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Expert Shopper Electronics

Best over-ear headphones

Which over-ear headphone is best?

Those hoping to find the best over-ear headphones are unlikely to be disappointed in today’s headphone market since there is now a wide range of varieties, styles and features you can find in the average pair of headphones. Still, it’s most important to consider what you find valuable in over-ear headphones if you want to get as much use out of them as possible for the long haul.

It’s hard to go wrong in today’s headphone market, and you almost can’t go wrong with the Bose 700 Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones.

What to know before you buy over-ear headphones

Over-ear headphones vs. earbuds

While the term over-ear headphones simply applies to headphones that fit over the user’s ears, various headphones are available today. The best over-ear headphones simply offer whatever style works best for the user’s needs, but the term also generally excludes earbuds or hybrid earbuds with ear ridge supporters, neckbands or other non-over-ear fitting speaker cup styles.

Wired vs. wireless headphones

There are several high-quality headphone offerings in both wired and wireless varieties, though many users who don’t need high-resolution audio find wireless over-ear headphones most convenient. 

Studio headphones vs. regular listening headphones

If you’re looking for over-ear headphones for professional or studio use, it’s worth considering styles that are suitable to hear every single detail in your audio. The regular listener may be able to get away with just about any cheap over-ear headphones, but those who require a higher standard of audio will want to consider the frequency response of a given model. The serious audiophile may also want to consider buying open-back headphones.

What to look for in quality over-ear headphones

Audio features like ambient listening and noise cancellation

Many buyers prefer over-ear headphones with features like active noise cancellation or ambient listening, among others like adaptive equalization and multiple audio modes. However, this will largely depend on how you plan to use your headphones. For example, professionals may prefer headphones with no added audio features but instead sport a wide-ranging frequency response.

Built-in microphone

Most over-ear Bluetooth headphones today also come with a built-in microphone, allowing users to take phone calls with ease or use voice commands with systems like Google Assistant or Alexa.

Comfortable fit and style

Many buyers won’t be able to tell the difference between the audio from headphone to headphone and instead elect to find headphones with a comfortable fit or a preferred style. Headphones with thin headbands are often preferable as well as those with adjustable or lightweight speaker cups. Audio engineers or audiophiles may also prefer headphones in the open-back style, which can naturally remove unwanted noise and reduce pressure on the user’s ears and the headphone speakers themselves.

How much you can expect to spend on over-ear headphones

There are a few outliers, but in general, you can expect to spend between $30-$500 on a pair of over-ear headphones — unless you’re looking for an extremely budget-friendly model or one for high-fidelity professional use.

Over-ear headphones FAQ

Are over-ear headphones better than earbuds?

A. While it would be tough to say that over-ear headphones are better than earbuds (since headphones are so preferential and dependent upon individual use habits), many of the market’s most high-fidelity headphones come in over-ear style rather than earbuds. Many high-tier earbuds do offer good audio quality, but it’s tough to compete with a pair of headphones that can actually put a small speaker up to the listener’s ear.

Are all over-ear headphones noise-cancelling

A. No, not all over-ear headphones are noise-canceling. In fact, many of the highest-quality headphone models don’t include noise-canceling since audio engineers often want to hear the purest, effect-free audio possible.

What is the best over-ear headphone to buy?

Top over-ear headphones

Bose 700 Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones with Built-in Microphone

What you need to know: These powerful over-ear headphones offer superior Bluetooth audio quality, and they also feature a thin, built-in microphone for phone calls and voice commands and a thin, comfortable headband.

What you’ll love: Superior audio quality with active noise cancellation and an adaptive microphone system, making it easier to tune into your audio or your surroundings when needed. This unit is sold in triple black or silver luxe, both of which feature a thin, comfortable headband.

What you should consider: These over-ear headphones are quite a bit more expensive than some other headphones, despite having only slightly better audio quality than many mid-tier headphone models.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top over-ear headphones for the money

Sony WH-CH510 Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones with Built-In Microphone

What you need to know: These economy-level over-ear headphones offer great sound and impressive battery life for a low cost, showing off why it works to go with a trusted audio brand like Sony.

What you’ll love: Beyond being super affordable, Sony’s cheapest over-ear Bluetooth headphones offer decent audio quality and a built-in microphone. They also offer up to impressive 35 hours of battery life, making them great for long-term use between charges. This model comes in black, white or blue.

What you should consider: Some buyers complained that this model’s Sidetone feature isn’t as intuitive as expected and that the microphone’s audio isn’t that impressive.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

AKG Pro Audio K612 PRO Reference Monitor Open-Back Wired Over-Ear Headphones

What you need to know: If you’re looking for high-fidelity studio headphones, these open-back over-ear headphones from AKG offer an impressive audio and frequency response at a super reasonable price.

What you’ll love: These wired reference headphones have a frequency response of 12 hertz to 39,000 hertz, and their open-back design helps reduce pressure and unwanted noise on the headphone speakers. The audio utilizes AKG’s patented Varimotion diaphragm technology in each driver for an immersive listening experience.

What you should consider: Some users say they prefer wireless Bluetooth headphones or headphones with a built-in microphone. These headphones aren’t great for use in loud, public locations.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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