Best over-ear headphones for 2020: Bose, Sony and more

True audiophiles will discover that full-size around-ear or over-ear headphones are superior to utilizing earbuds. An inventory of greatest over-ear headphones previously would have included many wired fashions, however shoppers nowadays are inclined to want wireless headphones, so that they make up the steadiness of what is highlighted right here. Most additionally characteristic active noise-canceling know-how to drown out ambient sound.

So, with apologies to audio purists (however probably not, as a result of these all supply nice sound high quality and a top-notch listening expertise with out tethering you by an audio cable), this is a have a look at our present prime picks for greatest over ear headphones. We thought of components like battery life, noise isolation, and the consolation of the ear cup (in addition to audio high quality, after all), and we’ll replace this listing often as we overview new merchandise.

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Sony’s WH-1000XM3, the third technology of Sony’s glorious wi-fi noise-canceling headphones, has a extra comfy match (the adjustable headband helps enormously, and the ear pads are very soft) and options even higher headphones sound and music efficiency than its predecessor. Battery life is vital, and with a robust battery life, it is presently our top-rated audio headphone with noise cancellation, edging out background noise and the Bose headphones on some key factors.

We get that these are among the many costlier headphones, however for folks trying to make an funding in high quality, these are actually good earphones to spend your cash on. 

Read our Sony WH-1000XM3 review.

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Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to its QuietComfort 35 II fashions, will not be a quantum leap ahead, however they provide barely higher sound, name and noise cancellation high quality for an optimum listening expertise. Alas, these Bose headphones price $400, however they seem to be a robust all-around audio performer with as much as 20 hours of battery life on a single cost. That is quite a lot of battery life!

Read our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.

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V-Moda’s M-200 is a wired-only headphone and one of many few wired over-ear headphones on this listing. Launched in late 2019, these clear and detailed sounding over-ear headphones have nice sound and glorious bass response, and the soft ear cups imply they’re additionally comfy to put on. That includes 50mm drivers with neodymium magnets, CCAW voice coils and fine-tuning by Roland engineers — V-Moda is now owned by Roland — the M‑200 is Hello‑Res Audio-certified by the Japan Audio Society. Different V-Moda earphones are inclined to push the bass a bit, however this has the extra impartial sound profile that you just’d count on from a studio monitor headphone. These studio-quality headphones include two cords, one among which has a built-in microphone for making calls. It will be useful if V-Moda provided Lightning or USB-C headphone cables for smartphone customers.

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With regards to premium noise-canceling headphones, Bose and Sony have been the dominant sound gamers over the previous few years. However now Sennheiser has turned up with its new Momentum 3 Wireless and it deserves some consideration, notably from people who’re followers of the Momentum line. It is available for purchase now for $309 — even lower than Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

Not solely does it characteristic enhanced audio high quality with improved noise-canceling options (goodbye, exterior noise) and glorious sound and audio for listening to music, but it surely additionally performs properly as a headset for making calls in your iPhone or Android. Whereas its noise cancellation and luxury degree would not fairly measure as much as the noise cancellation and luxury of Sony WH-1000XM3’s, it has properly padded ear cups coated with sheep leather-based and I had no hassle rocking it for a two-hour music listening session, to say nothing of the battery life.

Read our Sennheiser Momentum 3 first take.

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Whereas its noise canceling and luxury aren’t fairly on par with competing fashions from Bose and Sony, JBL’s Dwell 650BTNC measures up properly by way of sound — the perfect over ear headphones should you do not need to spend various hundred {dollars}. The listening expertise continues to be superb, the ear pads are comfy and little or no ambient noise leaks by. These over-ear headphones are value contemplating should you do not need to spend $300 or extra on noise-canceling headphones. We just like the sound of that.

Read our JBL Live 650BTNC review.

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I appreciated Bowers & Wilkins’ original PX noise-canceling over-ear headphones, however they had been barely missing within the consolation and noise-canceling departments. The corporate’s new PX7, launched within the fall of 2019, improves on each fronts, with glorious sound, 4 noise-canceling settings (Computerized, Low, Excessive and Off) and a properly padded ear cushion in a sturdy, eye-catching design. There’s additionally an adjustable ambient “transparency” mode that permits you to hear the skin world.

The headphones are a tad heavy at 10.7 ounces (304 grams), however the construct high quality is top-notch — and it higher be, contemplating these are a bit expensive at $400. Bowers & Wilkins additionally makes a extra compact on-ear mannequin, the PX5, which prices $100 much less and can be fairly good. However this mannequin does sound a bit higher.  

The sound is wealthy and detailed with deep bass that continues to be properly outlined even at excessive volumes. It is a fairly dynamic headphone, with a contact of additional power within the mid-highs. It is not laid-back like the sooner PX5 Wireless and its most direct competitor might be the Sennheiser Momentum three above. That Sennheiser is arguably superior for making calls, however this B&W in all probability wins on design. 

These Bluetooth headphones assist AAC and aptX, use Bluetooth 5.0, cost by way of USB-C and have as much as 30 hours of battery life at reasonable quantity ranges. Its noise canceling is not fairly on the degree of the Bose or Sony, but it surely’s not far off — as I mentioned, it is improved from the unique PX’s noise canceling.  

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When Jabra first introduced its new Elite 85h ($300, £280) over-ear headphones, it touted how it could be geared up with always-on (hands-free) voice assistant management utilizing Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. Alas, that characteristic did not make it into the ultimate product — apparently it affected battery life an excessive amount of, and battery life is important — however the Elite 85h is however a wonderful noise-canceling headphone that makes music and different audio sound good. It is comfy to put on and likewise works properly as a headset for making calls — vital for over-ear headphones.

Read our Jabra Elite 85h review.

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Launched approach again in 1991, the Sony MDR-7506 has lengthy been a favourite headphone of recording engineers and different sound professionals (sure, this can be a wired headphone). The origins of its design date even additional again, for the reason that MDR-7506 is, actually, a refresh of the Sony MDR-V6 that rolled out in 1985. Each fashions had been designed for the professional sound market, however stay massively standard with shoppers.

Whereas the 2 headphones have the identical design and are very comfy, they do not sound equivalent. Each supply very well-balanced sound and glorious readability for his or her modest costs — and each are nice general values. However the V6 makes a bit extra bass and sounds extra laid-back and mellow, whereas the 7506 is leaner with a extra accentuated treble vary, which makes it a bit crisper and livelier.

Read our Sony MDR 7506 review.

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One other audiophile favourite, Grado’s Status Sequence SR325e has been round for some time — we reviewed these over-ear headphones again in 2014. It is an open-back wired mannequin, which implies it leaks sound (do not use it in an open-office setting), but it surely delivers among the most open, detailed sound you will discover at this value. 

Grado, which is predicated in Brooklyn, New York, and builds most of its merchandise there, has not modified the long-lasting exterior design of the headphones and like its SR325 predecessors (the earlier mannequin was the SR325i), his mannequin has the identical agency, bowl-shaped foam pads that apply a bit extra stress to the outer edges of your ears than the extra easy foam pads of the step-down SR80e, that are arguably extra comfy. The SR80e headphones are considerably lighter, however not of the identical construct high quality because the SR325e mannequin. Some folks like Grado’s earpads (they’re user-replaceable), however general we would say this mannequin’s consolation degree is not as much as the extent of its sound high quality: Consolation is sweet however not nice.

Read our Grado Prestige Series SR325e review.


Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay H9 would not get talked about a lot within the dialogue of prime noise-canceling headphones as a result of at $500, it is a actually expensive pair of headphones. The most recent third-generation model has been upgraded in just a few vital ways in which make it higher than the sooner H9i. Battery life for this model has improved over the earlier model to 25 hours, there’s now a devoted button in your voice assistant, the padding on the ear cushions and headband is cushier and the contact controls have been tweaked. The sound continues to be good.

Some folks, notably weightlifters, wish to work out in full-size headphones, and the BackBeat Match 6100 over-the-ear wi-fi headphones are a really stable selection for each the gymnasium and on a regular basis use. The adjustable sport-fit headband has an IPX5-rated waterproof and sweat-proof design, 40mm angled drivers and noise-isolating ear cups with an “Consciousness” mode. Battery life is rated at 24 hours. They sound fairly good and actually keep in your head securely — you’ll be able to alter the strain within the headband, which is revolutionary and splendid for train headphones. 

They’re a bit costly at their listing value of $180, however typically the worth dips nearer to $100. They’re out there in black, camo and grey.

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David Carnoy