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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.

Published onMay 22, 2024

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
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
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
MSRP: $350.00
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Excellent battery life
Excellent sound quality
Connectivity options
Middling ANC
Mic noise rejection
Shure AONIC 50 (2nd gen)
MSRP: $349.00
Check price
Battery life
Excellent App
Build quality
Sound needs tuning
Doesn't fold
JLab JBuds Lux ANC
MSRP: $79.99
Check price
USB-C audio
Sound quality
Limited options
No IP rating

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.

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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.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 ticks enough boxes on your typical consumer’s wishlist of features that it’s an easy pick. With top-end ANC and microphone performance, this is an office jockey’s dream and is a great pair of daily headphones. You get premium features like 360 Reality Audio optimization, speak-to-chat functionality, transparency mode, and more.

Whether you want headphones for the office, your next vacation, or working from home, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is an excellent buy.

Although Sony boosts the bass response on these headphones, they still sound quite good out of the box and require little effort to EQ through the Sony Headphones Connect app. Additional notable features include automatic on-ear detection, Bluetooth multipoint connectivity, 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.

Sony WH-1000XM5Sony WH-1000XM5
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Sony WH-1000XM5
ANC performance • Outstanding microphone • Useful app features
MSRP: $399.00
The king of the ANC pack extends its reign

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Like most consumer ANC headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM5 boosts bass probably a little too much, and definitely to the detriment of the midrange. We’re used to seeing this by now, but compared to more “high-end” headphones, you’ll notice the very strong bass emphasis right away. The comparatively subdued midrange (from 300Hz to around 1050Hz) might sound a bit off as it gets drowned out by the much louder highs and lows.

The chart below shows how the sound of the Sony WH-1000XM5 was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score (MDAQS) algorithm from HEAD acoustics.

A bar chart showing how the Sony WH-1000XM5 rates in Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 rates pretty well in terms of audio quality, with good results across the board.

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra are the most future-proof

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.

These 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.

If you’re looking for ANC headphones that will keep up with your current (and next) Android phones, seriously consider these.

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.

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Our reviewer, Christian Thomas’s experience listening to the headphones largely reflects what’s on the chart above. He elected to use the bass reducer (essentially, bass -8) preset in the Bose Music app. Our headphone preference curve can be used to compare these headphones to what we think they should sound like, but remember that these headphones adjust their sound to meet your biology with their CustomTune feature.

The chart below shows how the sound of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score (MDAQS) algorithm from HEAD acoustics.

The Bose Quietcomfort Ultra Headphones have excellent sound quality for most, as reflected by MDAQS.
Though there’s a little bit of distortion, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones have rock-solid audio quality.

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 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 reduces high-pitched noise by up to 95% and lower-pitched noise by up to 75%. 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.

Are you 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: $350.00
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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The measured response of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless is extremely close to our headphone preference curve: most people will like the sound a lot.

The chart below shows how the sound of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score (MDAQS) algorithm from HEAD acoustics.

This chart shows the MDAQS results for the Sennheiser Momentum 4 in Default mode. The Timbre score is 4.8, The Distortion score is 3.5, the Immersiveness score is 4.1, and the Overall Score is 4.6.
These are similar to the Bose QC Ultra but with less distortion.

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)
SG recommended
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) doesn’t match up as well to our headphone preference curve. Adding a wide-band boost of about 3-5dB around 420Hz goes a long way to lessening the annoyance of this feature.

The JLab JBuds Lux is the best bang for the buck

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC sitting atop a wooden desk.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The JLab JBuds Lux is a compelling buy under $80.

For under $100, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC offers tremendous value as affordable over-ear headphones with active noise cancelation (ANC). Their ANC performance is quite impressive for the price, hushing lower frequencies by up to 20dB to significantly reduce ambient noise during commutes or travel. The headphones also have a stellar 44+ hour battery life per charge. While not audiophile-quality, the sound tuning has boosted bass that helps vocals and instrumentation cut through outside din, and you can tweak it further via an adjustable 10-band EQ in the companion app.

The comfortable padded fit allows for long listening sessions. Other standout features in this price range include a durable yet travel-friendly folding plastic build, USB-C audio connectivity, and decent microphone quality for calls. For budget-minded buyers, the fundamentals and versatility of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC make them a compelling top pick among affordable over-ear ANC headphones.

JLab JBuds Lux ANCJLab JBuds Lux ANC
SG recommended
JLab JBuds Lux ANC
USB-C audio • Sound quality • Comfort
MSRP: $79.99
For under $100, these are crazy good value.
As far as inexpensive ANC headphones go, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC are one of the best of 2024. They focus on the fundamentals, and not fighting the spec wars.

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Here, we can see that the JLab JBuds Lux ANC have some bass emphasis — about 2-5dB over what we like to see — from 300Hz down to 20Hz. There’s a little dip in the mids and then a large bump at 5-10kHz. This can help with spatial cues and sounds that typically get lost in mixes.

The 1MORE SonoFlow is great value

Top view of hands holding the SonoFlow headphones
The original 1MORE SonoFlow headphones offer wired mode, a carrying case, and Hi-Red audio.

The 1MORE SonoFlow is a good budget pick. These over-ear headphones combine a stylish and foldable design with practicality, particularly for commuters and travelers. They include a long battery life, plush ear pads, and a fitted travel case, enhancing their appeal for users on the go.

In terms of performance, the SonoFlow offers a comfortable fit, albeit with a slightly headband-heavy design and lower clamping force, which may not be ideal for vigorous activities. The sound quality is commendable, with the added flexibility of in-app equalization (EQ) options, allowing users to tailor the sound to their preferences. The headphones provide effective ANC, capable of diminishing low-frequency noises and creating a distraction-free listening environment, particularly useful in public transit or office settings.

Furthermore, the 1MORE SonoFlow supports Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and includes a 2.5mm to 3.5mm TRS jack cable for wired listening, though it’s noted that ANC is unavailable in wired mode. The battery can last almost 57 hours with ANC engaged, surpassing the advertised 50-hour lifespan, and offers fast charging capabilities.

1More SonoFlow1More SonoFlow
SoundGuys Editors Choice
1More SonoFlow
Comfortable fit and well-padded • In-app EQ • Long battery life
MSRP: $99.99
Feature rich with a stylish design, the SonoFlow headphones are all about value
The 1MORE SonoFlow are good-sounding, feature-rich headphones that won't break the bank. Commuters and travelers will enjoy the ANC, long battery life, and plush ear pads. Experienced listeners will enjoy decent sound and EQ options.

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While the measured frequency response curve for the 1MORE SonoFlow doesn’t deviate too far from our headphone preference curve. The presets are a great starting point for fine-tuning the 1MORE SonoFlow to your taste, and you can always return to the headphones’ default EQ settings by selecting the ‘Studio’ preset.

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.

With a basic, user-friendly button setup, this headset is easy to operate. Despite a slim profile, 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.

Sound-wise, the Life Q20 provides emphasized sub-bass and high-frequency ranges. 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.

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.

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.

Spend a little more for the Anker Soundcore Q30

Anker Soundcore Life Q30 headphones on a table.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
These headphones are a great value buy.

When compared to its predecessor, the Life Q20, several key improvements make the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 a worthwhile upgrade for those willing to spend a bit more. For starters, it has a more modern USB-C charging port that’s compatible with a wider range of devices. The fast charging will also give you 4 hours of playback from just a 5-minute charge.

Additionally, the Life Q30 offers customizable sound settings through the Soundcore app, a feature absent in the Q20. This app integration allows users to tailor their listening experience more precisely, adjusting EQ settings and selecting from different ANC modes to suit their environment. The Q30’s ANC capability is also a step up, offering more nuanced noise cancelation that can be customized for specific scenarios like indoor, outdoor, or transport settings.

Anker Soundcore Life Q30Anker Soundcore Life Q30
Anker Soundcore Life Q30
Comfortable design • 40-hour battery life • EQ customization
MSRP: $79.99
A reliable and affordable headset with ANC
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 gives you 40-hour battery life with ANC on, all for a low price.

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 ($429 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.
  • EarFun Wave Pro ($79.99 at Amazon): If you have a limited budget, the EarFun Wave Pro are a great option. With exceptional battery life, decent ANC, and advanced connectivity, the EarFun Wave Pro headphones are an ideal travel or commuting headphone.
  • 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 ACCENTUM Plus ($217.95 at Amazon): This is a great option for consumers looking for a middle-ground ANC headphone, especially if $300+ is just too rich for your blood.
  • Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless ($179.95 at Amazon): For a set of ANC headphones that cost roughly half of what the top-end competitors do, this is one of the best value buys on the market at the moment.
  • 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 ($278 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.
  • Sony ULT WEAR ($199.99 at Amazon): These are best suited for commuters who want good ANC but aren’t willing to shell out for the highest-end options. The headphones should also do well for those with slightly larger heads and bass heads.

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: $424.99
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

Sennheiser HD650 mounted on the B&K5128 test head
We test all our over-ear headphones using the B&K5128.

We want you to be happy with your purchase—none of our writers see a dime from partnership deals or referral purchases—and nobody here is allowed to benefit from steering you towards one product or another. While this site does make money from referrals, the individual writers are paid based on their work, regardless of whether or not people click that “buy” icon. They will never even know if anyone did, though the site going under might be a good hint.

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.

Over-ear headphones are not necessarily any more or less healthier for your ears than other headphone styles. The ear cups sit around your outer ears rather than pressing directly on them like on-ear headphones. This can prevent air pressure buildup in the ear canal which can potentially lead to hearing issues over time with on-ear and in-ear headphone use at high volumes. Over-ear headphones also allow you to listen at lower volumes while still getting good audio isolation from outside noise.

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