The Most Comfortable Headphones – The Complete Guide
The most comfortable headphones can make a huge difference to your audio experience. If you are tired of headphones that are music to the ears but are pains in the neck, rejoice! Headphone manufacturers have come to realize that a truly immersive listening experience involves not just acoustics but comfort, too. What good is listening to music with a headphone when your ears feel like they’re gripped in a vice?
What Makes the Most Comfortable Headphones – things to consider
When you’re in the market for the most comfortable headphones, consider the design and materials of the headbands. Made either from hard plastic or stainless steel, headbands have to be adjustable to achieve perfect fit. And they have to be sufficiently padded so they don’t hurt your head. Some headbands are wrapped with pleather (a plastic fabric made to look like leather), others in plush velour, while premium ones are encased in supple, luxurious leather.
But what really makes listening pure pleasure is the ear cups. After all, they house the drivers that deliver the sound to your ears.
If you are looking for earbuds / in-ear headphones, which are more compact, it’s certainly worth looking at our latest most comfortable earbuds list.
Beauty is in the EarCups of the Listener
Ear cups need to clamp the ears without discomfort. Snug fit is important both for noise isolation and sound quality. And the thing that comes between you and (dis)comfort is the ear pads.They can be made from foam, vinyl, pleather, velour or leather.
Foam is lightweight and cheap, but it easily attracts dust and collects moisture. Vinyl provides better seal to block out ambient noise, easy-to-clean, and comes in a soft variety. Pleather is a step up, and this is what most comfortable headphones ear pads are made of. But because they are not breathable and traps heat, your ears are likely to sweat when using them for extended periods. Over time, because they are made of plastic, they crack and need replacement.
Leather and Velour Ear Pads Matter
The most comfortable headphones in the market today have velour or leather ear pads. The former is more affordable and feels fuzzy, although they easily attract dust and other debris. Audiophiles often prefer leather not only for it softness, style, comfort and ease of maintenance, but also for enhanced noise isolation and sound quality. But like “pleather”, leather tends to induce sweat and stick on the skin.
Over-Ear, On-Ear, In-Ear – What’s the Difference?
So can you do without ear pads altogether? Of course! If you use in-ear headphones or earbuds instead, there are no ear pads to deal with because you plug these headphones inside your ear. Their construction makes them ultra-portable, ideal for listening on the go or for blocking ambient sound without looking ridiculous.
But some users don’t mind looking unfashionable if they get superb audio in exchange. On-ear, or supra-aural, headphones give you a more natural open sound because the drivers rest on the ear pads which in turn rest on the outer ear.
On-Ear vs. Over-Ear Headphones
Because they don’t fully enclose the ears, on-ear ear pads don’t tend to sweat as much. Even if not made with the softest leather, on-ear ear pads can remain in contact with the skin for extended periods because there is some room to breathe. And because on-ear headphones are not as bulky, the headbands tend to be lighter, applying less direct pressure on the top of your head.
In contrast, ear pads of over-ear, or circumaural, headphones fully enclose the ears. Because the ear pads are much bigger, the headband has to be stronger, and needs padding to prevent it from hurting the sensitive top of your head. The most comfortable headphones often have velour or soft leader encasing the entire headband while cheaper ones are padded with foam or pleather.
Do the Size of Ear Pads Affect Sound Quality?
In terms of sound quality, on-ear headphones deliver sound directly to your ear, so you feel the immediate presence of the sound, a kind of “in the world around me” listening experience. If you don’t need to focus on the technical aspects of the music and just want to have a pleasant listening experience as a consumer, on-ear headphones are sufficient.
Audiophiles are an entirely different breed from the typical consumer. They are keener to immerse themselves in the sound’s nuances, from the thumping of the bass to the crystalline acuity of the treble to the crisp accuracy of the vocals. Some others are looking for headphones with strong bass. Even if you are not one, but want to experience sound on a more nuanced level, then circumaural or over-ear headphones are built for that purpose.
Because a bigger surface area is in contact with the skin with over-ear headphones, their ear pads need to be soft and plush. The headband also needs to be sufficiently cushioned to offset the pressure from a bigger headband.
All these bulk translates to lesser portability compared to on-ear headphones. But if you are the type who likes to retreat to your own acoustic world without bothering your neighbors with your sounds, then circumaural headphones are better suited to the job.
Open-Back vs. Closed-Back Design
The most comfortable headphones can also be open-back or closed-back types. Our closed-back headphones guide can be found here. If you complain that your headphones don’t give you the total noise isolation you crave, it could be because your headphones are built as an open-back variety. The outer shell of the ear covering has horizontal cutouts in them so whatever you listen to ‘bleeds’ into your environment, and the environment in turn bleeds into what you are listening. While “leaky” music might sound awful, the benefit of open-back headphones is the feeling of increased space, so your music sounds like it is played from around you and not in a studio booth.
The following list covers the top 10 headphones that offer utmost comfort, however, if you are looking for something economical, then it’s worth having a look at our best headphones under 50 dollars.
Top 10 Most Comfortable Headphones in 2016
|1. V-MODA Crossfade LP Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphones||Over-ear / closed back headphones||$$||4.6|
|2. Sennheiser HD-598 Over-Ear Headphones||Over-ear / open back headphones||$$$||4.6|
|3. Sentey Headphones with Microphone Audiophile Headset Ls-4430 Thorx
|Over-ear / closed back headphones||$$||4.5|
|4. AudioMX Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 On-Ear Headphones||Over-ear / closed back headphones||$$||4.5|
|5. Symphonized Wraith Premium (Genuine Wood) Headphones||Over-ear / closed back headphones||$$||4.5|
|6. Headphones Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 Professional Acoustically Open Headphones||Over-ear / open back headphones||$$||4.5|
|7. Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones||Over-ear / closed back headphones||$$||4.4|
|8. Sony MDRV55 Bass & DJ Headphones||Over-ear / closed back headphones||$$||4.4|
|9. AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones||Over-ear / semi-open back headphones||$$||4.3|
|10. Monoprice 108323 Over-the-Ear Pro Headphone||Over-ear / open back headphones||$$||4.2|
V-MODA, and its impressive Crossfade LP over-ear headphones – which according to our research is the most highly rated headphones brand by customers and professionals alike – is for many reasons at the top of our list. “Inspired in Italy and styled in Hollywood,” V-MODA Crossfade conveys superb workmanship and utmost comfort, and in keeping with the Hollywood reference, top-of-the-line glamour.
Designed with an ergonomic headband and hexagon shape ear pads that follow the contour of your facial features, the V-MODA Crossfade minimizes gaps between your ears and the cups.
The earpads on the headphones, as well as the interior of the flexible headband, have been crafted by supple leather-wrapped memory foam, so you drown out the noise and immerse yourself in acoustic indulgence for extended periods without the sore neck that usually comes from using cheaper varieties.
Because your ears are fully encased and surrounded by the soft memory foam pads, with the earpads resting against your head and not against your ears, this full coverage contributes immensely to the sound quality of the music as well as to the headphone’s noise isolation capabilities.
It takes a few days, however, for the headband to adjust to the shape of your head, and in time, the tightness disappears.
Surprisingly, its metal construction is lightweight but immensely durable. The headband itself is of steel frame, and the detachable cables are Kevlar-reinforced. All of which are carried in a hard exoskeleton case.
The most comfortable headphones are not the most fashionable accessories when it comes to listening devices, but the V-MODA Crossfade comes with optional cables and ear cushions so you can mix and match colors and proudly wear headphones that are different from everyone else’s.
There’s also the optional custom shield kits so you can laser-engrave yourlogo or symbol of choice on the outer ear cups. When it comes to style, V-MODA Crossfade is no cookie-cutter headset.
These headphones “age” better with time. This means that you would have to “burn them in” for 24 hours to get optimum sound quality and performance. If you like your bass nice and smooth, your mids warm and fuzzy, and your treble crystalline, the V-MODA Crossfade delivers. With its immersive sound stage, these headsets make you feel like you are in the middle of a live performance.
- Ergonomic headband that adjusts to your head in time
- Soft memory foam pads that give full coverage
- Immersive sound stage
- Excellent noise isolation
- Amp up the device for peak performance
- Needs to be “burned in”
Sennheiser HD 598 rightly deserve a position in our most comfortable headphones list, having earned stellar reviews by thousands of usersand audiophiles. With its padded leatherette headband and luxurious velour-covered ear cushions – complete with cream and brown colors – you can easily mentally sink into these headsets and get lost in the pleasure of music for hours without even feeling like you have the headband on.
Thousands of users love the Sennheiser HD 598’s comfort: These are so light that you can wear them for extended periods without dreading the neck soreness that comes with prolonged (ab)use. The ear cups are soft and create a gentle clamping pressure – gamers have been known to use them for a full day of gaming and music listening without getting audio fatigue.
The Sennheiser known for their exceptional clarity, and this series keeps true to that tradition. Its open-back design imparts fantastic definition, tonal balance and detail so you enjoy clean and accurate highs and lows.
If you enjoy classic rock, pop, hip-hop, reggae, metal, rock, rap and vocals, these are the headphones to get. Whether you connect to a smartphone, a laptop or a desktop, the Sennheiser HD 598 delivers.
When supplied with a bit more power, you will also enjoy thumping bass that is more punchy rather than seismic. The soundstage is slightly wide, so you feel like the music is coming from all around you, without being too airy.
When using these at 50% volume, there is minimal sound ‘bleed’ (people nearby can hear). Because these headphones are not meant for bass (which is why you need to add an amp to power it up for the bass), there is distortion when volume is set at higher than 50%.
Where these headphones shine their greatest is at the quiet seclusion of your home or studio. As these are designed as open-back headphones, they are not ideal for use in subways or in any noisy environment.
But if you want to indulge in exceptional listening pleasure, put these on, your favorite movie or music or game, and prepare to get lost in your inner world.
Sennheiser HD 598 gets customer love not just for its utmost comfort but also for its durability. Users who have used these headphones every day for three years say they still look, sound and feel exactly as good like they were first bought.Even after thousands of hours of music, gaming and movies, the Senns do not appear to show signs of wear. At a mid-range price point, the Sennheiser HD 598 rules the airwaves.
- Ultra-soft velour ear cushions
- Padded leatherette headband
- Extremely lightweight; doesn’t leave a sore neck after prolonged use
- Fantastic definition, tonal balance and detail
- Durable; can last for years without signs of wear
- Excellent entry headphone for the aspiring audiophile
- Sound distortion at volumes higher than 50%
- Sound ‘bleeds’ (nearby people can hear) at higher volumes
- Needs amplifier to boost the bass (because these are not meant for bass)
- Open-back design not meant for total sound isolation
Featuring stainless steel headband, the Sentey HeadphonesLs-4430 Thorx is surprisingly one of the most comfortable headphones in the market today, thanks to its adjustable headband and closed protein ear cushion that not only blocks noise but greatly contribute to the headphones’ sound quality.
The headset lets you to slide the earpieces so you achieve that elusive fit around the head, even if your size is well past average. The hinges that are close to the headsets are kept secure in place by metal Allen screws.
The ear pads and the headband are just the right amount of suppleness, and remain comfortable even after hours of use, so you can enjoy music, movies and games without getting sweaty around the ears.
The Sentey Headphones Ls-4430 Thorx deliver balanced frequency response from deep bass to sibilant high notes. There is no mushing of sound; the bass comes out clean, and so are the mids and trebles, whether you are listening to golden oldies or contemporary rock from a smartphone, PC, tablet or some other (Android) device.
But if you are a gamer, that is, lusting after really powerful bass and no volume restraints, these Sentey headphones make a great buy. Just go easy with the volume, as these headphones can take them well up to the highest.
The most comfortable headphones come with tangle-free cable and omni directional microphone that all fold neatly into a sturdy black case. The microphone lets you carry on crystal-clear conversations.
- Supple ear pads and headband
- Accommodates above-average head sizes
- They’re priced very sensibly!
- No mushing of sound
- Powerful bass and volume for gaming
- Crystal clear phone calls with the mic
- Volume can get too loud for non-gamers
- Hinges can get snagged
If you love the freedom of an unleashed connection without compromising sound quality and comfort, then the AudioMX Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 On-Ear Headphones are a great choice.
The earpieces, which can turn in and out, feel like soft leather, fitting directly over the ears nice and snug. As they mould to your head, the earpieces are superb for passive noise cancellation.
The headband is easily adjustable to different fittings, and is amply cushioned on top.The headband maintains shape over time, and remains solid for a snug, comfortable fit.
Surprisingly, despite their solid and strong appearance, the headphones are lightweight, fold easily, and with their sleek looks, are quite an aesthetic statement. They not only look very inviting, but also feel welcoming: You can enjoy your playlist and indulge in a movie marathon for hours on end without feeling audio-fatigued. Even at a lower volume, the sound quality is pristine.
Thanks to its CD-quality sound using apt-X Bluetooth CSR 4.0 Technology, you enjoy high-fidelity audio, so you get clear and crisp highs, excellent mids, and resonant bass that lets you feel like you are in the middle of the action. If you love headphones that do not produce too much bass or treble and immerse you in the experience, these AudioMX Wireless headphones are a must.
You will also be able to take calls seamlessly, clearly and hands-free. Music cuts off nicely when there is incoming call, and pops back up without missing a beat right after the call ends without you pushing any button.
In fact, you can take advantage of voice-activated commands if you do not wish to make use of the manual controls, a boon to clumsy hands.
One of the major resistance against wireless devices is often the poor quality of transmission. With the AudioMX Wireless, you will be able to connect to up to 33 feet of full bandwidth transmission. This translates to no loss of audio performance when you need to go to another room and your audio source is in another. Even better, the battery canbe charged quickly, and gets up to 20 hours of play time from a full charge.
- Snug fit and ample cushioning
- Headband maintains shape over time
- Easily pairs with a range of Bluetooth-enabled devices
- Power button could get mistakenly turned off during calls
- Some issues pairing with iOS devices
- Can be uncomfortable when wearing eyeglasses
You wouldn’t think that wood would make one of the most comfortable headphones on offer today. Symphonized Wraith Premium Headphones, while they look more at home inold world settings, are very modern and up-to-date in comfort and sound quality.
First, there’s the luxuriously padded ear cushions that makes listening a delight and something to look forward to. The headset, with its attractive wood grain covers, offers just the right amount of clamp. No need to worry about headaches ruining your mood for music.
Because Symphonized headphones are handcrafted from real wood, they deliver crisp and accurate audio quality and surprisingly rich but not overwhelming bass, which has pleasant depth and resonance so you feel the instruments and not just hear them. The magic of the wood is such that the bass is enchanting to listen to, even if you were a picky audiophile.
The midrange sounds are dynamic, the vocals are clean, the highs are clear. If classical music is your thing, the Symphonized Wraith Premium lets you hear every instrument in detail. The overall listening experience is immersive, thanks to its good soundstaging. This means youhear guitar playing as if from a few feet away and not directly from the earpiece.
If you hear muddled stock sound, take out that piece of foam attached to the plastic that is located in front of the drivers to let the sound sparkle. Even with the foam removed, there is no worry over sibilance or audio fatigue, or un-directional sound.
The Symphonized Wraith Premium most comfortable headphones are getting plenty of customer love for the comfort and sound quality you get at this price point. While not studio quality, the headsets are ideal for consumer use, and enjoying a small but devoted following from trance music lovers.
- Luxuriously padded ear cushions
- Lets you hear every instrument in detail
- Clear phone calls with the microphone
- Some distortion at higher volumes
- Bass could get muddy
- Not ideal over-ear headsets for those with bigger ears
One of the most comfortable headphones in the market, the Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 has been described by avid users as “stuffed animals cuddling with your ears.”
Featuring comfortable velour earpads, the BeyerdynamicPro makes you feel like you’re wearing earmuffs. The headband is made with high quality spring steel that leaves a clamping force you can adjust – or stretch slightly with books –to suit the size and shape of your head.
The aluminium fork connecting the cups to the headband allows for adjustment to obtain that precise fit. The ear cups are made of rigid plastic that have been cut and molded in shape, so they hug the ears comfortably not only for optimal fit but also for acoustic fidelity. They look and feel like they could be stomped on and yet survive.
The Beyerdynamic pro features flat response curve that tend to color the sound a bit, which is actually good if you are into listening songs as they impart a sense of vibrance that other headphones of similar price don’t do.
The bass is a touch voluminous, but the treble is detailed: The cymbals and violins are crystalline that you can hear the rosin of a violin bow and every electronic synth.
While many users suggest these headphones may require an amp to perform well, if you are into listening music or watching movies by yourself in a quiet room, the BeyerdynamicPro truly shine. As these are made to be open-air most comfortable headphones, the sound does leak out and in. This means that you can still hear people talk, and people near you can hear what you listen to.
The Beyerdynamic pro not only gets fantastic reviews for its sound quality and comfort, it also gets high marks for its durability. After 3 years of everyday use, the velour earpads may need to be replaced, but the headphones themselves sound better with age.
If you desire for more laid-back and realistic sound that you can hear in fine detail, the Beyerdynamic pro are hard to beat at this price range.
- Ultra-comfortable earpads
- Spring steel headband allows adjustment for precise fit
- Trebles are crystalline
- Durable build
- Voluminous bass
- Exaggerates every (treble) detail
- The coiled cable can catch on to angled surface with ease
Bose QuietComfort 25 Headphones have earned fantastic reviews for their long list of desirable qualities. If you are the mobile type who prefers to shut out the world and just listen to your thoughts – or your favourite music – without getting that dull headache from putting on your headset the entire day, then Bose QC25 is your perfect travel companion.
Lightweight with a comfortable around-the-ear fit, these headphones have pillowy-like softness on the headband and ear cushions. The earcups, which only creates light pressure, can be rotated for fine-tuned fit, a boon to users with bigger heads.
Hundreds of users agree that Bose QC25 is the industry standard for noise cancellation, which makes these headphones the go-to choice for frequent fliers and city dwellers as they reduce the engine roar and the cacophony of traffic to a whisper.
That said,if you want to tune out chatty co-workers and other unproductive sounds, and just focus on your task at hand in the office, the Bose QC25 is heaven-sent.
Even if you are not an audiophile and only want to hear true-to-life sounds, Bose QC25 delivers. You hear precise guitars, clean bass, clear vocals and crisp percussion once you put these headphones on.
The subtle details you may never have noticed with other cheaper but most comfortable headphones jump to life with Bose QC25. Coupled with its noise cancelling technology, you’ll definitely be in your own little bubble even in the middle of noisy action.
If you need to take calls, you can control them on iOS devices thanks to their inline microphone/remote and enjoy your calls hands-free.
Because these headphones have been designed for mobile use, they are protected in a sturdy carrying case.
You do need to “burn in” these headphones to enjoy optimum audio performance. Put in about 100 hours of sound and you’ll hear the difference from when you first took them out of their box. At this stage, you will also enjoy harder hitting bass and a wider sound stage.
- Earcups can be rotated for fine-tuned fit
- Pillowy-like softness on the headband and ear cushions
- Precise guitars, clean bass, clear vocals and crisp percussion
- Top-notch noise cancellation
- Needs to be “burned in” to achieve optimum sound quality
- Some issues with headphones not working without warning
- Priced on the higher end
The Sony MDRV55 is what you can expect from a company known for its sound quality. The build is decent for its price point, with the exterior entirely made of durable plastic.The headband is just the right amount of stretchy, which comes with size adjuster so you can customize them to your ideal fit. The headband cushion feels grippy: You feel a comfortable clamp on your head, but without that annoying pressure, or the insecure feeling that they would slip off. The earcups are pleasant, leaving you no sore muscles to dampen your listening mood.
If you are into enjoying music for hours, these headphones make the experience worth the price. You won’t feel them heating up like headphones with earcups made of vinyl, although you want to take them off every now and then for rest if you are wearing prescription glasses. Some users report a degree of discomfort when both headset and glasses are used at the same time.
Audiophiles give these headphones thumbs up when it comes to listening to most genres of music – classic rock, dance, house, old-school hip-hop, acoustic, instrumental and dubstep. The Sony MDRV55’s 40mm closed type driver units deliver clear mid-range and rich bass, without compromising the highs.
The headphones come with reversible earcups and a swivel folding design for flexibility and portability.
While sound quality is comparable to others on the higher end of the price scale, the Sony MDRV55 has issues with build. There are reports of creaking sounds, especially when the volume is turned down below 50%. At more than 50%, the volume “leaks,” which means people near you can hear what you are listening to. For its price point, many users feel Sony can do better with hardware quality. Still, for a consumer headphone, the Sony MDRV55 can’t be beat.
- Comfortable earcups
- Secure headband
- Clear mid-range and rich bass
- Creaking sound can be heard at volume below 50%
- Sound “leaks” when volume is more than 50%
AKG K240 Studio Headphones are an update of the K240 Monitor that have become the industry standard for monitoring headphones. If you need clean and loud audio on a regular basis or professionally and love the comfort that soft around-the-ear pads bring, the AKG K240 Studio makes a great buy.
The steel cable headband is self-adjusting so you can easily find that sweet spot of a fit if you have an average or bigger head. The circumaural pads made of faux-leather can be worn for hours without feeling fatigue. They enclose your ears nicely so you enjoy smooth and solid bass, and articulate mids and highs.
The AKG K240 Studio Headphones have higher impedance (55 Ohm). This translates to the headphones being able to handle more power without distortion at higher volumes, just what you need when you require a demanding headset in an equally demanding professional environment.
These are vented headphones, so you can’t expect ambient noise to be totally removed.On the upside, you won’t have sweaty ears as much. This open-air design also doesn’t mean you won’t be able to indulge in rich bass; if you’re into organ sounds, you will enjoy their true-to-life reproduction with these headphones without feeling the room shake. And because vocals come off clean, you will also be amazed at the operatic voices these headphones deliver.
Many movie buffs recommend AKG K240 Studio as a must-have companion. Orchestral sound comes off excellent, and tonal balance comes very close to what you hear in live symphony halls.
One of the enduring gripes against AKG is that their headphones are typically too big for the average head, and coming short of full coverage contributes to sound quality. This problem has also plagued previous AKG headphone models, and so far, the manufacturer has not made adjustments.
- Ear pads are vented
- Articulate mids and vocals
- Smooth bass
- Excellent sound quality for its price point
- No sound degradation at higher volumes
- Ear pads take up too much space for users with small heads
- Faux-leather sweats easily
- Highs a little too emphasized
The most comfortable headphones are not necessarily expensive. If you are looking for good bass, strong full-bodied midrange, and decent sound isolation, all at an irresistible price point, the Monoprice 108323 Over-the-Ear Pro Headphones is good value for money.
Surprisingly light and foldable, and therefore portable, for a full-sized most comfortable headphones, the Monoprice 108323comes with thick,comfortable padding that keeps the music in and the noise out.
The headpiece, which is made of rubber so it won’t easily break, comes with padding inside so it rests comfortably on your head. They are able to maintain good contact over the ears even if you were wearing a cap, and they can be swivelled up to 90 degrees if you want to make them as makeshift speakers.
If you like vocals and bass, as the headsets are able to reproduce these two with clarity, the Monoprice 108323 will have higher-priced competitions looking over their shoulders.
Audiophiles feel that the Monoprice is a bit shy on the treble, so if you are into hi-hats and cymbals, they will take the backseat as the Monoprice puts more emphasis on the midrange.
The headphones have a high quality look to them, although they are made mostly of plastic and synthetic leather padding. Some users complain that the fit leaves plenty to be desired, but at this price point, the fit is far above average.
The headband, while flexible, starts to get uncomfortable after a short while, about five songs in. As the padding is segmented, they create extra pressure at the top of the head, so if you have sensitive scalp, you’ll have to find a way to put in extra cushion. Vinyl makes for good sound isolation, and the earmuffs are made of this material. In the long run, they too can become quite unpleasant.
The Monoprice 108323pairs well with iOS gadgets, Android, as well as a broad range of other audio devices.
- Attractive price point
- Excellent midrange and solid bass
- Can be swivelled to double as makeshift speakers
- Decent sound isolation
- Microphonic sound when cable rubs against clothing
- Headband creates extra pressure; not suitable for sensitive scalp
- Vinyl ear cushions leave plenty to be desired
- Shy on treble