Earbuds may be becoming more popular for use in the gym, but there’s still no substitute for the sound quality a great pair of over ear headphones can provide. That’s because they provide you with a completely immersive experience. Whether you’re listening to your favorite album, drawn into the world of a console or PC game, or sneaking in a blockbuster movie while the rest of your household sleeps, the best headphones cloister you from reality and thrust you into a fantasy world.
That, however, doesn’t mean that all over-the-ear headphones are made equally. There are a lot of shoddy options, and the demand for quality gear means that there are a lot of great models that cost way too much. We’ve identified 13 of the best over-ear headphones in this review so as to help you make the right selection. We’ve also added a buying guide to ensure that you get nothing but the best over-ear headphones.
- 12 Best Over-Ear Headphones
- 1. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
- 2. Sennheiser Over-ear HD 660 S
- 3. Skullcandy Hesh 3 Over-Ear Headphones
- 4. Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
- 5. Sony WH1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones
- 6. Beats Studio3 Noise Canceling Headphones
- 7. Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT
- 8. JBL Live 500BT Over-Ear Headphones
- 9. beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
- 10. Sony WH-XB700 Extra Bass Headphones
- 11. Plantronics BackBeat GO 810
- 12. Sony MDR7506 Professional Headphone
- 13. Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature
- Best Over-Ear Headphones Buyer’s Guide
12 Best Over-Ear Headphones
1. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
If you're looking for the best over-ear headphones that offers the best noise-cancelling effects, there's one name that stands head and shoulders above the rest: the Bose QC35 II . This is an expensive pair of headphones, but no one has come close to matching them in terms of quality. If money isn't an issue and you're looking for dedicated headphones for your home theater or cans for your daily commute or plan ride, don't hesitate to pick up a pair of these.
Their noise cancellation technology is the best in the business. They offer a great level of balance across every meaningful frequency, and they're incredible comfortable to wear. And while the changes they've undergone over the years have been modest, Bose hasn't been afraid to stay ahead of the tech curve. The QC35 II comes with a 20 hour battery life and is compatible with the Bose AR augmented reality platform. It also works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
2. Sennheiser Over-ear HD 660 S
If you thought the Bose QuietComfort was expensive, meet the Sennheiser HD 660 S, and then remind yourself that expensive doesn't mean overpriced. These Sennheiser's over-ear headphones are some of the brand's best and most luxurious models. Although they have no noise-cancelling effects, they deliver in terms of their largely unparalleled quality. The open-backed design makes them one of the best wired headphones to choose when you're looking to create a rich and fulsome sound stage. In that respect, they largely exist in counterpoint to the QuietComfort.
The fit of this Sennheiser is one of the best you can get from a premium headset. Thanks to the fact that they are well cushioned, this amazing pair sit on your head comfortably. They create a sensation that feels like they are hugging your head rather than the pinching you get from other headphones. Also, the open-back design ensures that they don't get overheated when you use them for extended periods. And since you can easily replace the cups and the cable, you are sure to enjoy using these headsets for a long time.
3. Skullcandy Hesh 3 Over-Ear Headphones
If you don't have hundreds of dollars to drop on over-ear headphones, that's okay. You can still get the best products under $100. Something like the Hesh 3 from Skullcandy may not offer the level of sound quality you'd find in the more high-end models. But everyone apart from the most ardent audiophiles will probably be fine with the sound reproduction these budget over-ear headphones offer. Moreover, the fact that they're Bluetooth headphones means they can work functionally on your commute, in the office, or even at the gym.
In fact, these wireless headphones are generous around the board with their value. The battery life is very strong as you can get 4 hours of usage from just ten minutes charge. A full charge provides you with 22 hours of battery life, and while it doesn't offer noise-cancelling tech, the noise isolation is way better than what you should expect from a pair of headphones under the $100 price point. And while you shouldn't expect the best sound quality from cheap over-ear products like this pair, there is a nice sense of balanced bass here.
4. Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
The Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphone is one with the ability to help you enjoy your virtual space. Whether you're gaming, want a live performance feel in your ears, or you simply don't want to be disturbed, this headphone has the capacity to do it all. The noise cancelling effect in this headphone is top-notch. You have 11 different effects to choose from, which means you can decide to hear what the outside world is saying or choose to enjoy the solitude in your virtual space.
But that's not all; this headphone comes with built-in Alexa and Google assistant. With the push of a button, you can toggle them on and use them to make calls or ask questions. A four microphone system allows you to make crystal clear calls. And with a battery life of 20 hours, you're sure to enjoy this noise cancelling headphone for a good amount of time. The earcups are perfect and the headphone itself is lightweight. You are going to remain comfortable even if you wear it for longer periods.
5. Sony WH1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones
The noise-cancelling technology in the Sony WH-1000XM3 can't match the one produced by Bose's top shelf noise-canceling headphones. But the depth of quality and breadth of features here more than make up for it. And unless you find yourself regularly listening to music in a building construction site, chances are the difference won't matter all that much to you.
What you get on this wireless headphone that's less than $400 is phenomenal. Voice assistant technology is available on the WH-1000XM3 via Alexa functionality, and you can also navigate your music with a handy set of controls built right into the cup. Additionally, the fast charging technology allows you to get going easily. These noise cancelling headphones can provide you with up to five hours of performance on a modest 10 minute charge. And with a full charge, you get up to 30 hours of battery life. Sony makes use of HiRes sound quality for better and richer performance, and the Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology can be adjusted to suit your environment.
6. Beats Studio3 Noise Canceling Headphones
Let's get one thing out in the open; the noise cancellation offered by the Beats Studio3 wireless headphones isn't the best around. But if you can overlook that, they are easily some of the best headphones on the market. Dre's trademark headphones are known for the power of their sound (and especially their bass), and that's a standard that rings true with these wireless over-ear headphones too.
The Studio3s are also a great looking pair of wireless headphones. Their minimalistic design is well accompanied by the smooth matte finish, and they're available in 17 beautiful different colors, including black, blue, and red. This is an especially great pair of Bluetooth headphones if you're an iPhone owner. Beats' buyout by Apple ensures that all Beats headphones now come with a proprietary W1 chip that makes it easy to pair with your device. They also sport a great battery life and a comfortable design.
7. Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT
Audio Technica makes some of the best headphones that are specifically designed for serious of audiophiles. The less than $200 ATH-M50xBT is one of the best choices to go with if you're looking for something to wear in your dedicated music room. However, this product may not be the best for you if you're seeking out a over-ear headphones for gym use. The sound stage in these headphones is wide open, and there's a great resonance to the reproduction. That's particularly true of the weighty and meaningful bass.
The ATH-M50xBT isn't noise-cancelling, but that's to be expected from wireless over-ear headphones that are designed for use around the house. However, that allows Audio Technica to offer a tremendous amount of aural clarity in a comparatively very cheap set of Bluetooth cans. This pair are comfortable headphones with great built-in controls and easy Bluetooth syncing that offers a reliable connection with little to no risk of latency. With a battery life of approximately 40 hours and 45mm drivers, you're surely going to enjoy every bit of sound that pops out of these wireless headsets.
8. JBL Live 500BT Over-Ear Headphones
Want the best headphone from JBL that costs less than $150 bucks? The Live 500BT is one of the best products to go with. JBL is known for producing good over-ear headphones at some of the most reasonable prices around. Also, the headsets typically sport a signature sound quality that some listeners really adore: rich, full bodied, and backed by some serious bass. The Live 500BT is all that and more. It retains both the frequency balance that JBL fans love and the value that the company has set as their bar. Also it packs in some modern quality features that elevate these over-ear headphones into the top tier for their price point.
The fit of this wireless headset is secure - short, squat, and almost comically padded. But that results in some of the best and most comfortable over-ear headphones along with some decent noise-isolation. This 50mm drivers headphone also offers compatibility with Amazon's Alexa and the Google Assistant along with great equalizer settings and ambient modes. There's also a convenient talk through mode. This wireless pair of headsets comes with 30 hours of battery life. And should the battery go flat, you can easily plug in your wires and get your sound back on. The JBL Live 500BT comes in 5 different colors, including black, red, white and green.
9. beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
Most Beyerdynamic headphones aren't going to win any beauty contests, but the German company knows how to consistently turn out products with the best build quality and exceptional aural performance. The DT 990 PRO is built for studio use, and it has flat and well-balanced sound quality to suit those needs. These are good headphones for music but great headphones for mixing music, and their soft and snug design allows you to wear them for hours at a time without feeling uncomfortable.
In pursuit of those studio needs, Beyerdynamic decided to make this product an open-back set. This design leaves a lot of space for the development of a sound stage, and helps the pair boast an impedance of 250 ohm for more reliable sound performance regardless of your source. These definitely aren't the best over-ear headphones for working out, but if you want something to wear in the studio or attach to your record player, they're some of the best choices you can go with.
10. Sony WH-XB700 Extra Bass Headphones
Finding the best Bluetooth headphones isn't that tough. But finding an objectively great pair of wireless headphones for under a hundred bucks? That's a different story entirely. That's why it's impressive how much Sony manages to pack into their WH-XB700 set. They deliver on the "extra bass" promised in the name with a low-end that's powerful without drowning out everything else. There's a real rumble to be had when playing hip-hop or EDM, but you can be assured the mids and highs aren't neglected here.
The design is equally as smart. The battery life on these wireless headphones are well above average, and the controls built into the ear cup are smart and intuitive. But if you find yourself worried about the length of the battery on long trips, these headphones can double as a wired set. Sony has also opted to include compatibility with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in this pair of headsets.
11. Plantronics BackBeat GO 810
Plantronics' Backbeat Go is a powerful set of cans that packs in a lot of features that are usually seen as high-end fundamentals while still managing to keep to the price in the $100 ballpark. Plantronics has focused on three core things here: ensuring a strong battery life, packing in high value noise-cancelling tech, and supporting a wide Bluetooth range. Those three aspects combined result in headphones that serve in something of a "do anything" role, but they're especially well suited for the office or the gym.
All of the core features of the Backbeat Go work perfectly fine even at a distance of 50 feet, and the FIT app allows you to modify the noise-cancelling functionality to your specifications. The app works well in general, and there are even a number of equalizer presets you can use to adjust your personal sound settings. You get 22 hours of battery life while using the active noise-cancelling feature and up to 28 hours without ANC. Add that to the rich sound produced by the 40mm drivers and you'll have nothing short of the best sound experience a headphone can provide.
12. Sony MDR7506 Professional Headphone
When Sony markets their MDR-7506 headphones as "Pro", it's more than just a catchphrase. These relatively inexpensive wired headphones are built to provide you with the best sound in the studio. And while that means that they aren't going to be perfect for the casual listener, there's a lot to enjoy about them. The MDR-7506 is actually one of the recognized standard bearers for DJs, producers, and engineers, and it has been for years. That's due to the pristine sound quality: accurate, balanced, and intentionally flat.
But that means that there aren't a lot of frills with these headphones. They're minimalistic in design and comfortably built without offering much in the way of padding or cushioning. You'll get strong noise-isolation from them but they don't come with active noise-cancelling features. That may be a liability given what these cups are built for.
13. Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature
We've covered a lot of expensive models in this over-ear headphones review, but nothing comes close to matching the P9 Signature. If you absolutely want to have the most opulent headphones around, here's your bragging rights. Their brown, Italian leather surface and smooth aluminum frame sets them distinctly apart from practically any other headphone on the market. To make things even more luxurious, this headphone sits in the $900 price range while delivering some of the best HiFi performance anywhere.
The British Bowers & Wilkins have been in business for half a century, and they've decided to celebrate by making the most premium pair of headphones possible. The great seal of this 40mm drivers headphone creates noise-isolation that doesn't require active technology, and these cups really shine on bass heavy songs. That it manages to offer such powerful performance on the low range without disturbing the higher frequencies is a real show of engineering talent.
Best Over-Ear Headphones Buyer’s Guide
Open or Closed Back?
The decision between having an open or closed back on your headphones may seem like a no-brainer to the uninitiated. After all, don’t you want the headphones that fit securely around your ears while providing you with as much noise-isolation or noise-cancelling effects as possible? In actuality, that depends on what your needs are. Open back headphones have long been popular among audiophiles and music technicians because they allow the sound coming into your ears to interact with the space around you and the acoustics of the room. This “sound stage” is a necessity if you want a clear and natural sound.
But that comes with some distinct disadvantages. Open back headphones offer little to nothing in the way of either leakage protection for the people around you or noise isolation for the listener, so open back earphones are going to be largely useless to you outside of the home, studio, or other environment where you can find some peace and quiet. Closed back headphones have the versatility to work in far more spaces, and their inherent design means that they’re usually sturdy and less prone to accidental damage.
To Mic or Not to Mic
Headphones serve one primary and obvious purpose: allowing you to listen to music comfortably without being distracted by the outside world or irritating those around you. But it’s very common to find over ear headphones with mics built in. The most obvious reason for investing in headphones with a mic is that they allow you to answer calls, but the amount of mileage you get out of that will depend on your situation. If you’re regularly using your headphones on a busy commute or while you exercise, the ability to go hands free for calls can be useful. Otherwise, the inclusion will probably be a bit extraneous.
But a number of different professions and hobbies can benefit from the inclusion of a microphone. They can serve as a way for multiplayer gamers to communicate with their teammates or trash their rivals, and they’re becoming increasingly popular with podcasters as a replacement for more traditional mic setups. Additionally, headphones with mics have obvious practical uses for music producers and DJs. Most wireless Bluetooth headphones come with some sort of mic, so if you need a mic, you’ll want to spend a little more time figuring out the quality of each model.
What’s Frequency Response?
A good set of headphones does a good job of representing the low, mid, and high range frequencies that humans can register, and that’s a trait that’s typically evaluated by frequency responses. Measured in Hz, frequency responses tell you how well your headphones can produce varying frequencies. Most good sets of headphones will offer something at least in the range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, as that’s the generally recognized range for what humans can hear.
There’s a decent amount of variety in the headphones we’ve covered here, but whether you’re looking to spend less than a hundred or close to a grand, there’s one unifying principle: all of them offer value proportionate to their pricing. Consider both your budget and what you need before deciding on which headphones you need.