Headphones come in all shapes and sizes which is good seeing as people follow a similar rule. Not everyone enjoys having large headphones on while listening to music or jamming small speakers into their ears. Some people prefer something right down the middle, the warm porridge that’s just right. If you’re one of those people then this is for you as we take a look at the best on-ear headphones you can get.
Related: Best Headphones of 2017
Grado SR60eFull Review
If you’re looking for a pair of on-ears with an accurate sound, then look no further than the Grado SR60e headphones. Grado is a name that isn’t known by the masses, but they have commanded respect from anyone who knows audio for the better part of 60 years. Many of their products are top of the line and even though the Grado SR60e are an entry level model, they are still one of the best pairs of on-ears that you can get. The design of most Grado products is fairly unique and not somehting that you see everyday, and that aesthetic bleeds into the SR60e as well.
The SR60e headphones have a classic design complete with foam ear cup covers that look like they belong in a different decade, in a good way. The classic design goes hand-in-hand with the classic Grado sound that gets you an accurate representation of the audio. On a related note, these are open back headphones so if you’re looking to take these with you on a commute you might want to apologize to the person sitting next to you in advance since they’re going to experience first hand what you have on your playlist.
If you do plan on using these to study the minute details of your favorite songs then you’ll be happy to know that they also come with a quarter inch adapter so that you can plug them right into your audio interface (for more details see the full review). They work equally well with mobile devices so, if that’s your main source device then at least you get an adapter that you can save the adapter for a rainy day.
Creative Sound Blaster JamFull Review
Assuming you’re shopping for headphones on a budget, then the Creative Sound Blaster Jam headphones might interest you. If you’re rolling in money and not working with a budget at all, then just skip to the buy link at the bottom and treat yourself, you deserve it.
Though build quality isn’t the greatest, the sound quality that comes packaged with these is pretty impressive for the price. If you’re judging headphones based on a price-to-performance ratio, then these are most likely near the top of that list. For less than $50 you get an NFC capable pair of headphones with a play/pause button built into the ear cup along with volume up and down buttons. There’s no amazingly powerful low-end here, but you shouldn’t expect there to be considering the price and size. Where these shine is in their ability to be good at just about everything. The bass isn’t powerful, but it’s not bad. The mids aren’t super crisp, but they have a good amount of detail. Just go down the list and there’s nothing you can say about the Jams that could be considered “bad”. For the price, they do everything (except block out noise_.
In terms of design these are reminiscent of a pair of headphones that you’d use with your walkman, but with one big difference: these have Bluetooth. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love to use a pair of wireless headphones with an old walkman (myself included), but using them with a phone or tablet will have to do. Creative packed in a 12 hour battery life and they charge via USB, so if you need an all day pair of headphones for cheap these are for you. Keep in mind that there are definitely better sounding Bluetooth headphones out there, but none of them cost less than $50.
Thinksound On-1Full Review
If you’re looking for an aesthetically unique pair of headphones that sound good as well, you’ll want the Thinksound On1 headphones. What you’ll notice right off the bat is the decision to go with wood as a build material. Though not entirely unique to Thinksound, it definitely adds a nice natural feel to the product and helps provide the accurate sound that makes these so good. That said, they also just look cool.
Thinksound doesn’t mention it, but the wooden ear cups also do a fairly good job at passively canceling outside noise. Beyond that the headband itself is flexible enough that it should comfortably fit any sized head. Package that together with the cushioned ear cups and you might not want to take these off. The ear cups are able to freely move as well which help with the comfort level. Thinksound includes two 4.5-foot audio cables: one plain jane audio cable and one with single button mic control so that you won’t have to fumble with your phone if you get a phone call.
One thing that is slightly annoying is the “Thinksound” branding on both ear cups and on top of the headband, but if you’re focused on sound that shouldn’t be a deal breaker by any means. They two 40mm drivers that push a frequency range of 5Hz – 22kHz so you’ll be able to hear every little detail in your favorite songs. The On1s also come with two audio cables wrapped in braided fabric. One comes with an in-line mic and remote while the other is just a bare audio cable for listening to music. Both are reinforced with Kevlar for increased durability and also to help prevent tangling.
They are sweat-resistant so you gym folk won’t have to worry about damaging them but I personally wouldn’t want to use a pair of monitor headphones while working out. But hey, to each his own.
Phiaton BT 330 NCFull Review
If you’re looking for some quality on-ears, the Phiaton BT 330 NC offer everything that you could want. The BT in the name stands for Bluetooth and the NC stands for Noise Cancelling. Put those two things together at a sub-$200 price point and you get a pair of headphones that deserve to be on this list.
They have Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX to help the sound quality when streaming music. If you don’t use Bluetooth you can still enjoy the noise cancelling feature by plugging in a 3.5mm audio cable. They’re not going to delete the voices of the people around you, but the rumbles and hums of trains and planes get significant;y reduced to the point where you need to take them off once or twice just to appreciate the difference.
For a pair of on-ears the lows are solid. Don’t expect any kind of head rattling bass, but there is a good amount of emphasis put on the lows. They’re also designed to passively block out noise as much as they are for active noise cancelling, so even though hours and hours of listening might not be ideal average usage should be fine. Being noise-cancelling on-ears they do have a really snug fit, but that’s the cost of good ANC in a pair of on-ears.
With Bluetooth and ANC turned on, you’ll get a solid 14 hours of constant playback, That’s more than enough to last you a couple of commutes. Phiaton also added some controls and switches to the bottom of the ear cups that control music playback and other features of the headphones. It does take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it it becomes second nature.
Monoprice Hi-Fi On-Ear HeadphonesFull Review
Okay, but what if you already have a great pair of headphones and are looking for something good and inexpensive to have as a backup? Then these might be for you. Monoprice does a great job at making high quality inexpensive products, and the Hi-Fi Lightweight On-Ear headphones are as good of a “bang-for-your-buck” option as you can get. For the sound of a pair of headphones many times more expensive, you can get these for less than $15. Don’t ask us how they make a profit (because we have no idea) but if you have a spare $20 lying around we would definitely recommend treating yourself to a pair of these.
True to their name, these on-ears weigh only 4.5 ounces which is about the weight of two eggs yolk and all. I can’t be the only one who compares the weight of headphones to eggs, can I? Regardless of your method of measurement, these are super light. That’s in part due to the all plastic build materials (for about $15 you wont find any metal here), but also because of the 36mm drivers they managed to squeeze into the ear cup. They could’ve opted to use 30mm drivers if they wanted, but to squeeze the most out of the low end the 36mm drivers were definitely good choice. They can still pump out sound that covers the full range of human hearing from 20Hz – 20 kHz.
The cable is a bit on the short side at 46 inches in length, but towards the top of it you’ll find the mic and multifunction one-button remote. Naturally this allows you to answer and end phone calls, but it also gives you some handy control options over music playback like double-clicking to skip tracks and triple clicking to return to previous tracks. These have a sensitivity of 101 dB which means that you can max them out and still steer clear of the threshold of pain (about 120 dB).
No matter how much technology improves great sound can never be replaced. Major companies are beginning to realize this, and brands that aren’t known for headphones are beginning to dip their toes into the pool of audio we’ve all grown accustomed to. As these new headphones hit the market from companies both old and new, we’ll be sure to keep this list updated with the best of them. This way you can feel confident that the headphones on this list are still the best of the best. If you have any suggestions let us know and it might make the next list.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Checkout these related best lists:
- Best headphones under $50
- Best headphones under $100
- Best headphones under $200
- Best bluetooth headphones of 2017
- Best earbuds (in ear headphones) of 2017
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