For audiophiles, there’s something pure about a proper set of over-ear headphones. Earbuds seem omnipresent these days, as they come in wired and wireless designs. Versions of the in-ear options even ship with many brands of smartphones. Still, while an in-ear design gets the job done, it can’t match the sensory experience of over-ear devices.
Obviously, over-ear headphones envelop the head and cover both ears entirely. As a result, they shield the aural senses from the outside world and create a more direct and intimate connection to sound. That makes them the ultimate choice for true music lovers.
This list of the best over-ear headphones includes a wide range of price tags and features, but regardless of your pick, you’ll be able to block out the world when you sit down to listen to music.
1. Master & Dynamic MH40 Over Ear Headphones
Known in the home audio business for excellent build quality, all Master & Dynamic products come together with excellent materials and reliable technology. The wired, over-ear MH40 model is noise isolating with a snug, comfortable fit and removable ear pads made of memory foam and wrapped in lambskin. If you’ve never indulged in a set of over-ear headphones in place of your earbuds, you’ll rediscover your music with these from Master & Dynamic.
2. Audio-Technica ATH-M70x Professional Headphones
The folks at Audio-Technica offer an extensive line of consumer and professional products from microphones to gaming headsets. Their pro headphone lines offer the company’s best performance standards, but at a consumer-friendly price point. These ATH-M70x over-ear headphones could use a sexier name, but the fact that they’re intended for studio mixing sessions means they’ll provide the average listener the crispest sound possible.
3. Mixcder E7
The Mixcder E7 Wireless Headphones provide more sound than you might expect from an audio device running about $75. The E7’s onboard A.I. continuously analyzes and adjusts to the outside ambient noise, creating inverse sonic waves that block out the external audio environment to enhance the immersive, over-ear experience.
4. AIAIAI TMA-2 Modular Headphone Studio
The appeal of this AIAIAI over-ear units is its modular, adaptable design. Every element of its construction, from the headband to the cables to the ear cups to ear pads, is adjustable, replaceable and swappable. The user assembles his or her chosen components from the AIAIAI collection of options and ends up with a quality audio device perfectly fitted for his or her use.
Wireless, foldable and noise-canceling, the Edifier W860NB headphones are another good choice for the commuter or traveler who doesn’t want to settle for another pair of earbuds. For an original twist, the W860NB set includes Edifier’s Smart Touch Controls built into the ear cups that can control the audio settings for a smartphone, tablet or MP3 player to change volume and control playback.
6. Ausounds AU-X ANC
Wireless and surprisingly light, the Ausounds AU-X ANC over-ear headphones are made flexible enough to survive life on the run. The AU-X ANC design actively fights the surrounding noise with Ausounds’ Soundproof Noise Cancellation. When that tech is active, the AU-X ANC tech issues sound waves to cancel out ambient noise and balance the desired audio.
7. Bowers & Wilkins PX7
Pushing to the midrange of consumer market prices at about $400, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 design offers outstanding, aggressive sound quality for dedicated music listeners. All that sound comes from the PX7’s 43 mm drivers. For the uninitiated, those are big audio drivers for headphones. In fact, Bowers & Wilkins reports they’re the biggest in the company’s headphone collection.
8. IFROGZ Impulse 2
The most affordable option on this list at $49.99, the IFROGZ Impulse 2 from the Zagg family of audio products is wireless and foldable — making it a solid choice for commuters or anyone looking for the over-ear experience on the move. For blocking out noise on a budget, the Impulse 2 is your best bet.
9. Focal Utopia
We like to go out with a big finish, and the Focal Utopia set is as big as it gets in terms of size and price. Retailing around $4,000 a pair, Focal’s designers will come right out and tell you the Utopia model is intended for very serious music lovers who take time to settle into a low-noise environment for some very serious listening. They are also not intended to connect to just any device as portable use requires a headphone amplifier. Still, when hooked up to a proper component stereo system, the Focal Utopia sound is transformative.