The 11 Best Over-Ear Headphones to Buy in 2018

Rock out with these top-of-the-line over-ear cans

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Over-ear headphones have large earcups that fully surround your ears, isolating outside noise and typically delivering high-quality sound. They are larger than their on-ear counterparts, with a thick headband that is more comfortable than many other listening devices. But they range widely in quality, starting with bargain prices and going all the way into the thousands for professional audio engineers. This list includes headphones right for every budget and listening style.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall, Wired: Focal Listen

Designed in France by Focal’s acoustics engineers, the Listen headphones deliver incredible sound and style. These excellent over-ear headphones have noise isolation technology and are made with quality materials. And while they might not quite compete with the highest end headphones on this list, they are more affordable and hit all the right marks.

The contemporary design features two brushed chrome earcups that feel strong and sturdy, holding comfortable memory-foam earpieces that house 40mm titanium drivers. The headphones are lightweight and the closed-back design provides excellent noise isolation in busy environments. There is a microphone on the cord that easily connects with smartphone assistants.

The best part about the headphones is the sound, which is excellent for the price point. Exclusive cone technology makes for a remarkably balanced and neutral sound that includes a rich bass that doesn’t overpower, as well as crisp and clear mids. The undeniably rich low frequency means that you don’t need to crank the volume to enjoy your music.

Best Overall, Wireless: Sony MDR1A

There’s a reason Sony is a stalwart in the audio market: the newest model of its over-ear headphones delivers high-quality audio in a stylish package. Though the MDR1A is lightweight (just 7.94 ounces), it's still quite durable, and the padded headband creates a cushioned premium feel. That's further underscored by the soft, redesigned ear pads that keep things comfortable during long listening sessions. The ergonomic pads also rotate to rest flat against your collarbone when you’re wearing it around your neck.

And the accessible price tag doesn't indicate a compromise in sound quality: these headphones are capable of accommodating all genres of music, balancing and defining everything from the bass through to the treble. They’ll draw out the finer details of your favorite songs with sound reproduction between 3 Hz to 100 kHz. One of the two included cables has a one-button inline remote and microphone for hands-free phone calls. Additional high-grade cables are available for purchase to create even more high-quality listening experience.

Best Noise-Canceling: Bose QuietComfort 35

If you are looking for the best noise-cancelation on the market, then the Bose QuietComfort 35 are the headphones for you. Bose has long been the market leader in noise-cancelation technology and the QuietComfort 35 don't disappoint. Available in black or silver, the design is minimal yet comfortable. All of the controls are housed on the right earcup, where you will be able to manage call management, pairing and track navigation. The headphones will last on wireless for 20 hours, while the built-in microphone allows you to take calls when you are paired with a phone.

As far as noise-cancelation goes, expect the loud rattle of a plane or crowded train to disappear when in use. Bose has also upped their game in the audio department, using a volume-optimized EQ for consistent and balanced performance that takes outside elements into account. While the soundboard is not quite up to par with some of the high-end headphones on this list, it is very good, especially when paired with world-class noise isolation. 

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best noise-cancelling headphones

Best Sound Quality: OPPO PM-3 Planar Magnetic Headphones

These headphones win accolades for their excellent sound quality, delivering a true Hi-Fi experience powered by planar magnetic drivers. Audiophiles appreciate the natural and balanced sound signature that delivers a full and rich sound stage. Double-sided spiraling coils and a fem-optimized magnet system maximize sensitivity and connectivity, while a seven-layer diaphragm ensures stable thermal stress and vibration. You will never experience any distortion, just pure audio at a sensitivity of 102dB.

The headphones are well constructed, though they fall behind more expensive pairs in terms of quality. They are lightweight, coming in at less than 10 ounces. The closed-back design helps isolate noise from the outside world. In terms of build, the headphones are constructed with strong metal and plush padding materials.

Runner-Up, Best Sound Quality: Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

While it isn't the most affordable over-ear headphone option, the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro is built for professionals and a great option for those who put sound quality first. These German-engineered headphones boast a frequency response of between five and 40,000 Hz and a wide soundstage. The open-back design includes two sets of ear pads, which allow for either “balanced” or “analytical” listening, and they're made with high-tech textiles and memory foam so your ears won’t get fatigued (the only downside is that some reviewers claim they can be difficult to swap out). Though the headphones aren’t made with luxury materials, they are some of the best-built options on the market and feature subtle aesthetic details like offsets cuts on the ear cups for a high-end appearance.

The matte black metal headphones are built for both comfort and durability — they were intended to be worn all day, after all. But they aren't very portable, and the open-back design makes them impractical for listening on the go. 

Best Luxury: Audeze LCD-XC

Audeze is a luxury headphone company based out of California. Founded in 2008, the Audeze team combines the technological expertise of NASA scientists with the revered design of BMW engineers to create award-winning headphones fit for a professional studio producer. The LCD-XC headphones are their closed-back model, designed for recording engineers, but also a great fit for luxury audiophile enthusiasts.

The LCD-XC uses Audeze’s legendary planar magnetic technology to deliver the most accurate sound possible. Space-age materials are wound in the ultra thin diaphragm to dramatically reduce distortion and give room for an enormous sense of space with fantastically detailed midrange and high frequencies that reveal layers to your favorite audio recordings you never noticed before. 

Handcrafted in California, the headphones use only the most luxurious materials. The distinctive wooden earcups are fashioned from gorgeous equatorial African Bubinga wood. The headband is made from either real lambskin leather or microsuede, while the earpads feel heavenly with their acoustical foam. Every aspect of these headphones will satisfy the senses, making them an excellent purchase for music-lovers.

Best Budget, Wireless: Mpow Bluetooth Headphones

These wireless over-ear headphones from Mpow pack a lot of desirable features at a great price. First, they can switch between wireless and wired modes, allowing you to listen to music for 13 hours and then plug in the included audio cable as soon as they run out of batteries. A built-in mic allows you to make wireless calls while walking around the house, while the Bluetooth connectivity pairs with any of your devices within 33 feet.

The headphones also have passive noise isolation, which helps to reduce background noise to give you a more pure listening experience. The noise isolation pairs with a 40mm neodymium driver and CSR chip to produce a Hi-Fi listening experience. Finally, the durable anti-scratch UV finish and soft protein leather look and feel great for this price range.

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best budget headphones.

Best Budget, Wired: Philips SHL3060 DJ Style Headphones

With 32mm speaker drivers and a closed type acoustics build, these headphones from Philips deliver great sound at an affordable price point. They are available in four different colors, all with adjustable ear shells and a headband to fit your head. For the price, the build is of surprisingly good quality, with soft, breathable ear cushions and the ability to compact and fold flat. The sound is designed to place an emphasis on bass, with a sensitivity of 106 dB and impedance of 24 Ohms.

Best Design: HIFIMAN HE-400I

Turn heads with these distinctive headphones from HIFIMAN. These oversized headphones are large, but lightweight, weighing 30 percent lighter than other full-sized planar magnetic designs. The polymer earcups are large and circular with a gloss charcoal finish and mesh grate for a modern look, while custom beveled earpads made of pleather and velour deliver comfort and improved sound quality.

The well-engineered design extends to sound as well, with a massive diaphragm that allows for high signal input and flexible bass and treble. The planar magnetic technology evenly delivers magnetic force for low distortion and faithful recreation of live sound, resulting in excellent transient response and an enjoyable listening experience. 

Best for Working Out: Beats Solo3

Finding over-ear headphones that are suitable for working out can be a challenge, but the Beats Solo3 are the gym buddy you’ve been looking for. Stylish, wireless, and available in a wide range of colors, the ear cups have a tight seal to block out gym noise so you can focus on your pump-up playlist. With a 48-hour battery life from a single charge and the ability to charge up to three hours of playback time in just five minutes, these headphones will keep playing for multiple workouts. The Beats3 also deliver strong sound quality, though some reviewers claim they're a bit heavy on the bass.

Though the price tag might be a little higher than other models, the Beats Solo3 have impressive Bluetooth range — around 100 to 150 yards, regardless of walls or objects in the way — and are comfortable and durable enough to handle your daily workout. However, since they sit on top of your ears, your ears may get fatigued after a while, and they can get uncomfortable if you wear them for too long.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best exercise headphones.​

Best for Kids: BestGot Over Ear Headphones

These headphones by BestGot are affordable, colorful, comfortable and well-made, perfect for kids. They're available in seven fun color patterns and have durable construction, meaning they can survive a backpack or less-than-gentle handling. The lightweight design won’t get heavy during long use, while an adjustable and padded headband makes them the perfect size for anyone. Finally, two 40mm high fidelity drivers deliver a balanced and enjoyable listening experience and inline microphone even makes them available for phone calls.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best headphones for kids

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