Earbuds Vs Over Ear Headphones

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Updated October 7, 2022

Those looking for the best headphones will need to make some comparisons, like the one between earbuds vs. overear headphones. If you’re trying to find the best wireless earbuds or even a wired version, it helps to know how they stack up against more traditional headphones. Keep reading to find out more about how these two compare and which model might be better suited for your needs.


  • When it comes to sound quality, the clear winner is over-ear headphones. They’re able to produce better sound because of their powerful drivers.
  • The next category is compact designs. Those who seek a sleek, understated design will find their best fit with a pair of earbuds.
  • Finally, we compare active noise cancellation capabilities. In this arena, both options can carry their own weight due to advances in technology.

Comparing Earbuds and Over-ear Headphones

The most apparent difference is their placement. Over-ear headphones will fit securely over your ears, while earbuds are in-ear models. This means that they sit comfortably snug in your ear canal. For more comparisons, keep reading. However, keep in mind that this article will specifically go over over-ear headphones. If you want to broaden your horizons, try comparing on-ear headphones vs. earbuds or in-ear vs over-ear headphones next.

Insider Tip

Wireless headphones allow more flexibility and freedom of movement.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is decided mainly by the type of headphones you choose. Driver size is a significant indicator of great sound, so powerful drivers will always come out victorious. Thanks to their larger drivers, over-ear headphones absolutely win this round. If you’re looking for great audio quality in your next pair of headphones, try looking into the best over-ear headphones.

Size & Design

Different types of headphones have different designs. There is a huge difference in size between the two types we’re comparing today. Earbuds are compact devices that don’t require much room for storage. They’re definitely a better choice if you need something small and discreet. For more compact designs, it’s worth comparing ear pods vs. earbuds.

Active Noise Cancelation

Ambient noise can be a nuisance, especially if you’re trying to zone in on the task at hand. Active noise cancelation allows you to block the noise out using the speakers and microphones in your headphones. Over-ear headphones provide great noise-reduction technology because they physically cover your ears.


Before you invest in wireless headphones, make sure you check their battery life.

However, earbuds sit snugly in the ear canal to create a tight seal that also helps block noise. Neither of them wins in this round. It’s more about the quality of the headphones themselves. Those who want to take a more general look into this comparison should read our article comparing earbuds vs. headphones.

STAT: 46 percent of respondents in a 2017 survey said that they like different kinds of headphones for different occasions. (source)


What should I look for in wireless earbuds?

When it comes to wireless earbuds, you’ll want decent overall battery life, active noise cancelation capabilities, and a comfortable over an extended period of time.

Are in-ear models comfortable to wear?

Whether earbuds are comfortable or not is up to personal preference. They sit in your ear canal, which can be uncomfortable for some people. However, these audio devices often have changeable ear tips that are made to be soft and pliable.

Why are open-back headphones different?

These headphones allow for a more natural sound. They also tend to have clearer audio. This is because of their design, which allows air from the rear of the speaker driver to pass through the ear cups.

Are premium headphones worth the investment?

That depends on the value you place on excellent sound and whether you want comfortable headphones or not. The higher-end models are absolutely worth the investment, even to a casual listener.
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