The 5 best over-ear headphones in 2021

Summary List Placement

  • Over-ear headphones tend to offer better sound quality than many in-ear or on-ear models.
  • The perfect pair of over-ear headphones blend impressive audio performance with a comfortable design.
  • That’s why we think the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro are the best over-ear headphones you can buy.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Over-ear headphones are the ultimate in comfort and sound quality, but they aren’t always very portable like on-ear headphones or in-ear headphones.

If you decide that over-ear headphones are the right choice for you, then there are a few key things you should look for before you buy any old pair. For starters, you’ll want to think about whether you want a wired or wireless pair. Wired headphones generally sound a little better, though the difference might not be noticeable for most people, while wireless headphones are more convenient, because you cut the cord out of the equation.

You’ll also want to consider the type of driver inside the headphones. This won’t matter for most people, but audiophiles who are looking for a pair of headphones that boast a ton of clarity and detail might want to consider a pair of planar magnetic or electrostatic headphones for the best performance.

Perhaps the most important thing to think about when looking for a new pair of headphones is budget. Audiophiles will be the first to tell you that it’s easy to spend thousands on a great pair of headphones, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a quality model for much less. With all this in mind, we’ve rounded up the best over-ear headphones for a variety of price points.

Here are the best over-ear headphones you can buy:

The best over-ear headphones overall

The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO headphones may not be cheap, but the sound quality of these cans makes them absolutely worth the price.

Pros: Amazon sound quality, extremely comfortable, nicely designed

Cons: Expensive, bulky, not wireless, open-back design lets in outside sound

If you’re simply looking for the best over-ear headphones out there and don’t care too much about anything else, then the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO headphones are the way to go. These headphones may be a little pricey, but they’re built with the recording studio in mind, and they’re made specifically to deliver a powerful yet natural sound.

There are a few reasons these headphones sound so good. For starters, unlike most headphones these days, the DT 1990 PRO feature an open-back design. That means outside noise can get in, and your music can be easily heard by those around you, but it also helps create a much more natural sound with a wide soundstage. Open-back headphones are perfect for those who plan on listening at home by themselves a lot.

On top of the open-back design, the headphones feature plenty of padding, replaceable and removable cables, and more. The sound-quality on these headphones, however, is where they really shine. They’re slightly bass-forward with plenty of midrange support and a ton of detail in the high-end. With more detail, instruments sound defined and separate, which makes for an awesome listening experience.

So what’s the downside? Well, the main one is price. They’re also a little bulky, though considering they’re really built for home use, that may not be an issue for some.

The best wireless over-ear headphones

The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 headphones are the complete package, offering excellent sound quality, a comfortable fit, and decent noise cancellation.

Pros: Excellent design, great sound quality, comfortable, noise cancelling

Cons: Expensive, noise cancellation isn’t on par with headphone models from Sony and Bose

Sennheiser is known for building some of the best headphones on the market, and the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 headphones are no exception to that rule. The headphones are beautifully designed, super comfortable, sound great, and even offer noise cancellation.

There are a ton of reasons to love these headphones, but the biggest reason is how great they sound. The headphones may not be the most accurate sounding headphones in the world, but they offer a fun listening experience.

For example, while there’s a little extra bass, it’s not too over-the-top. The mids are well-tuned, and the highs offer plenty of detail and clarity. They may not be as detailed as a pair of high-end wired headphones, but when it comes to wireless headphones, these are the best. 

The headphones offer some great smart features too. They have noise cancellation, and while it’s not quite as good as Bose’s or Sony’s, it’s still effective. They even have Tile tracking built into them, so you shouldn’t ever lose them.

Read the Sennheiser Momentum 3 review here.

The best noise-cancelling over-ear headphones

Sony’s WH-1000XM4 are our go-to pair of headphones when we look for a balance of sound quality and noise-cancelling performance. 

Pros: Impressive sound quality, customizable sound, excellent noise cancellation, comfortable, long battery life, wireless

Cons: Expensive at full price

We picked the Sony WH-1000XM4 over the Bose 700 in this category because, while both headphones have similar noise-cancelling performance, the XM4s have an advantage with sound quality. Most notably, the XM4s come with the ability to customize the way they sound, which makes them more versatile for a wider range of music genres. Meanwhile, the Bose 700 are stuck with Bose’s signature sound style, which some may like, but it’s not for everyone.

Don’t expect studio-grade accuracy here — the XM4s are meant to be a high-quality pair of headphones for “most people” to enjoy their music rather than audiophiles. With that in mind, they have a great range for bass, mids, and highs, and they handily produce clear and detailed sound. And as mentioned before, they’re highly adaptable to your tastes and to a wide range of music genres. 

Apart from great, customizable sound and excellent noise-cancelling performance, the XM4s are comfortable and have long battery life. 

With great quality and noise cancellation comes a pretty high price tag that starts at $350. That said, the XM4s often get price cuts that bring them down closer to the $300 mark, and sometimes even lower. If you’re looking for a great pair of noise-cancelling headphones that won’t disappoint with audio quality, go for the Sony WH-1000XM4.

Read the Sony WH-1000XM4 review here.

The best mid-range over-ear headphones

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones may not be the prettiest around, but their sound quality is unrivaled in this price range.

Pros: Excellent sound quality, good value for money

Cons: Bulky, no removable cable, no wireless support

Beyerdynamic may claim the top spot on our list with the expensive Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO headphones, but it turns out the company makes some pretty great budget headphones, too. Case in point: The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones. This model features an affordable price and offers excellent value for the money.

While these headphones may not be wireless or have noise cancellation, they do offer excellent sound quality. The DT 770 PRO boast plenty of bass without going too far over the top, a well-tuned midrange, and a good amount of clarity and detail in the high-end.

Of course, the headphones aren’t perfect. They’re largely suited for home listening rather than anything else, and they’re a bit bulky because of that. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s still something to keep in mind. The headphones also don’t have a removable cable, which is a little frustrating for some.

Still, despite those issues, most reviewers love the headphones. PCMag gave them 4.5/5 stars, while CNET gave them 8/10.

The best affordable over-ear headphones

The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x are an ideal choice for buyers who want a budget-friendly pair of over-ear headphones that still sound great.

Pros: Comfortable, 40mm drivers with excellent sound for the price

Cons: Bass response is lacking, no wireless support

Though they are a step down from our other picks, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x over-ear headphones perform remarkably well for their price.

The entry-level pair of studio headphones use an over-ear design with 40mm drivers. Bass isn’t particularly impactful, but the headphones offer impressive audio performance for their class, with pleasing high and mid-range sound quality. Again, these aren’t audiophile level, but they get the job done very well for everyday listening.

Comfort and build are also strong thanks to the cushioned headband and padded ear cups. While the headphones don’t feature wireless connectivity or active noise cancellation, the cups actually provide solid noise isolation so outside sounds won’t bother you as much while listening.

As a brand, Audio-Technica is known for higher end headphone models, like the M50x and M70x, but for such a budget-friendly price, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x provide a very nice value.

Check out our other headphone buying guides

The best noise-cancelling headphones

With active noise-cancellation technology, headphones are able to analyze and minimize surrounding noise. This makes it easier to listen to music in loud environments, like during commutes. Through research and testing, we’ve picked the best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy.

The best earbuds

Earbuds offer a compact and portable music-listening solution. Some models still require wires while others feature wireless playback support. Earbuds need to be well constructed to offer the same kind of audio performance you’d get out of a bigger pair of headphones. With different budgets and features in mind, we’ve selected the best earbuds you can buy.

The best true wireless earbuds

True wireless earbuds are completely free from cables, enabling you to connect each earbud to your phone without any wires getting in the way. Some true wireless earbuds even feature noise cancellation technology. After researching and testing different models, we’ve picked the best true wireless earbuds you can buy.

The best cheap headphones

Though audiophile headphones can be very pricey, there are still many worthwhile budget-friendly headphones on the market. With different needs and styles accounted for, these are the best cheap headphones you can buy.


Related posts