Which exactly are the best over-ear headphones and how do you choose them? How much money should you spend? What are all of the differences between them?
We’ll answer all of these questions for you below. Read, ponder, compare, contrast and then choose. Headphone shopping, as you’re about to find out, is much easier than you thought!
The Initial Details
When you approach your over-ear headphone shopping, here are a few initial details to look at and take into consideration as you shop.
- Ear Cup Material. Some are leather, leatherette and some are made of a soft velour material. Cheap leatherette can eventually crack and peel, real leather is great and lasts longer and it’s waterproof, and fabrics such as velour are softer but absorb skin oil and sweat more easily.
- Pressure and Weight. When it comes to the fit, the comfort level will depend on the amount of pressure that they place on your head while wearing them. If they are too tight, you won’t be able to wear them for very long and they might cause headaches. Too loose, and they’ll slip around, taking away from your musical enjoyment.
Read the fine print to see how much the headphones weigh.
- Isolation Factor. How well should the headphones isolate background noise?
Sometimes you need complete sound isolation for concentrating on certain tasks, such as recording music, for translation and transcription projects or when you’re traveling and want some peace and quiet. If that’s the case, look for a pair of closed-back headphones.
If you don’t want total sound isolation because you need to hear what’s going on around you, such as in an office or at home when you’re keeping an eye on the kids, then you might do best with a pair of open-back headphones.
We’ll discuss the differences between them below, so keep reading!
- Wire Length. See how long the wire is. If you work in an office or you know that you’ll need to move a certain distance, make sure there is enough cord that allows you to do so.
How much should I spend?
Well, you can spend as much as you like, but for a decent pair of over-ear headphones, you should be prepared to spend around $200.
You can spend as little as $100 or up to over $400, but in order to help you compare and contrast models, features and price ranges, we’re including a mix on our list below.
You’ll find something that works for your budget and your sound expectations!
Top 10 Over-Ear Headphones Complete Table[ws_table id=”85″]
Wired vs. Wireless
Everyone has different opinions and expectations when it comes to their music listening experience and what their headphones should do for them.
If you’re not sure whether or not to get a pair of wired or wireless over-ear headphones, here are some pros and cons to each one that will help you decide:
- Wired. Wired headphones provide you with a more reliable connection to your music, you don’t have to deal with changing or recharging any batteries nor worry about any interrupted wireless signals that cause the music to skip and cut out.
The cons would be that they limit you to a certain area (you can get up and walk around the house unless you take them off or use them at the gym/for workouts).
- Wireless. These are definitely more convenient and you have the option of Bluetooth technology that allows you to juggle your music and phone calls simultaneously. These are safe for cycling, driving and handy at the gym when you don’t want wires getting in the way of your workouts.
The cons are the fact that you have to recharge the batteries on them (some don’t have much of a battery life) and they might cut out or skip if the signal isn’t strong.
Open-Back vs. Closed Back
We mentioned these above and wanted to elaborate on what they difference is between them.
- Open-Back. Headphones have their benefits. You’ll notice on the back of the ear cups that there are slats (the cups are perforated), which gives a more open, naturalistic sound to the music. Along with the slats comes background noise and music leakage (those around you can also hear what you’re listening to), so these probably aren’t best for traveling.
- Closed-Back. Headphones aren’t perforated on the ear cups, which will isolate the sound better and provide you with a richer, more in-depth listening experience. They trap the music inside and those around you most likely won’t hear what you’re listening to. It also means that you probably won’t hear anyone else, either!
Sometimes, this is just what you need.
Top 5 Best Over-Ear Headphones Reviews
1. Sennheiser HD 598
The affordability and the quality of these headphones make them the best over-ear headphones on our list.
Notable Features: E.A.R. (Eargonomic Acoustic Refinement) technology, a signature feature of Sennheiser, which channels audio signals directly into your ears; Duofol diaphragms for transparency and minimal distortions; a surround reflector for extended special sound field; velour ear cup pads and headband pad for added comfort.
Acoustics sound particularly good on these and they don’t overwhelm you on the bass (some of you don’t like or don’t need the vibrating bass feature that some headphones offer). These provide you with a natural sound experience, almost like you’re live at a concert!
These are compatible with pretty much any device and they are so reasonably priced. It’s hard to beat this combination of quality, comfort and affordability in a pair of headphones.
While these take the top spot on our list, you may have already tried them or you might be looking for something different, which is why you’ll want to check out the next pair!
2. V-MODA XFBT-PHCHROME
For wireless convenience and amazing sound, you might just find that the V-Moda Crossfade headphones are perfect for you.
Notable Features: 50mm Dual-Diaphragm driver to separate the bass and prevent it from interfering with the mid and high ranges; analog noise isolation without the hiss and pressure of ANC; 5-30,000 Hz frequency response range; 3D sound immersion; memory foam ear cushions.
The balance between mids, highs and the solid bass is what appeals to those who try them. Everything blends and forms a perfect listening harmony for the ears.
It also comes with a professional grade boom, great for all of you gamers out there.
The battery life allows you to enjoy up to 12 hours of continuous music, calls or films and it’s very lightweight. It operates at up to 33 feet away from your listening device, giving you the freedom to move around as needed.
They travel well and they’re built well. If you’re serious about your listening experience and you’re not sure about spending so much on headphones, these are definitely worth the money you put into them.
3. Audio-Technica ATHMSR7GM
Our next runner up is the Audio-Technica SonicPro headphones. They reproduce music the way it was intended to be heard.
Notable Features: multi-layered air damping technology for extended mid-to-low frequency response; wide frequency response range at 5-40,000 Hz; 45mm True Motion drivers that deliver Hi-Res Audio; stainless steel acoustic mesh resistor for high-frequency and low-frequency response; memory foam ear pads and headband.
These headphones excel in the treble and mid-range with their crisp, accurate sound. The bass is great, but not boosted like some of the other headphones out there that give you the real thumping action. They make all music genres sound amazing.
Comfort wise, they are kind of squeaky when you move them (the leatherette) and they are a bit heavy, but experienced sound enthusiasts have found very few issues with them when comparing them to other brands.
4. Bose 741158-0010
Bose has so many headphones and so many that are well made. It was hard to choose!
The SoundLink II headphones are wireless and they have a whopping 15 hours of play time before you need to recharge them. Impressive for wireless standards!
Notable Features: Bluetooth technology and an advanced microphone for clearer calls; user-friendly design that allows you to easily switch between two Bluetooth devices at the same time; lightweight design and comfortable fit.
These headphones provide you with a deep, immersive sound experience. You’ll enjoy crisp, crystal clear highs, light and airy mids followed by deep, power bass. Vocals and instrumentals sound awesome on these.
Those who are looking for complete sound isolation might not like these headphones. The noise-cancellation is so-so, which is good for some and not so good for others. Just take this into consideration as you decide which headphones you want!
5. Shure SRH440
We’ll finish off our top five with the Shure Professional Studio headphones.
If you’re not interested in dropping a couple hundred, then these are a budget-friendly pair of headphones that still deliver great sound quality.
Notable Features: 40mm neodymium driver for optimized reference monitoring and accurate listening; 10-22,000 Hz frequency response range; superb noise isolation; impedance and power handling that is optimized for most pro and consumer audio devices (DJ mixers, mixing consoles and headphone amps) ; comfortable and durable design.
These headphones are perfect for home use, studio recording or for DJ-ing. You’ll catch all of the tiny details from instrument and vocals, and they have an excellent sound range with deep lows, solid mids and crisp, clear highs.
These aren’t the highest quality over-ear headphones on the market, but for the price, you won’t find many that compare. If you’re new to headphones and don’t want to spend a lot, start here!