Headset Over Ear vs On Ear

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Updated October 25, 2022

Headsets with over-ear vs on-ear technology have taken over the gaming world. The two differ in that one goes over your ear, and one sits on top of your ear. The best gaming headset offers enhanced comfort and a wide range of features.


  • Over-ear headsets feature a more comfortable design that sits around your ears, reducing the pressure on the ears.
  • On-ear headsets rest against the ears, compressing them against the head for the length of time you listen.
  • On-ear headsets or headphones offer greater portability due to their small forms and better audio quality without many additional features.

However, other headphone models offer better sound quality and portability, though they may not be as comfortable. To find out which is better for gaming, read about using headphones vs a headset for gaming.

Difference Between an Over Ear Vs On Ear Headset

A gaming headset provides a significantly different experience compared to an on-ear one. While over-ear headsets often contain more padding and comfort, on-ear models offer portability and sound quality. The difference in audio quality stems from the cost used for extra features instead of on the device and speaker quality. For additional information about listening options, you can check out the differences between a headset vs earbuds for gaming.

Insider Tip

Over-ear headsets offer noise isolation, thanks to a seal of foam pads for more immersive listening.

Long-Term Comfort

When you’re choosing a gaming headset, there are specific things you’ll want to look for. Over-ear gaming headsets are typically more comfortable than on-ear headphones or headsets. This comfort comes from the additional padding in the ears, and over-ear headsets do not push on your ears. Instead, these headphones go around your ears, with padding on the outside and less in the middle.

On-ear models are less comfortable because they push your ears against your head. When you use these versions for an extended period, your ears or head may start hurting because of this compression. The same rings true if you’re using a gaming headset with glasses. However, this pressure also keeps the headphones in place. In addition, these on-ear designs do not reduce ambient noise and over-the-ear headphones.

Audio Quality

The audio quality for on-ear headphones often outranks the quality for a pair of over-ear models. However, many on-ear headphones feature better sound quality because they do not include the extras that over-ear headphones often do. You can see the audio quality in our comparison article on the Rig 800LX vs 800HD headsets.

Gaming headsets typically have a more bass-heavy sound and noise isolation than other headphones due to the seal around the ears. The sound from this type of headphones matches the game being played, but it sounds odd if you listen to music or watch a movie. Earbuds also have heavy bass because the speaker sits close to the ears.


Over-ear gaming headsets tend to be bulky and sturdy. However, they lack portability, especially when compared to on-ear headsets that fold. In addition, the extra padding and the fact that many over ear gaming headsets have features that a traditional headset does not lead to a large size.

In terms of portability, on-ear headsets remain the best option of the two. These headsets feature a slimmer and overall smaller design. Additionally, some of these headphones also feature the ability to fold and stow, and they often have bags to store them in.


As gaming headsets feature designs specially made for gaming, they typically cost more than the average on-ear headphones. Additionally, gaming headsets, by nature, have a built-in microphone. Still, they also include a wide range of features, including a designated volume button, a mute button, and, sometimes, a separate dial for the type of audio you want. Some of these models require additional drivers for effective use.

Although on-ear headphones do not contain many additional features or require larger drivers, they sometimes have a skip, rewind, and pause button. You may also be able to adjust your volume from the headset or cable if you have one. However, many on-ear types of headphones stop at these features, preferring to spend most of their price on audio quality. In addition, on-ear headsets sometimes contain a built-in microphone that sets them apart from headphones and may require a battery to run for extended periods.


On-ear headphones create pressure on your skull and might be uncomfortable, but they offer superior sound quality and portability.


Which one has better battery life?

Because over-ear headphones are larger, they can hold bigger battery packs, meaning extended battery life.

Why do over-ear headphones hurt your ears?

Headphones use clamping pressure to stay on top of your head. This can cause pressure damage to the outer part of the ear, especially if the clamping force is too high. Make sure your headset is the correct fit for your skull to lessen this effect.

How long should you wear headphones a day?

You should wear headphones for only about an hour every day at 60% or lower volume. However, you shouldn’t wear headphones for longer than you can without pain.

STAT: To take hearing protection seriously, keep your headphones at no more than 60 percent of their maximum volume. (source)

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