Best Over-Ear Headphones

UPDATED July 2024

Over-ear headphones let you enjoy your favorite activities without disrupting others. Our shopping guide will help you find the best headphones for you.


Mpow Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones


The passive noise technology used by these headphones will muffle some of the noises around you. You can use this set as a wired or wireless pair to get more out of the battery.


With a low price tag and good audio, these headphones from Mpow are perfect for anyone who wants to save money. You can connect them to almost any device using Bluetooth to listen to music without wires.


These headphones are a little too large for some users, especially those with smaller heads. A handful of the reviews we read claimed that the sound produced came out slightly muffled.

JVC Full-Size Headphones


Often called the best affordable pair of headphones, this set from JVC produces good clarity and sound that you can improve even further with an amp. This set also has padding on both the collar and the ear cushions.


Thanks to a low sensitivity, these headphones will let you hear everything that you listen to with good quality. The included plug has gold plating on the top to further improve that quality.


Some shoppers found that they needed an amp to improve the sound quality of these headphones. You might have some issues with the included cable coming loose too.

Beyerdynamic PRO Studio Headphones


The large frequency range found on this pair of headphones ensures that you hear everything you need to hear. Many shoppers like that they can replace the ear pads on this pair too.


Designed for mixing beats in a studio, these Beyerdynamic headphones are also the best pair for gaming. They provide you with the clear audio sound you desire and block out background noises to help you focus on your games.


These headphones don’t fit quite as comfortably as other pairs do. The only real problem you might experience though is with the treble and bass balance.

Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System


When you want professional sound quality and want to block out background noise, this is the pair for you. Most shoppers found that this pair is worth the price because of features such as a ring radiator and two connecting cables.


Similar to the headphones that professional audio producers use, these Sennheiser headphones will meet all your needs. This pair comes with two  cables that you can use for connecting to any device.


These headphones cost more than any other pair we saw, which might turn you off. A few customers thought the sound quality could be better for that price.

Sony Premium Hi-Res Stereo Headphones


One of the highest rated headphones around is this pair from Sony, which has an adjustable headband and extra padding around the ears. It has a low sensitivity rating and is compatible with many different cables.


This pair of Sony headphones comes with a cable that gives you professional sound quality and is compatible with other cables. The headphones wrap around your head for added comfort and feature lots of foam padding.


The foam on the ear cushions may come loose after a few months to a year of use. You might notice a crackling sound coming through the wire too.

Shopping Guide for the Best Over-Ear Headphones

When you have the right type of headphones, you can escape from the sounds around you and have some time for yourself. Many people today prefer over-ear headphones, also called over the ear headphones. The best over ear headphones for 2024 are those that produce clear audio sound and those that are comfortable to wear. You can use a pair to listen to the gentle sounds of nature when falling asleep at night or to play loud action games as others in your home sleep. The best over ear headphones are also suitable for listening to music and watching films and television shows.

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Shopping Guide for the Best Over-Ear Headphones

Our shopping guide to the top over-ear headphones doesn’t simply give you a list of models and tell you to buy one of those models. We want to ensure that you know everything there is to know about headphones and that you feel confident making a purchase once you finish reading. You should start with the chart above that shows the top five pairs we found. The product descriptions located further down on this page tells you ever more about those headphones. You can then find out the benefits of over-ear headphones and which features you need.

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Selection Criteria

CNET and Tech Radar are just a few of the resources that you’ll find listed in the Resources and Further Reading section of our shopping guide. We used those websites and others to find out what shoppers looked for in headphones and which over-ear headphones professionals liked the best. Those experts offered their own feedback and opinions on which models were the top options for the year. We took their factors into consideration when choosing the top five models for 20. The experts that we consulted actually recommend more than 20 different pairs. Though some were better than others, we really wanted to find the best of the best.

In addition to seeing what audio and tech experts thought, we also wanted to get feedback directly from customers, which is why we used Amazon.

Selection Criteria - Best Over-ear Headphones

We looked at more than 1,000 reviews to narrow down our list to the top five headphones and to decide which of those headphones were right for different shoppers. We found pairs for those on a tight budget and those who like gaming. As you check out our shopping guide to the best over ear headphones, you’ll also find headphones that fit comfortably and those designed for professionals.

The absolute best pair of headphones that fit over your ears on the market is this Bluetooth set from Mpow. Even if you never heard of Mpow before, don’t let that keep you from spending your money on this pair. These headphones are quite affordable and perfect for wearing as you play video games or listen to tunes. Each ear cushion uses memory foam that molds to your ears for lasting comfort. Those cushions also surround your ears and help the sound stay exactly where you want it to stay. You can buy these headphones in a few different colors too.

Though this pair does not protect against active noises such as others watching television in the same room, it does protect against passive noises. This technology blocks out some of the sounds that you would otherwise hear. The included battery lasts for more than 13 hours when using the headphones with your phone and up to 20 hours when listening to music. You can plug in the headphones and use them with a simple wire as the battery charges also. Thanks to Bluetooth, these headphones will connect to devices located more than 30 feet away. Some customers found that the headphones connect faster than others did too.

What are Over Ear Headphones?

Also called over the ear headphones, over-ear headphones are products designed to fit over and completely cover your ears. You might confuse this type with something called on-ear headphones. With on-ear headphones, the foam padding actually sits directly on top of your ear. Over-ear headphones not only sit on your ear but wrap around it too. The main problem with on-ear headphones is that the band on the top can fit too tightly. You might also find that some of the background and ambient noise around you comes through because of gaps between the headphones and your ears.

Over the ear headphones do a better job of blocking out sounds and noises. While many cannot completely cancel those noises, most will block out much of that sound. The housing used on the outside is often larger in size and can accommodate larger parts and better technology that improves the sound coming through. We found both wired and wireless models available. To help you decide which type is better for you, we’ll do a direct comparison between the two models later. The only downside to headphones that fit over the ear is that they are large in size. You might feel tired when wearing a pair or have problems finding space to store them.

Parts of Over-Ear Headphones

Headband / collar
Wire / cable
Ear pads / cushions

What are Over Ear Headphones
  • Video games: You can use headphones that fit over your ears when playing any type of video or computer game. Whether you choose a wired or wireless pair, you can connect the headphones right to your console or computer.
  • Listening to music: Listening to music is one of the more common uses for over ear headphones. The music reaches your ear, while the ear pads or cushions keep those tunes from disturbing anyone nearby.
  • On the go: Though many people stick with earbuds and smaller headphones when traveling, you can take over-ear headphones with you on the go. The right pair is perfect for listening to music in your hotel room or watching videos on your phone while your family sleeps.
  • Watching films and shows: You can also wear and use over-ear headphones as you watch all your favorite TV shows and films. They do a good job of blocking out noises without the sounds of those videos bothering anyone else.
  • Listening to books: Amazon and other companies now offer audiobooks that you can buy or rent and download right to a device. You might listen to those stories on your phone or tablet or in your car. When you use a smaller device, you can wear headphones as you listen. With headphones that fit over the ears, you can focus on those tales.
How Can You Use Over-Ear Headphones - over ear
On ear
How Can You Use Over-Ear Headphones - on ear
Best Over-Ear Headphones for Gaming Beyerdynamic PRO Studio Headphones
Gamers know that missing vital pieces of information can keep them from completing their tasks and finishing their games. If you love playing computer and video games, you will like these headphones from Beyerdynamic, which we think are the best ones for gaming. The PRO Studio has a traditional design that is suitable for those who spend long hours in the booth. Those features also help you feel comfortable as you play games for hours or more. They have a thick headband that cushions the top of your head to feel like they aren’t even there.

Located on one side of this pair is a long cable that you can plug into your console or cable. You can also remove this cable and use the headphones with one of your own. Both the headband and the ear pads come off this pair too. Some gamers will want to change out the ear pads when their old ones wear down or swap out the band with a different design. The ear pads provide you with a good balance and with good sound quality. Those pads feature a soft outer cover and multiple layers of foam that wrap around your ears.

  • Comfortable fit: The biggest advantage that over-ear headphones have is that they provide a comfortable fit. You’ll find foam or a similar type of padding used on the cups and cushions that sit on your ears. Some models also have padding on the band. You may want to look for a pair with an adjustable band, especially if you like wearing hats or plan on sharing the headphones with someone else.
  • Portable: Though some people think that smaller earbuds are much easier to carry, you shouldn’t have a problem carrying a pair of these headphones. Many of the headphones that made our list actually come with a carrying or travel case. This case can hold the cord and the headphones as well as any other accessories you might need.
  • Better performance: A good reason to choose over the ear headphones is because of the sound quality and performance provided. The frequency range on these models is much higher than the range that others have. You can hear both low and high notes clearly.
  • Noise rejection: Even if you purchase a pair that doesn’t cancel noises, you’ll find that they do reject noises. Noise rejection refers to the way in which the headphones block out those noises and stop the waves associated with background sounds from reaching your ears.
Benefits of Over Ear Headphones

Wired vs. Wireless Headphones

Before we compare wired headphones to wireless models, we wanted to make sure that you understand how each pair works. Wired models have a single cable that extends down from one ear cup. This cable has a plug on the end that you can insert into the jack port on your computer or phone. The plug will work on most gaming consoles and other devices too. Experts often recommend cables with a gold plating on top of the metal because gold has strong conductive properties.

Wireless headphones rely on Bluetooth technology to stream your music and sounds. You must use the Bluetooth to establish a connection between the headphones and that device. Both types of headphones have some pros and cons that you should consider.

Pros of Wired Headphones

  • Provides much better audio quality
  • Does not require that you use any batteries
  • Compatible with most electronics
  • Doesn’t pick up as much static and interference

Cons of Wired Headphones

  • May not be compatible with newer devices that you purchase
  • Cables can get in your way
  • Plug can easily fall out of the jack

Pros of Wireless Headphones

  • Are easy to carry and use when you get a carrying case
  • Compatible with most devices
  • Gives you more freedom to move with the headphones
  • Will work with future versions of Bluetooth

Cons of Wireless Headphones

  • Audio quality can be quite poor
  • Requires the use of batteries that can limit how long you can use the headphones
  • Can pick up interference from other electronics
  • May have a short range

When you look at the two different types on paper, you might think that wired over-ear headphones are always better than wired headphones. The truth is that some shoppers still prefer wireless models. If you spend a lot of time moving or want headphones that you can wear anywhere in your home, a wireless pair is best for you. Those who play games or watch videos in the same spot might prefer a wired pair.

Though many shoppers want a simple pair of headphones that they can wear over their ears while relaxing at home, others want a professional pair that they can wear when producing tracks. Even if you don’t have your own studio booth, we highly recommend this Sennheiser pair for those who want professional sound quality. This pair features a classic design with headphones attached to a collar that you can wear on top of your head or across your neck. This collar has padding to help you work for hours without feeling any discomfort or fatigue. You’ll also find padding on each ear cushion. This keeps the larger headphones from weighing down your head and ears.

Best Professional Over-Ear Headphones Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System

The ring radiator used in this pair is the largest available and will improve the sound that you hear. This set also uses absorption technology that actually absorbs and blocks background noises to help you focus on exactly what you want to hear. Many shoppers like the design of the ear cups, which puts the speakers at a slight angle against your ears. This allows more sound waves to reach you faster and helps you hear the slightest of noises. You also get two cables for connecting the headphones to your devices.

How to Connect Over Ear Headphones Using Bluetooth

  • Get close to the device: For wireless headphones to work, you must be within range. You can change the instructions that came with the pair to ensure you are close enough to the device.
  • Turn on the headphones: Most wireless headphones have a small power button near the base of the band. This lets you turn them on and off to keep the battery from running out. You’ll want to press the button and wait for a light to come on, which indicates the headphones are ready to use.
  • Adjust your settings: Depending on the device that you use, you may need to change its settings. This is a step that you must take with an iPad or a television. You can select the settings menu and scroll down until you see wireless options.
  • Select the headphones: Once you enter the settings menu, you’ll want to find the headphones listed in this section. Your device may pick up on other Bluetooth devices in the vicinity such as your phone or tablet.
  • Pro tip: When connecting new wireless headphones to a video game console, you must first use the adapter or plug that came with the pair and plug it into the jack on the console. This forces a connection between the two devices that will make it easier for the console to find the headphones later.
How to Connect Over Ear Headphones Using Bluetooth

Common Connection Errors

No matter how often you use your headphones, you might encounter an error message because a device cannot find the headphones. This can occur for a few reasons, including:

You’re out of range : Most headphones have a range of around 30 feet. If you are too far away from the device, it cannot detect the headphones.

Drivers need updating : You may need to update your console or a smart television. Until you finish that update, the device will not detect your headphones.

Dead or dying batteries : There is a chance that you might have a connection error because the batteries in your headphones are dead or dying. This can weaken the signal that the device looks for before creating a connection.

Electrical interference : Electrical interference is a common issue that can cause a connection error. This often occurs when you have too many devices running in the same room. You may want to remove some devices or turn off their Bluetooth features.

Many shoppers have a difficult time finding over-ear headphones that actually fit their heads. Whether you have a smaller or a larger head, you won’t have any issues using this pair from Sony. We called this set the best fitting over-ear headphones because of how well they fit. The headphones itself has an adjustable design that lets you adjust the band before putting on the headphones or while the pair is already on. It also has padding along the bottom to keep the band from rubbing against your head and hair. Both the ear cushions have foam padding hidden behind a soft cover. Sony used an ergonomic design on the ear cushions too.

This is a wired pair that features its own cable, which is compatible with most devices. Sony extended the length of this cable to help you move more freely when using the headphones. This cable separates the different signals that come through to help the full and rich audio sound reach your ears. You can also use this pair with other compatible cables to connect them to other devices. Sony also gives you a carrying case for using the headphones while you’re away from home too.

When to Replace Your Headphones

  • Old model: You’ll often want to replace old headphones because they are no longer compatible with your favorite devices. Even if you want to stick with a wired pair, the plug might not work in modern jacks.
  • You hear distortion: Distortion can occur because of other electronics in the area. It often occurs because the headphones have worn wiring inside though. That distortion can sound like white noise or a loud crackling/popping sound. When you replace your headphones, you can enjoy clear sound without any distortion or interference.
  • Discomfort: All the headphones that made this list have such a comfortable fit that you might forget you slipped on a pair. You should replace headphones that feel too heavy on your head and any that cause pain in your ears or neck.
  • Wrong fit: When you put on a pair of headphones, the ear pads should cover your ears and lightly touch the backs of your ears. They should not rub against your neck or slide off your ears. If your old headphones do not fit comfortably over your ears, you need a new pair.
  • Electric shock: You should always replace any headphones that give you an electric shock when using them. This can indicate a loose wire inside and a problem that will only worsen over time.
When to Replace Your Headphones

Expert Tip

Though you might consider throwing away your headphones because the cover on the ear pads wore down or because the foam inside broke away, contact the manufacturer instead. Many manufacturers offer replacement padding and covers. If your headphones are still under warranty, the company may repair them for you for free or a low price.

How to Check for the Proper Fit

Though you might assume that all over-ear headphones are roughly the same size, manufacturers offer these models with ear pads that are slightly larger or smaller than others. There are some specific things you should look at to ensure that the headphones fit properly on your head.

  • Adjustable band: We highly recommend buying a pair with an adjustable band. This band might fit right on top of your head or go around your neck, depending on how you wear the headphones. A pair with an adjustable band ensures that they won’t slide down or off your head.
  • Weight: You might not think twice about how much the headphones weigh, but this is something you should consider, especially if you plan on binging television shows or playing a game for hours. Headphones that feel too heavy can feel uncomfortable and lead to you taking them off or taking frequent breaks.
  • Ear pads: As you slide on the headphones, you’ll want to make sure that the ear pads offer the coverage that you need. No matter how many layers of materials are inside, the pads should sit flush on the sides of your head and slightly overhang or wrap around your ears.

Signs That Your Headphones are the Wrong Size

How to Check for the Proper Fit

Not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of headphones, but you can get the quality and sound that you want with this pair from JVC. Often called the best pair of headphones for under $50, this pair is perfect for those who want to play games and watch films at home.

We like the low driver used in this pair and that it has a low sensitivity rating. Not only does this rating let you know that you can hear the lower background and audio noises in a song but that you can avoid some of the noises in the room with you. The headband on this model adjusts in seconds to fit your head and give you the comfort that you need. Both the headband and the ear cushions have padding to help you feel even more comfortable. We also like the structure of this pair, which puts the speakers inside as close to your ears as possible.

JVC designed this pair to use a simple wire with a plug that you can pop right into any device. You will notice that the plug uses gold plating to improve the quality of the sounds that you hear too.

What to Consider When Buying Over-Ear Headphones

Sound Quality
The most important factor when picking new headphones is the overall sound quality provided. Cheap headphones often have poor quality. When you listen to music at a louder volume, you’ll likely hear some distortion that will prevent you from hearing words and notes. Many cheap models will produce a crackling sound when you use the headphones with newer phones and stereos. Reading customer reviews is the best way to find out if the headphones you want have the sound quality that you need. You should keep in mind that you can return headphones with a poor sound quality for a refund.

Cord Length
When shopping for corded or wired headphones, you must take a look at the length of the cord. The cord is the cable that runs from the headphones to your device. While the plug might add two inches or more to the total length, you should focus primarily on the length of the cord alone. Many of the headphones we saw have a cord that is between two and three feet in length. You may want a longer cord because your couch is on the opposite side of the room from your console or because you want to listen to music when falling asleep.

Battery Life
One advantage to wireless headphones is that you don’t need to worry about tripping over the cable that you plug into your device. You will need to worry about the overall battery life of that product though. Manufacturers seldom give you an exact time frame because they know that the battery will run down faster when you listen to music or talk on your phone. Most batteries will last for at least 10 hours when it active use and up to 20 hours or longer in standby mode. You may want to compare the battery life of the headphones with the battery life of your phone or music player.

Device Compatibility
There is nothing worse than spending money on a new pair of headphones and finding that they are not compatible with your favorite devices. You may want to check with the manufacturer of your device to see if they recommend products from other companies. Though most manufacturers of video game consoles make headphones for those consoles, you can also purchase compatible models from other companies. Compatibility may depend on the type of jack or input on your device and the type of plug used on the headphones. You may want to see if the headphones are compatible with devices from different companies too because you plan on buying new products later.

Whether you want to sit down on the couch and play games with friends for a few hours or lounge in bed with a good audiobook, you must make certain that the headphones you buy are comfortable. If the headphones are too heavy or light, you might find that you can only sit or lay down in one position. The weight of the headphones can also determine how comfortable you feel. While over-ear headphones are heavier than other types, they shouldn’t feel so heavy that you have a hard time holding your head upright or moving your head.

Sennheiser is one of the top names in the audio industry and makes products with professional designs. While we added a pair of headphones from this company to our list that retails for around $1,500, you don’t need to spend as much to get a pair that fits your budget. We found two different pairs that retail for less than $50 and came across a number of headphones that retail for $100 to $300. Once you set your budget, you can search for headphones from our list and those recommended by other experts that will fit all your audio needs.

Active vs. Passive Noise Canceling
You’ll find headphones that work on either active or passive noises. Active noise refers to sounds produced at the moment. These headphones have built-in microphones that will monitor the area around you and detect any possible noises. As soon as the microphone detects a sound, the headphones will work to muffle and block the sound. Those that work on passive noises will only protect your ears from sounds produced in the immediate vicinity. These headphones will not block sounds but will help isolate your ears from those noises. Active noise canceling headphones are often more expensive than passive noise canceling models are.

Update Options
You should also make sure that the headphones you buy give you the option of updating them later, especially if you want a wireless pair. Wireless models use Bluetooth technology to create a connection. If you ever had a phone or a tablet that used Bluetooth, you know that this technology can change from one year to the next when a new version lands on the market. When you have headphones that use an older form of Bluetooth, you may have a difficult time connecting it to newer devices. Headphone manufacturers will often let you download new updates almost instantly.

Though audiophiles know what the word soundstage refers to, you might not understand what it means. When actors and directors work on productions, they work on stages and have microphones that pick up the smallest of sounds. When you watch the action on your own screen, you’ll see and hear everything. In terms of headphones, soundstage refers to the way in which sounds reach your ears. This tells you how well the headphones can make you believe that different noises occur around you. For example, you might hear a soft whisper in one ear during a dramatic film scene and hear laughter in both ears when watching a comedy. Those sounds act as cues and show you how to respond.

Head or Neck?
Headphones that fit over the ear often feature a headband that keeps each ear pad directly on your ear. Though you might assume that all bands sit on top of your head, you can actually choose a pair that sits on your neck. Those that sit on your head feature a band that lifts up from one ear pad and wraps over the top of your head to reach the ear pad on the opposite side. Some shoppers prefer models that sit on their necks because this keeps the band from messing up their hair. You might find that one model fits more comfortably.

Voice Assistant
Have you ever watched a movie on your phone and saw an actor but couldn’t remember where you saw him before? With older headphones, you’ll need to pause the video and pull them off before doing a search on your phone. Some newer models are now compatible with voice assistant programs such as the Siri that iPhones use and the Google Assistant used on Android phones. This lets you press a button on the headphones and ask a question. You can get the answer that you want in seconds. You’ll also find models that will automatically perform a search based on the questions that you ask without requiring that you press a button.

As we mentioned in the section above on sound quality, you can return headphones that don’t meet your needs. This is often a waste of your precious time though. By the time the headphones arrive and you decide to send them back, a few weeks might go by. It can take even longer to get a new pair shipped to you. As you look at warranty information, you should see if the manufacturer offers a money back guarantee and how much time you have before the warranty runs out. The warranty should cover the ear pads and the band on the headphones as well as the radiator and other interior components.

Volume Controls
Over the ear headphones will have volume controls located in one of two areas. Some put those controls on a small plastic component attached to the cable. Other models put the volume controls on the outside of one of the ear pads. The best type of volume control really depends on which you prefer. You might like having the cord on the cable because you can grab it and adjust the volume quickly. If you don’t want to take your eyes off the action as you change the volume, you’ll prefer controls located near your ears.

Open vs. Closed
Another feature to consider is whether you prefer an open or a closed back design. This essentially gives you an idea of how clear sounds will hear to your ears. Audiophiles often prefer open back designs because these headphones really open up the sounds that they hear. You might compare this type to the sound that you would hear while standing in the middle of a concert with open air areas all around you. Those with a closed back will sound just as clear but will push those sounds deeper into your ears. Audiophiles sometimes claim that these headphones let them hear music the way artists intended.

What to Consider When Buying Over-Ear Headphones

Your Guide to Filtered Earplugs

If you love listening to loud music but worry about damaging your ears, you should consider wearing a pair of filtered earplugs. Though similar to traditional earplugs, they block out some of the sound waves. You’ll still hear all the audio you want while also protecting your eardrums.

What You Should and Should Not Hear

A good pair of headphones will let you focus on your game or show without worrying about anything happening around you. Though you can look at features such as sound quality and fit before you buy, there are some things you won’t find until you actually buy and wear a pair of headphones. The first time that you wear that pair, we recommend that you listen closely and make sure that you hear only certain things and not others.

What You Want to Hear

  • Crystal clear audio sound that matches what you see on your screen
  • Even balance that allows sounds to come through each side equally
  • A lack of distortion or feedback
  • Softer and louder sounds that help you keep up with all the action on the screen

What You Don’t Want to Hear

  • The sounds of other people or pets in your home
  • Crackling or popping sounds that worsen when you adjust the volume
  • Sounds that are so low you have a problem following the story in front of you
  • Any noises coming from other rooms or outside of your home
  • Volume that fluctuates as you move or change positions

Did You Know?

There are certain frequencies that you cannot hear as you age. If you have a hard time keeping up with sounds and are over the age of 30 or 35, those issues might relate to your ears and not your headphones.

Do You Need a Microphone?

Some headphones today feature a built-in microphone that allows you to talk through those headphones as well as listen to music or watch videos. You’ll typically see a small knob on the cable that you can twist to turn on the microphone. Some models, especially wireless models, have a button on the outside of the ear cup that you can press to turn the microphone on and off. You may need headphones with a built-in microphone if any of the following applies to you.

  • Cell phone usage: If you plan on using a pair of over-ear headphones with your cell phone, you should opt for a pair with a microphone. This allows you to pause videos and games to accept a phone call. You can just as quickly end the call and resume the action later.
  • Online gamers: Anyone who plays games with an online component should look for headphones that feature a microphone. While you can play on teams and with other men and women, you cannot really get into the action. When you have a microphone, you can talk to your crew without relying on a keyboard.
  • For recording: Headphones that come with a microphone are also suitable for those who want to record themselves. You can use the microphone to record an upcoming presentation for work or school and when adding narration to home movies. The headphones will help you hear and focus on your voice as you speak.

Signs You Don't Need Over-Ear Headphones with a Microphone

Do You Need a Microphone

Signs That You Need to Clean Your Headphones

No matter how often you use your headphones or where you use them, you’ll pick up germs and debris every day. This can occur because you stored a pair in your bag during the day or because you leave them laying on the floor. There are some clear signs that you need to clean your headphones though.

  • Cover feels rough or stiff: The cover on each ear cup should feel soft against your ears. As you sweat, you release moisture that can build up on that cover and make it feel stiff or rough to the touch.
  • Greasy film: You should run your hand across the band on your headphones and any other hard areas to see if you notice a greasy film on those surfaces. That film comes from your sweat and any health or beauty products you use, including shampoo and lotion.
  • Odd smell: Headphones can develop an odd smell or a dank odor because of the products that you use around them. Cooking smells and any cologne or perfume can move from the air and onto the headphones. You might notice that the padding smells worse than the band does.
  • Dull sound: A dull sound coming from your headphones is another sign that you need to clean them. Earwax and other debris can build up on the cushions and prevent the sound from coming through clearly.

Debris You Might See on Your Headphones

Signs That You Need to Clean Your Headphones

Tips for Cleaning Over Ear Headphones

  • Clean the outside: You’ll want to start on the outside of your headphones. We recommend diluting a small amount of ordinary dish soap with some hot water. You can apply the mixture with a cloth and then run a cloth dipped in clean water over those surfaces before drying the headphones. This solution will work on the ear pad covers and the band.
  • Remove and clean the ear pads: The ear pads and the covers should come off when you apply a little pressure. You can clean the interior of the pads with the same mixture you used above. This is an important step because earwax can seep out of your ears and onto the pads.
  • Use rubbing alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is a liquid that most audiophiles keep in their toolkits. Though commonly used as a first-aid product, it is great for cleaning electronics because it will dry when exposed to air. Rubbing alcohol will not damage any sensitive parts either. You can apply the liquid to the inside of the ears with a cotton swab.
  • Hand sanitizer tip: Hand sanitizer works just as well as rubbing alcohol, though you’ll want to avoid any product that uses artificial fragrances. It kills germs and bacteria as it removes debris. When using hand sanitizer, use it in the same way you would rubbing alcohol.

Tips for Storing Your Headphones

  • Use a case: Even if you bought headphones that do not come with a case, you should still use one. The right case will keep the cord from tangling and prevent dust from building up on the ear pads.
  • Wrap cord correctly: Experts recommend using a figure eight motion to wrap the cord on your headphones. You’ll hold the cord between two fingers and slowly wrap the ends around one finger and then the other, alternating which finger you use. The cord will look like a figure eight when you finish.
  • Buy specialty tools: You can get aftermarket accessories from a number of different companies today that will make it easier for you to store your headphones. If you use a pair for gaming, you might install a hook near your TV for the headphones. You’ll also find cases with hard or soft sides designed specifically for headphones and matching accessories.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes: The best way to maintain your headphones and make them last longer is with the right type of storage. This includes storing them in a location that experiences the same temperature throughout the day and night. You’ll want to avoid storing headphones in extremely hot or cold areas.

How Much Should You Pair for Over-Ear Headphones?

We don’t want to come right out and tell you that you should spend X amount of dollars on a new pair of headphones because we know that shoppers always have different budgets in mind. The best pair that we found retails for under $50. We also found that best pair priced at under $30. Before you shop with a budget in mind, you should sit down and write a list of the features that matter most to you. Most of the headphones we saw that have built-in Bluetooth capabilities and will work without wires cost more than wired models do.

Another thing to keep in mind is how you will use those headphones. If you are a professional sound engineer or a producer and spend hours in studios and boots, you need a pro model that can keep up with your busy schedule. Cheaper models may only last a few months.

Over-ear headphones now come in a range of prices that start at as little as $5 and rise to more than $1,500. The cheapest models are really only best for kids and adults who want to listen to music on their phones. You’ll want to spend at least $30 to $50 to buy a pair suitable for gaming and other activities.

How Much Should You Pair for Over-Ear Headphones - Mpow Bluetooth
Mpow Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones

How Much Should You Pair for Over-Ear Headphones - JVC Full-Size
JVC Full-Size

How Much Should You Pair for Over-Ear Headphones - Sony Premium
Sony Premium Hi-Res Stereo Headphones

How Much Should You Pair for Over-Ear Headphones - Beyerdynamic PRO
Beyerdynamic PRO Studio

How Much Should You Pair for Over-Ear Headphones - Sennheiser HD
Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference
Headphone System


Frequently Asked Questions

A: Microsoft and Sony both make headphones designed specifically for consoles such as the Xbox One and the PS4. Other companies make gaming headphones that are compatible with those consoles. You do not need to buy a pair that only works with your console though. The headphones on our list of the best models will work with gaming consoles and many other devices.

A: Noise canceling headphones are models that specifically target the background noises that can be louder than what you want to watch or play. Some of these headphones have an over-ear design that will fit comfortably and block those sounds. Though you’ll find some over-ear headphones that cancel noises, many will only restrict the sounds that you hear from outside the ear cushions.

A: Though you can use a vacuum to clean your headphones and remove stuck-on wax and debris, you should only use those designed for cleaning hearing aids. These vacuums are quite small and feature a long hose that you attach to a box with a motor inside. Some come with different attachments that you can use on different parts of your headphones.

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