The Best on-ear Headphones 2018 – Complete Guide
Headphones are as much your private space as your text messages are. Here you can be a Belieber or a broken-hearted person listening to Adele on loop, or even a secret metalhead. If you are a regular commuter who needs to be aware of their surroundings or you do not like you ears steaming from the oppressive bounds of the full-sized headphones, on-ear headphones can help. These are non-intrusive headphones which sit on the ears rather than around it. They allow your ears to breathe and allow some ambient noise to pass through, so you remain alert of important sounds around you. We have selected the 10 best on-ear headphones, currently on the market, that do everything to tie in comfort and pristine audio with their best qualities.
On-ear headphone vs. over-ear headphones?
The in-ear headphones are small, compact and mostly affordable. But some people just don’t like the earphone squirreling into their ear canals. They are left with a choice between on-ear and the best over-ear headphones. Many people, including most audiophiles, prefer circum-aural (over-ear) headphones because they don’t sit on the ears and generally provide better noise isolation. The on-ear headphones have small earcups that sit on the ears. But here are a few reasons why your purposes might be better served by supra-aural (on-ear) headphones:
- On-ear headphones allow better awareness of your environment. If you use headphones at work, you might still want to hear your colleagues or keep track of the phone calls you get. Over-ear headphones muffle the ambient noise to a larger extent and they can cut you off totally from your surroundings. On-ear headphones are also safer if you are walking down a busy road while listening to music or working with large equipments at the gym.
- The over-ear headphones, their bulky earpads and the sturdy headbands required to support them rack up quite the weight. But on-ear headphones have smaller earpads and consequently lighter headbands. So they end up being lighter than over-ears in most cases.
- Your ears remain better ventilated with on-ear headphones. They allow the air to reach to the areas covered by the earpads as well. Meanwhile over-ear headphones engulf the ears and make them sweat. The icky feeling from taking them off after a long movie marathon stays with you.
Are on-ear headphones comfortable?
Comfort is a subjective concept. The general opinion is that over-ear headphones are more comfortable because they do not put undue pressure on the ears. But the heat around the ears could be a real issue with them. Beside many over-ear cans also nip at the top of ears and feel uncomfortable after a few hours.
On-ear headphones press down on the ears over the cartilage area. With developments in headphone engineering, the earpads of the on-ear headphones have become more comfortable. The best on-ear headphones rest lightly on the ears. You might still want to take them off after every few hours though.
Which are the best on-ear headphones, 2018?
So we selected the 10 best on-ear headphones based on many constraints. Some of them are relatively new in 2017 but have proven their mettle. While some of them have been in the market for while and are still up to date.
Audio: The primary purpose of headphones is to bring us the music we like, in our space. The best on-ear headphones here have shown a talent for maintaining a natural audio response. They also are sufficiently loud to be heard over surrounding noises. Some of them are even audiophile-grade headphones.
Comfort: Comfort figured in majorly in our selections. The 10 best on-ear headphones have soft earpads that rest softly on the sensitive areas of the ear. They do not create any serious pressure points on the ears for most people. The headband pressure is also handled well so that it doesn’t clamp your head tight.
Price: We looked at whether the headphones vindicated their price. The best on-ear headphones bring a good return on the investment, whether big or small, in terms of audio, comfort or features.
Features: Many of the best on-ear headphones are supported with convenience features like detachable cables, Bluetooth connectivity, microphone or even Bass Boost buttons. Each such creative feature earns them brownie points in our books.
THE BEST ON-EAR HEADPHONES IN 2018 – COMPARISON CHART
|1. Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones||Advanced microphone system for clear calls in windy or noisy environments||$$$||4.6|
|2. Sony MDRXB650BT Extra Bass Bluetooth Headphones||Powerful, clear sound of EXTRA BASS||$$||4.5|
|3. Grado SR80e Prestige Series Headphones||Large ear cushions for comfortable listening||$$||4.4|
|4. Monster NCredible NTune On-Ear Headphones||ControlTalk Universal controls your phone and your music||$$||4.4|
|5. Beats EP Wired On-Ear Headphone||Fine-tuned acoustics for the clarity and depth||$$$||4.4|
|6. Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-Ear||18-ohm transducers deliver wide frequency response||$$||4.2|
|7. Marshall Major II Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones||A single click is all it takes to pause a song||$$||4.2|
|8. Sennheiser RS120 On-Ear Wireless RF Headphones||Interference-free reception through walls, ceilings and outdoors up to 300 feet||$$||4.0|
|9. BÖHM Bluetooth B66 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones||Advanced Bluetooth 4.0: Industry-leading CSR bluetooth 4.0 supports A2DP, AVRCP, HFP and HSP||$$||4.0|
|10. Beats Mixr On-Ear Headphone||Deliver extremely deep bass at extraordinarily high volume||$$$||4.0|
|11. Creative Sound Blaster Jam Ultra-Light Bluetooth Headset||Extended Bluetooth playback – Get up to 12 hours of wireless audio streaming||$$||4.0|
|12. Klipsch Reference On-Ear Premium Headphone||3-button remote for full music + voice control on most Apple products||$$||4.0|
|13. Skullcandy Uproar Bluetooth Wireless On-Ear Headphones||On-board Mic/Remote – Take calls & manage music directly from the ear cup||$$||4.0|
|14. Audio Technica ATH-SJ11 Audio Headphones||New 36 mm drivers reproduce full bass||$$||4.0|
|15. Sound Intone Foldable Headphones with Microphone and Volume Control||Significant noise reduction and advanced built-in microphone||$$||3.8|
Bose SoundLink on-ear Bluetooth wireless headphones carry all the Bose glory in a comfortable high-performing package. And they have Bluetooth to give you true freedom from wires. This is not a noise-cancelling headphone which Bose is famous for. But it has a similar lightweight build, same ergonomics and similar top-class materials. The audio plays smoothly with a sense of balance that we have come to expect from Bose. Those are enough reasons to land SoundLink the top spot on the best on-ear headphones list, 2017.
Design and Features
The SoundLink on-ear Bluetooth headphones are a compact piece of hardware, weighing only 5.36 ounces. And they fold at their articulating arms to an even smaller form. Even so, the light design feels substantial in your hands. The entire headband arch is covered in plush padding and lined with canvas. The oval earcups are done in memory foam and swivel forward for a secure fit on your ears. There are R and L markings inside the earpads. The clamp pressure is very light. But if you were to really jerk your head around the headphones might come off. You can wear them to the gym or morning jog though.
The buttons are placed on the rim of the right earcup of these on-ear headphones. The middle button is a Play/Pause button which also doubles as call Answer button. This is flanked by volume buttons on either side. The power button is set on the backplate of the earcup. There’s an Adaptive audio microphone integrated into the headphones. This changes the volume of conversation based on your speech and the ambient noise. Dual microphones reduce the background noise in the call as well. It must work because the call quality through SoundLink is pretty good. The arms and earcups are done in matte finish. A subtle Bose logo marks their brand value.
Bose estimates the battery life of the SoundLink on-ear headphones to average 15 hours. It has a rechargeable lithium ion battery. You can use it in the wired mode with an accompanying 3.5mm male-male cable. It comes in two colors, an elegant black version and white version with blue and tan highlights. Bluetooth works seamlessly but the range is only the usual 30 feet. It comes with a carry case where it can be folded and stored.
Bose always plays safe when it comes to the audio signature. The SoundLink on-ear headphones have a smooth response with equal attention to bass, midrange and highs. The sound is refined to reflect enough details but not so much that bad recordings and formats sound worse. Attaining such a natural tone via Bluetooth is an achievement in itself.
The bass is strong without encroaching upon the territory of mids. It has the punchiness that makes all genres feel a little more exciting. The lower registers are meaty and lend body to the song. The midrange is remarkable for its clarity. It sounds clearer that the similarly endowed Beats Solo2. Beats emphasizes the bass more as usual. Bose has kicked up the bass just enough. The instruments have plenty of space between them but just not as much as the noise-cancelling Bose QC35.
When you listen to classical music, there’s a hint of brightness in the audio of SoundLink on-ear headphones. However, this never translates to sibilant highs. The treble is smooth with a little bit of sparkle. In the wired mode, these headphones dial down the gusto and sound almost similar, if not a bit underwhelming.
- Very lightweight
- Compact and foldable
- Very comfortable
- Appropriately boosted bass
- Great clarity and emotion in midranges
- No sibilance or bass distortion
- Carry case included
- Can be used in wired mode
- Good battery life: 15 hours
- Integrated adaptive noise-cancelling mic
- Earcups don’t fold flat
- Wired mode is slightly less exciting
Sony MDRXB650BT on-ear headphones are in contrast to the Sony’s poised exterior and usually balanced audio response. These rig up the audio with extra bass to satisfy hardcore bassheads. Even the architecture and designs are prettier than what we usually see from Sony. Equipped with the latest wireless technology, MDRXB650BT makes it almost too easy to choose it. But do note that the bass performance is always On with these headphones. Extra bass cannot be switched on and off like 950BT. Either way, it is quite popular and totally worthy of the best on-ear headphones list for 2017.
Design and Features
Sony is notorious for its chunky design. They stick with the oversized earcups most of the time. But the MDRXB650BT is different. Sony went out on a limb and stumbled upon cool. These on-ear headphones are part metal and part plastic. The whole outer side has a metallic sheen. It is either available in dazzling blue, wine red or matte black. The round earcups are cushioned to provide a snug but soft fit. The padding offsets the slight clamp from the headband with lush earpads.
All the controls of these on-ear headphones reside on the right earcup. These include volume buttons, power control and a multifunctional button for Play/Pause and call answer. These buttons are placed on the edge of the earcup. There’s also a USB port for charging it. Bluetooth functionality is smooth and flawless as long as you stay in the range. MDRXB650BT is also NFC capable. Near Field Communication enables you to connect to other NFC-capable devices with a simple tap between them.
The battery of these on-ear headphones boasts of 30 hour life per charge. That is almost double that of Bose SoundLink. However, there’s one key disadvantage. They do not have the ability to work in the wired mode. So if the battery dies, you will not be able to listen to music. That’s probably why they have such great battery power. There’s a similar headphone named the MDRXB950BT. This has all the same characteristics as the 650s and the ability to work in wired mode and a bass boost button.
Sony MDRXB650BT has made safer bets in terms of the bass boost. There is definite kick in the mid bass levels. And that gives bass a nice meaty texture. Genres like jazz and rock get that solid low-end body that bassheads so crave. But 650BT one-ups the 950BT in terms of tonal balance. 650 sound more natural and does not drown out the midrange. Vocals remain clean of bass bleed and you can get what the singers are trying to convey. It balances at precise pivot where both bassheads and audiophiles can negotiate. There is no distortion even at high volumes.
The midranges and the highs play clearly. This is a well-rounded audio that’s probably not for purist but everybody else. The V-shaped response is crisp and clear right up to the highest frequencies.
- Full, luscious bass, boosted properly
- No bass bleeding into mids
- Bluetooth and NFC-enabled
- Very stylish and sleek design
- Very comfortable
- 30-hour battery life
- Now wired mode, Bluetooth only
Grado SR80e on-ear headphones are ridiculously affordable audiophile cans. These are open-back headphones that are for folks who want to fiddle with amps, DACs and the like and play with audio. A regular music-lover will also love it just as much for its balanced audio. The agile sound can keep up with some complicated recordings like orchestral music and fast bass songs. They are highly comfortable with additional ventilation from the grille backplate. If you are educating yourself about the audiophile territory, these are the best on-ear headphones, 2017, to start off with.
Design and Features
The Grado SR80e on-ear headphones have evolved from the SR80 and retain pretty much the same architecture. Grado must be going retro with these headphones and they have that cool nostalgic appeal. The earcups are mostly porous because of the metal grille plate at the back. This has the subtle Grado branding in typewriter font. Both earcups are padded with foam cushions with a dip in the center. This feels surprisingly comfortable even after hours of continuous wearing. There are rods protruding out of each earcup that can be used to swivel them flat or make them conform to the shape of your ears. The headband has a thin padding sheathed in leather. This limits the weight of the headphone while still keeping them soft in contact.
These on-ear headphones have dual-sided cable. The newer headphones all stick to cable emanating from only one side which is way more comfortable. The cable is the heavy duty kind which goes with the audiophile equipment setup. It terminates in a 3.5mm jack with a thick casing. You might have some trouble inserting it through a phone case. A 3.5mm-6.3mm studio adapter is provided in the pack.
There are no other extras. Grado remains an unpretentious gear for the music enthusiasts who are more focused on the sound than anything else. To the same effect, the SR8e on-ear headphones are hand-assembled for perfection in their audio.
Most of Grado’s investment in SR80e on-ear headphones goes into creating audio for purists on a budget. They sound wonderfully natural with each element complementing the other. These are golden for playing vinyl music as all its vintage lossless beauty is conveyed as iis t. But you should stick to quiet environments to use them otherwise the ambient noise will muddy your experience.
The bass has a warm, pulsating presence here which is better than their SR225i model. Bass has a more substantial body and deeper reach. Although most headphones bump the bass at this price point to satisfy the normal listeners, these Grado on-ear headphones stick to punchy but level bass. The midrange shines with intricate details. The high-quality recordings will open up and flaunt all their details after a few hours of burn-in. But they will also show the harshness of subpar recording formats or aggressively played instruments.
The SR80e on-ear headphones are more dynamic-sounding than the Sony MDR V6, which is a reference headphone in the same price range. Being open-backed also has its merits. It has a bigger soundstage that allows more space between the instruments.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Balanced, natural audio
- Affordable audiophile cans
- Taut, punchy bass
- Detailed midrange
- Dynamic sound
- Big soundstage
- No carry case
- Dual-sided cable
The Monster headphones are a far cry from Beats since their partnership dissolved. They each have their individual sound signatures. After a few hits and misses, we found the Monster NCredible NTune on-ear headphones to bang big for the bucks, especially at their current price. Aimed at the hep crowd, these come in a number of snazzy colors. Music sharing and convenience features make these cans a great partner for your smartphones. It also helps that they are available at a much lower price than their debut price. These are one of the best on-ear headphones for 2017 a casual listener on a budget can afford.
Design and Features
The construction of the NTune on-ear headphones is mostly plastic. It is coated with some glossy metallic paint on the outside for the kicker looks. The earcups are deep and protrude outward from the ears. But they look okay on your ears, especially with the classy ‘M’ logo on the backplate. There’s cushy padding on the earcups that feel soft to your ears. But the earcups are fixed to the headband, so they don’t lean towards the ears. This can cause pressure over the ears of people with certain head-shapes, if they wear these continuously. The headband does this crazy bendy thing, going this way and that, without being damaged. So it can stand some teenage abuse. The arch of the band is padded and sits securely on the head.
The cable of these on-ear headphones is detachable. And thankfully it connects on both ends with a 3.5mm jack. Such 3.5mm male-male cables are easy to replace if damaged. The cable that comes with the NTune headphones has a mic. So you can take calls from your phone handsfree, be it iPhone or Android phone. There are 3.5mm ports on both earcups. So you can use the extra port to share music with your friends. A cable for sharing music is also provided in the pack.
This on-ear headphone comes with a carry case. But it does not fold into a compact package. It is available in a whopping 19 colors from eye-popping orange to sea-foam green.
One thing we noticed about the Monster NTune on-ear headphones as soon as we wore them is that they do not leak audio. So if you have crappy choice in music, it remains private. Monster outfits these cans with plenty of bass to appeal to the younger generation. The bass bangs through the performance decisively. It can even keep up with some fast music. But it isn’t so overwhelming that it would drown out the mids. If you like your music more balanced, you won’t be impressed by the excess of bass. But bassheads will be sufficiently pacified.
The midrange rings clear. Only in the heavily bassy songs, do they get outsmarted by the bass. But they are supported well by the lower registers, which brings more excitement to the sound. There’s no sibilance in the higher frequencies even at high volumes. The detailing of audio is decent for the price-point.
- Catch looks in 19 colors
- Detachable cable
- Music sharing is possible through daisy chaining headphones
- ControlTalk cable has mic
- Pounding bass
- Energetic audio
- Does not fold
Beats is infamous for its pricey headphones that do not completely justify their price. However, Beats EP, released in 2016, sings a totally different tune. It is almost half the price of most Beats headphones and performs surprisingly well for its price. The fact that you can now own a Beats headphone without exchanging your kidney for it is a big deal. It is a low-frills design but has Beats brand quality going for it. It channels similar capability as the Beats Solo3 which costs much more. There’s plenty of evidence that EP deserves to be on the best on-ear headphones list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Beats EP on-ear headphones created big news when they debuted at a price that lower mortals can afford. Even after cutting costs Beats seems to be unable part with their hi-end build quality. The EP has a metal frame for the headband. The earcups are mostly plastic and fixed to lean to adjust to your ears. The on-ear earpads are soft and puffy. They sit on the ears with minimal discomfort. The headband is also padded in a matching color and rests lightly on the crown of your head. The clamping pressure is low for ordinary head sizes. It might even be a tad loose compared to the snug fit of Bose SoundLink. At 7 ounces, they are heavier than most other on-ear headphones here.
These on-ear headphones keep the branding on the down low with just the ‘b’ symbol on either earcup. The cable is permanently affixed to one side. While we miss the detachable cables, we are happy that it isn’t dual sided like SR80e. This is an iPhone-friendly cable with mic and volume controls. Being flat, the cable does not tangle easily either. So you can take your calls hands-free. EP does not collapse into a compact package. This makes it a less friendly option for carrying around in your sling bag.
The EP on-ear headphones are available in black, white, blue and red colors. Each model looks more handsome than the next. The black one has a professional look that will be just as cool in a casual setup.
Beats didn’t try very hard to beat their audio habit with EP on-ear headphones either. This is a headphone for the people. It has a bump in the mid bass which should satisfy the daily listener. But the boost is not so pronounced as to annoy an audiophile. The midrange is decently clean and partners with the bass well. Treble has a good amount of details that show the presence of highs as well.
Any pop or hip hop song will undoubtedly sound great on these on-ear headphones. They are polished enough to play rock, jazz and orchestral as well. EP is not the best sounding headphone in its price-range, but it has its advantages in terms of quality and sound. And we loved how it has been priced smartly.
- Sturdy build with metal frame
- Looks high-end
- Bass bump without bass bleed
- Open sound with clean midrange
- One-sided tangle-free cable
- Good value-on-money
- Does not fold
Sennheiser Momentum line has been a trendsetting group of headphones. Their warm decadent audio along with the sturdy and fashionable design got them into many such lists. The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 on-ear headphones do not fall far from the tree. They provide physical comfort and audio acumen equally well. At their moderate price, they give us a taste of that superb audio that Sennheiser audiophiles keep talking about. This is a prime candidate for the best on-ear headphones list of 2017.
Design and Features
The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 on-ear headphones saw some improvements over the original Momentum on-ears. These remain one of those headphones which are equal parts quality audio and style. The distinctive slotted Momentum metal headband is present here as well. It has optimal padding at the arch. The earcups are mounted on the arms of this metal headband. A very soft velour-like material coats both the earcups and the headband. These feel exquisite even for long hours of use, if they fit right. If you wear specs, there’s a chance that these won’t feel so comfortable. The clamp is medium. You can go walking with these, but we would not headbang with these on. Even with the metal frame, it weighs only 6.24 ounces.
The cable of these on-ear headphones is a single-sided detachable accessory. This has an inline remote and volume control buttons. The cable is secured with a twist and lock mechanism ensuring that it doesn’t get yanked out. You get the cable in either Android version or iPhone version. You have to select the version while buying it. But at its price-pint we expected both. It is also accompanied by a zipped carry case. The arms of Momentum 2.0 fold to fit into this case. It is available in four colors: all black, brown, ivory and silver. The headband color is complemented to the earcups. The branding is truly discreet with just a metal plate on the headband saying ‘Momentum’.
If there’s one thing that Sennheiser never fails at, it’s the audio. The Momentum line is designed for those listeners who simply want to enjoy music. The audio response of the Momentum 2.0 on-ear headphones is far from flat but the decadent sound is everything we would expect from them. Even amongst audiophiles, there are folks who like this sound signature more than super-flat frequency response. The laid-back audio makes all kinds of recordings sound good. The bass has an obvious bump in the middle. This makes their audio much fuller and richer than a reference headphone.
The midranges have great clarity set in a wide soundstage, in spite of the closed back and small size of the earcups. These on-ear headphones are forgiving on bad formats even though the audio is so refined. They smoothen down the harshness. The treble is less refined that the over-ear Momentums. But it remains well-defined and sparkly. These are the perfect on-ear headphones to lose yourself in your music.
- Warm, enjoyable audio
- Rich bass
- Detailed and smooth midrange
- Laidback treble
- Suave design on metal frame
- Detachable cable
- Carry case
- Both Android and Apple cables should be provided
The Marshal Major II wireless on-ear headphones have a vintage, simplistic design just like their speakers. These have the Marshall looks that make you nostalgic about the bygone eras. But their capabilities are quite up to date. These are Bluetooth cans with bass galore. The rich sound is balanced but just not to surgical precision. They have some pretty interesting controls. Battery life is awesome considering they can also work in the wired mode. With so much supporting their bid, it’s hard to keep them out of the best on-ear headphones list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Marshall Major II on-ear headphones have two square earpieces hanging off a headband. The all-black look has patterns all over the earcup backplate and headband. The build is mostly plastic, which is fine. But we think that the brackets at the arms of the headband on which the earcups dangle, could get damaged easily. Both the headband and the earpads are lavishly padded and sit snug on the head. These on-ear headphones fold at their arms for more compact storage.
Since this is a Bluetooth on-ear headphone, it has controls on the earcups. Apart from one power button, it has a multipurpose button. This button can be pressed for Play/pause, Call answer. It also moves up/down and left/right for volume and track navigation. This is a rather ingenious way of packing all controls in one place. Since this is a golden button, it is easy to spot. There’s a port for micro USB charging and for a cable. The Major II holds its battery charge over 30 hours per charge cycle. This is at par with Sony MDRXB650BT. However, unlike Sony, the Major II headphones also work in the wired mode. The battery life does depend on the volume levels though.
A mic is integrated into the headphone to take calls from your smartphone hand-free. The Bluetooth range remains strong within 33 feet even with a wall in between.
The Marshall Major II on-ear headphones are a powerhouse for bass. But trust Marshall to bring you bass without muddying the audio. The lows run deep into the sub bass region and beats with a decisive thump. There’s plenty of detail and definition in the lower registers. So bass boost doesn’t just come off as noise. In case you play something with complicated bass, you can find the occasional foray of bass into midranges. There’s no booming, only punchy sound.
There’s an appreciable separation of instruments here which gives the audio more layers. The midrange plays with substantial details and gets good backing from the bass. The treble needs a little more sparkle to meet up with the bang of bass. Some of the high frequencies get less attention than all the stuff going on in lower registers. The frequency response is altogether bass-centric with a mid –bass bump. Like The Momentums, these headphones provide quality sound tailored to popular taste of big bass.
- Comfortable and plush
- Can be used in wired mode
- Smart multifunctional button
- Deep, dynamic bass
- 30 hour battery life
- Energetic and exciting audio
- Battery drains even in wired mode
Sennheiser RS120 on-ear headphone is a TV fan’s best gear. This is an RF headphone that is wirelessly connected to the TV or any other audio source through its transmitter. Its best use is for some private movie-watching when other members of the house sleep. It is lightweight and comfortable on the head. The audio is suited for clear and articulate movie dialogue. It is moderately-priced and much better than its successors in terms of value on money. If you like to catch the latest flicks on your HD TV, these are the best on-ear headphones to have.
Design and Features
The Sennheiser RS120 on-ear headphone is a set of transmitter and headphone. The transmitter is connected to the TV via stereo analog outputs or through a headphone jack. It also doubles as a charger and a rack. When not in use, the headphone can be hung on the transmitter tower and it charges while on it. The transmitter and RF headphones connect via Radio frequency. This has better range and does not get interrupted by a wall. The headphones themselves weigh 8.1 ounces. They have oval earcups. The earpads are soft and pliable. The fitment is comfortable for back-to-back movie marathon.
This on-ear headphone has two controls. One is for volume while the other is for RF reception. The NiMH batteries on the headphone last very long. And they are easily charged when stored. This also has automatic power feature. It switches on with the power source and automatically powers down 5 mins after the source is turned off. This helps conserve power. The range of RF connectivity on these on-ear headphones is 300 feet. It reduces when more walls come in between.
These on-ear headphones allow you to add multiple other receivers (up to 100) to share the same audio. So each member can have their own headphone turned to the volume of their choice. It also hosts three RF channels. The users can select the one which gives them minimal interference.
The audio of the RS120 on-ear headphones is suited for music and movies alike. Because of its dependence on the transmitter, you will most likely dedicate them to TV or PC listening. There’s strong bass here which lends fullness to the complete audio. Be it movies or songs, the bass is well-controlled. There’s a lot of range to the volume. The headphones get loud enough to be heard over a lawn mower.
The midranges are quite prominent here. The dialogues are delivered with practiced ease. You get to hear all the mumbled words and whispered sighs clearly. The highs are crisp and clean. The static comes up occasionally and is more audible during the silences between dialogues or songs. But this can be managed with fine tuning and isn’t noticed when you are in the same room as the transmitter.
- Highly comfortable
- RF connectivity
- Transmitter doubles as charging pod
- Natural balanced audio
- 300 feet wireless range
- Music can be shared by multiple headphones on a transmitter
- Static in the audio sometimes
The BÖHM Bluetooth on-ear headphones are hitherto unnoticed beauties in the audio market. These cans are elegance and many high-end features packed in an affordable package. Noise-cancellation, Bluetooth., stellar looks, you name it and BÖHM B66 has got it. This on-ear model is absurdly comfortable and has jewel-like buttons for volume control. The battery life is above average and the operation seamless. With so much going on for it, we launched it right into the best on-ear headphones list for 2017.
Design and Features
The BÖHM Bluetooth on-ear headphones tread a fine balance between functionality and budget. They have plenty of features and they are executed properly under the price. They are gorgeous with their metal and leather construction. The earcups are supra-aural. They sit on the ears and allow more ventilation compared to over-ear headphones. The matte metal backplate of the earcups have glossy beveled edges. The buttons for volume control and Active Noise Cancellation sit like jewels on the earcups. The headband and ear pieces have foam padding sheathed in protein leather that makes skin-like contact with your skin.
The Active Noise Cancellation feature is fairly good on BÖHM on-ear headphones. It diminishes the low-frequencies drones like AC, engine etc. The high frequency noises are muffled to some extent. The effect is not as complete as the QuietComfort 25 headphones. But they cost almost thrice as much and are over-ear headphones. The ANC functionality can be switched off on BÖHM headphones.
Bluetooth has a range of 33m on this headphone. So BÖHM can be used as a headset. It can go through 16 hours of music playback or 18 hours of talktime on one charge. The volume buttons sit at the bottom of the right earcup along with the multifunctional button. It can be used in wired mode with the supplied cable. This cable has inline remote with mic.
BÖHM Bluetooth headphones have plenty of hi-end gimmicks so you would expect it’s audio to be down the drain. Well, clearly not. BÖHM has an enjoyable sound which can impress any casual listener. The bass is meaty with a small mid-bass bump. It doesn’t have the extension of Momentum or QC 25 but there’s plenty of punch.
The midrange of these on-ear headphones is clear and devoid of any bass bloating. There are plentiful details here to transform your movie experience. The vocals are clear at every volume and stand out from the background din. The high have good detailing and remain crisp across all genres. The audio quality of calls also matches with these standards. They sound clear and articulate.
- Pretty headphones
- Wireless ANC headphones
- Comfortably padded
- Volume buttons on earcup
- Enjoyable, balanced audio
- Clamp takes some time to loosen for big heads
The Beats Mixr on-ear headphones represent Beats in their truest form, a style icon. These are some freakishly stylish cans that sit on your head grabbing more attention than a Victoria’s Secret model. The huge helping of bass accompanies their audio palate. Price-wise these have come down to the affordable range. They are followed by Beats’ bevy of convenience features. The 14 trippy colors do make the choice of headphones difficult. But we would rather have that dilemma with one of the best on-ear headphones, 2017, rather than having no color option.
Design and Features
The Beat Mixr on-ear headphones are crafted more like a fashion accessory. They have an eye-catching design but they pop snugly over your ears instead of standing out like huge over-ear headphones. In short, they do not look dorky. The headband is moderately wide and padded all along the arch of the head. The earcups are mounted on swiveling parts from the headband. They can pivot around to fit your head properly. When not in use, the arms pivot inwards and reduce the footprint of the headphones by half, for easy storage.
The earcups of these on-ear headphones are optimally padded and sheathed in protein leather. They are comfortable for hour-long sessions, but we would take the cans off every couple of hours. The cups can rotate forward for one-side monitoring like DJs do. Each earcup has a 3.5mm port for the cable. The cable connects only to one side and ends in a 3.5mm jack. The other port can be used to daisy chain the headphones and share music with other cans. The Mixr comes with two cables, one with inline remote and another coiled cable for studio use. A 3.5mm-6.3mm adapter is also shipped with it.
These on-ear headphones come in 14 popping colors. Some of them are outrageously ostentatious. But we liked the colors they added to our music experience.
The Mixr on-ear headphones have a bass-forward sound signature. The bass pumps like its life depends on it. There’s definite depth and decent definition to the audio. But for most music-lovers it could be a bit too much. If you are a basshead or revel in hip hop, EDM, Techno etc. most of the time, the Mixr is a real catch. The audio is by no means, balanced though.
The midrange is present but overshadowed by bass in many cases. The solid foundation of tough bass does lend the vocals and guitars a richness. The high-end is kept smooth and devoid of sibilance. These headphones do not sound terrible. It’s just that they cater to a specific crowd of people who like bass more than the other parts of the frequency. Also the utility features make you proud for owning headphones from a brand that seems to think about everything.
- Ultra-stylish looks
- 2 detachable cables, with mic and without
- Daisy chaining headphones possible
- Folding arms
- Big bass
- Available in 14 trippy colors
- Too bass-heavy, not suitable for some people
Creative Sound Blaster Jam on-ear headphones have such an understated look that we almost passed by them. Fortunately we thought they were worth a try. And turns out they are much more. These sly cans are highly comfortable and pack the latest wireless connectivity features, all at a fraction of the price of many headphones on this list. These feather-light headphones could be your travelling companion or serve as your desk headphones. Such is the charisma of the best on-ear headphones.
Design and Features
The Creative Sound Blaster Jam on-ear headphones are restricted to a budget, so they offer a pretty austere design. In fact they will remind you of headphones out of the 90s. We thought they were cool. The earcups are relatively small and mounted with foam earpads. They feel extremely light on your head. They balance clamp such as to hit a sweet spot of pressure where they don’t hurt your head but stay tight on it. Overall, the experience of wearing them is much better than the price they demand.
Since these on-ear headphones are Bluetooth-enabled, their controls sit on the earcups. The volume up/down buttons are on the backplate of the right earcup. These also moonlight as the track navigation buttons based on duration of button press. The center of the same earcup is actually a giant button controlling Play/Pause, and Bluetooth pairing. On the edge of the right earcup sits a bass boost button. Each control is easy to find blind. Creative has put some real thought into the button placement.
The Sound Blaster Jam on-ear headphones connect via Bluetooth. But they are also NFC-capable, so they can be paired by a tap with corresponding smartphones. The battery lasts through 12 hours on a single charge. There is no way to operate this in the wired mode. Thankfully the charging cable is 1m long.
The Sound Blaster Jam on-ear headphones can produce better audio than headphones twice its price. The bass rumbles heavy here. The extra bass button lends more power to the lower registers. In this mode also, the bass does not distort at high volume. This is one headphone we don’t mind using with the extra bass on.
In the normal mode, the focus is more on highs and high mids. You get good vocal range on these on-ear headphones. They obviously cannot handle complicated tracks well. The lack of refinement at this price point becomes apparent when there’s a thick mix of instruments in play. The treble does not get sibilant here either. Without the extra bass, the audio can sound a little thin at high volumes. You can make the best use of these in the extra bass mode.
- Ultra-comfortable and lightweight
- Smartly-placed buttons
- Extra bass option
- Rich, full audio with extra bass
- Bluetooth and NFC- capable
- Plain design
Klipsch knows much about class. That’s why their Reference on-ear headphones look like royalty. You will find it hard to believe their price once you see and experience them. These on-ears make comfort seem like the norm with such headphones. The audio performance is neutral but pretty solid for the price. There’s just enough leather and metal to balance the weight against durability. They croon their way right into the best on-ear headphones list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Klipsch Reference on-ear headphones substantiate the plastic body with metallic sheen. They look quite exquisite for their price. The broad headband has articulating arms and the earcups swivel forward and backward on them. This allows them to lean in towards the ears and hold themselves comfortably. The headband is lavishly padded, keeping the weight in mind. So even though the headphones don’t look all that bulky, they are plenty comfortable. The earcups has cushy pads too. They are further sheathed in leather to support the high-end look.
The cable is permanently connected to the right earcups of these on-ear headphones. This has a 3-button in line remote. This includes the Play/pause controls and volume navigation. It terminates in a 3.5mm jack than can be used with most smartphones. The Reference is shipped with just a cloth drawstring pouch. There are no extras here apart from the fact that it can fold into a more compact form. At its price, we expected at least the cable to be detachable.
The Klipsch Reference on-ear headphones, even though named that way, do not really show a neutral response. There’s some weight to the lower registers here which is not neutral at all. The bass runs deep with some bass-pumping at play. But it has been done ever so subtly that most people won’t complain. There’s no tell-tale bass bloating or distortion at high volumes. Just rich and dynamic bass that complements all genres are equally well. The midrange is relatively flat and lives up to the name. But it is not as transparent as we would like. But the vocals are by no means muddy or boomy.
The highs are sculpted pretty well to keep up with the bass attack. The audio remains exciting without compromising much on clarity. It is rivaled by the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 on-ear headphones which sound more refined.
- Stylish design
- Folding arms
- Ultra-comfortable headband and earcups
- Rich, deep bass
- Agile, crisp highs
- Cable has inline 3-button remote
- Cable is not detachable
Skullcandy has a range of affordable, yet cool-looking headphones which ooze the new age confidence. The Uproar on-ear headphones pretty much confirm to this mold. These are Bluetooth-only cans that have no wired life. They sell at the same price as the Creative Sound Blaster Jam but have fewer features. But the Skullcandy style quotient is written all over it. The audio has the bass-forward sound signature that Skullcandy usually sports. Since it’s so popular, the Uproar finds its way straight to the best on-ear headphones list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Skullcandy Uproar on-ear headphones use a matte color format for all their colors. The headband is decently padded only at the crown that touched the head. The earpads are round and coated with thick padding. They are then swathed in leather. The ear pieces rotate forward so that they conform to the position of your ears. The left earcup has a micro USB port. The right earcup has the controls. There’s a central button which multifunctions as Play/Pause or call answer/reject. This is flanked by volume buttons. Based on pressure, these can serve as track navigation controls.
The headband of these on-ear headphones can be extended to fit a big head. The battery life extends up to 10 hours maximum, per charge. Bluetooth connectivity is quite smooth. Once paired to a device, it automatically repairs with the device when it is vicinity. There are more than 10 colors available in the Uproar line. These are not just plain colors either. They have a number of color combinations. At this kind of battery life, it would have been prudent to provide a 3.5mm port so that it could be used in the wired mode.
The Skullcandy Uproar on-ear headphones are a Skullcandy product through and through. The big bass is all there. But hey have tried to minimize the damage here. The result is a surprisingly mature audio that has the right balance of punch and clarity. The bass has a bump but it’s nothing that would creep into the midrange and cause havoc. The sub bass sounds more powerful than it should from a headphone of this size and price.
The mids have their own space in the mix. Vocals so not have to compete with lower registers for attention. The highs are clean and crisp. Even though bass has been kicked up a notch, it does not distort at high volumes. Bass lends a lot of power to the audio. This might even seem too much during the movies. But the orchestral tracks can do with a solid backing that Uproars bass can provide.
- Stylish design
- Decent battery life
- Big, deep bass
- Comfortable fitment
- Multi color combinations
- Does not work in wired mode
- No extra features
Audio Technica has a strict music code that they follow in their headphones up and down their lineup. It’s one of balance. That’s how we ended up with masterpieces like M50x. However, down the price ladder, we have the SJ11, the affordable on-ear headphones. It is portable, it is classy and it sounds like a much more expensive headphone. A-T has tried to engineer its enviable sound signature on this budget-oriented headphone. As a result, we have a prime candidate for the best on-ear headphones list, 2017.
Design and Features
The SJ11 on-ear headphones have made the best out of their limited budget in term of construction. They are done in lightweight plastic which brings their weight to a mere 3.2 ounces! The headband has minimal padding. But the earcups have been cushioned optimally. Because of the low weight, these are very comfortable on your head. The entire construction has matte finish but the speakerplate is done in glossy material and embossed with Audio-Technica’s logo. These headphones are available in either black or white with different highlights/ cable colors.
The cable of these on-ear headphones connects to both the earcups permanently. If not detachable cables, we expect one-sided cable from all price-points these days. The cord terminates in an L-shaped 3.5mm jack. The earpieces rotate 90 degrees for DJ-style monitoring. The arms of headphone also fold inwards to cut down its storage size. Except for the cables, the SJ11 is highly portable. There are no extras here though.
Balance is the byword at Audio-Technica. The SJ11 on-ear headphones sound clean and full-bodied. There’s no boominess or distortion in the audio. The details sound decent with space in between rather than huddled together. The bass is punchy but it gets no boost here. It is just as much as the original recording intended it to be. Depending on your tastes, you might want more bass out of it. Bass is still more than what you would get out of a stock headphone.
The midrange plays with conviction. The vocals stand apart from the instruments and partner with them comfortably. None of the elements have to compete for space. The soundstage is moderate. The audio is straight-forward, no frills added of its own.
- Folding arms
- Balanced audio with punchy bass
- Clean sound with good instrument separation
- Double-sided cable
Could be that you are just looking for decent cheap headphones, brand or no brand. The Sound Intone on-ear headphones are uber-cool cans in attractive colors with agreeable audio. They will be a step up from your stock earbuds. They work with all of your everyday devices with a 3.5mm port. They are comfortable to wear, even to the gym. Their cable has inline mic and 3-button control. The Sound Intone has you covered for all major uses with your phone, PC or tablet, be it listening to music, Skyping, watching movies etc. So it naturally earns a place in the best on-ear headphones list, 2017.
Design and Features
The Sound Intone on-ear headphones have a primarily plastic construction. The headband is continuous arch reaching over your ears. The ear pieces look mounted on the headband. The earcups are opulently padded and sheathed in what we think is faux leather. The size of the ear pieces makes the headphone stick out a bit on your head. But the color combinations and design keep it from looking dorky. They sit comfortably on the head or around the neck for long hours of listening.
The cable of these on-ear headphones are attached to a single earcup. The braided cord has a 3-button inline control. This has an omni-directional mic, a Play/pause button and volume controls. The cable terminates in a straight 3.5mm plug. The arms of the headphones fold to make them more portable when not in use. They will fit anyone from kids to adults. They can stand massive abuse before being permanently damaged.
Intone on-ear headphones pack 40mm drivers to pump out solid bass. They work in the 20-20,000Hz frequency and pump out boisterous bass for the casual listeners. You can use them on a busy street and still listen to a full sound. The audio is clear of any muddiness or distortion.
The audio detailing is decent in these on-ear headphones. There are no obvious audio issues here. If you like to get a rough use out of inexpensive headphones, the Intone on-ear headphones will serve you well.
- Good-looking design
- One-sided braided cable
- 3-button inline remote
- Good bass
- Mic echoes