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Best Over Ear Headphones in 2024

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Sure, the best earbuds are pocketable and convenient. But if you’re after the most immersive listening experience possible, be it in music, podcasts, audiobooks, or other media, nothing beats over ear headphones. Our favorite pair are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2, which deliver studio-grade audio for less than you’d expect. However, if you’re on a tight budget, are after noise cancelling, or want the absolute best-sounding headphones out there, we’ve got you covered.

TL;DR – These are the Best Over Ear Headphones:

The best over ear headphones offer quality audio and a comfortable fit that surrounds your ear with plush earcups. Extras like ANC, directional sound, and wireless connectivity can only add to your listening experience. Unfortunately, plenty of headphones make promises too good to be true, so we’ve narrowed your search down to 11 awesome over-ear headphones. You’re bound to find one that suits your needs – and click here to see them in the UK.

1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2

Best Over Ear Headphones

Audio-Technica

ATH-M50xBT2

7

Wireless headset with a long 50-hour battery life and powerful 45mm Neodymium drivers delivering deep bass and crisp treble.

Frequency Response: 15-28,000Hz | Impedance: 38Ω | Drivers: 45mm Neodymium driver | Design: Closed back | Interface: Wired, Wireless | Battery life: 50 hours | Weight: 307g

Pros:

Excellent sound with deep bass and crisp trebleEasy to pair both wirelessy and wired

Cons:

Audio-Technica knows how to make a mean headset with a killer value, and the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT is a solid example of that. This is a wireless version of the great ATH-M50X, and it simply expands on the capabilities of that headset. You’ll still find powerful, 45mm Neodymium drivers offering up a 15-28,000Hz frequency response range for deep bass and crisp treble. The 38-ohm impedance will also let you drive them over a wired connection with just about any device you have handy.

The wireless performance is also set to impress. Using Bluetooth 5.0, the headset is able to offer a 50-hour runtime. The headset also supports LDAC and AAC high-quality audio codecs. It also includes dual microphones to pick up your voice for calls, and there are simple on-ear controls for media playback and calling up Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. Audio-Technica even includes a carrying pouch to keep the them secure when you’re on the go.

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2. Tascam TH-02

Best Budget Over Ear Headphones

Tascam

TH-02

2

Ultra-cheap wired headphones with 50mm dynamic drivers that are extremely portable thanks to a folding design.

Frequency Response: 18-22,000Hz | Impedance: 32Ω. | Drivers: 50mm driver | Design: Closed back | Interface: Wired

Pros:

Great bass responseUltra affordable

Cons:

The Tascam TH-02 will bring you into the realm of powerful audio for a shockingly affordable price. For about $30, you’re getting a pair of cans that go a little beyond the frequency response range of your average pair. Going down to 18Hz will land you with a little more bass response, while 22,000Hz tops off the treble. That sound will come out of 50mm dynamic drivers. The headphones don’t need anything special to operate though, as their 32 Ohm resistance means you can use them with smartphones and laptops while still enjoying plenty of volume.

The closed back design helps keep external noise out for critical listening. If you’re recording, that seal will also help keep monitor audio from leaking back into the mic. You can take the headphones on the go with easy portability thanks to a folding design, and a quarter-inch adapter will let you use it with pro-audio gear as needed.

3. Sennheiser HD 800 S

The Ultimate Audiophile Experience

Sennheiser

HD 800 S

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Enjoy these pricey audiophile headphones for an open soundstage, delivering natural sound, though you’ll need an amplifier to drive them.

Frequency Response: 4-51,000Hz | Impedance: 300Ω. | Drivers: 56mm ring radiator transducers | Design: Open back | Interface: Wired | Weight: 330g

Pros:

Impeccable, natural-sounding audioComfortable fit

Cons:

Headphones can range in price from $15 to $1,500, and if you have money to burn, the higher end of that spectrum gets you a real treat for your ears. While there are a few incredible sets on the high end, Sennheiser’s HD 800S are often seen as the high-water mark of consumer audiophile cans.

They have an insanely open soundstage, giving you some of the most natural sounding audio you’ll ever hear, and adhere to a flat sound signature better than the vast majority out there. They aren’t cheap, you’ll need an amplifier to drive them, and many people probably won’t even like the way they sound, but for true purists, it doesn’t get much better.

New design of the Sony WH-1000XM5

4. Sony WH-1000XM5

Best Noise-Cancelling Over Ear Headphones

Sony

WH-1000XM5

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With hard-to-beat noise cancellation, a comfortable design, and unmatched audio quality, Sony’s offering is worth the splurge.

Drivers: 40mm | Design: Closed-back + ANC | Interface: Bluetooth 5.2, 3.5mm audio cable | Surround sound modes: Virtual | Battery life: 30 hours | Weight: 250g

Pros:

Hard to beat AI-driven ANCStellar sound quality

Cons:

Headband doesn’t fold for travel

Are you ready to tune everything out and really dig into what you’re listening to? Then, the Sony WH-1000XM5 are the headphones for you. With this model, Sony took what was already a great pair and made them just that little bit better. You now get eight noise-canceling mics effectively doubling the amount from its previous model. AI and a new processor are also integrated into the headphones, so rather than you having to adjust manually, the ANC is automatically optimized. And similar to the WH-1000XM4, by just putting a hand over your one ear cup, the ANC will temporarily disable, so you can hear the world around you. These are the best noise-canceling headphones you can buy.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 totes some of the most drastic design changes to the line in years. You no longer get a foldable headband, making it slightly less convenient for travel. The earcups also have more clamping force for better soundproofing. But, don’t worry, these are still a supremely comfortable pair of cans. Once you’ve got the headphones in your ideal position, connecting to your various devices is simple by using Bluetooth or the classic 3.5mm jack. However, you might not feel the need to use the wired connection often, as these offer a 30-hour battery life. And probably most importantly, the WH-1000XM5 sounds stellar.

5. Beats by Dre Studio Pro

Best Looking Over Ear Headphones

Beats by Dre

Studio Pro

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Sleek and stylish option that sounds great and offers simple connectivity, including a USB DAC and Bluetooth, but the headphones are tight and best for smaller heads.

Drivers: 40mm | Design: Closed-back + ANC | Interface: Bluetooth 5.3, wired | Battery Life: 40 hours | Weight: 260g

Pros:

Sleek, stylish designUSB DAC for lossless audio

Cons:

Beats has always delivered stylish headphones, and the tradition continues with the Studio Pro. The headphones are lightweight at only 260 grams and keep a slimmer design than most of the other options on our list. Plus, they come in several sleek, neutral colors, so you’re sure to find a pair that fits your taste. It’s even possible to fold them to a compact size and toss them in the included carrying case to take on the go. However, it’s important to note that these headphones are tight with limited expandability, making them ideal for those with smaller noggins.

Of course, the Beats by Dre Studio Pro put on a great audio performance, as per usual. This time around, the headphones sound slightly more balanced and crisp with a less heavy bass. But there’s still a good amount of thumping when you want it. You also get ANC, but Bose and Sony still reign supreme in that category. Given Beats is owned by Apple, the headphones are especially well-suited for Apple users. But no matter the platform, anyone will appreciate the simple wireless connectivity. When you opt out of wireless listening, there’s even a USB DAC for lossless audio.

6. Sennheiser Momentum 4

Best Wireless Over Ear Headphones

Sennheiser

Momentum Wireless 4

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Grab these headphones for long lasting comfort, extensive on-ear controls, ANC, and tons of customizable audio settings.

Frequency Response: 6-22,000Hz | Drivers: 42mm dynamic | Design: Closed-back + ANC | Interface: Bluetooth 5.2, wired | Battery Life: 60 hours | Weight: 293g

Pros:

Long 60-hour battery lifeAmple on ear-controls

Cons:

If you’re opting to cut the cord, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 is a comfortable and classy option with heavily cushioned leatherette ear cups and a padded, fabric-lined headband. Even with its lightweight build, you still get a wild 60-hour battery life along with easy-to-operate on-ear controls using both physical buttons and a touchpad—just be aware that touchpad is extra sensitive. Being one of best wireless headphones, you connect to your devices over Bluetooth 5.2 and can enjoy listening to some high-end audio files thanks to the support of AAC, AptX, AptX Adaptive, and SBC codecs.

As far as sound quality goes, the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 4 delivers booming bass and crisp, pleasant highs, though you can customize your audio further using the Sennheiser Smart Control app. If you’re looking to make calls while rocking these headphones, the four beamforming mics let you come across clear while dampening noises in your environment. The headphone’s ANC also does a decent job of blocking outside distractions to immerse you deeper in that sound, though still not as well as the Sony WH-1000XM5.

7. Anker Soundcore Q30

Best Budget Wireless Over Ear Headphones

Anker

Soundcore Q30

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With Bluetooth that supports NFC pairing, three ANC modes, and a long battery life, these budget headphones are hard to beat.

Frequency Response: 4 – 40,000Hz | Impedance: 16Ω. | Drivers: 40mm | Design: Closed back + ANC | Interface: Bluetooth 5.0, wired | Battery Life: 40 hours | Weight: 263g

Pros:

Three ANC modesLong battery life

Cons:

Bass and treble performance could be better

When you don’t want to break the bank in search of wireless over-ear headphones, Anker’s Soundcore Q30 comes in under $100. These headphones have outstanding Bluetooth connectivity that supports NFC pairing and a multi-device connection, though you can also go for a wired connection. Its battery life is also hard to beat, delivering up to 40 hours of listening in noise cancellation mode and 60 hours in standard.

These budget headphones features three user-friendly ANC modes: transport for sitting on the train or plane, outdoors to drown out the traffic and wind, and indoor to escape the office chatter or WFH distractions. Its mics do a decent job of blocking out most sound, while a transparency mode lets you quickly swap to hearing the world around you. Given the Anker Soundcore Q30 is more budget-friendly, there’s room for improvement in audio performance, mainly where bass and treble are concerned, but the 40 mm drivers provide solid mid-accuracy.

8. HiFiMan Sundara

A Planar Magnetic Option

HiFiMan

Sundara

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Hefty, power hungry headphones that have planar magnetic drivers for a more natural bass extension and less harmonic distortion.

Frequency Response: 6-75,000Hz | Impedance: 37Ω. | Drivers: 80mm planar magnetic | Design: Open back | Interface: Wired | Weight: 372g

Pros:

Wide sound stage with virtually no distortionPlanar magnetic drivers

Cons:

Most of our favorite over ear headphones offer dynamic drivers where a small coil receives a signal from your device, creating a magnetic field that reacts with a magnet to vibrate a diaphragm and generate sound. Planar magnetic drivers use a design with magnets on either side of the thin, flat diaphragm, allowing for more natural bass extension and less harmonic distortion. However, planar magnetic drivers are more expensive to produce and tend to be heftier, so there’s less variety compared to dynamic driver-based headphones.

Planars are becoming more popular, though, and if you’re ready to dip your toe in the water, the HiFiMan Sundara is a solid and “affordable” entry point. These headphones are chunky and heavy, but the well-cushioned earcups and a suspension band should help relieve fatigue from longer wearing sessions. Once you’re plugged in, you’ll enjoy a wide sound stage and virtually no distortion, even in the highs, making them an audiophile’s dream. Just note that these cans use a good deal of power, so you’re better off connecting to a computer over your smartphone.

9. Bose QuietComfort Ultra

Best Smart Over Ear Headphones

Bose

QuietComfort Ultra

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Feature rich over-ear headphones offering Bluetooth multipoint, ANC with transparency modes, adjustable EQ settings, and immersive spatial audio.

Frequency Response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Design: Around Ear Circumaural | Interface: Bluetooth 5.3 | Battery Life: 24 hours | Weight: 254g

Pros:

Extremely immersiveSoft ear cushions

Cons:

If you’re searching for over ear headphones that seriously immerse you in your music, then the Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones will likely grab your attention. Featuring CustomTune technology, these headphones offer personalized sound tailored to individual preferences, ensuring a unique and enjoyable audio experience. These headphones also come equipped with world-class noise cancellation capabilities, including Quiet Mode, Aware Mode, and Immersion Mode.

In this package you not only get immersive sound, but you will also experience extreme comfort with soft ear cushions that gently hug the ears, a pressure-spreading band, and premium materials that make a style statement. And, if you value convenience, the SimpleSync feature allows seamless synchronization with a Bose smart soundbar for a personalized TV listening experience. With an impressive 24-hour battery life (18 hours with Immersive Audio) and quick charging capabilities (15-minute charge for up to 2.5 hours of playtime), these headphones are perfect for users who demand extended usage without compromising on performance, making them one of the best Bose headphones.

10. Apple AirPods Max

Best Hi-Fi Over Ear Headphones

Apple

AirPods Max

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Comfortable over-ear wireless headphones with a long battery life, impressive active noise cancellation, and world-class sound quality.

Drivers: Apple-design Dynamic drivers | Design: Closed back + ANC | Interface: Bluetooth 5.0, Wired (Lightning-to-3.5mm) | Weight (earbuds): 385g

Pros:

Stunning designSpatial audio and head tracking

Cons:

Apple is in on the Hi-Fi game with the release of the premium AirPods Max, the over-ear Apple AirPods option. The headphones are about as Apple as a device can get, aesthetically, with a smooth metal exterior and even Apple’s Digital Crown for adjusting volume, controlling audio playback, taking calls, and bringing up Siri. Of course, Apple also inserted its own custom-made dynamic drivers. These are rather heavy, but Apple has designed a mesh band at the top that should distribute the weight evenly.

The AirPods Max come at a high price, but you’ll be getting active noise cancellation through eight microphones as well as a transparency mode to allow you to keep enjoying your tunes while still being able to hear the outside world. You’ll also get spatial audio with Apple’s head tracking feature on supported iPhones and iPads. The head tracking is powered by an Apple H1 chip in each ear cup. The AirPods Max connect wirelessly over Bluetooth 5.0 and have a 20-hour battery life, though you can also use a wired connection with a 3.5mm-to-Lightning cable.

The Razer Opus with THX

11. Razer Opus

Best Wireless THX Sound

Razer

Opus

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Budget-friendly headphones delivering ANC, a long battery life, and wireless connectivity that keeps up with pricier options.

Interface: Wireless, wired | Connections: Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm audio cable | Drivers: 40mm Dynamic | Frequency response: 20 – 20,000Hz | Design: Closed-back + ANC | Battery life: 40 hours | Weight: 270g

Pros:

Support for THXGreat noise-canceling performance

Cons:

The Razer Opus headset will check a lot of boxes for users, and support for true THX sound is one of them. The headset was built to THX specifications, and it delivers on frequency response, minimal distortion, and noise isolation. It goes even further to cut down on external sounds with active noise cancellation. Of course, when a headset does this much to erase your surroundings, you can easily toggle on and off ambient sound mode to hear what’s around you.

You’ll find plenty of memory foam cushioning inside the Razer Opus, so you can stay comfortable even if you want to wear it for a long time to truly test the 40-hour battery life. When it comes time to charge the battery back up, you can do so with a modern USB-C cable. And for connectivity, you can enjoy the best of both worlds with both Bluetooth and wired audio.

Where to Get the Best Over Ear Headphones in the UK

Best Over Ear Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

2

Best Budget Over Ear Headphones

Tascam TH-02

0

The Ultimate Audiophile Experience

Sennheiser HD 800 S

0

Best Noise-Cancelling Over Ear Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM4

1

How we pick the best over-ear headphones

When it comes to over-ear headphones, we attempt to get our hands on as many cans as possible for real-world testing. For the picks we don’t get to try for ourselves, we do extensive research, deep diving into all the specs and features of the headphones, comparing different options, and ensuring all the headphones are up to snuff.

We look into frequency response, driver size, impedance, and other audio specs so you know that the headphones sound great first and foremost. Comfort is equally important, and we pay close attention to the build material, weight, headband design, and earcup cushioning. Beyond that, many headphones tout special features, be it ANC, spatial audio, or head tracking. But even if they offer these extras, they must deliver. We ensure that’s the case. Of course, performance is relative to the price, so that’s also taken into account when choosing the best over-ear headphones.

What to look for in a pair of over ear headphones

You might think narrowing your search down to “over ear headphones” would help make the decision process easier, but there are still a ton of things to consider when buying a pair for yourself. A few of the most important include:

Sound: First, and most importantly, you want a pair that sounds good. Some aspects of sound are subjective, like the sound signature, which refers to how balanced the bass, midrange, and treble are. Some people may prefer a “flat” signature that’s closer to the artist’s intention, while others may prefer heavy bass, or a “v-shaped” frequency response that boosts the bass and treble for a livelier feel.

Other things about sound quality are more objective. It’s possible, for example to have bass-heavy with low-quality sound (where the bass is overly boomy) or high-quality sound (where the bass is tight, punchy, and doesn’t completely drown out the rest of your music). If things sound distorted, harsh, or muddy, that’s usually an indication of lower quality headphones. Higher quality headphones sound better, but also cost more, so it’s all about balancing your ears with your budget.

Comfort: Some feel like a cloud on your head, with plush ear pads and a headband that you barely notice is there. Others clamp down hard, squeezing your brain like it’s in a vice and putting undue pressure on the top of your skull.

Most are somewhere in between.

If you plan on wearing them for long stretches—like multi-hour gaming sessions—you’ll want to make sure you get something that stays comfortable long-term. There are a few things that can help—for example, you can replace pleather ear pads with velour-style pads to keep your ears from getting hot—but sometimes you just have to try a pair for yourself. Make sure you put a set of headphones through its paces within that return period, so you don’t end up with a headache and buyer’s remorse.

Open-backed headphones sound more natural and airy but leak sound both ways…

Open- or closed-backed: The ear cups of your headphone can either be open, allowing air to pass through them, or closed, creating a more sealed housing. Open-backed headphones have a more natural, airy sound, but leak sound both ways—you can hear everything going on around you, and people sitting next to you can hear your music. That makes them less than ideal for commuting, offices, and libraries, but makes them great for critical listening at home.

Closed-backed headphones, on the other hand, tend to have a more limited soundstage, but are great for emphasizing bass. (That’s not to say all closed-backed designare bass monsters with limited soundstages, but you get the idea). Most importantly, a closed-backed pair stop people from hearing your music and isolate you from outside noise. Both types of headphones can be great, so buy what sounds good to you and fits your use case.

Closed-backed headphones tend to have a more limited soundstage, but emphasize bass

Wired or wireless: Mobile device manufacturers may be trying to slowly pummel the headphone jack into submission, but wired audio is still around and kicking. All other things kept equal, wired headphones will be cheaper than their wireless counterparts, and don’t come with some of the connection problems and none of the battery life limitations that wireless audio comes with. Still, wireless audio can be mighty convenient if you’re out and about, as long as you can charge them regularly—just be prepared to shell out a bit more for a quality pair.

Active noise cancellation: If closed-back noise isolation isn’t enough for you, some headphones also come with active noise cancellation, which uses clever frequency trickery to cancel out noise around you.

It doesn’t work for all sound—it’s better with consistent noise like the drone of an airplane—but it can be mighty useful. That said, it can also make some people uncomfortable or give them headaches, so you may have to experiment with different headphones and levels of cancellation to find something that works right for you.

Impedance: Most of the options on this list have an impedance of 32Ω (ohms) or less, meaning they’ll work great with a laptop, phone, or tablet—just plug it in and press play. Once you get into audiophile-grade stuff over a couple hundred dollars, though, you’ll start to see more high-impedance headphones at 64Ω, 250Ω, or even 600Ω.

Higher-impedance headphones need a headphone amplifier to supply more power to drive properly

The Higher-impedance, the more power is needed for the drivers to work properly, so you may find them too quiet when plugged straight into a phone or laptop—to get them at the proper volume, you’ll need a headphone amplifier to supply more juice. That’s a completely separate topic with its own list of best products, but the JDS Labs Objective2 and Schiit Magni 3 are good starting points at a decent price.

Headphones are one of those products that are sometimes hard to describe using words alone, and they can be incredibly subjective. So, your best bet when shopping is to order a pair and try it out for yourself—just be sure to buy from a store with a good return policy in case they don’t fit your tastes. You can always send them back and try something else.

Over-Ear Headphones FAQ

Do over ear headphones sound better than other headphones?

Over-ear headphones tend to sound better than on-ear, in-ear, or open-ear options thanks to the larger drivers that often deliver a wider soundstage with more impactful sound for a deeper bass and crisper highs. The earcups also aid in sound quality, as they wrap around your entire ear, helping with passive noise cancellation and sound leakage.

Are over ear headphones good for gaming?

Over-ear headphones can work great for gaming if you’re in a pinch, but you’ll usually be better off with a dedicated gaming headset. Gaming headsets often wrap a wealth of features into their build for a lower price than headphones. Sure, the audio quality may not be as great, but the support for apps to tune your headset to your needs, as well as spatial audio and virtual surround sound are game changers. Plus, the boom microphones are often better for clear communication with teammates. If you’re after wireless connectivity, a headset usually comes with a dongle for an ultra-low latency link to your gaming devices – something you’ll rarely find with headphones.

Whitson Gordon is a writer, gamer, and tech nerd who has been building PCs for 10 years. He eats potato chips with chopsticks so he doesn’t get grease on his mechanical keyboard.

Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.

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