Looking for the ultimate best headphones? We've got you! When it comes to over the ear and on ear style headphones, there are a wide variety to choose from, and ultimately the ones you choose will depend upon your personal preferences. In order to help you find a pair that will let you enjoy premium sound, here’s a sampling of the top rated stereo headphones available, in a mixture of styles and price ranges.
Our Top Choice
OPPO PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones
If you’re looking for headphones that excel both in terms of build quality and performance, this is a great choice.
Excellent isolation, unrivaled sound quality and attractive design in one affordable package. Light weight and comfortable fit.
Faux leather ear pads and plastic frame, albeit high quality. Doesn’t affect performance whatsoever, but in fact optimizes comfort.
several color options
Excellent noise isolation andf 3a 4
10 - 50,000 Hz
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Monitor Headphones
Improved version of already successful original - relatively comparable features and sound quality as top of line headphones, at a fraction of cost.
Excellent build quality, detachable cord design. Good sound quality for the price. Detachable cord design.
No integrated microphone for making calls, but the sound quality is truly amazing!
If you are looking to get a new pair of headphones, the first decision you will have to make what type you want. For this review we are taking a look at a good mixture of wired and wireless over ear headphones (we have a separate review for some of the best Bluetooth wireless headphones that cover your ears). For people who want to use their headphones on the go, especially for sports or to for talking on their phones, a pair of in-ear headphones or earbuds might be a better option - and yes, we have a great review for those as well.
When it comes to choosing the best stereo style headphones, there are a lot of things to think about considering that they are available in a wide range of prices, functionality and features.
You can pick up a pair of cheap headphones for just under $10, but these will rarely impress – and in many cases will simply be a waste of money. If you appreciate sound quality and performance, the more expensive models are worth exploring for several reasons. First, they are suited with high quality cushioned pads resulting in premium sound, long service life and are a joy to wear over longer periods. Next, they offer excellent features including noise cancellation and low leakage.
For people who are REALLY serious about sound quality, there are headphones that cost thousands of dollars, but for the average user, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $100 to $500 for a good pair of headphones, which is the range of the models that we are recommending.
Apart from rendering superb bass and loudness levels, on ear headphones also effectively block outside noise also known as noise cancellation. Some top of the line over the ear headphones are appointed with PM-3 (Planar Magnetic) technology, which delivers the same superior quality 2-channel speaker system only in a portable form. Other features to expect from the best top of the ear headphones include extended frequency range and detachable cables for added convenience.
Construction and Design
Dubbed supra-aural headphones, on and over ear headphones literally rest comfortably on your ears, but there is a significant difference between the two types. Over ear headphones often referred to as “full size head phones” or “around the ear headphones” are fitted with plush ear cups that enclose the ears. This type of headphones offers superior sound quality and most do a great job at isolating outside noises, a feature often referred to as “passive noise reduction”.
Contrarily, on ear headphones are similar in design for the most part to over ears except that the cushions do not enclose the ears, but rather rest on the outer ears. A drawback with this type, depending on the quality of course, is that you may still be able to hear outside sounds, and people can still hear what you’re listening to. For some people this is not an issue because they do want to be able to know what is going on around them while using their headphones, or perhaps because of budget limits, it’s a trade off worth making.
When shopping for the best headphones, there is often confusion between noise cancellation and noise isolation so here’s the difference. Simply put, noise cancellation is the process of eliminating background noises such as airplane engines, car engines and air-conditioners with the help of integrated microphones. Noise isolation basically creates a physical barrier between you and the ambient noise and is a feature often seen in on ear and in ear headphones because they are able to create the necessary seal.
Apart from premium sound quality, it is important to consider the style and look of over the ear headphones, where some are available with collapsing swiveling cups, and even small details such as gold plated jacks to prevent rust and corrosion. The best over the ear headphones are constructed sturdily of vinyl, plastic and metal reinforcing, topped occasionally by steel accents resulting in long service life.
Performance and Ease of Use
The sole reason for investing in over the ear phones is sound quality, and the ones we’ve chosen don’t disappoint in that area. Sound emitted from good quality full size headphones should be immersive, and the frequency response velvety and smooth in the lows and crisp and delicate in the highs. This range of headphones offers a great balance between comfort and portability, as some can even be folded away and tucked away in their very own storage case.
What is the Best Headphone?
Unlike some products, the quality of a pair of headphones does come with a price, as in you will get what you pay for. Therefore, higher price simply translates to premium sound quality and features – and if you want a pair of headphones you will love, consider this an investment, not an expense. Let’s take a look at our list of headphones to see how they do in terms of design, performance and features. We’ve rounded off some of the best over the ear headphones that provide exceptional value and are an unrivaled investment.
Our Top Choice
The PM-3 Closed-Back Headphones by OPPO features planar technology for a remarkable listening experience. It comes with a well-crafted carrying case and four different cables to pair it with your favorite mobile device. It can be mated with the Oppo portable headphone amplifier for even richer sound quality.
OPPO PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Wired Headphones with Apple or Android Cord
OPPO PM-3 Headphones PM-3W - White
After reviewing several products, the Oppo PM-3 takes home the gold, most notably for its Planar Magnetic technology. Apart from its planar magnetic technology, the PM-3 is designed to render unmatched audiophile performance and indeed does it quite well. It features deep bass, clear treble topped off with smooth midrange, and the signature sound emitted is best described as balanced and natural with a lot of emotion and impact. What sets this pair of Oppo over the ear headphones apart from its competition is its drivers are closely matched to deliver equal optimal stereo sound in both the left and right ear.
This Oppo portable music listening device is optimized for mobile use in that it renders a 102dB sensitivity level compared to 100dB with other similar devices, making it easily compatible with mobile devices. In addition, this pair of headphones ships with several different cables, allowing you to choose the best one for your device. The package also includes a hip denim selvedge case that makes it easy to tuck the headphones in nicely within a backpack or briefcase.
Construction and Design
Although the Oppo PM-3 a bit expensive, they are the least expensive pair with planar magnetic technology and ones that are designed for both outdoors and indoors. Briefly explained, these headphones are embedded with a planar magnetic driver, which is inspired by the same driver of the company’s EISA award winning predecessor – the PM-1 over the ear headphones.
The driver however is much lighter in this iteration, which explains the reduced weight of the PM-3 headphones. It generates piston like vibrations resulting in class leading performance and minimal distortion. Apart from its stupendous performance, the Oppo PM-3 over the ear listening device boasts superior functionality and a stunning design that showcases an all metal sumptuously padded headband, and hinges flanked by super soft ear cups and plush ear pad material.
Additionally, the PM-3 is highly adjustable, and offers superior ergonomics, making them a pure pleasure to wear even for longer periods. Available in three fabulous color variants – black, white and steel blue and weighing in at just over 320 grams or 11 ounces, the PM-3 music headphones is one of the world’s lightest planar magnetic closed back headphones, and is even lighter than its original version – the PM-1(395 grams).
The leather style pads on the ear pads and headbands might not make the Oppo PM-3 vivacious and youthful, but are just enough to appeal to any crowd. The headband is actually crafted of high-quality plastic, and the leather used is synthetic, but not the cheap, tacky or fake types. In terms of comfort, the Opp0 PM-3 on ear headphones don’t disappoint where all the weight and pressure of the ear pads is perfectly distributed, preventing the headband from digging into your head.
With a design that’s much compact and lighter than other models in its segment, the PM-3 over the ear headphones lets you enjoy the best of both worlds – portability and at home music experience on the go. In terms of accessories, Oppo didn’t skimp out either, but the package comes with four removable cables including a 3 meter cable, one cable with no remote and two portable 1.2 meter cables for Android and iPhone users.
Performance and Ease of Use
There’s very good reason why the Oppo PM-3 tops the list of our best over ear headphones and itis simply because they sound darn good! And much better than any other device in its class and at this price point of under $400. The headphones offer the perfect mix between balance and precision, and render perfect bass levels with no artificially enhanced treble. It delivers nothing short of incredible definition across the entire sound landscape coupled with a meticulous midrange that defines both crystal clear, natural highs and low ends.
Most headphones in this segment will artificially ring in either the treble or bass and if you choose the bottom of the barrel, both! But this is not the case with the PM-3, which combines its planar magnetic drivers and closed back design to isolate ambient noises while seamlessly delivering superb sound directly to your eardrums. These features might not become evident upon first listen, but will definitely delight your ears as you use them regularly.
The M50X over ear headphones look by Audio-Technica and sound every bit like those you’d expect to find in a professional recording studio, only at a fraction of the cost. If you’d like more high-res sound, Audio-Techica’s award winning SonicPro will definitely delight your ears.
Audio-Technica Professional Studio Monitor Headphones with Swiveling Earcups
AUDIO-TECHNICA ATH-M50X Headphones
We’ve reviewed hundreds of headphones, some good and others that are best kept secret. But the ATH-M50x was the only pair that hit the right notes in terms of both sound quality and value. Designed for the pros, but available at a fraction of the price of top end and overpriced head phones including Beats Studio and Beats Solo 2, the ATH-M50x listening device is basically positioned as a mobile oriented version of its original - the ATH-M50. The ATH-M50x over the ear headphones truly give you more than you can ask for in terms of design and features.
For starters, they boast class leading sound isolation in loud environments, which is a must have feature when shopping for over the ear headphones and sadly one that lacks in other similar models. Next, the 90 degree swiveling ear cups are not only plush padded, they make it easier for one ear monitoring. Additionally, the ear cups are connected with a premium grade ear pad and headband, making them aesthetically pleasing and a professional sound machine.
Construction and Design
Upon first glance, the ATH-M50x seems almost identical to its predecessor, but if you look close enough, there’s a lot that’s changed including a new detachable-cord design and improved padding on the ear cups. Additionally, you can choose between white, black, blue color palettes and a limited edition dark green (ATH-M50xDG), and your chosen color will match the three different cords included in the box.
You get a short 1.2 meter straight cable, 1.2 meter – 3.0 meter coiled cable and a long 3 meter long cable. This makes the M50x truly versatile, allowing you to swap modes and use the short cable on your commute, long one at your desk, and the coiled one at your next DJ gig. The headphones are appointed with a 2.5mm socket, but you can’t just use any 2.5mm cable owing to a proprietary twist and lock mechanism.
And not that you really need to considering you get three different styles of detachable cables in the box. Sadly, none of them feature an onsite microphone and remote, and Audio-Technica says that the reason is simply because there’s no adapter currently available that can support both operations. But if your main concern is premium sound quality, the ATH-M50x will leave you in a state of awe!
This wolf of the headphone jungle showcases some serious build quality starting with its two healthy padded 90 degree swiveling ear cups that rest comfortably on two axes. Tipping the scales at just less than 10.1 ounces, the ATH-M50x over the ear headphones fold flat for storage, and come with their very own simple soft case. This lightweight is mostly due to the plastic headband reinforced with a band of steel.
The ear cups even though pretty big combined with the beefy headband don’t stick out miles from the side of your ears. Using the over the ear ATH-M50x headphones is simply a joy mostly due to the expansive ear pads that give your earlobes plenty of room, and the headband that spreads the pressure evenly over your head.
Performance and Ease of Use
The sound rendered for Audi-Technica’s ATH-M50x over the ear headphones basically appeals to a wide audience, and this a good thing! Even though they offer somewhat similar treble and bass power as most other over the ear headphones, they do step it up a few notches by matching it with the separation, expansiveness and control that prevents it from clogging the sound up.
Speaking of sound, for under $125, the breath of sound they offer is hard to fault. The stereo imaging is spacious, tonal balance is meticulous and dynamic impact is unmatched. The secret behind the sound emitted from the M50x is its integrated 45mm drivers that are crafted from copper clad aluminum wire coils and rare earth magnets. These over the ear monitor headphones render true representation of sound possible for any kind of music including classical music.
The QC25 by Bose is available in different colors, and if you’re looking for the best wired noise cancellation over ears, these come highly recommended. Contrarily, if you’d like to go wireless while still enjoying the same sound quality, Bose’s SoundLink Bluetooth headphones are hard to ignore.
Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Cancelling Headphones – Choose Apple, Samsung or Android Version
Bose QuietComfort 25 – Black, Triple Black or White
The QuietComfort 25 is an upgraded version of the much successful QuietComfort 15, and if you’re wondering what the difference is – simply put, they just sound better! Both these active noise cancellations over ear headphones bear strong familial resemblance, only that the headband of the QuietComfort 25 over ears are now redesigned to sit closer to the head so there’s literally no gap under the headband. This is good news for those who’d like to use the QC25 for running at the gym on the treadmill or outdoors as it sits tight on your head.
Along with noise cancellation, there’s also a feature called Active EQ, which is basically automated power equalizer technology that ensures all round richness and deep bass regardless of the genre you’re listening to. Playback is delivered through the included cable only, which includes an inline remote/mic to switch between calls, change playlists for Apple, adjust volume and switch between calls and music. There’s no Bluetooth wireless connectivity, but if you care about supreme sound quality, then the QuietComfort 25 over-ears are utterly brilliant.
Construction and Design
Starting with the headband, it’s worth mentioning that it is pampered with high end fabric and we’re talking about the type of fabric that’s found in class leading automotive applications. Bose however didn’t stop there, but even the pivot or hinge in the ear cups is made out of craft zinc. Needless to say, there’s still a fair bit of plastic involved in the construction, but Bose as always has done a remarkable job of striking the perfect balance between comfort, durability and weight.
In terms of weight, the Bose QuietComfort 25 rings in at a lightweight 6.9 ounces, and can be had in 3 color variants – triple black, black and white. Further, there are two models available – one geared towards Samsung and Android devices and other for Apple devices. You can even customize the headphones in whatever color you’d like for an extra $100. While sound quality across the two types remains unchanged, the only difference lies in the included inline remote with mic, where long story short, the headphones of the Android QC25 may not work their best when plugged into the Apple QC25.
The QC25 over ear headphones showcase a new folding design with a dual hinge, and are powered by a single AAA battery that makes them good for 35 hours under regular use. This battery slides in neatly into a dedicated slot located on the top of the right cup. But we were really impressed with the fact that the headphones still play on even if this battery dies per say mid-flight, without the noise cancellation. Sound quality will decrease of course, but after listening to music in this mode, it’s really not that bad.
The package of the QuietComfort 25 does include a case, and it’s no ordinary one! It’s extremely small for noise cancellation headphones, and has extra slots for storing the two prong adapter for airline use (connect to in-flight entertainment systems) and an extra battery. There’s also a diagram integrated into the case to show you how the headphones should fold up, and take our advice, it’s worth paying attention to. And of course, Bose seals the deal with its satisfaction guarantee, meaning you can return them for a full refund if not fully satisfied.
Performance and Ease of Use
There are two main metrics that come into play when shopping for the perfect over ear headphones – overall sound quality and noise cancellation. And it’s no surprise the Bose takes home the gold in both these areas. After reviewing several noise cancellation in ear and over ear headphones, we’ve yet to come across one that does noise cancellation as well as the QC25.
Even though Bose upped the ante with the noise cancellation component, it is not outstanding, but you’d be hard pressed to find a similar model that even comes close. You also have the option of turning the noise cancellation feature off and on, and on the fly by using a handy switch located on the right cup.
One of the missing features is an auto-off function so you will have to manually turn off the headphones when not in use. The noise cancellation feature of the Bose QC25 may not eliminate sounds of much higher/aggressive voices, but does a great job in certain situations such as listening to plane and train announcements. There’s also no Bluetooth wireless connectivity, but if you care about supreme sound quality, then the QuietComfort 25 over-ears are utterly brilliant.
The M4U 2 Headphones by PSB Speakers provide great sound quality and active noise cancellation - at the right price. They however might not be the best fit for the gym, but PSB’s got you covered with its high definition M4U 4 earbuds.
PSB Active Noise Cancelling Headphones with Room Feel™ - Black or White
PSB M4U 2 Headphones - Black
For a company that’s just getting their feet wet with headphones, PSB has indeed nailed it with their first pair both in terms of sound and build quality. Unlike other over the headphones, the M4U 2 features three modes that can be selected on the fly with the toggle switch located on the right ear cup. The modes are ANC (Active Noise Cancellation, Active (uses power from headphones and less from the connected device) and Passive (plays off your source and doesn’t use battery power) mode. The PSB’s headphones are backed by a two year best in class parts and labor warranty.
Another noteworthy feature and one that we haven’t seen in any other over ear headphones is that the removable cables can be connected to either ear cup. This makes it more convenient to plug it into your audio source. The “M” on each cable serves as a button, which when pressed mutes the music, and can also be used to get an idea of the level of ambient noise you’re dealing with.
Construction and Design
Weighing in at 12.8 ounces, the M4U 2 over ear headphones aren’t exactly light, but surprisingly feel light on the head and mold into place effortlessly. The shiny black plastic and metal headband looks and feels highly durable, and features a plush padded underside covered in leatherette. The two ergonomic oval shaped sealed ear cups feature the same rich padding as the headband, and feature a plastic shell at the base topped by a metal plate on the exterior.
They swivel horizontally and vertically for an optimal fit also known as gyro-suspended ear cup mounting system. Noise cancellation can be turned off and on via a switch located on the right ear piece, and there’s even a third position that activates the integrated amplifiers without noise cancellation. Playing sound with the onboard amplification engaged means louder sound while conserving battery power. While most other headphones we’ve reviewed in this category use 1 AAA battery, the M4U 2 uses 2 AAA batteries therefore are able to deliver roughly 60 hours of ANC playback. It was also nice to see the headphones come pre-loaded with batteries, and what’s more impressive is they were name brand batteries and not cheap knockoffs – it’s the little things that count!
PSB’s noise cancellation circuitry is somewhat different compared to other headphones we’ve reviewed, and uses four microphones, two on each earcup for stellar processing. Apart from extra batteries, the package includes two 55 inch cables for Apple/Blackberry devices, one with an in-line remote/microphone and monitor button and 3.5mm plug and other without to listen to music only, gold-plated airline and ¼-inch adapters, quick start guide, extra set of ear pads and a Music for You brochure.
Performance and Ease of Use
The M4U over ear headphones are some of the best sounding in its segment and offer 60 hours of playback with just 2 AAA batteries. They are well built and even come with a robust case for easy storage.
Operating and listening to music with M4U 2 was such a joy especially with the ANC mode turned on. When compared to other headphones we’ve toyed with, the M4U 2’s noise cancellation powers are definitely top notch. Its treble, bass and midrange balance across the spectrum is literally flawless resulting in superior sound regardless of the type of music you’re listening to including electronic and classical.
We did notice the PSB over ears sounded better in quite settings, without the ANC turned on, which consequently sounds louder and gives you more battery juice. Our noise eliminating tests indicated the M4U 2 over ear head phones handled traffic soars, air conditioner whooshes and bus rumbles with ease. In fact, the louder the noise, the more impressive the sound emitted from the PSB’s.
The MDR7506 headphones have been in the Sony hangar for more than 20 years, which speaks volumes about its durability and sound quality. They cable isn’t detachable, but Sony offers superb quality wireless Bluetooth headphones if that’s what you need.
Sony Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones - Gold Plated Connectors
Sony MDR-7506 Headphone
Good sounding over ear headphones do not have to cost an arm and leg, and the Sony MDR7506 makes this quite evident. The MDR7506 has been making noise in the headphone arena ever since its inception in 1991, and is in essence a significant refresh of the MDR-V6 introduced way back in 1985. This hugely popular pair hits all the right notes with both audiophiles listening to music in both personal and professional environments especially DSLR video.
The cups of the MDR 7506 headphones are integrated with class leading 40mm drivers that basically let you hear it all, and with superior clarity. Its closed ear design literally eliminates external noise and provides a tight bass response. The ear cups are well padded making them a joy to wear over longer periods. The headphones do fold easily for storage in the included case, and the gold plated tips on the cables and adapter prevent rust and corrosion. Even though the wires aren’t detachable, the MDR-7506 device provides superior sound across the board, and at its price, makes a much better choice than more expensive over ear headphones.
Construction and Design
Just the sheer fact that Sony has nurtured the MDR 7506 for over 20 years takes away the guesswork on their longevity! However, some user reviews indicate that the ear pads of these headphones do not last more than a couple ears, but this is the case with even the most expensive pair of headphones in this segment. On a brighter note, you can pick up a new pair of ear pads for just under $10, which is again rather inexpensive for over ear headphones priced under $100.
Getting back to the design, the MDR7506 head phones weigh just 8 ounces, which is considerably lighter than your average over ear headphone. It is crafted of plastic for the most part, with metal on the exterior of the ear cups. Adding to this, the headband and racetrack shaped ear pads aren’t thickly padded than other over ear headphones, but even then are a joy to wear over longer periods.
The package includes a coiled cable that stretches 10 feet and is attached permanently to the left ear cup. One thing lacking on the cable is an integrated microphone so hands free calling is not possible. It is however tipped off with a gold plated 3.5mm plug for better sound clarity and prevention against rust and corrosion. The box also includes a screw on 6.3mm adapter plug for use with pro or home gear.
Another design element of the MDR 7506 Sony headphones is the “L” and “R” markings on the ear cups are color codes, making them easily visible in low light conditions. The headphones are backed by a 90 day warranty and come with a carrying case for better storage.
Performance and Ease of Use
The MDR 7506 over the ear headphones have been part of the Sony lineup for more than two decades, and the first time you listen to them, you will know exactly why! The sound emitted is perfect with an accurate balance between bass and treble, making listening to any genre a pure pleasure.
And if this your first professional headphone choice to listen, mix or record movies, music, radio and TV shows, you will be proud of your investment. Although they do not feature noise cancellation technology, these closed back headphones do block a fair amount of external noise, and cannot be heard by others from outside.