Best over-ear and on-ear headphones

Best over-ear and on-ear headphones : our list

Headphones are becoming more popular than ever before thanks to the ever-increasing emphasis on highly portable, digital music devices. The best over-ear and on-ear headphones usually reproduce audio in a way the artist intended you to hear it. In order help you judge which headphone device is the best for you, here is an overview of the best headphones at every price range. We reviewed their features and performances so that you can make your choice knowing what they are and what they deliver. We constantly update our post in order to provide you with the most up to date information and the latest products available.

Best supra-aural and circum-aural headphones overview

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Earbuds

Rating

Price

Comment

Review

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  Parrot Zik 3

$$$$​

They are the best with an excellent sound quality and unbeatable features

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Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

$$$​

They have one of the best sound quality and an excellent comfort

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Bose Quietcomfort 25

$$$​

They are the best noise canceling headphones to date

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AudioTechnica ATH-MSR7

$$​

Excellent headphones with good sound quality

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Sony MDR-1A

$$$

Excellent headphones for bass with an integrated mic

Our on-ear and over-ear headphones reviews

Parrot Zik 3

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The Parrot Zik 3 are the best headphones I have been able to try so far. These headphones are a large exception to the general rule that most Bluetooth headphones normally suffer from low sound quality. The Zik 2.0 were already excellent and Parrot did even better with the 3.

When listening to your music, you would never tell that the Parot Zik 3 is not a wired pair of headphones, the sound quality is excellent. Combined with features like the touch-sensitive remote together with the jawbone sensor, it is a class above any other headphones in the market. This set is not just for music; it functions relatively better than several Bluetooth headphones for phone conversations as well.

The Zik 3 do double duty : they excel at being the top Bluetooth headphones in addition to outshining the competition as one of the best noise-cancelling headphones that are available. The specifications support its superior sound quality because the Parrot Zik has a very wide frequency range (5Hz to 22kHz), a very high sensitivity of around 110 decibels, a large 40 millimeter driver and you can control it all from your phone or smartwatch. If you are a geek like me, you will love it !

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The best part of these headphones are their adaptability : you can use them in USB mode and enjoy a 5.1 surround sound ; you can use them with a 3.5mm jack and enjoy your music like classic headphones and you can use them in Bluetooth mode with your phone or anything compatible. The sound produced is clear and balanced through a wide range of different musical genres. When listening to audiobooks or even when talking on your phone, its noise-cancelling technology will blend well with a natural and detailed sound. There is even a street mode to allow the external sound to reach your ears while you are in the street.

The Zik 3 are available in 8 colors and are shipped with a rigid carrying case, a usb cable, a jack cable and a 830 mAh Li-Ion battery that will last for 8 hours. Their unique design may not appeal to everyone but they are build with premium materials that will last. They are robust and comfortable.

Parrot Zik 3, final thoughts

The Zik 3 are truely excellent ! From their unique design to the sound quality and all the features they offer, the Zik 3 are the best headphones available to date. Their price is fair when you take everything into consideration. You will fall in love with them !

$399 - $419

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

The Sennheiser momentum 2.0 headphones have the best sound quality. With this set of headphones, you can catch every note and beat in clear details. The Momentums usually deliver all your favorite hits – more so those with a stellar bass line. While the other headphones having a good bass normally suck battery life from the devices, the lower impedance level of the Momentum 2.0 minimizes power usage on the device. Additionally, these bass headphones are comfortable and lightweight enough to be worn for long periods. For deep bass notes, those low beats and the outstanding range of varying music on your playlists, the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 headphones are always up to the task which other bass headphones can’t.

Many of the headphone's key technical specs is the creation of an excellent bass reproduction. The high sensitivity allows one to hear all the 110 decibels of sound whenever you crank the volume for a pounding bass and excitement. The over-ear and closed ear cup design on the headset boosts bass, blocks ambient noise naturally and swiftly places these Momentum headphones well in front of the other solid bass headphones. The noise isolation feature is important in keeping the bass in and noise of traffic out. This makes the Sennheiser momentum 2.0 headphones to be particularly good for bass.

The momentums also provide you with 2 cables which include a mic and an inline remote. The smart remote usually works with all Apple devices thus you will be able to end and answer calls or pause and play music from a single convenient location on the cable. You can also listen to the music on your computer and smartphone as well. However, you should know that the remote control feature isn’t compatible with all devices.

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The low weight of the Sennheiser momentum 2.0 headphones makes them to be effortless to wear for a long period of music enjoyment. Since they weigh 6.7 ounces only, you will not have to worry about suffering from headaches while listen to your favorite tunes. Although the headphones don't collapse or fold, their light weight nature still makes them to be easier to carry as compared to other models. They also come together with their own customized case for portability.

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0, final thoughts

With a superior sound quality as well as a light and comfortable design, the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 are among the best headphones for bass. Overall, in the event that you can live with lower levels of power output, these headphones shall fit effortlessly and naturally into your lifestyle. Besides that, they are lightweight and powerful, so you can therefore take them wherever you travel while enhancing your low-bass listening pleasure.

$349 - $359

Bose QuietComfort 25 / 25i

Check our full Bose QuietComfort 25 review here

The Bose quietcomfort 25 are one of the best noise-canceling headphones. These are great pair of headphones to have around in case you need some quietness and peace. These noise-blocking devices keep you sane whether you are at your office or even when traveling across the globe. The Bose quietcomfort 25 are quite easy to use, easy to wear and easy to store.

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In case you’ve got much experience with Bose, you know that the company does not release the technical specs about their products. Instead, they encourage audiophiles to only use their ears for comparison with other headphones. The Bose QC25 have a great sound-cancelling capability which shall mute many of the annoying sounds that you have to listen to daily. The sound range is not quite as good as the other headphones while the sound quality is also a bit sub-par. It would have been nice to see a few technical evidences to really compare this headphone to its competition.

bose quietcomfort 25 folded in their carrying case

With an internal fully charged battery, the noise-cancelling feature will work for 25 hours of playback. They can perfectly work in passive mode without the battery but, of course, the noise-cancelling will not work. There a remote for an easy access to the volume as well as the pause/ play feature.

This top noise-cancelling headphones are extremely easy and comfortable to wear for a long period. They weigh less than 200 grams which makes them to be among the lightest headphones in the market. You can fold them for an easy storage in their included carrying case when you travel out of the city or to and from work.

The Bose quietcomfort 25 excels in terms of their customer support. They offer all the best support and help options for these headphones. Representatives as well as the technical support are reachable via email, phone or even via their handy online chat feature. They also have FAQs which are quite easy to skim through. Furthermore, there’s also an online product manual which is easy to download and a one-year warranty which covers the Bose quietcomfort 25.

Bose QuietComfort 25, final thoughts

If you are planning a journey or you just wish to watch movies in peace, these sound-cancelling headphones won’t disappoint.They are the best at noise-cancelling, period. Bose did an excellent job with these headphones and they are fairly priced for what they offer.

$299 - $319

Audio Technica ATH-MSR7

These are excellent noise-cancelling headphones. The Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 have a trinity of excellence: comfortable design, excellent noise-cancelling capability and good sound performance. In case you have all 3 aspects in a set of great noise-blocking headphones, you will not only protect ears from the harsh decibels, but you will also be submersed in a great listening experience. The noise reduction, vibrant soundscape and lightweight design makes the Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 to be among the best headphones in the market today.

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One of the most-important performance features of the headphones is the amount of noise that they actually block. The ATH-MSR7s can reduce the outside noise up to twenty decibels which shall eliminate the nearby conversations and also make planes, trains and car noises to be much quieter.

Sensitivity is also good on this set of headphones. With 109 decibels, you are able to hear all fluctuations in the scores of your favorite movies. The headphones have a more colorful sound when compared to other noise-cancelling models. The 40mm driver also aids in keeping the soundscape full of fresh sounds.

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The active noise cancellation features on the Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 is powered by a single AAA battery which is very easy to replace whenever it stops working. All that you have to do is rotating the ear cup. ATH-MSR7 also requires just a single AAA battery. However, you will have to pinch and then remove the slot in its ear cup thus making the battery to be slightly difficult to replace. You can normally get 40 hours of battery life from one battery before having swap it out

The over-ear design aids in sealing out noise in combination with the active noise-cancelling feature. At a maximum of 250 grams, the Audio Technica headphones are the perfect weight and size for any kind of listening duration. The ATH-MSR7 sit well on the ears. They are also exceptionally lightweight and comfortable. These sets of noise cancellation headsets are also very easy to tote. If you are commuting to and from your office or even the gym, you will be able to easily pack up the foldable headphones to the carrying case which is provided.

Audio Technica ATH-MSR7, final thoughts

Noise reduction headphones ought to be well rounded and also full of very easy-to-use features. As noise-cancelling headphones, the ATH-MSR7 have all these characteristics. Not only do they protect the ears from any annoying sounds but they also feel and sound great.

$209 - $219

Sony MDR-1A

Well known for designing strong electronics, Sony does not disappoint with the MDR-1A headphones. Features which are specially designed for bass will enhance the deep lows of your favorite songs. The MDR-1A headphones deliver a very clear bass as well as a multi-dimensional soundscape. The MDR-1A is a lightweight set of headphones and it comes in 2 colors. Additionally, the inline remote on the set works with all iOS devices. Although the outside sounds might leak into the music due to their on-ear design, the Sony MDR-1A’s are still among the best headphones with bass.

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The technical performances of the Sony MDR-1A is top notch. Combining the 105dB of high sensitivity together with a whopping 1,500 mW power output, the headphones normally produce the perfect listening environment. This simply means that you’re free to crank the volume without having to damage your speakers.. However, you should be careful with your hearing since high volumes might damage ears after extended time periods.

The Sony MDR-1A are on-ear headphones which means that they do not completely encircle a person with music like the over-ear models. Together with the smaller 40mm drive size, these headphones are a bit lighter on signature sound of bass since more ambient noise might leak in.

Two unique features of the Sony MDR-1A headphones are the acoustic seal and the beats response features. The beats response features usually creates that tight and sharp sound for a low bass. On the other hand, the acoustic seal normally seals around the ears for an improved bass listening experience. While you’ll still hear some outside noises, the seal certainly augments all the shortcomings of on-ear designs. As with the many interactive bass headphones, the MDR-1A also features a mic right on the cable and an iOS compatible remote.

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Weighing 220 grams, the MDR-1A is a comfortable option for casual listeners of the deep bass tracks. The plastic materials and the simple fact that they do not fold, keeps them light but also hinders them from having to compete with sophisticated styles of other great bass headphones. The single-sided, 4-foot cable as well as the L-shaped 3.5 millimeter audio jack keeps the MDR-1A  versatile and very easy to use.

Sony MDR-1A, final thoughts

Designed with bass in mind, Sony MDR-1A headphones will reproduce perfectly all the lows of one’s music library. From high sensitivity to low frequency response, the headphones usually deliver some very intense beats. Despite their plastic exterior design and the on-ear design, the MDR-1As are one of the best bass headphones.

$289 - $299

​How to choose over-ear and on-ear headphones ?

When it comes to choosing over-the-ear and on-ear headphones, finding the ones that best match your needs can be challenging, especially considering the number of headphones that are available on the market. In fact, you may even spend hours trying to find all the major differences between each product, their strengths and weaknesses, in order to choose which one you want to buy. However, there are certain key factors that you need to consider before you make your decision. These 7 key factors will help you identify your needs, understand the differences between headphones, and decide which ones are the right ones for you.

Design

Design can be a very important deciding factor when choosing headphones. Headphones come in many colors and sizes, to match different people's needs and preferences. Design is also probably the most obvious characteristic that sets on-ear and over-the-ear headphones apart.

Over-the-ear headphones, also known as circumaural, or full size, have large ear pads that encircle the ears. They are usually big, in order for them to go over and around the ear the way they are supposed to. Because of their size, people who want to wear them outside, or want smaller headphones in general, might prefer on-ear headphones instead.

On-ear headphones, also known as supra-aural, have smaller ear pads that rest on the ears and press against them. Typically, they are about the size of an ear, so they are actually a lot smaller than the full size ones, which makes them a better choice for people who are searching for a more minimal and "on the go" design.

Sound Quality

For many people, sound quality is probably one of the most important things when choosing on-ear and over-the-ear headphones, but finding the best sound is certainly not easy. In order to choose between the different types and models, it is useful to understand their main differences in terms of sound.

Typically, over-the-ear headphones produce a much better sound. In fact, their sound is more spacious and with more natural imaging, mainly because their larger pads allow the drivers to be positioned further away from the ears. This results to a sound that is closer to the sound we would hear coming out from speakers. Compared to over-the-ear headphones, on-ear headphones sound a lot less natural. This mostly happens because their sound is focused into the ear canal, instead of being reflected off the curves and folds of the outer ear like it does when you wear over-the-ear headphones.

In addition to this, because of their larger size, circumaural headphones also have bigger drivers. As a result, the sound output is clearer, much more powerful, and with a much better frequency range. On the other hand, supra-aural headphones are mainly focused on "on the go" users, so it is important for them to be as small as possible. However, the fact that they have smaller pads means that they also have smaller drivers, which leads to a less clear and less powerful sound than the one that circumaural headphones are able to produce.

Overall, supra-aural headphones are limited in the sound quality they are able to offer, even though this also depends on the specific design of each model. This means that, if the sound is the most important deciding factor for you when buying headphones, and if you want the best possible sound you can find, circumaural headphones are probably a better option for you.

Closed-back vs. Open-back vs. Semi-open

Closed-back, open-back and semi-open are three different kinds of headphones, based on the type of their ear cups. Each kind has its strengths and weaknesses, its benefits and its drawbacks, so which one is the best choice for you clearly depends on your personal taste and on how you want to use your headphones, what is your purpose for buying them.

Closed-back headphones, as the name suggests, have the back of their ear cup closed, and they are designed to isolate you from the world. In order for them to do that, they offer exceptional noise cancellation, so you won't have to hear any outside noise while wearing them. This helps you focus more on what you're listening to, instead of getting distracted by the different sounds and the noise around you. The isolation that closed-back headphones offer actually goes both ways. This means that people around you also will not be able to hear the sound coming from your headphones. Closed-back headphones also produce a more "in your head" sound, which some people might not like. This kind of headphones is usually preferred for when you are in public places, or when you want to use a microphone and you don't want the sound to interfere with your voice. Closed-back headphones are also very useful for gaming, and any other use that requires you to stay focused only on the sound that’s coming out of your headphones.

As opposed to closed-back, open-back headphones have cups that are open or with cutouts, and their purpose is to allow you to listen to whatever you want to listen to, but without isolating you from the outside world. Open-back headphones don't block the outside noise, so you can still hear almost everything that's going on around you while wearing them. At the same time, people around you can hear what you're listening to, as this kind of headphones doesn't prevent the sound from leaking out. Open-back headphones also offer a less "in your head" listening experience, so the sound can be more "open" and natural than it is when you use the closed-back ones. Usually, they are meant for at home use, mainly because of the sound leaking out of the headphones.

Semi-open headphones are considered a "compromise" between closed-back and open-back headphones and they try to combine the benefits of both. They are meant to block the sound but not completely.

On-ear headphones are usually open-back or semi-back, while over-the-ear headphones can be open-back, semi-back, or closed-back. You can also find many closed-back on-ear headphones, but the design and size of over-the-ears allow the best noise cancellation and can make the most out of a closed-back system.

Comfort

When choosing headphones, you have to remember that not all of them provide the same level of comfort. Some can be uncomfortable after a while, so if you want to wear them for extended periods of time, they might not be the best option for you.

Typically, supra-aural headphones are much more uncomfortable than circumaurals for long listening. This is mainly because of their design, as they sit on the ears, putting more pressure on them. This can become tiring, or even painful, after a few hours. However, this also depends on the material of the headphones, as softer materials can do a better job in terms of comfort. It also depends on your ear size and shape and how nicely the headphones fit in the first place. However, the headbands of on-ear headphones are usually more comfortable than the ones of over-the-ear headphones, as they apply less pressure to the top of your head.

Even then though, circumaural headphones tend to be a lot more comfortable overall, as they go around the ears instead of putting pressure on them. Their main disadvantage in terms of comfort is probably the fact that your ears can get sweaty after wearing them for long periods of time. Also, their headbands tend to put more pressure and weight on the top of your head. However, you can find many full size headphones with thick padded headbands for less pressure, and ear pads made with materials that prevent sweat. As a result, this type of headphones is usually extremely comfortable and a much better option for long use, so you can wear them for many hours without getting tired.

Convenience and Portability

Convenience and portability can be very important deciding factors when choosing headphones, especially depending on where you want to use them. Some headphones are easier to travel with, while others are mainly intended for at home use.

Supra-aural headphones are much more convenient and portable than circumaural. This is because they are a lot smaller, so you can wear them outside too. Also, many supra-aural headphones are designed to fold up, which makes them even more convenient for storage, as well as more portable, so it is a lot easier to carry them or travel with them. Full size headphones, on the other hand, are bigger and bulkier. As a result, they are less suited for situations like travel and much harder to carry and store, so they are mostly preferred for at home use.

Wired vs. Wireless

Wireless headphones are becoming more and more popular as the technology progresses. However, that doesn't mean that they can replace the wired ones completely, at least not yet. While wireless headphones obviously offer some benefits compared to wired headphones, they also have some drawbacks, so which ones you will choose depends entirely on which benefits are more important to you.

Generally, even though wireless headphones have made a big progress in the sound department since they first appeared on the market, wired headphones still offer a much better sound quality. Also, the signal of wireless models is not always reliable, as they may interfere with other similar devices, which affects their sound quality as well. Another disadvantage of wireless headphones is the fact that you have to charge them in order to use them, whereas with wired ones, you don't have to worry about batteries and they are always ready for use.

The biggest benefits of using wired headphones are their comfort and portability. While wearing them, you are more free to walk and move, instead of being restricted by a wire. You also don't have to worry about the wire getting tangled all the time, which is very usual in wired headphones, and sometimes quite bothersome. This makes wireless headphones more suited for sports and any physical activities, as they provide the ultimate freedom of movement.

Given these benefits of each kind, if sound is the most important factor for you, then wired headphones are probably a better option; whereas if you put comfort over sound quality, then you'll probably be more satisfied with wireless headphones.

You can find wired and wireless models in both on-ear and over-the-ear headphones. That being said, wireless on-ear headphones can maximize the comfort, while wired over-the-ear headphones can offer the best sound quality results, so it is up to you to decide what you prefer.

Price

Most of the times, price is very important when it comes to deciding which headphones you want to buy. Usually, you can find quality headphones in any price range and for any budget, especially if you want your headphones for general use.

That being said, one thing you have to keep in mind is that full size headphones tend to be more expensive than on-ear headphones, as they usually have better overall sound and a better noise cancelling system that costs more. However, the price obviously depends on other factors too, such as the brand, or if the headphones are wireless or not, as wireless headphones are more expensive than wired ones and, usually, they don't last as long.

Final words

In conclusion, choosing which headphones are the right ones for you can become easier if you take under consideration these factors that differentiate the different types of headphones.

Over-the-ear headphones are bigger, they have a bulkier design, and the sound quality they produce is the best possible you can find. Closed-back circumaurals can give you the ultimate listening experience, as they completely isolate you from the outside world, while open-backs allow you to hear others, but others can also hear what you are listening to. Full size headphones are also more comfortable to wear, because they don't put pressure on your ears, but they are not very convenient or portable for carry and travel. If they are wired, this can also contribute to their great sound quality. However, over-the-ears are usually more expensive. Overall, their sound is probably their most important quality.

On-ear headphones have a more minimal design and they are smaller. Their sound is usually not the best possible, but this also depends on the specific model. Closed-back supra-aurals allow you to wear them in public places. They can be slightly less comfortable, but you can find comfortable ones too, based on their materials. Supra-aurals are also very convenient and portable, so you can wear them outside or travel with them, especially if they are wireless. Their price is usually lower and they can be extremely affordable. Overall, convenience and portability are probably their best qualities.

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