Over-ear headphones are for people who want to totally immerse themselves in their listening or don’t like the feeling of earbuds in their ears. These headphones can help block out some of the world’s outside noise, even if they don’t use active noise cancelling. The larger drivers, compared with those in earbuds, generally allow over-ear pairs to produce better sound than comparably priced earbuds, so your music will sound better. We’ve tested hundreds of over-ear headphones, including wireless Bluetooth, traditional wired, and noise-cancelling sets, in order to make the best recommendations for every need.
Best wireless over-ear headphones
Who this is for: These headphones are perfect for people who want the freedom of wireless and the sound quality of good over-ear headphones but also need some noise cancelling for commutes or the office.
Why we like it: The Sony H.ear On WH-H900N is a great all-around pair of headphones. Good sound, more than 28 hours of battery life, a comfortable fit, active noise cancelling, and clear phone calls make these headphones suitable for use in the office as well as at home.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: These can cause a bit of “ear suck,” a feeling of pressure that’s common to noise-cancelling headphones. The controls can take a little practice to use, and the cord has neither a remote nor a microphone, but most of the time you’ll use this pair wireless anyway.
Battery life: 28 hours
Warranty: One year
Inputs: Micro-USB, stereo mini jack
For more info, see our full review of the best Bluetooth wireless headphones.
Best over-ear noise-cancelling headphones
Who this is for: If you need the best active noise cancellation, these Bose headphones have it, and they’re comfortable and good-sounding as well.
Why we like it: The Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II offers the best overall noise cancelling we’ve found, and it’s comfortable and lightweight. These headphones also have great battery life and sound pretty good. If you use Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, a button on the headphones lets you ask questions or send and listen to messages without touching your phone. The Sony WH-H900N is also one of our top picks and is worth considering if you want quality sound and a comfortable fit. For an upgrade pick, we suggest the NAD Viso HP70.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Although the noise cancelling on this pair is fantastic, the sound quality isn’t as fantastic as on other models.
Battery life: Up to 20 hours (Bluetooth); up to 40 hours (wired)
For more info, see our full review of the best noise-cancelling headphones.
Best headphones for workouts
Who this is for: If you don’t like earbuds but need wireless music for working out or weightlifting, these are the headphones for you.
Why we like it: The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 500 Bluetooth headphones fit comfortably and stay in place, and they’re sweat resistant and easy to keep clean. They sit on the ears rather than encircling them, helping to keep your head a little cooler. The easily accessible controls allow you to change tracks, adjust volume, and take calls without removing the pair from your head. These headphones also offer an 18-hour battery life.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The sound quality on the BackBeat Fit 500 is decent, although not quite as great as that of our standard Bluetooth headphones picks. Like any over-ear or on-ear style, these headphones might move a bit during high-impact exercise, and they can feel hotter on your ears after you get really warmed up.
Protected against: Sweat and water
Battery life: 18 hours
Warranty: One year
Connections: Bluetooth and 3.5 mm jack
For more info, see our full review of the best wireless workout headphones.
Best affordable wired over-ear headphones
Who this is for: Audio fans, musicians, and podcasters alike will find this headphone style practical because it sounds great and never needs to be charged.
Why we like it: The Sony MDR-7506 has been a longtime studio and live-audio staple. Not only does it provide accurate-sounding bass, mids, and treble, but it also gives you a better sense of the depth and dynamics of your music than many models twice the price. Durable, comfortable, and reliable, this pair usually costs under $100.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The long, coiled cable is great for musicians and studio artists who need to move around, but it’s cumbersome for listening to music from your phone.
Accessories: Storage bag, ¼-inch plug adapter
Warranty: 90 days
Connection: 3.5 mm jack (with 9.8-foot cable)
For more info, see our full review of the best wired headphones under $200.
Best wireless headphones under $100
Who this is for: This is right for you if you’re looking for traditional wireless Bluetooth headphones and you want good sound for the least amount of money.
Why we like it: The Jabra Move Wireless headphones perform well at all the basic functions you need, for a price you won’t regret. They sound about 75 percent as good as Bluetooth headphones that cost four times as much. The controls are simple, and the earpads and padded headband make a comfortable fit for most people. Plus, the battery’s eight-plus hours of talk/listen time (we measured 15 hours) and 12 days of standby time mean you’ll get a full workday in before needing to charge.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The cable included with the Move Wireless lacks a remote and microphone, so you can make calls only when using Bluetooth. Also, this set doesn’t fold up for easy storage.
Battery life: Eight hours (though we got 15 hours in our testing)
Warranty: One year
Connection: Bluetooth and 3.5 mm jack
For more info, see our full review of the best wireless headphones.
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