Many people find on-ear headphones to be a good compromise between the portability of in-ears and the comfort of over-ears. They have smaller ear cups that fit directly on your ears, which makes them generally more compact and breathable than over-ears without needing to have earbuds sticking inside your ear. They do tend to fit tightly than over-ears, which can put an uncomfortable amount of pressure on your ears depending on the design. The best on-ears have a fit that works for you, along with a sound profile that suits the type of music you listen to. The best models even have additional features like Bluetooth support and active noise cancelling (ANC).
Best On-Ear Headphones of 2020
1. Beats Solo Pro Wireless
The best On-ear headphones we’ve reviewed so far are the Beats Solo Pro. They combine the sleek, fashion-forward on-ear design of the company’s iconic Solo line-up, with a premium active noise cancelling feature and well-balanced sound. They feel impressively well-built, and are very easy-to-use, especially if you have an iPhone.
Beats have come a long way in recent years with respect to audio quality, and these Bluetooth on-ears are a great example. They have a surprisingly neutral sound profile that’s even slightly bright – a far cry from the boomy, bass-heavy audio the brand is commonly associated with. They isolate an impressive amount of noise, especially for on-ears, and their 24-hour battery life is great. They can also be used wired with a Lightning audio cable, but they don’t come with one, unfortunately.
While their balanced sound signature makes them suitable for a wide range of genres, those with particularly sensitive ears might find they sound a bit sharp on brighter tracks. They also clamp down quite tightly on the head, which can get uncomfortable after a while, though you might not notice this much if you have a narrower head. All things considered, they deliver the best overall performance out of the on-ears we’ve reviewed to date.
2. Bose Soundlink On-Ear Wireless
If you like the more compact form of on-ear headphones but tend to find them uncomfortable, then get the Bose SoundLink On-Ear. They don’t have an active noise cancellation (ANC) feature like the Beats Solo Pro Wireless, but they’re much more comfortable and lighter. They have a great 21-hour battery that will last you a few days without the need to charge, and you can also connect them to two devices simultaneously. Their sound profile is very accurate and well-balanced, and, unlike the Beats, they come with an audio cable so you can use them wired as well.
Get the Beats if you’re looking for something to help block out the sound of your daily commute, but if you are listening in quiet environments and want something more comfortable, go with the Bose.
3. JBL Live 400BT Wireless
The best on-ear headphones for working out we’ve tested so far are the JBL Live 400BT. They have a stable, secure fit that stays in place quite well while running. Their on-ear design is breathable, and their controls are decently easy-to-use. They fold into a more compact format to take up less space in your workout bag and their wireless design ensures there are no cables for you to trip on.
Like many on-ears, their sound profile depends on how well they fit. If the ear cups match snugly against your ears, you should find they have a well-balanced sound with a kick of extra bass to help get you pumped on your run. They will have outstanding 30-hour battery life, and they even have an auto-off timer to greatly help them last even longer. They can even connect to two devices at the same time, which is handy if you have a separate MP3 player for running.
While their tight fit helps keeps them securely on your own head while operating or training, it does make these on-ears less comfortable than some of the other options on this list. They also don’t have the best build quality, so if they do happen to fall off your head during a sprint, they could suffer some damage. That said, if you’re just looking for something to wear while jogging around the neighbourhood, you shouldn’t have any issues.
4. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 Gen 1 Wireless Headphones Review
The Beoplay H9 are decent mixed-usage headphones with a great premium design and a comfortable over-ear fit. They look and feel very durable, and they’re relatively lightweight for an over-ear headset. They also sound good and pack a lot of bass but it can sometimes be a little overpowering which won’t be for everyone. Unfortunately, they do not block as much noise as some of the other wireless noise-cancelling models we’ve tested and they’re just a little leaky. The Beoplay H9 has a premium style and a high-end build quality that’s comfortable and easy-to-use. They have a decent sound quality that doesn’t quite sound as good as the H6 but they support the Beoplay app so you can EQ them to reduce some of the overpowering bass. However, this means they won’t be the ideal headphones for more critical listeners and their weak isolation does not block lots of noise so they won’t be the best headphones for loud environments or commuting. They’re also a bit too unstable for sports and have plenty of latency when used wirelessly.
5. Audio-Technica ATH-M60x
The best on-ear headphones with a wired connection that we’ve tested so far are the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x. They have a fairly well-built studio design, which makes them a solid choice if you prefer on-ears for mixing or recording. They aren’t as tight as some other options on this list, which can make them a bit more comfortable to wear for long periods.
Their sound profile is quite well-balanced, making them versatile enough for a wide range of genres and content. That being said, they do have a slight dip in the mid-range which causes some instruments and vocals to be slightly veiled and pushed back, though it may not be too noticeable to everyone. Their audio cable is detachable, which is nice, and they come with three different kinds of cable depending on your needs.
Unfortunately, while they keep a similar look to other ATH headphones, they feel a little more plasticky and don’t feel as durable as the very popular over-ear Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Overall, if you like the fit of on-ear earphones and do not want to worry about keeping your headphones’ battery charged, the ATH-M60x is a good wired option.
6. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones Review: Best Budgeted headphone
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are great sounding closed-back headphones for critical listening. They have an exceptional reproduction of the bass, mid, and treble range and they feel sturdy and durable enough to last you a while. However, their studio design only offers passive isolation from ambient noise and no audio controls, which is not ideal for loud environments and commuting. Great for neutral hearing. The Audio-Technica M50X offer a well-balanced audio reproduction with the right amount of bass. They have decently well-balanced mid-range that reproduces the instruments and vocal accurately, and their treble doesn’t sound too sharp or recessed. Nevertheless, their closed-back style might limit a bit their soundstage, but their sound quality will not disappoint.
7. Beats EP
If you use your headphones for taking a lot of phone calls and want something with a microphone, get the Beats EP. They have a boomier sound profile than the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x, and their cable isn’t detachable, but their in-line microphone makes them a more versatile option for casual use. Despite their audio reproduction being fairly boomy, they’re still versatile enough for most genres as the rest of their ranges are quite well-balanced and flat. They feel more stable on the head compared to the Audio-Technica, which is great if you need to run for a bus or like to make use of your headphones at the gym, and their microphone’s recording quality is very good. Unfortunately, they’re a bit tighter on the top, so they may be uncomfortable during longer listening sessions, and their in-line remote doesn’t work with Android devices.
Overall, if you don’t need a microphone and just want earphones for listening to music, go with the Audio-Technica. However, if you want a more versatile pair of on-ear headsets for casual use, obtain the Beats.
8. Audio-Technica ATH-M60x Headphones Review
The Audio-Technica ATH-M60x are good critical listening on-ear headphones and the biggest departure from the typical over-ear designs of the ATH-M series. They’re decently comfortable, breathable, and less cumbersome once on your head, although they’re not the most portable on-ears since they do not fold. They have a well-balanced sound that’s better than the lower end entries of the ATH-M lineup, but they do not quite sound as good as the M50x or as neutral as the M70x. Good for neutral hearing, The ATH-M60x are not quite as good as the M50x but still deliver a well-balanced audio that packs just the right amount of bass for most music genres. They’re also balanced enough that instruments and vocals usually do not sound too sharp or harsh, but they could be a bit thin and forward in the mix. Overall, they’re one of the better sounding on-ear headphones we’ve measured and do well within the ATH-M lineup. However, the smaller earcup size does furthermore mean a slightly worse soundstage than the ATH-M over-ears.
9. Skullcandy Grind Wireless
The best on-ear headphones in the budget category that we’ve tested so far are the Skullcandy Grind. These Bluetooth headphones are quite comfortable thanks to their lightweight design and soft ear cups. Their controls are simple, and they feel decently well-built considering their price. Their battery lasts 15 hours off a single charge, which is pretty good, plus they come with two different audio cables, one with an in-line mic and remote, and one without.
While many Skullcandy headphones have very an overemphasized and boomy bass range, they’re surprisingly well-balanced and bright. The amount of bass you get will depend on how snugly they fit, but most people should find they sound quite neutral and natural. Some higher frequencies may sound a bit harsh and piercing, though this likely won’t be too noticeable for everyone, and they’re versatile enough for most genres and content.
Unfortunately, these headphones don’t block out much background noise at all, though this is common with on-ear earphones, especially without an ANC feature. They also don’t have a dedicated companion app to make any changes to their sound profile, though again, that is to be expected at this price point. Overall, they’re remarkably decent for their price and are a good choice for those on a budget.
10. JBL CLUB 700BT Wireless Headphones Review
The JBL CLUB 700BT are decent Bluetooth on-ear headphones for most uses. They look and feel very premium, are decently comfortable, and have a sleek retro design thanks to their exposed cables and metal hinges. Their well-balanced sound profile is suitable for a wide range of genres and content and can be fine-tuned via a parametric EQ within their companion app. They last nearly 55 hours off a single charge, which is outstanding, and they can be used passively with a standard audio cable if your battery happens to run out. When using them wirelessly, they have an integrated mic in the headphones themselves, but also feature an in-line mic so you can still take calls when using the earphones passively, that is nice. Unfortunately, the recording quality of the integrated mic is sub-par and suffers from a lot of distortion. The JBL CLUB 700BT are decent headsets for neutral sound listening. They have a fairly well-balanced sound profile that gives a fair amount of extra bass, but can be fine-tuned with a parametric EQ within the dedicated companion app. Unfortunately, due to their closed-back, on-ear fit, they don’t have a very wide or open soundstage.
11. Marshall MID ANC
The Marshall MID ANC are good-sounding, mixed usage on-ear headphones with an efficient control scheme. They are lightweight yet durable, and have a good battery life and a great wireless range. They’re also noise-cancelling headphones which should be good enough for public transit. However, their ANC is a bit weak compared to other noise-cancelling models and their on-ear design is not as comfortable for all listeners. Decent for mixed-usage. The Marshall MID ANC has a good battery life, great wireless variety, and a good sound. They have a better build quality than the Marshall Major II and they’re a decent option for most use cases. Unfortunately, like most Bluetooth headphones, they have a bit too much latency for gaming and their on-ear fit isn’t the most comfy for several listeners, especially if you wear glasses.
12. Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-Ear
The Sennheiser HD1 On-Ear are well built but mediocre wired on-ears for most use cases. They have a decent but slightly uneven sound quality that won’t be ideal for more critical listeners but should be good enough for some. They will have a sturdy build quality like the rest of the HD1 lineup but their on-ear fit won’t be as comfortable for everyone. They also do not block a lot of noise so they won’t be the ideal headphones to use in loud, noisy environments. Decent for neutral listening. The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-Ear have a slightly uneven but good enough sound high quality for most. They pack an above-average amount of bass but tend to sound a bit boomy and cluttered since their mid-range is a little recessed. Their treble range is also a little bit inconsistent and can sound a bit sharp on some S and T sounds but ought to be balanced enough to not become piercing on already bright tracks. Unfortunately, they won’t be the ideal choice for more neutral listeners since they have a fairly small soundstage due to their closed-back on-ear design.
13. Beats Solo3 Bluetooth Headphones Review
The Beats Solo3 Wireless are decent mixed usage headphones with a reasonably balanced sound profile. They’re almost identical to the Beats Solo2 Wireless but have a better range and battery life thanks to the W1 chip. They’re comfortable but fit a bit tight on the head, making them stable enough for sports but not ideal for long listening sessions. Unfortunately, they also have fairly weak noise isolation, so they won’t be the ideal headphones to use in noisy environments. The Beats Solo3 Cellular have a slightly better treble range than the Beats Solo2 Wireless. With an overall improvement in the bass and mid-ranges, the Solo3 sound more balanced. Their powerful bass caters decently well to instruments and vocals, although they sound slightly even more muddy compared to some other neutral listening models. Unfortunately, due to their small, circular, and closed-back ear cups, they won’t have the best soundstage.
14. Sony WH-CH510 Wireless
The Sony WH-CH510 is a mediocre pair of on-ear Bluetooth headphones. While they have a simple and straightforward design, they look and feel quite cheap. The headband is made of plastic, with no padding whatsoever, and they don’t fold up to be smaller for travel. While their sound profile is decently well-balanced, unfortunately, some vocals and instruments may sound dull and lacking in presence, so they may not be the best choice for genres like rock or pop. The Sony WH-CH510 are decent headphones for neutral sound listening. While their bass and mid ranges are very well-balanced, unfortunately, their treble range’s accuracy is only mediocre, and some vocals and instruments may sound thin and dull.
15. Philips Fidelio NC1
There is a lot to love about the Philips Fidelio NC1 headphones: Not only are they a joy to wear and offer up great sound reproduction, but they’re also one of the lightest and most compact ANC headphones around. In our view, they’re among the best on-ear headphones for travelling with.
They’re best suited for frequent travellers who don’t want to lug massive cans around with them all of the time but also don’t desire to compromise on sound quality. To that end, they offer superb sound that’s balanced and warm and while I would love to see a wireless range, the cable offered in the mix is dextrous enough to not worry about it.
16. AKG N60NC Wireless
The AKG N60NC are decent mixed-usage closed-back on-ear headphones and are quite versatile for everyday casual use. They have a sound profile that is better suited for bass-heavy genres and their ANC feature blocks a good amount of background noise, which is great for commuting. They are fairly comfortable, but since they rest on your ears, some may prefer over-ear designs. Also, they won’t be ideal for sports as they wobble when you move too much. On the upside, they have a decent battery life that will last you a full workday and have less latency than most Bluetooth headphones.
Decent for mixed usage. These on-ears are fairly comfy, well-made, and also have above-average sound quality to let you enjoy your favourite tracks accurately. Their ANC function isolates a decent amount of noise, which can be good for commuting or at the office. Although they are comfortable and lightweight, they aren’t stable enough for physical activity. Their latency might be a bit high for watching video content and gaming, but they come with an audio cable to get rid of it that also has a better performing in-line mic as well.
17. Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless Headphones Review
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 are headphones that have a dark sound profile but are very well-designed. They have a sleek style and are quite comfortable to wear for a while. These headphones have become well-built and feel robust. They’re also noise-cancelling and block out a good amount of ambient sound. However, their microphone is bad and shouldn’t be used for calls, and they lack audio customization options inside their app. On the upside, their battery life is amazing and they’re compatible with aptX(HD) and aptX Adaptive, although we can’t currently test for those. Passable for mixed usage. These high-end headphones have a decent ANC feature that’ll be useful for commuting or at the office, but that’s about it. Their sound profile won’t suit more critical listeners who are looking for a neutral sound plus they furthermore won’t be suited for sports due to their design. Watching TV and gaming with the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 might be a hassle because of their latency, although they’re appropriate for lower-latency codecs.
18. Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless Headphones Review
The P5 Wireless are well-crafted, wireless headphones with a sturdy build and a compact, easy-to-use design. They deliver a good, balanced sound quality, an efficient battery performance and they don’t leak much. However, they can feel a little tight on your head, plus they also don’t prevent ambient noise from seeping into your audio. The P5 Wireless deliver a balanced audio reproduction that caters well to bass and instrument-heavy music. They don’t have a spacious soundstage due to the small closed on-ear design, but their sound reproduction won’t disappoint as long as you find the on-ear style comfortable. Average at best for commuting. They have a good control scheme, and they’re decently portable headphones. However, they struggle to block the ambient sound of loud environments and won’t be ideal if you have a busy daily commute or plan to take them on a noisy flight.\
19. V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Headphones Review
The V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless improve on their previous wireless model, with a more comfortable and portable design. They’re stable enough to run with, and they have a durable build that can handle a lot of physical stress. Unfortunately, they don’t block enough ambient noise for loud environments, and they sound a bit dark, which might not be ideal for all listeners. Better-than-average for neutral listening. They have a good mid-range that’s not get drowned by the slightly elevated bass. Regrettably, they tend to audio a bit darkish and lack detail because of the poor treble range. They won’t be the ideal headphones for more neutral listeners but their sound quality should be good enough for most. Decent for Commuting, although they may not isolate plenty of for the loud environments involved in commuting. They will have a tough, durable a build, a decent control scheme plus they fold into a more compact format that you can easily carry in your bag. Also, their included carrying case is one the better cases we’ve tested so far.
20. Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless
The best noise-cancelling headphones with Bluetooth that we’ve tested so far are the Sony WH-1000XM3. These popular wireless over-ear headphones are very comfortable thanks to their soft padding and look and feel very premium and well-built. Their battery lasts 27 hours, which is great, and you can get five hrs of playtime from only a 15-minute charge, which is convenient.
Their ANC feature works exceptionally well and is the best we’ve tested to date. While most ANC headphones do a good job of blocking out background chatter or the high-pitched noises from an AC unit, many struggle with the lower rumble of bus and plane engines. This isn’t the case with these, and they’re some of the best headphones we’ve tested at blocking out all frequencies, making them a great choice for the office or your daily commute.
Unfortunately, their touch-sensitive controls don’t work in colder climates, and their out-of-the-box sound profile is a bit bass-heavy. Luckily, they’re compatible with the excellent Sony headphones Connect app which gives you access to a graphic EQ to customize their audio. Overall, these are a great pair of ANC earphones and are among the best headphones we’ve ever tested.
21. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
If you want a pair of over-ear ANC headphones that are even more comfortable and have physical buttons, get the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. Their ANC doesn’t work quite as well as the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, and their companion app doesn’t give you any EQ options, but they’re lighter and more comfortable, and their physical controls will work in any weather conditions. While you can’t EQ their sound, their out-of-the-box audio profile is very well-balanced and should be suitable for a very wide variety of genres.
If you want to be able to customize your sound or want the best ANC you can get, go with the Sony, but if you want a pair of headphones that still provide excellent ANC but are a bit more comfortable and also have physical buttons, opt for the Bose.
22. Razer Opus Wireless
The Razer Opus are very good over-ear ANC headphones that offer an excellent price-to-performance ratio. Unlike most of Razer’s products that are designed with gaming in mind, these are casual ANC headphones meant for day-to-day use. They feel very comfortable and well-built and are even stable enough for light workouts. They last almost 33 hours off a single charge, which is great, and we tested low latency when watching YouTube videos on an Android device. Their sound profile is very accurate and well-balanced, making them versatile enough for most genres and content, and you can change their audio profile via a graphic EQ and presets within their companion app. Their ANC is outstanding, and they do a remarkable job of blocking out all background noises, including the reduced rumble of bus or plane engines.
The Razer Opus are great headphones for commuting and travel. Their ANC works exceptionally well and does a remarkable work of blocking out the low rumble of bus or plane motors. They’re very comfy, last nearly 33 hours off an individual charge, and have easy to use physical buttons to control your music. Their comfortable, well-built, and steady design makes them suitable for make use of all day in the office or during long plane or bus rides. Their ANC is outstanding, and they execute a superb job at blocking out all history noises. They have a very well-balanced sound profile, and you may even use their integrated microphone when wired to your gaming console’s controller.
23. Jabra Elite 85h Wireless
The Jabra Elite 85h is versatile noise-cancelling headphones that can be used in a wide variety of daily uses. They have great audio reproduction and will be good for a variety of music genres. Their active noise cancelling (ANC) feature is decent and blocks ambient noise well, but it’s not quite on par with that of similar high-end ANC headphones. On the upside, they have a very comfortable fit and their microphone sounds better than most Bluetooth headphones. They have amazing battery life and their wireless range maxed out our testing facility. Overall, these headphones offer great value and should satisfy most users. The Elite 85h have a very versatile sound that is suitable for many music genres. They are comfortable and their ANC feature is decent, without being outstanding like other similar high-end headphones. They are still pretty good for commuting and will be a great option for the office. However, their bulky over-ear design isn’t designed for sports and since they are Bluetooth headphones, their latency might be too high for watching TV and gaming. Thankfully, they come with an audio cable that you can use to eliminate these issues.
24. Sony MDR-Z1R
The Sony MDR-1A are comfortable, critical listening over-ears that deliver a satisfying and well-balanced sound quality. They have a sleek-looking design, and they’re surprisingly lightweight for their sturdy and durable build quality. Unfortunately, they do not block ambient noise very well, so they won’t be ideal to use in loud environments or for commuting. The Sony MDR-1A are great headphones for neutral listening. They have a well-balanced frequency response that packs enough bass without drowning the instruments and vocals on any track. They’re also lightweight and super comfortable so you can have them on for hours and not feel the fatigue that some other headphones induce after a long listening session. However, they have a closed-back design, so they won’t have the same ambience as open headphones, which some neutral listeners are looking for. The Sony MDR-1A don’t leak much at moderate volumes and have a comfortable design you can wear for hours without getting tired. However, they do not block a lot of ambient noise so if you have a loud and lively office then they may not be the most suitable headphones for that use case.
25. Sony WH-CH700N
The Sony WH-CH700N are Bluetooth ANC over-ears with a somewhat excited sound profile that should be suitable for a fairly wide range of genres. They’re an improved redesign of the Sony MDR-ZX770BN with better app support that gives them customization options. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and easy-to-use; however, their build quality still feels a bit flimsy compared to other headphones in their price range and their noise cancelling is quite poor. The Sony WH-CH700N are alright earphones for mixed usage. While they can be an okay choice for commuting or office use thanks to their comfortable design and 34-hour battery life, unfortunately, their ANC doesn’t work well and they won’t block out much background sound. Their sound profile is fairly well-balanced and excited, making them well-suited for a wide variety of genres. On the downside, their plasticky style may not be the most durable, and they likely aren’t stable enough to use while working out.