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Best Over Ear Headphones

What are the best over ear headphones?  If you’re reading this you are most likely looking to get some headphones to enjoy a really rich sound experience, or maybe you are looking at editing and mixing music.  I have experience in both, as someone who loves both listen to music and mix music.  Below I have written some reviews of the best over-ear headphones on the market.  I have tried to get a good mix based on what you might use them for and what your budget might be, so I hope you will find it helpful! 

Best Over Ear Headphones at a glance…


#1 Sennheiser HD 800 Reference Dynamic Headphone

Sennheiser HD800 - best over ear headphones

Key Features:

  • Weight (without cable): approx. 330 g
  • Sound pressure level at 1 kHz: 102 dB (1 Vrms)
  • Nominal impedance: 300 Ohms
  • Frequency Response: 6–51,000 Hz (-10 dB); 14–44,100 Hz (-3 dB)
  • Contact pressure: approx. 3.4 N ± 0.3 N

Why are they so good?

Sennheiser build some of the best over ear headphones out there.  The HD 800s are the very best of the best.  Very popular with mixing and mastering engineers, these are open back headphones so they do not keep the sound in the headphones, but this means the sound is super clear (hence why they are so popular for mixing and mastering).  They are my personal headphone of choice when mixing and mastering music.  But if you love music in general they will give you a great, balanced sound.  They are also really comfortable, perfect for extended listening times and heavy use.  The frequency response if 6HZ to 44,100HZ, so basically the entire frequency range, so you will hear everything little bit of the music.

Potential Drawbacks

They are quite big and they are open back.  So if you wanted a pair of headphones for commuting or using in public space, these are probably not the ones for you.  There are certainly cheaper headphones out, but you do pay for the quality with these headphones.

Verdict

These are great headphones for music fans.  If you want rich and clear sound, these are the headphones for you.

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#2 Bose QuietComfort 35 Acoustic Noise Cancelling

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones - best over ear headphones

Key Features:

  • World-class noise cancellation makes quiet sound quieter and music sound better
  • Volume-optimized EQ for balanced audio performance at any volume
  • Wireless convenience, with easy Bluetooth and NFC pairing aided by voice prompts
  • 20-hour battery life per charge; up to 40 hours in wired mode
  • Noise-rejecting dual-microphone system for clear calls even in windy environments

Why are they so good?

The Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones are a great choice if you want something high quality, good value and easy to use for everyday life, whilst sounding great.  These headphones are geared to use out and about, on the way to work, walking around town, on the train…you get the idea.  Bose have put a lot of research into ensuring they reject noise, especially in windy conditions.  They are also wireless, which makes them very practical.  The Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones can be charged by USB, while the 20 hour battery life also means you should also never be in a situation where you run out of power.

They also sound great.  Instruments are separated well and the sound crisp and clear.  The bass is deep and powerful without it sounding muddy.  Lastly, these headphones are also really well built.  They feel high quality and they sound high quality.  I see these Bose headphones as some of the best over ear headphones out there for casual listening.

Potential Drawbacks

There can be some drawbacks to wireless headphones.  Practically speaking they do run out of battery, so if you are forgetful like me, you might forget to recharge them!  However this is only a minor drawback.

Verdict

These are a good value, high quality, well made and great sounding pair of headphones.  They look great and are practical.  Wireless does make them easy to use, but the real reason why these are great headphones is the noise cancellation, which is fantastic.

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#3 Audio Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor

Audio Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones - best over ear headphones

Key Features:

  • Critically acclaimed sonic performance praised by top audio engineers and pro audio reviewers
  • Proprietary 45 mm large-aperture drivers with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils
  • Exceptional clarity throughout an extended frequency range, with deep, accurate bass response
  • Circumaural design contours around the ears for excellent sound isolation in loud environments
  • 90° swiveling earcups for easy, one-ear monitoring, professional-grade earpad and headband material delivers more durability and comfort. Detachable cable.

Why are they so good?

The Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones are great because they are so affordable.  They are geared to studio work, designed for long mixing and recording sessions.  This range of Audio Technica headphones are often seen as being the best monitor headphones in history.  They have a true, natural sound, a good frequency range, with strong bass, a clear midrange and a crisp high end.  These headphones have a great reputation and you can’t go wrong with them.

Potential Drawbacks

Ultimately, given the price you are paying, there are better headphones on the market if you wish to mix and master music.  Any of the headphones in the Sennheiser HD series will probably serve you better if you are serious about mixing music.

Verdict

The Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones are great value for money.  They are a classic monitor headphones, very good for mixing and mastering.  The ATH-M50x headphones will also be great for personal use and will give you clear and precise sound.  The Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones are some of the most reliable, consistent and best over ear headphones on the market and for a very reasonable price.

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#4 AKG K712 Pro Over-Ear Mastering/Reference Headphones

AKG K712 Pro Over-Ear Mastering/Reference Headphones - best over ear headphones

Key Features:

  • Over-ear design maximum wearing comfort for long work sessions
  • Sophisticated open technology for spacious and airy sound without compromise
  • Improved low-end performance by 3dB for more powerful sound imaging
  • Revolutionary flat wire voice coil for incredible impulse and treble response

Why are they so good?

For starters, these headphones look beautiful.  AKG only make a handful of over ear headphones, but they are often considered some of the best over ear headphones on the market.  They are generally designed for mixing and mastering music.  However, if you just love music and love your music to sound great, these are a great pair of headphones.  They produce a very natural sound.  The bass accurate and well defined, while the high end is crystal clear. They make you feel like you are the producer mixing the song you are listening too.  The ear pads are made from memory foam, which help ensure they are extra comfortable, so much so you will sometimes forget you are even wearing them.

Potential Drawbacks

The AKG headphones, like the Sennheisers they are quite big and they are open back headphones, so if you wanted a pair of headphones for commuting or using in public space, they will leak sound.

Verdict

A really great sound and great looking pair of headphones.  They are great for mixing and mastering with, but also perfect for just enjoying great sounding music.  The AKG K712s are some of the best over ear headphones that money can buy.

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#5 Sony MDR-1A Premium Hi-Res Stereo

Sony MDR-1A - best over ear headphones

Key Features:

  • Sound Reproduction up to 100 kHz
  • 40 mm driver units with ALCP for articulate audio reproduction
  • 4-conductor cable for better signal separation and resulting sound quality
  • Ergonomic ear pads for powerful response and long-term comfort
  • Compatible with 3 optional cables engineered with Kimber Kable
  • Silver coated OFC cable minimizes signal transmission loss
  • Beat Response Control for improved bass and transient response
  • Enfolding structure for wrap-around feel and improved acoustic seal
  • Inward axis structure delivers optimum fit
  • Silent joints won’t disturb your audio experience
  • In-line remote and microphone for hands-free phone calling

Why are they so good?

Sony are well known for making consistenly great headphones, and the MDR-1A headphones are no exception.  The MDR-1A are a lightweight and comfortable headphone that offers an improvement in sound compared to its predecessor, the MDR-1R.  The MDR-1As are very practical headphones and will work well as when on move or commuting.  They are fairly small and the rotating ear cups make them easy to pack away.

In terms of performance, the MDR-1A sound great.  They have a good, smooth balance between bass, midrange and treble and the stereo image is spacious.  The MDR-1A headphones are perfect for audophiles who want to hear sound as accurately as possible the bass being boosted artificially.  Due to their comfortable, the MDR-1A headphones will also enable you to listen for hours on end.

With the headphones you get two standard length 1.2-meter cables, one of which has a one-button inline remote and microphone. It’s aimed at Android phones but also works with iPhones. If you have Android phone, you can use the free SmartKey app to customize the button controls at your leisure.

Potential Drawbacks

The most obvious drawback for the MDR-1A is that there is no inline remote for iPhone users, however this is quite minor.  They are quite pricey as a midrange headphone, however if you were to buy a pair you would not feel short changed as they are very good.

Verdict

A really great looking and sound headphone perfect for everyday use.  The Sony MDR-1A probably wouldn’t be the best choice if your main purpose was mixing or mastering.  However, if you are looking for a comfortable, versatile and true sounding set of headphones for everyday use, the MDR-1A headphones are an excellent choice.

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