Best Over Ear Headphones

Christen da Costa Avatar
Updated Nov 9, 2023 8:35 AM
best over ear headphones featured image that shows the top three best over ear headphone models

To help you choose the best pair of over-the-ear headphones, we researched dozens of top models, comparing them for audio quality, via the use of advanced drivers, comfort, earmuffs made from soft foam and related materials, and Bluetooth functionality. We also favored models with additional functionalities, like slim foldable designs and those that work may best as DJ headphones.

The best product we researched was easily the Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones, which delivers exquisite sound reproduction, via a 40mm neodymium driver and an accompanying CSR chip, and an extremely comfortable form factor, with soft foam earmuffs and a padded headband. The Bluetooth integration works flawlessly and these headphones also boast a wired mode for gadgets that do not support Bluetooth. Keep reading to learn more about the Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones and the other products on this list.

Top 7 Best Over the Ear Headphones Compared

#1 Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones

We’re sorry, this product is temporarily out of stock

Award: Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: Boasts an advanced neodymium audio driver, delivering fantastic sound, an extremely comfortable form factor, with soft foam earmuffs and a fully adjustable stainless steel slider, and wired and wireless connections. It also comes in a wide variety of cool colors, easily making this our top pick.

Read Full Review: Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones Review

  • Fantastic audio
  • Comfortable design, with soft foam earmuffs
  • Wide variety of color choices
  • No volume controls
  • Built-in microphone is decent, but there are better options on list
  • Not noise cancelling

These Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones sound simply fantastic, thanks to a 40mm neodymium driver, an accompanying CSR chip, and an around-ear cushion design that keeps away unwanted noise. It also boasts a comfortable form factor, featuring soft foam earmuffs that are designed to mimic human flesh, allowing for lengthy sessions of use, and an adjustable stainless steel slider. The Bluetooth works flawlessly, with 20 hours of battery life on a single charge, and the headphones even allow for wired functionality, just in case your gadget of choice does not support Bluetooth. They also come in a wide variety of color choices, suiting nearly any aesthetic. You could compare these to the premium Bose headphones in terms of performance. Although, Bose will likely cost you more.

Related: Compare this device with other top-rated headphones in the market.

Though the cushion design does indeed stave off external noise, these headphones do not boast active noise cancellation (ANC), which could be an issue for some users, particularly while in loud environments, such as an airplane. Additionally, these headphones do contain a built-in microphone, for hands-free calling, but there are higher quality microphones on this list.

#2 COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

We’re sorry, this product is temporarily out of stock

Award: Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: Great-sounding headphones, thanks to 40mm large aperture audio drivers, with active noise cancellation built-in and a suite of controls on the side. This is a great product for flying, thanks to the active noise cancelling (ANC.)

  • Active noise cancelling
  • 30 hours of battery (top pick boasts 20)
  • Volume and other controls on headphones
  • Large form factor
  • Heavier than top pick, at nearly a pound
  • Other ANC products cancel out slightly more noise

These COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones produce stellar audio, thanks to 40mm large aperture audio drivers. The Bluetooth also works great, easily streaming content from any supported gadget, with a long-lasting battery that gets you 30 hours of use on a single charge. It comes in multiple colors, like our top pick, and features a suite of controls, allowing users to easily adjust the volume, answer phone calls, and more.

Related: If you have children, you may check the best kid headphones.

Though the active noise cancellation functionality provided with these headphones is superb, it boasts a noise reduction level of 20db, which is technically less than some others on this list. Additionally, this product is heavier than our top pick, at nearly a pound, which could be an issue for long sessions of use, though we found them to be extremely comfortable to wear.

#3 Panasonic RP-HT161-K Full-Sized Headphones

Award: Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: A great budget item boasting excellent audio quality, thanks to dual 30mm drivers, and an extremely comfortable and light form factor. The stellar sound quality, and other features, make this the best budget item on this list.

Read Full Review: Panasonic RP-HT161-K Review

  • Great audio
  • Padded earmuffs are comfortable
  • Very light, at around half a pound
  • 90 day warranty (top picks have 18 months)
  • Volume control is available, but costs extra
  • No Bluetooth, wired only

These Panasonic RP-HT161-K Full-Sized Headphones sound great, with dual 30mm audio drivers combined to produce a rich bass response and clear mids and highs. The headphones are light, at just around a half-pound, and very comfortable, with padded earmuffs that are appropriate for lengthy use sessions and a quick-adjust headband. We also liked the black matte finish, which really makes the product pop aesthetically.

These headphones do not feature Bluetooth or any wireless connectivity, which is something of a bummer. They have to be plugged in to use, though the cord is long, at nearly seven feet. Additionally, they only come with a 90-day warranty, while our top two picks both come with 18-month warranties.

#4 COWIN E7 PRO Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

We’re sorry, this product is temporarily out of stock

Award: Best Noise Cancelling

WHY WE LIKE IT: Features a best-in-class active noise canceling functionality – this makes them ideal for use in loud environments – flawless Bluetooth and a long-lasting battery that gets you 30 hours of use. These are the best active noise-cancelling headphones, with a noise reduction of 30dB, we researched.

Read Full Review: COWIN E7 PRO Review

  • Extremely comfortable
  • 30 hours of use on single charge
  • 18 month warranty (in line with top picks)
  • Microphone is lacking
  • Adjusted fit might not be good for large heads
  • Had strange odor upon opening

These COWIN E7 PRO Active Noise Cancelling Headphones sound fantastic, thanks to a pair of 45mm audio drivers that help to provide a deep, accurate bass response that could make them a candidate for the top bass headphones. The built-in battery is in line with our number two pick, allowing for 30 hours of use on a single charge, and it comes with an 18-month warranty, also in line with our top picks. We also liked the extremely comfortable design, with supersoft swiveling ear cushions, and the ANC capabilities, which boast a noise reduction depth of 30db.

Though the addition of a built-in microphone is great, allowing for hands-free calls, we found the sound quality to be a bit below par, compared to some other models on this list. Additionally, we found that the adjustment capabilities of the headband may not fit extra-large heads.

#5 Sony MDRZX110/BLK ZX Series Stereo Headphones

Award: Best Portable

WHY WE LIKE IT: Boasts a swivel folding design that allows the headphones to become extremely compact, making them easy to store, and comes in at an extremely low price point while still offering high-end features dual 30mm audio drivers. This is a compact product that is easy to throw in a backpack or suitcase.

Read Full Review: Sony MDRZX110

  • Great audio drivers Available in three colors
  • Comfortable padding
  • Microphone available, but costs extra
  • Wired only, no Bluetooth
  • 90 day warranty

These Sony MDRZX110/BLK ZX Series Stereo Headphones are extremely affordable, yet boast a suite of high-end functionalities, including superb 30mm audio drivers, which help to produce a rich bass response, and a comfortable form factor, with padded earmuffs that are appropriate for lengthy sessions of use. The product also features a swivel folding design, making these headphones take up less space than other products on this list, so they are easy to pack or stow away.

While the swivel folding design is great, this is a wired product, with no wireless connectivity, but it does have a lengthy cable of around four feet. Additionally, Sony does make a version of this model with a built-in microphone, for hands-free calling, but it costs extra

#6 Skullcandy Crusher Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

Award: Best Warranty

WHY WE LIKE IT: Comes with the best battery on this list, boasting 40 hours of use on a single charge and it excels at making hands-free calls. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, the longest on this list.

Read Full Review: Skullcandy Crusher Review

  • Great sounding microphone
  • Volume controls and EQ on side
  • 40 hours of use per charge
  • Most expensive item on list
  • Sound can leak with loud volumes
  • Heaviest item on list, at over a pound

These Skullcandy Crusher Wireless Over-Ear Headphones are extremely stylish, boasting a design that demands attention for which the company is known, and creates an incredible bass response, thanks to two full-range 40mm audio drivers and additional dual bass drivers. There are simple controls along the side, allowing for volume and EQ adjustments, and it comes with a lifetime warranty, which is the longest on this list. The Bluetooth works flawlessly and, to that end, you’ll get 40 hours of use on a single charge, which is the highest battery metric on this list. We also found the built-in microphone to be of extremely high quality.

These headphones have some impressive specs and, as such, they are the most expensive item on this list. Additionally, we found that the sound leaked somewhat when approaching high volumes.

#7 AUSDOM Over-Ear Headphones

Award: Best Value

WHY WE LIKE IT: Is a great value, with a stylish and comfortable design, available in 3 cool colors, and comes with a microphone built-in, for hands-free calling. These headphones are a great value, thanks to the addition of the microphone and other high-end features.

  • Stylish design
  • Good sounding microphone
  • Extremely light and comfortable
  • No Bluetooth
  • Difficult to adjust headband
  • 1 year warranty lower than top picks

These AUSDOM Over-Ear Headphones sound great, thanks to dual 30mm audio drivers, with a built-in microphone that excels at making hands-free phone calls, among other tasks. They boast a stylish form factor, coming in three bright colors, and are light, weighing just over half a pound.

Though they are comfortable for long-term use, we did find the headband somewhat difficult to adjust, which could somewhat impede comfort. Additionally, this is exclusively a wired product, with no option for Bluetooth or other form of wireless connectivity.

Beginner’s Guide To Over-Ear Headphones

What Exactly Does “Over Ear” Mean For Headphones?

As the name suggests, over-ear headphones feature large earpads that wrap around the whole earlobe for increased audio quality. This operates in contrast to on-ear headphones, which feature smaller earpads that rest atop your ears and not over them. Over-ear designs offer increased immersion, a reduction in ambient noise, and plenty of more benefits for modern consumers, such as active noise cancellation, touch controls, and many hours of battery life. 

Understanding How Headphones Function

Headphones are basically speakers that rest over or inside of your ears, even advanced designs like the Sony WH-1000XM4. They receive audio signals from an audio source, run that signal through audio drivers, and send the processed signal to the speakers, where it enters your ear canals for listening. Some modern models include active noise cancelation, spatial audio, an open-back design, and more. Open-back headphones are occasionally known as audiophile headphones. 

Properly Wearing Over-Ear Headphones

The key to wearing over-ear headphones is comfort, especially if you plan on wearing them for long-term listening sessions. Make sure the insulated cushion exterior fits snugly over your earlobe without any resistance. Most over-ear designs, like the Sony WH-1000XM4, also include adjustable fitness bands on the top that releases and contract to offer a comfortable fit for different head shapes. Wearing your headphones properly and taking care of them will also influence how long they last. 

Insider Tip

How long do over-ear headphones last? – How long your over-ear headphones last depends on a few factors. First, you often get what you pay for; poorly made budget models won’t last as long as an expensive pair of audiophile headphones or even as long as a good-quality inexpensive model. Second, how well you care for and maintain your headphones also plays a role in their longevity. How you use them and how long you use them during each listening session also take a toll. For cheap, low-quality models, you can generally expect at least a few months to a year of use, whereas a high-quality pair with a sturdy build can last decades. The mid-range life expectancy of an average pair of headphones is roughly 3-5 years.

Choosing Over-Ear Headphones

Step 1. Do You Want Wired Or Wireless Headphones?

This is a big decision, so choose wisely for your specific setup. Wired headphones offer increased sound quality and decreased latency, which is why wired models are the go-to choice for competitive gamers and professional audio engineers. Wireless headphones offer increased convenience and minimize the distraction and annoyance of having to deal with cables. Also, modern Bluetooth headphones offer much better sound quality than those from years past, including advancements like active noise cancellation, improved drivers for increased audio performance and sound quality, and more. For a better comparison, check out our article on Bluetooth vs wired over-ear headphones.

STAT: 70% of people miss the headphone jack and want it back. (source)

H3 – Step 2. Where Are You Using Your Over-Ears?

Where you use your over-ear headphones should dictate the type of model you end up purchasing. Some over-ear designs feature a comfortable design with increased levels of cushioning that could be useful in colder climates. Beyond that, cushioning is helpful for reducing ambient noise, so this is a popular choice for urban areas, as are closed-back headphones of all types, such as high-end headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM5. Be sure to understand the difference between noise-canceling over-ear and in-ear headphones, as well as open-back vs closed-back over-ear models, as they all offer different advantages. 

Step 3. Are You Wearing Your Over-Ears During High-Intensity Activities?

Many people prefer over-ear headphones, like the Sony WH-1000XM5 model, for high-intensity activities, such as working out, despite the bulky form factor when compared to ear buds and other types of headphones. If you are wearing over-ear headphones for exercise and other intense activities, make sure to adjust the headband for a comfortable and sturdy fit. Also, consider wearing a sweatband over your head but underneath the headphones to protect the internal components. Finally, over-ear headphones tend to do poorly in the rain, so avoid stormy conditions, as it could turn your 30-hour battery life to one hour. But before making a final decision, check into the differences between over-ear vs in-ear headphones for the gym. You may also want to compare earbuds and over-ear headphones for running or even look into neckband headphones vs over-ear models.

Step 4. Are You Traveling With Your Over-Ears?

If you are traveling with over-ear headphones, there are some common-sense considerations worth taking under advisement. First of all, invest in a high-quality case for your headphones when they aren’t being used to help protect the various components. Some over-ear designs are built to fold to save space, though this design choice is often reserved for on-ear headphones. If you are traveling, you may want to prioritize a light form factor over thick and bulky cans, though the larger drivers and balanced sound may be worth the sacrifice. If you’re traveling by air, you’ll want to take into consideration the differences between in-ear and over-ear headphones for flying.

Step 5. Do You Know What Size Your Over-Ears Should Be?

Every human head is different, including the earlobes. So, it’s wise to measure everything about your over-ear model choices before buying. There are many over-ear headphone designs out there to accommodate different consumers to comfortably create a balanced sound. In other words, try before you buy to ensure you get a comfortable fit that will be perfect for lengthy use sessions. If you cannot try them before making a purchase, make sure the headphones feature plenty of adjustment options for a proper fit and optimal comfort levels.

Step 6. Have You Considered Alternatives?

There are many alternatives to traditional over-ear headphones, particularly in recent years. The humble earbud has really come into its own with the adoption of wireless Bluetooth technology. If you are looking for a “best of both worlds” approach, on-ear headphones offer increased immersion with some design choices that prioritize portability. There are also on-hook earbuds for a firmer grip and plenty of other unique designs out there to suit just about anyone. Of course, over-ear headphones are also available with wireless connectivity, ear controls, magnetic drivers, noise isolation capabilities, and more. To make sure you’re making a fully informed decision, though, be sure to consider the following:

Step 7. How Much Should You Expect To Spend?

There is a wide price range here, depending on additional features, any add-ons, materials used during construction, audio drivers, and more. You can snag a very basic pair of over-ear wired headphones for $30 to $200, but the price rockets when you start looking into studio-grade headphones, which come in at around triple the cost. The same goes for wireless Bluetooth over-ear headphones. Some budget-friendly models start at around $80, but high-end designs balloon to $500 or more, depending on the make and model. Some of the more expensive models include the Sony MDR-7506, the AirPods Max, and models by Bang & Olufsen. 

Types of Over-Ear Headphones

Owning Over-Ear Headphones

Fixing A Broken Pair Of Over-Ear Headphones

Fixing a pair of broken headphones is not the easiest process unless it’s something simple, like repairing over-ear headphone pads. Regardless, your first step is to troubleshoot exactly what is wrong. If Bluetooth is not connecting, for instance, it could just be a matter of downloading new software drivers. If you have a wired model and you have a signal that goes in and out or only works in one ear, it is likely an issue with your headphone jack or audio cable. Unless you are familiar with electrical work and splicing into wires, bring your headphones to a professional for services, especially expensive models such as AirPods Max or those made by Bang & Olufsen. 

What Makes Over-Ear Headphones Hurt?

Unlike other types of headphones, over-ear headphones achieve full contact with your ear lobes to limit external noise and maximize ear noise. They wrap them fully with their cushiony embrace. If the headphones are adjusted incorrectly for your head, however, the pads will push too hard into your ears. This is why headphones can cause pain, such as headaches, with long-term use, resulting in a subpar audio experience. Avoid this and make your over-ear headphones more comfortable by trying on a pair of headphones before you buy, and make sure there are plenty of adjustability options. When all else fails, buy a larger model or go with open-backed headphones, noise-canceling headphones, or any comfortable pair of cans. 

Insider Tip

Wearing Over Ear Headphones with Glasses – Wearing pairs of headphones with glasses is not terribly difficult; just make sure you put on the glasses after putting on the headphones. Give your head a little jiggle to test how well the glasses are affixing to your face. After that, you should be fine with your favorite headphones.

Keeping Your Over-Ear Headphones Tidy

You want to keep your headphones tidy to ensure they last a long time and continue to provide a detailed sound and excellent sound. In other words, give them a good cleaning every now and then with a dry microfiber cloth and keep them properly stored when not in use. If you have wireless headphones, make sure to turn off the Bluetooth when they aren’t being used. If you have wired headphones, keep the cable tidy and folded so that it doesn’t run into tangles.

Sleeping While Wearing Over-Ear Headphones

Sleeping while wearing over-ear headphones can be a challenge, particularly if you sleep on your side. The best advice here is to sleep on your back and wear a pair of headphones designed for maximum comfort. Also, keep the volume low as you sleep to avoid damaging your ear drums. A light, airy sound is fine for sleeping, so there is no need to break out the headphone amplifier. 

Properly Storing And Carrying Your Over-Ear Headphones

These headphones require a bit of TLC when it comes to storage and carrying. Keep them in a dedicated storage case when they aren’t being worn, and pay special attention to any cables and wires, making sure they are folded appropriately to resist tangles. When carrying them by hand, try to hold them by the center to keep the weight evenly distributed.

Your Health And Over-Ear Headphones

Over-ear headphones are not automatically more dangerous for your hearing than other types, though they can be when pumped to a higher-than-average volume for long amounts of time. The general rule of thumb? When you suspect your headphones are a little too loud, follow your instincts and lower them a tad. Also, take breaks when using your headphones. Remove them every 30 minutes or so to enjoy the sweet sound of silence for ten minutes. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests you should listen to your headphones at a volume level of 85 decibels (dB) for only 8 hours. In other words, music lovers should take a break every now and then when it comes to playback times of high-quality audio. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Over-Ear Headphones

Why are my over-ear headphones making my ears itchy?

Your headphones may be adjusted too tightly, though the natural humidity caused by closed-back designs like the Sony WH-1000XM3 can lead to itching with regular use, no matter the genre of music. Take a break and rest your ears in the open air for a bit before going back to your headphones. The itch isn’t severe, as it is likely just a contact itch.

Why do over-the-ear headphones liquify earwax?

This is a bit overstated. Introducing any amount of heat can slightly liquefy earwax during the listening experience, and wearing a tightly-fit pair of over-ear headphones certainly creates both humidity and heat. More than liquefying earwax, wearing any type of headphone can create earwax due to leading debris into your ear canals.

How do I wear over-ear headphones when I’m still healing from a piercing?

Short answer? Very carefully. You do not want to open up the piercing hole, cause bleeding, or decrease the speed at which the piercing heals. Follow your body and if you feel any pain, take the headphones off. Better yet? Go for in-ear earbuds until the piercing heals.

Why is my laptop audio so terrible sounding with over-ear headphones?

In theory, your audio should be fine when listening to music via a laptop. It is likely an audio driver issue or some kind of settings issue. Head into your settings and look for a volume knob for the audio output to your headphones. It could be set extremely high, causing the signal to distort and sound terrible. This could also be an issue with passive noise isolation, wireless performance, and malfunctioning extra features.

Christen da Costa Avatar

Learn More About Over Ear Headphones

Over Ear Headphone Reviews