long listening sessions without feeling fatigued.

    These headphones offer a very neutral and accurate sound profile that highlights detail in your mixes. They can also deliver audio consistently, so you won't have to adjust their fit or positioning each time you use them. Their open-back design helps them to reproduce an immersive and spacious soundstage that seems like it's coming from speakers placed in the room around you. They also come with a carrying pouch to help protect them from dust, an additional audio cable, and a USB memory drive, which are nice additions.

    Unfortunately, they lack a bit of thumpy low-bass, although this is to be expected from open-back headphones. This design also means that they won't block out any background noise and bleed a lot of audio. Also, to get the most of these headphones, you need an amp to help power their drivers. However, if you're looking for purely audiophile headphones in order to listen to high-fidelity audio, they're among the best audiophile headphones we've tested.

    See our review

  4. Planar-Magnetic Alternative: HiFiMan Arya

    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Planar Magnetic

    If you prefer planar magnetic audiophile headphones, check out the HiFiMan Arya. While they don't feel as sturdy or well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, the HiFiMan's planar magnetic transducer has a few advantages over headphones with a dynamic transducer. Thanks to their design, they can reproduce a better bass response, and even though their low-bass is still underemphasized, it's more extended than that of the Sennheiser. Their passive soundstage also is perceived as immersive, spacious, and open. Overall, they have a very neutral and accurate sound profile that's well-suited for a variety of audio content. However, they don't come with additional accessories like an extra audio cable or a protective pouch to help protect the headphones when you're not using them.

    Consider the Sennheiser if you're looking for more premium-feeling headphones. However, if you want headphones with a more extended bass response due to their planar magnetic transducer, try the HiFiMan instead.

    See our review

  5. Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $200: Razer Opus Wireless

    8.0
    Neutral Sound
    8.2
    Commute/Travel
    7.4
    Sports/Fitness
    7.9
    Office
    6.1
    Wireless Gaming
    7.7
    Wired Gaming
    7.0
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best headphones under $200 with an over-ear design that we've tested are the Razer Opus Wireless. These solid and well-built headphones offer a competitive price-to-performance ratio that rivals other higher-end headphones on this list. Thanks to their outstanding ANC system, they can block out a significant amount of ambient noise around you like bus or plane engine rumbles to office chatter.

    Their default sound profile is well-suited for a variety of audio content as it's well-balanced and accurate. That said, if you like to add more thump and boom to your mix or if you just prefer a different sound altogether, the Razer Opus companion app has a graphic EQ as well as presets to help you adjust them to better suit your tastes. For those on the go or who work long shifts at the office, the headphones' continuous battery life of over 32 hours should last through demanding days without a recharge, and you can even use them passively if needed.

    Unfortunately, you can't pair them with more than one device at a time. Their integrated mic also has some trouble separating speech from background noise, so your voice may get lost if you're talking in a loud environment like a busy street. However, if you're looking for headphones with a fantastic noise isolation performance, versatile sound, and a comfortable design, they're worth checking out.

    See our review

  6. Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $100: Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless

    6.5
    Neutral Sound
    7.7
    Commute/Travel
    6.9
    Sports/Fitness
    7.2
    Office
    5.5
    Wireless Gaming
    7.1
    Wired Gaming
    6.7
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best over-ear headphones under $100 that we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. These headphones have an ANC system that can be set to three different levels, depending on what type of noise you're trying to block out. We haven't tested all three settings, but when set to 'Transport' mode, they do a fantastic job of isolating you from a wide range of noise.

    They're well-built and lightweight, with a comfortable fit. Out-of-the-box, they have an excited, v-shaped sound profile that brings extra thump, rumble, and boom to mixes, while vocals and lead instruments are present and bright. If you prefer a different sound, they work with a companion app that gives you access to a graphic EQ and presets, so you can customize it to suit you. Their battery provides roughly 44 hours of continuous playback, and in a pinch, you can use them passively with the included audio cable.

    However, they leak a lot of sound, so if you use them to listen to music at high volumes, it could bother people nearby. They're also less breathable than many over-ear headphones that we've tested, and their bulky design makes them not very portable. On the upside, they come with a hard carrying case to protect them from minor bumps and splashes when you're on the go.

    See our review

  7. Alternative With Less Leakage: Mixcder E9 Wireless

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

    If you want budget-friendly over-ear headphones that leak less audio, consider the Mixcder instead. Their ANC system doesn't block as much noise as the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless, and they have a much shorter continuous battery life, but they don't leak as much sound, so you can turn up the volume without worrying too much about bothering people nearby. They have a more neutral sound profile too, which some users may prefer, but unfortunately, they don't work with a companion app that has features like an EQ or presets, so you can't customize it. They also don't support multi-device pairing.

    If you want headphones with a better ANC feature and a longer continuous battery life, go for the Anker, but try the Mixcder instead if you prefer headphones that leak less audio.

    See our review

  8. Best Budget Over-Ear Headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless

    8.0
    Neutral Sound
    7.1
    Commute/Travel
    7.2
    Sports/Fitness
    7.2
    Office
    6.0
    Wireless Gaming
    7.6
    Wired Gaming
    6.8
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless are the best budget over-ear headphones that we've tested. Out of the box, these over-ears have a neutral default sound profile that's suitable for most audio content. If you prefer a different sound, their companion app offers a couple of EQ presets so that you can adjust them to your liking.

    These headphones have a comfortable and lightweight fit that's stable enough to stay on your head during moderate movement. They last roughly 24.5 hours continuously and have a standby mode to help you conserve battery life when you're not using them. They also support passive playback, so you can use their 1/8" TRS cable to receive audio if you run out of battery, and they can be paired with up to two devices at a time, which makes it easy to switch between your smartphone and laptop.

    Unfortunately, while they have an ANC, it struggles to cut down bass-range noise from bus or plane engines, and it does an okay job of blocking out office chatter. Some users have also reported that their model's headband cracked or broke with continuous use. That said, if you're looking for a wallet-friendly pair of over-ears, they have a comfortable fit and a neutral sound that should please most users.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless: The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless are comfortable headphones with a good noise isolation performance, thanks to their ANC system. However, they don't have a companion app and have a very excited sound profile, which some users may find overly boomy. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50x: The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are a viable alternative to the Sennheiser HD 800 S if you're looking for more wallet-friendly audiophile headphones. However, they aren't as comfortable or neutral sounding. See our review
  • Jabra Evolve2 85 Wireless: The Jabra Evolve2 85 are premium, versatile headphones with a comfortable fit, but their audio delivery isn't as consistent as our top picks. See our review
  • Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless: The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are very versatile headphones, but they don't have as many features as the newer Sony WH-1000XM4. See our review
  • Bose 700 Headphones Wireless: The Bose 700 Headphones are noise cancelling headphones with a balanced, neutral sound profile, but they don't isolate as well as the Sony WH-1000XM4. See our review
  • Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless: The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are versatile over-ears that have a surprisingly stable fit, which is great if you like to work out in over-ears, but our top picks perform slightly better overall. See our review
  • Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless: The Sennheiser Momentum 3 are comfortable wireless headphones with a well-built design and a good, bass-heavy sound profile. It can be leaky at high volumes and don't block noise, as well as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II or the Sony WH-1000XM4. See our review
  • Jabra Elite 85h Wireless: The Jabra Elite 85h are easy-to-use ANC headphones that sound very good and are highly customizable but don’t isolate very much in the bass range. See our review
  • Beats Studio3 Wireless: The Beats Studio3 are decently versatile wireless over-ears but expensive for what they offer overall. See our review
  • HiFiMan Ananda: The HiFiMan Ananda are 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
  • JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless: The JBL Live 650 BTNC are comfortable, customizable over-ears, but their battery life, build quality, and ANC performance are worse than the comparably-priced Razer Opus Wireless. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Aug 27, 2021: We have checked our picks for accuracy and product availability. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.

  2. Jul 29, 2021: Checked picks to make sure they represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.

  3. Jul 01, 2021: Replaced the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x with the HiFiMan Arya as the HiFiMan offer a more unique audiophile performance.

  4. Jun 04, 2021: Switched the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless with the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 Wireless 2018 for improved consistency across our recommendations. Also replaced the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless with the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless.

  5. May 05, 2021: Replaced the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 with the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless as the 'Best Budget Over-Ear Headphones' because the price of the Plantronics has increased. Replaced the Mixcder E9 Wireless with the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless as the pick for 'Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $100' pick.

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 (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.

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