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Best over-ear headphones

Elevate your sound game with the best over-ear headphones—stellar audio, unbeatable comfort, and next-gen features.
November 28, 2023
The Best
Sony WH-1000XM5
MSRP: $399.00
Check price
ANC performance
Outstanding microphone
App features, including custom EQ
Bluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC, LDAC, and wired connectivity options
Bluetooth multipoint
Find My Device enabled
No IP rating
Best features
Bose QuietComfort Ultra
MSRP: $429.00
Check price
Great ANC
Good passthrough mode
Snapdragon Sound
aptX Lossless
No IP rating
Immersive audio
Some channel matching issues
Best battery
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
MSRP: $349.95
Check price
Excellent battery life
Excellent sound quality
Connectivity options
Middling ANC
Mic noise rejection
Best design
Shure AONIC 50 (2nd gen)
MSRP: $349.00
Check price
Battery life
Excellent App
Build quality
Sound needs tuning
Doesn't fold
Bang for your buck
Anker Soundcore Life Q20
MSRP: $59.99
Check price
Excellent battery life
Fine noise canceling
Decent sound quality
microUSB port
Slightly small ear cups
No app

There are no two ways about it: those who value sound quality and comfort above all else should get over-ear headphones. There are some sacrifices that you make with over-ears compared to earbuds or even on-ear headphones, but the sonic payoff is worth it for many of us. In this list of the best over-ear headphones, we include wired and wireless options to accommodate most prospective buyers’ needs. As always, price is considered a factor, and you can be sure that the best-value products will shine through.

What's new?

  • This article was updated on November 28, 2023, to add the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones to our Top Picks.
  • For more options, check out our list of the best headphones. If you are shopping on a budget, see our list of the best headphones for less than $100.

Why is the Sony WH-1000XM5 the best pair of over-ear headphones?

Right ear cup of the Sony WH-1000XM5 placed flat on table
The Sony WH-1000XM5 features ear cups designed with minimal seams and sharp edges.

There might not be such a thing as “best” headphones, but there certainly is “best for most people.” The Sony WH-1000XM5 ticks enough boxes on your typical consumer’s wishlist of features that it’s an easy pick.

Sony has built a solid reputation for active noise canceling (ANC) headphones, and the Sony WH-1000XM5 takes the cake as one of our favorite headsets to date. With top-end ANC and microphone performance, this is an office jockey’s dream and is a great pair of daily headphones. Compared to the WH-1000XM4, the default sound quality is better than before, and you get similar premium features like 360 Reality Audio optimization, speak-to-chat functionality, transparency mode, and more.

Diverging from its predecessor, the WH-1000XM5 has a clean design with a new friction rod headband. While not everyone loves the new look, it makes for an even more comfortable headset thanks to the improved ear pad shape that can better fit larger ears. Unlike the older WH-1000X headphones, the XM5 headphones only rotate to lay flat and cannot compact further for transport. That’s fine, seeing how Sony provides a nice carrying case.

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Although Sony boosts the bass response on these headphones more than what our SoundGuys consumer curve suggests, it still sounds quite good out of the box and takes less effort to EQ than before. You can equalize the sound through the Sony Headphones Connect app or by downloading a preferred third-party EQ app. Regardless of your desire to tweak the sound, you’ll want to get Sony’s app anyway to access firmware updates and other options like the ability to prioritize streaming quality or connection stability.

Additional notable features include automatic on-ear detection, Bluetooth multipoint connectivity (up to 2 devices), support for multiple Bluetooth codecs (SBC, AAC, and LDAC—but no aptX), stellar mic quality, and USB-C fast charging. Although these headphones cost $399, for many, the expense is worth it as this is a true jack of all trades.

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
SG recommended
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Excellent ANC • Lightweight design • Rotable ear pads
MSRP: $379.00
If you want some of the best ANC you can get, Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 have you covered.

Remote workers or those taking calls on the go can rejoice because Sony’s flagship headset has mics that can handle nearly any environment.

Sony WH-1000XM5 microphone demo (Ideal):

Sony WH-1000XM5 microphone demo (Wind):

How does the microphone sound to you?

18979 votes
The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones have a matte exterior.
Austin Kwok / SoundGuys
The Bose QuietComfort Ultra is one of the best ANC headphones.

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones represent a significant advancement in Bose’s lineup of active noise canceling (ANC) headphones, designed to remain competitive and relevant for years.

In terms of design and comfort, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones prioritize user comfort over flashy aesthetics, avoiding heavy metal construction for a lightweight experience at 253g. Their wide ear cups and soft padding, particularly accommodating for glasses wearers, combine with angled dynamic drivers for a comfortable fit. These headphones also feature fast pairing and a robust 27 hours and 37 minutes of battery life, with fast charging capabilities offering 2.5 hours of listening time after just a 15-minute charge.

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Sound-wise, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones stand out with their CustomTune feature, which adjusts the sound profile according to the user’s ear anatomy. This feature, along with their support for aptX Lossless and Snapdragon Sound, positions these headphones as a forward-looking choice, especially for users with compatible Android devices. While they demand a premium price, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones offer a combination of advanced audio technology, comfort, and future-proofing that make them a top pick in the over-ear noise canceling headphones category.

Bose QuietComfort UltraBose QuietComfort Ultra
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Bose QuietComfort Ultra
Great battery life • Advanced audio experience
MSRP: $429.00
Quality and comfort noise canceling headphones
Going ultra with their ANC headphone experience, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra noise cancelling headphones offer up to 24 hours of battery life, a comfortable fit, Spatial Audio support, and powerful ANC.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Ideal conditions):


Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Office conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Street conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Reverberant space):

How does the microphone sound to you?

78 votes

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless has great battery life

Image of Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless headphones on a stand

Sennheiser is one of Sony’s fiercest competitors, and the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless comes really close to offering a better package than the WH-1000XM5. These two over-ear wireless headphones are head-to-head in terms of sound quality, with the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless delivering a slightly better midrange. While Sony and Bose may feature better ANC, the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless offers over 56 hours of battery life with ANC on, which is an incredible 24 hours more than the WH-1000XM5. If longevity is key to you, then the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless is an easy choice.

Let’s address ANC. The MOMENTUM 4 Wireless achieves a noise reduction of up to 95% for high-pitched noise and up to 75% for lower-pitched noise. It’s not the best ANC out there, but it’s second-best in this roundup, and you’ll find it highly effective during your daily activities.

Not a fan of Sony’s LDAC? In Bluetooth mode, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless supports SBC, AAC, aptX HD, and aptX Adaptive audio codecs. Should you ever run out of battery or not have access to Bluetooth, you can switch to wired mode with the included audio cable.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 WirelessSennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
App for EQ changes • Simple, elegant design • USB-C charging
MSRP: $349.95
High-end ANC over-ear headphones focus on style and comfort
If you need total immersion in your music, you need some ANC over-ears. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 focus on style and comfort while delivering the core features high-end shoppers need with their headphones.
See price at Amazon
Save $60.72
Sennheiser Momentum 4
See price at Best Buy
Save $49.99
Sennheiser Momentum 4

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Sennheiser microphones generally deliver a good quality sound. In the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, noise rejection could have been better, but it’s a common issue.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Wind conditions):

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Street conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

7031 votes

Shure AONIC 50 (Gen 2): A tinkerer’s delight

The Shure AONIC 50 (2nd Gen) fold flat for easy travel.
The yoke of the Shure AONIC 50 (2nd Gen) is one of the heaviest parts of the headphones.

Let’s talk versatility. The Shure AONIC 50 (Gen 2) is a Swiss Army knife in the world of over-ear headphones. Forget being tethered to one connection method; these bad boys offer 3.5mm, USB-C, and a laundry list of Bluetooth codecs. Whether you’re an audiophile obsessed with lossless audio or a casual listener, these headphones adapt to your needs. Bonus: they last nearly 42 hours on a single charge, and a quick 15-minute charge gets you 5 more hours.

Now, they’re not just feature-packed; they’re built like a tank. With an aluminum chassis and leather-analog ear pads, they strike a balance between durability and comfort. A little on the heavy side at 334g, but the weight is so well-distributed that you might just forget you’re wearing them. They even come with a carrying case that makes them travel-friendly.

But let’s cut to the chase: how do they sound? Out-of-the-box, they’re decent but benefit from some EQ fine-tuning via Shure’s PLAY app. The app is a gem, offering parametric EQ settings and other customization options. The sound may need a bit of tweaking, especially in the mids, but if you’re willing to tinker, you can make them sing. At $349, these headphones offer a ton of features and customization options usually reserved for pricier competitors. If you’re an audio nerd willing to invest some time, the Shure AONIC 50 (Gen 2) could be your next perfect pair.

Shure AONIC 50 (2nd gen)Shure AONIC 50 (2nd gen)
Shure AONIC 50 (2nd gen)
Battery life • Excellent App • Price
MSRP: $349.00
The Shure AONIC 50 (Gen 2) can connect to anything are decent do-anything headphones. The sound needs a little tweaking, but since the app allows you to add parametric EQ filters, it's a gem.

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The Shure AONIC 50 (Gen 2) has a decent mic array for phone calls and ANC. We post standardized samples for you to hear for yourself.

Shure AONIC 50 (Gen 2) microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Shure AONIC 50 (Gen 2) microphone demo (Office conditions):

Shure AONIC 50 (Gen 2) microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

150 votes

The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 is a steal

The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headset in full with the ear cups facing upward while resting on a wood surface.
You’re not paying much, but you get some premium features, like great battery and fine ANC.

The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 is the go-to option for those craving active noise cancelation without breaking the bank. Priced under $60, it delivers effective ANC, robust battery life, and a no-nonsense approach to audio performance. While you shouldn’t expect flashy, high-end features, what you get is a headset that does exactly what it promises—nothing more, nothing less.

With a basic, user-friendly button setup, this headset is easy to operate, requiring no additional apps. Despite a slim profile that may mislead you into thinking they might be uncomfortable, these headphones provide soft padding that’s easy on your ears for long listening sessions. And speaking of long sessions, you’re in for a treat with its battery life. The Life Q20 lasts an impressive 51 hours and 50 minutes on a single charge, making it one of the best in its category for battery endurance.

Sound-wise, the Life Q20 provides emphasized sub-bass and high-frequency ranges, aiming to deliver clarity and punch in noisy environments like buses or trains. While it may not offer audiophile-level quality, it certainly punches above its weight class for its price point. The ANC effectiveness hovers around 75%, blocking out most ambient noise. However, it does struggle a bit with constant, low-frequency sounds like that of an airplane engine. So, while it may not completely isolate you from the world, it does a respectable job for its cost.

Sure, the Life Q20 has its limitations—a micro-USB charging port, no Bluetooth multipoint, and no frills like a carrying case. But these drawbacks are minor when you consider the overall value. With a rapid fast-charge feature and straightforward functionality, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 is a compelling choice for budget-conscious consumers looking for decent ANC and incredible battery life.

Anker Soundcore Life Q20Anker Soundcore Life Q20
Anker Soundcore Life Q20
Excellent isolation • ANC • 50-hour battery life
MSRP: $59.99
Excellent isolation and battery life headset
Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headset has one of the best battery life in this price range. The ANC and the excellent seal around the head block the noise very well.

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If you’re hoping to use the Life Q20 for phone calls, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well it does in a quiet area. However, like most headphones, this set isn’t so great at rejecting wind noise or incidental sounds as you’d hear in an office. You can check this out for yourself with the standardized samples below.

Anker Soundcore Life Q20 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Anker Soundcore Life Q20 microphone demo (Office conditions):

Anker Soundcore Life Q20 microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

1219 votes

The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless punches above its weight

A man wearing the Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless headphones.
To make the most of the advanced features, you’ll need the app.

For those who love high-quality sound but cringe at high-end prices, Sennheiser’s ACCENTUM Wireless headphones are a game-changer. These headphones offer a remarkable blend of affordability and quality, giving you the kind of auditory experience you’d expect from pricier competitors. What makes them even more compelling is their lightweight design. Unlike some headsets that wear down your neck over time, these are so comfortable and feather-light that you could easily forget you’re wearing them.

Don’t let the comfortable build fool you into thinking they’ve compromised on sound. The ACCENTUM Wireless comes with support for aptX and aptX HD, meaning you can enjoy near-studio-quality sound without splurging on high-end models. This is a particular boon for audiophiles on a budget, letting you relish every beat, note, and nuance in your favorite tracks. Plus, the headphones feature USB-C audio support, a modern touch that ensures you’re getting lossless audio quality.

Overall, the Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless headphones offer an impressive suite of features for their price. They successfully blend affordability with a lightweight, comfortable design and advanced audio features, making them an outstanding choice for anyone looking for premium sound without the premium price tag.

Sennheiser ACCENTUM WirelessSennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless
SG recommended
Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless
Comfortable • Impressive battery life • Effective ANC
MSRP: $179.95
An affordable set of ANC headphones with excellent sound quality.
The Sennheiser Accentum Wireless headphones are a great choice for immersive, comfortable, and extended listening experiences. With up to 50 hours of battery life, they offer high-definition sound and effective ANC. These headphones deliver comfort and audio quality, making them a fantastic choice for both at-home enjoyment and on-the-go use.

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The 2-microphone array of the headset uses beamforming to pick up your voice over the din of the outside world and cuts off pickup at 8kHz, which is ideal for phone calls. Take a listen for yourself below.

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless microphone demo (Office conditions):

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless microphone demo (Street conditions):

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

49 votes

The best over-ear headphones: Notable mentions

Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X laying on table
We have to really nitpick to find flaws in the Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X.
  • Apple AirPods Max ($424.99 at Amazon): Though quite expensive, the best Apple has to offer is pretty damned good. Respectable sound quality and excellent ANC means you’ll get your money’s worth.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 ($79 at Amazon): Anyone who wants over-ear headphones for professional and personal use will get great value from Audio-Technica’s Bluetooth headphones. The sound quality and connectivity are great, and so is the 10-minute quick charge.
  • Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO ($209 at Amazon): With a sound that’s extremely close to our studio curve, these headphones don’t need a lot of equalizing to sound great.
  • Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X ($269 at Amazon): Content creators who are on the move and working from one hotel room to the next get these headphones. It’s comfortable, fairly lightweight, and produces excellent audio quality.
  • Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 $379 at Amazon: The NCH 700 is a great option if you have money to blow and want one of the best noise canceling experiences around. You can now create a custom EQ for the headphones straight from the Bose Music app, which is a nice plus.
  • Bose QuietComfort 45 ($279 at Amazon): This pair of active noise canceling headphones sounds good, though you’ll want to EQ to account for the treble boost, and has some of the best ANC around. Comfort is a given here, too.
  • Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX ($199 at Manufacturer site): If you’re looking for a set of headphones to stay by the computer, few offer a better price-to-performance ratio than the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX.
  • Focal Utopia ($1149 at Amazon): We actually got a chance to review the Focal Utopia headphones, and it’s great. We don’t recommend the Utopia to the average person because it’s mega-expensive. That said, if you have the money to blow, go crazy.
  • Focal Bathys ($699 at Amazon): Though ANC headphones are a bit oversaturated at the moment, luxury buyers will appreciate the higher sound quality offered by Focal’s effort.
  • Sennheiser HD 560S ($207 at Amazon): The HD 560S are a rock-solid choice if you’re aiming to grab a set of headphones that live by the computer but don’t break the bank.
  • Sony MDR-7506 ($79 at Sweetwater): If all of these options are way too expensive, then go with the Sony MDR-7506. These are far from new, but they’re still an industry favorite for audio production.
  • Sony WH-1000XM4 ($348 at Amazon): The newer WH-1000XM5 wouldn’t have been possible without these cans. The last-gen WH-1000XM4 is still available for a slightly lower price than its successor and is still considered one of the best ANC headphones on the market.

Who is the Apple AirPods Max for?

The white Apple AirPods Max lying flat on a green book with a white Google Stadia controller next to it.
You may be wondering where the Apple AirPods Max is in all this and why it didn’t make it as one of our top picks.

There are two reasons why this hasn’t made our list: firstly, it’s costly. Maybe perceptions have shifted regarding the price of consumer electronics since Apple’s flagship handheld devices sell for over $1,000. But in the real world, walking around with headphones that cost $549 doesn’t seem like a great idea, especially if you want to keep them.

Secondly, many of their coolest features are available exclusively to those who have a (current) Apple device to pair them with. And that includes getting the best out of the Bluetooth link. Since most people fall outside that category, the price is an even more significant hurdle to overcome.

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If you’ve got cash to burn and are already invested in Apple’s ecosystem/walled garden, check out the AirPods Max. They sound fantastic, and like the popular AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max features impressively effective noise canceling technology. Additional features include a bold yet comfortable design, Transparency Mode, Adaptive EQ, Spatial Audio, and the inclusion of Apple’s H1 Chip for seamless connection with Apple devices.

Apple AirPods MaxApple AirPods Max
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Apple AirPods Max
One of the best ANC • 20-hour battery life • Well-built pads
MSRP: $549.00
A spectacular pair of headphones with best-in-class ANC
The AirPods Max wireless headphones offer best-in-class noise canceling with twenty hours of battery life. They provide excellent frequency response and great audio features.

What else you should know about over-ear headphones

What is isolation?

Isolation refers to the ability of your headphones to block outside noise from reaching your ears. This might sound like active noise cancelation, but it isn’t. Active noise canceling uses microphones to pick up the sounds that are going on around you and then uses clever processing to cancel them out. In physics, it’s called destructive interference, and you can learn more about that in our article on how noise canceling works, but that isn’t what isolation is.

A man wearing a pair of Bowers & Wilkins over-ear headphones.
Isolation affects sound quality and bass response; if you can’t get a good seal, both things are heavily degraded.

Isolation is simply having a physical barrier between your ears and the outside noises. Every time you stuff your fingers in your ears, you’re isolating yourself. You might hear certain loud noises around you, but for the most part, sounds are blocked out. A good pair of over-ear headphones can do something similar. They’ll cover your ears and block noises that would otherwise interfere with the music you’re listening to.

Do Bluetooth headphones have the same sound quality as wired headphones?

Nope, while Bluetooth has become way better and more convenient in the last few years, it still can’t compete on a technical level with wired over-ear headphones. Sure, we might be a little biased against removing the headphone jack. Still, even our objective testing of the LDAC codec (which is arguably one of the top transfer methods currently available) revealed that Bluetooth falls short. Of course, you probably won’t have to worry about it too much if you’re over the age of 24 because our hearing tends to go a lot sooner than you might realize, but it’s still something you should be aware of. At least for now, wired headphones still reign supreme.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

A man looking off in the distance wearing the Sony WF-1000XM5 in his left ear
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The WF-1000XM5 sticks out a little.

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Frequently asked questions about over-ear headphones

Over-ear headphones generally offer superior sound quality due to their larger drivers and better isolation, which minimizes ambient noise and allows for a more immersive listening experience.


  • Better sound quality
  • Comfortable for long listening sessions
  • Noise isolation/active noise cancelation


  • Bulkier and less portable
  • Can be hot or sweaty during extended use
  • Typically more expensive than in-ear models

It’s normal for ear pads to become dirty after a while. If you’re wondering how to change your headphones’ ear pads, be sure to check out our complete guide!

Most consumer-oriented headphones aren’t ideal for serious audio work. For the best results, use a pair of studio headphones that feature a flat frequency response for accurate sound reproduction.

Over-ear headphones are recommended for those who value sound quality and comfort. They offer a superior sonic experience compared to on-ear headphones.

Just like humans, headphones come in all shapes and sizes. Discomfort can arise from factors such as weight, clamping force, or ear pad material of the headphones. It’s crucial to find a pair that fits well for extended comfort.