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Best Over-Ear Headphones According to Audio Engineers and Sound Experts

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Updated February 21, 2024

If you spend a lot of time listening to music or like to tinker and experiment with different sounds, professionally or for leisure, you may find adding a pair of over-ear headphones to your collection of sound equipment to be worthwhile. “Someone would want to invest in a pair of over-ear headphones if they are looking for more isolation when listening,” says Ryan Schumer, founder and audio engineer at RDS Sound.

Shopping for over-ear headphones may feel overwhelming with the number of technology companies out there claiming to offer first-rate headphones. To simplify your experience, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best over-ear headphones you can review to pick the pair that’s ideal for you. In addition to Schumer, I spoke with Daniel Parseghian, a Texas-based freelance audio engineer for live music and events, and Sean Sullivan, a sound expert at Shure, about factors to keep in mind when shopping.

What to consider when choosing over-ear headphones

Intended use

When it comes to choosing the best over-ear headphones, consider how and where you’ll be using them. Sullivan recommends considering whether you’ll be using them at home, in a studio, while traveling, watching television, or during meetings when reviewing a pair’s features to see if they’ll be compatible with your intended use. “Someone that is critically listening to the finer details of music might want a different performance level than someone that simply needs to hear speech or calls/meetings,” adds Sullivan.

Features

Not all over-ear headphones have the same features. If you know you’ll be using your headphones outside in extreme weather or are someone who sweats a lot, Sullivan recommends looking for headphones that are sweat or water-resistant.

It’s also important to pay attention to the kind of microphone(s) the over-ear headphones have. “Look for a good communication/microphone performance,” Sullivan notes. If your over-ear headphones are wireless, the battery life is another important feature to keep in mind.

Sound quality

Searching for over-ear headphones with leading sound quality is essential as you’re going to want to hear whatever audio source it is you’re listening to (and hear it well). That said, some headphones allow users to adjust the sound quality via the frequencies. If adjusting frequencies is a non-negotiable for you, look for “programmable EQ that allows the user to adjust and customize the sound to their preference,” recommends Sullivan.

Design and comfort

Not all over-ear headphones are designed the same. Some have open backs and some have closed backs. Open backs promote airflow whereas closed backs prevent it. Depending on the activities you’ll be participating in when wearing your over-ear headphones, consider how much audio leakage you’re okay with, as more tends to occur when wearing headphones with open backs.

To ensure the utmost comfort, Parseghian advises considering whether a muff is big enough to cover your entire ear and whether or not the amount of pressure applied to the sides and top of your head is comfortable. Consider the weight and balance on your head. “You want something that will not bounce around or shift as your head/body moves,” says Sullivan.

Our picks for the best over-ear headphones

Most comfortable over-ear headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X Closed-Back Studio Headphones

Most comfortable over-ear headphones
Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X Closed-Back Studio Headphones

Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X Closed-Back Studio Headphones

If comfort is a priority for your next pair of over-ear headphones, Schumer recommends the Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X Closed-Back Studio Headphones. Their muffs are made with memory foam wrapped in velour that’ll feel soft against your ears while listening to music, podcasts, or any other sounds via its STELLAR.45 driver. Even though these headphones are made with a spring steel headband that’ll keep them on your head throughout your entire session, they are lightweight at 12.3 ounces (minus the weight of their wire) and are compatible with a plethora of devices.

Specifications:

  • Headphone type: Over-ear (wired)
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Water-resistant: No
  • Noise canceling: Yes (noise isolating)
  • Return policy: Within 30 days of receipt when in original condition (Amazon), 30 days (Beyerdynamic), and 30 days after headphones are delivered (Walmart)
  • Warranty: Two-year limited warranty
  • Price on publish: $259

The bottom line:

Since these over-ear headphones are made with memory foam and velour muffs, they are a great choice for those seeking comfort.

Get it here: Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X Closed-Back Studio Headphones


Best over-ear headphones for Apple Users: Apple AirPods Max

Best over-ear headphones for Apple Users
Apple AirPods Max

When it comes to the best over-ear headphones for Apple Users, Schumer recommends the Apple AirPods Max (which also made our lists for the best wireless headphones and the best noise canceling headphones). Unlike some other over-ear headphones, these contain a knit mesh canopy which promotes breathability and minimizes the amount of pressure on your head. These headphones are also easy to adjust thanks to their digital crown which can be pressed and turned to do everything from pausing calls to skipping tracks to adjusting the volume. And with Personalized Spatial Audio and Active Noise Canceling enabled, these headphones offer up to 20 hours of listening.

Specifications:

  • Headphone type: Over-ear
  • Battery life: Up to 20 hours
  • Water-resistant: No
  • Noise canceling: Yes (active noise cancellation)
  • Return policy: Within 30 days of receipt when in original condition (Amazon) and within 14 days of receipt (Apple)
  • Warranty: Limited one-year warranty (Apple and Amazon)
  • Price on publish: $479.99

The bottom line:

Apple users will appreciate these over-ear headphones which are noise-canceling and provide sound for up to 20 hours.

Get it here: Apple AirPods Max


Best wireless over-ear headphones for the office: Bose Headphones 700

The Bose Headphones 700 are a great option if you’re looking for a pair that you can easily take with you to the office. These headphones are made with protein leather cushions that can be controlled with touch or voice and have 11 noise-canceling levels which can be selected depending on your preference. Although these are wireless headphones by design, they do have the ability to transform into wired headphones. And they come with a carrying case for when they’re not in use. For a more in-depth look, check out our Bose 700 headphones review.

Specifications:

  • Headphone type: Over-ear
  • Battery life: 20 hours
  • Water-resistant: Yes
  • Noise canceling: Yes
  • Return policy: 90 days (Bose), within 30 days of receipt when in original condition (Amazon), and 15 days (Best Buy)
  • Warranty: Two-year warranty (Bose) and one-year warranty (Amazon)
  • Price on publish: $299

The bottom line:

The Bose Headphones 700 are an investment but a good option for those who commute and travel frequently, as several noise-canceling levels can be selected from and it comes with a carrying case.

Get it here: Bose Headphones 700


Best budget over-ear headphones: Soundcore Space One Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones

Best budget over-ear headphones
Soundcore Space One Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones

Soundcore Space One Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones

If you’re looking to purchase over-ear headphones, but don’t want to break the bank, the Soundcore Space One Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones may be just what you seek. For just under $100, these headphones have a longer battery life of up to 40 hours (with active noise canceling) and up to 55 hours (with active noise canceling turned off).

Specifications:

  • Headphone type: Over-ear
  • Battery life: Up to 40 hours (with ANC) and up to 55 hours (with ANC turned off)
  • Water-resistant: Yes
  • Noise canceling: Yes
  • Return policy: 15 days (Best Buy), 30 days (Soudcore), and within 30 days of receipt when in original condition (Amazon)
  • Warranty: 18 months
  • Price on publish: $99

The bottom line:

For under $100, these over-ear headphones are a great choice for those seeking high-quality sound on a budget.

Get it here: Soundcore Space One Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones


Best long battery life over-ear headphones: 1MORE SonoFlow Active Noise Canceling Headphones

Best long battery life over-ear headphones
1MORE SonoFlow Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Black

1MORE SonoFlow Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Black

As far as battery life goes, The SonoFlow Active Noise Canceling Headphones are some of the best. Offering up to 70 hours of battery life, these headphones are especially suitable if you are planning on traveling or know you won’t have access to an outlet for a while. Made with a 40mm driver, you’ll enjoy high-quality audio with each use. And, they’re noise-canceling, so you don’t have to hear the outside world if you don’t want to. In addition to their impressive battery life, their 12 EQ presets also make these headphones stand out and help to create more efficient and pleasant listening experiences.

Specifications:

  • Headphone type: Over-ear
  • Battery life: Up to 70 hours
  • Water-resistant: Yes
  • Noise canceling: Yes
  • Return policy: Within 30 days of receipt when in original condition (Amazon) and 30 days (Walmart)
  • Warranty: Warranty card (Walmart) and one-year (Amazon)
  • Price on publish: $74.99

The bottom line:

When it comes to battery life, these over-ear headphones can last for up to 70 hours on a single charge.

Get it here: 1MORE SonoFlow Active Noise Canceling Headphones


Best over-ear headphones for kids: Puro Sound Labs BT2200s Plus Volume Limited Kids’ Bluetooth Headphones

Best over-ear headphones for kids
Puro Sound Labs BT2200s Plus Volume Limited Kids’ Bluetooth Headphones

Puro Sound Labs BT2200s Plus Volume Limited Kids’ Bluetooth Headphones

These Bluetooth headphones from Puro Sound Labs are a solid option if you're shopping for over-ear headphones for kids. They have a volume capacity of 85 decibels so you won’t have to worry about them keeping their sound on a dangerously high level. Although these headphones aren’t completely noise canceling, they are noise isolating. If your child would rather wear these headphones on the ear instead of over the ear, the ear cups can be easily removed. Make sure to note that these over-ear headphones are not water-resistant, so we wouldn’t recommend bringing them to the beach, a pool, or an area where you know your children may come into contact with water.

Specifications:

  • Headphone type: Over-ear
  • Battery life: Up to 20 hours
  • Water-resistant: No
  • Noise canceling: Yes (noise isolating)
  • Return policy: Within 30 days of receipt when in original condition (Amazon) and 30 days (Puro)
  • Warranty: One-year
  • Price on publish: $99

The bottom line:

Kids will appreciate these over-ear headphones as they are available in six fun colors and can be easily transformed into on-ear headphones if desired.

Get it here: Puro Sound Labs BT2200s Plus Volume Limited Kids’ Bluetooth Headphones


Best over-ear noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise Canceling Over-the-Ear Headphones

Best over-ear noise-canceling headphones
Sony WH-1000XM5 The Best Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Black

Sony WH-1000XM5 The Best Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones Black

Individuals shopping for over-ear headphones that will cancel out any outside noise should strongly consider the WH-1000XM5 headphones from Sony. They contain a noise-canceling optimizer that will alter themselves to cancel out any external noise based on where you are. They are also extremely lightweight at 0.55 pounds and are water-resistant with an IPX4 rating which means they can withstand some light water splashes if you happen to get some water on them when brushing your teeth or cooking.

Specifications:

  • Headphone type: Over-ear
  • Battery life: Up to 30 hours
  • Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4)
  • Noise canceling: Yes
  • Return policy: 15 days (Best Buy) and within 30 days of receipt when in original condition (Amazon)
  • Warranty: One-year limited warranty
  • Price on publish: $328

The bottom line:

If you’re shopping for over-ear headphones that will block out external noise, this pair from Sony is it thanks to its auto noise-canceling optimizer.

Get it here: Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise Canceling Over-the-Ear Headphones


Most durable over-ear headphones: Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone

These are great headphones if you’re looking for a wired pair that’s particularly durable. These headphones are made with stainless steel, gold, neodymium, and copper. Although these closed-ear headphones are hard to the touch, they can fold over making them easily portable. And they come with a soft case you can put them in while in transit.

Specifications:

  • Headphone type: Over-ear
  • Battery life: N/A (wired)
  • Water-resistant: No
  • Noise canceling: Yes (noise-reducing)
  • Return policy: Within 30 days of receipt when in original condition (Amazon) and 30 days (Walmart)
  • Warranty: One-year warranty
  • Price on publish: $104.95

The bottom line:

Made with stainless steel, gold, neodymium, and copper, these over-ear headphones are durable and can still be folded over.

Get it here: Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone


Best over-ear headphones for working out: JBL Tour One M2 Noise Canceling Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

Best over-ear headphones for working out
JBL Tour One M2 Noise Canceling Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

JBL Tour One M2 Noise Canceling Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

These over-ear headphones from JBL deliver on durability and sound quality. Made with 40mm drivers, these headphones can provide sound for up to 50 hours which is long enough to last multiple training sessions. These headphones are also equipped with four microphones if you need to take a call mid-workout and don’t want to pick up your phone. Since they have an active noise-canceling feature, these headphones will keep you in the zone while you’re making your way through your movements. Make sure to note that these headphones have a longer charge time of two hours which is longer than some of our other picks.

Specifications:

  • Headphone type: Over-ear
  • Battery life: Up to 50 hours
  • Water-resistant: No
  • Noise canceling: Yes
  • Return policy: 30 days (Amazon)
  • Warranty: Limited one-year manufacturer warranty
  • Price on publish: $299.95

The bottom line:

Despite the investment, these over-ear headphones are a solid choice for athletes who want to stay in the zone during their workouts without having to charge their headphones frequently.

Get it here: JBL Tour One M2 Noise Canceling Wireless Over-Ear Headphones


Best all-purpose wireless over-ear headphones: Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Canceling Over-Ear Headphones

Best all-purpose wireless over-ear headphones
Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones with Apple W1 Headphone Chip- Matte Black

Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones with Apple W1 Headphone Chip- Matte Black

Whether you plan on working out or editing a video, the Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Canceling Over-Ear Headphones will be a great tool to keep you focused and hearing every song or noise played with precision for up to 22 hours. These headphones are available in six colors (blue, shadow gray, defiant black-red, red, midnight black, and matte black) and contain a built-in microphone. They tend to maintain their connection longer than some other headphones, too.

Specifications:

  • Headphone type: Over-ear
  • Battery life: 22 hours
  • Water-resistant: No
  • Noise canceling: Yes
  • Return policy: Within 30 days of receipt when in original condition (Amazon)
  • Warranty: One year
  • Price on publish: $169 - $236.49 depending on color

The bottom line:

Whether you’re working out or simply listening to music, these over-ear headphones will offer you high-quality sound and do so in style.

Get it here: Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Canceling Over-Ear Headphones


How we selected the best over-ear headphones

To create my list of the best over-ear headphones, I spoke with sound experts and audio engineers for some of their recommendations and what to consider when purchasing over-ear headphones. I also conducted online research to find additional high-quality options.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Do over-ear headphones sound better than on-ear headphones?

Although it depends on the particular headphones, our experts all agree that over-ear headphones generally provide a better sound experience for users compared to on-ear headphones. “Circum-aural [over-ear] headphones have the ability to outperform on-ear headphones due to the higher isolation capability and larger drivers,” explains Sullivan.

What makes over-ear headphones comfortable?

According to Sullivan, over-ear headphones are comfortable since they do not directly clamp one’s ears. Furthermore, many over-ear headphones have muffs that contain a substantial amount of cushioning and therefore apply less pressure on the ears.

Are in-ear or over-ear headphones better for your hearing?

Parseghian notes that over-ear headphones are, in theory, better for your hearing. “This is because you can listen at lower volumes because of sound isolation. However, you can also do the same hearing damage with either style depending on what volume you are listening at.”

Are over-the-ear headphones professional?

Whether or not over-the-ear headphones are professional will depend on your environment. “In a studio environment, it is better to use over-the-ear headphones with a closed back because it helps reduce noise leakage when recording,” says Schumer. However, if you’re on stage, Sullivan notes that in-ear earphones are commonplace.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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