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 SR60e

Full 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 Jam

Full 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-1

Full 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.

AKG N60 NC Wireless

Full Review

AKG might be best known for their high end over-ears but they also dabble in on-ears and thankfully so, because the N60 NC Wireless headphones are great. They have a minimal black design with silver accents, and a premium lightweight design. Sound quality is good, but where these really shine is the active noise cancelling.

If you enjoyed the ANC of the original AKG N60 NC headphones but wished they were wireless, these are for you. They’re perfect for travel and the 30 hour battery life seemed to live up to its claim in our full review, but if they do die you can always hardwire them to the source device via the 3.5mm audio cable.

Of course nothing is ever perfect, and the downside to these is the price. At $299 they’re far from cheap, but if you have the extra dough you won’t be disappointed.

Monoprice Hi-Fi On-Ear Headphones

Full 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.

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