Best Over Ear Headphones – Top 15 List 2017
Anybody who is serious about music, and specifically quality audio performance, ends up upgrading from stock earbuds to full-sized headphones. The drivers of over-ear headphones are big enough to recreate the magic of the original score as it is or make it even more beautiful. If portability is not your topmost priority, the best over-ear headphones have the right combination of audio and comfort. And they have the ability to keep your music to you. It doesn’t matter if you consider Bob Dylan or Lil Wayne’s tunes as your music nirvana, the over-ear headphones usually save you from the judgmental stares. With many a headphone parading their wares in the market, we steeled ourselves and dived into the lot. The result? 15 best over-ear headphones to have in 2017.
Closed-back headphones vs. open-back headphones?
Most of us are familiar with closed-back headphones. In these, the backside of the ear pieces is covered in solid material. As a result, these headphones reduce flow of ambient noise. They also generally leak less of your music outside. So you remain cut off from the world around you. Studio producers and commuters use these over-ear headphones. They give you a closed-in audio experience which is more in your head. Many people like the intimacy of music these headphones offer. But do note that many closed-back headphones now have wider soundstages. Studio professionals like it for the prevention of ambient noise.
Open-back headphones have slits or perforations on the backplate of the ear pieces. This allows the audio to be open and create an around-the-head auditory experience. The audiophiles usually prefer to have this audio type to pump from their amps and DACs. Casual listeners might not appreciate the conditional usage of these headphones. You can only use open-back headphones in quiet areas, without retribution that is.
Over-ear headphones vs. on-ear headphones?
Over-ear headphones have clear advantage over the on-ear headphones in some respects. The best over-the-ear headphones(circum-aural headphones) are generally comfortable. They provide better guard against the inflow of noise and outflow of music. So your music remains sacred. Over-ear headphones are also designed to go around the ear rather than sit ON them. But take note, only the top over-ear headphones are immune to noise and comfortable.
Except for the top on-ear headphones most of them press upon your ears and cause discomfort. However, you have the advantage of being able to listen to things over your music. So if you are walking down a street or in the office, you can play your Nicki Minaj and still keep an ear out for the instructions and conversations around you.
How did we choose the best over-ear headphones for 2017?
Headphones are dime a dozen in the market. So selecting the best over-ear headphones was no easy feat. We looked at them like a user would and evaluated them on a few key parameters like:
Audio: When we talk headphones, audio is the main chops. The best over-ear headphones chosen here range across a variety of popular sound signatures. These include audiophile-level warm sound, hi-resolution purist sound, bass-forward refined audio, straight-up bassy sound and everything in between. There are also affordable headphones here for the casual listeners who couldn’t care less for the last sentence.
Comfort: In-ear headphones are usually the preferred mode of listening because of their small size. But some folks do not like foreign objects lodging into their ear canals so they turn to the best over-ear headphones. The ones selected here aim to disappear on your head. They put very little pressure on the noggin, as if they are almost not there. The ear pieces are padded for comfort. If comfort is on the top of your checklist, check out the Most comfortable headphones.
Design: The architecture figured into our calculations for three reasons: comfort, durability and looks. Although most headphones are plastic, we looked for obvious design weaknesses and checked how sturdy they were. It’s likely that you will wear your headphones out in the public. So some points were reserved for the appearance of the best over-ear headphones.
Features: The best over-ear headphones pack more technology than just music-playing. Wireless connectivity earned big rewards in this category because it makes our lives that much easier. Foldability, detachable cables, carry case, inline-mic and remote, noise-cancelling ability are all features that counted.
Price: We tried to cover headphones across the price ranges that see most customers in the market: low to mid-high. The best over-ear headphones are ranked according to how much value they bring for the money. This is a more normalized way of comparing headphones of different prices.
15 Best Over Ear Headphones
|1. Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling||World-class noise cancellation makes quiet sound quieter and music sound better||$$$||4.5|
|2. Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 SonicPro High-Resolution Audio Over-Ear Headphones||Newly designed 45 mm True Motion Drivers deliver Hi-Res Audio reproduction||$$$||4.5|
|3. Sony MDR1A Premium Hi-Res Stereo Headphones||Sound Reproduction up to 100 kHz, 40 mm driver units with ALCP for articulate audio reproduction||$$$||4.4|
|4. V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Over-Ear Headphone||Built-in hidden microphone specially tuned and optimized for phone calls and voice recognition||$$$||4.3|
|5. B&O BeoPlay H6 over-ear headphones||Hand-tuned by Bang & Olufsen sound engineers for an authentic and well-balanced sound experience||$$$||4.3|
|6. Sennheiser HD 4.30 Around Ear Headphones||Sennheiser HD 4.30 Around Ear Headphones||$$||4.2|
|7. BÖHM B76 Wireless Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones with Active Noise Cancelling||Powerful Headphones Let You Enjoy Music, TV, Movies & Games with Rich, Textured Sound & Extra Bass||$$$||4.2|
|8. Ultrasone HFI-580 S-Logic Surround Sound Professional Closed-back Headphones||S-Logic Natural Surround Sound Plus||$$$||4.2|
|9. Skullcandy Crusher Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphone with Mic||Delivers seamless integration with any Bluetooth-enabled device||$$$||4.2|
|10. Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-ear Headphones||50mm neodymium Drivers Deliver Full Spectrum of Sound||$$||4.2|
|11. Bluedio U (UFO) PPS 8 Drivers Over-ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphone with Mic||With innovative 8-driver design, every note is accurately reproduced||$$||4.1|
|12. Cowin E-7 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Over-ear Stereo Headphones with Microphone and Volume Control||Significant noise reduction for travel, work and anywhere in between. Active Noise Cancelling technology||$$||4.1|
|13. Avantree Audition Super Comfortable Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones with Mic||High-Resolution sound with aptX, clear highs and Rich Bass, challenge many top brands on the market||$$||4.1|
|14. Panasonic Retro Over-the-Ear Stereo Monitor Headphones RP-HTX7||Lightweight radio frequency (RF) wireless, on-ear headphones for use with TV and Hi-Fi Audio||$$||4.0|
|15. AmazonBasics Over-Ear Wireless RF Headphones with Charging Dock||Wireless, lightweight, over-ear RF headphones for enjoying extended listening of TV and audio—without disturbing others||$$||4.0|
Bose QC35 over-ear headphones are over-achievers in their own right. Hailing from Bose’ famous active noise-cancelling(ANC) QuietComfort line-up, the QC35 packs this obvious feature and also Bluetooth connectivity, noise-rejecting mic and 20-hour battery life. All this is racked into a lightweight and insanely comfortable headphone. The audio is quiet in the background and packed with warm, punchy goodness. Bose charges a reasonable amount for the digital voodoo that its audio goes through and all its timeless features. It rightfully makes to the top of the best over-ear headphones of 2017.
Design and Features
Bose QC35 over-ear headphones retain the backbone structure of the QC25. They are slightly heavier than QC25 at 8.3 ounces but still on the lighter side of the track. The extra body goes into the wider headband which optimizes the clamp on your head. Pleather lines the headband and the earcups. The oval ear pieces are soft and easy on ears. They are guarded by metal backplates. Comfort is, as always, a winning point with these QuietComfort headphones.
These over-ear headphones have a multifunctional button on the right earcup which helps with call control, Play/Pause etc. Volume buttons flank the sides. They are charged via a USB port. They have non-replaceable rechargeable battery. It runs for 20 hours with ANC on per charge. The Bluetooth connectivity is smooth and without static. You can connect these to up to 2 devices. You can choose between the two sources via the Bose phone app. This is a basic application which Bose can build on.
The in-built microphone in the QC35 over-ear headphones is excellent for making calls. These cans can be used in the wired mode with a detachable cable. So you can still use the QC35 during a flight or when the battery runs out. This does not allow the ANC to work, but you get sufficient passive noise cancellation. They come in a black color or two-tone grey one. Their earcups can fold flat and inwards to reduce storage space. A hard carry case makes them quite portable. An airline adapter is also shipped.
The Bose QC35 over-ear headphones have two sides to their audio gala. The Active Noise Cancellation is so ruthlessly implemented here that you get radio silence on low-frequency noises. It causes a little pressure on the ears. All the engine noise, AC hum and murmured conversation will disappear. But you will still have access to high frequency sirens and important instructions. Their ANC is the best in the market and QC35 keeps up the good work. There are external microphones working on noise-cancellation here. And they occasionally cause crackle when the wind blows. But there’s nothing that can match up directly with the Bose QC35 in terms of ANC right now.
These over-ear headphones sing full-bodied bass which stays tightly in control. Some of the warm Bluetooth headphones like Momentum wireless may have slightly more punch and control. The vocals and guitar are clearly enunciated. The highs are smooth and without sibilance. Bose has done significant digital tweaking here. A volume equalizer works continuously to keep the audio consistent for every genre. It makes sure no one part of the frequency spectrum dominates the music. QC35 also sound pretty great for a Bluetooth headphone. But this is without Apt-X. It sounds a tad better in the wired mode. But the differences are only apparent to the hardcore purists.
- Top-notch Active Noise Cancellation
- Lightweight and ultra-comfortable
- Excellent mic quality
- Smooth, refined audio
- Meaty bass
- Can work in wired mode
- 20-hour battery life
- Volume equalizer
- ANC cannot be switched off
- No AptX support
Audio-Technica has a legacy of beautifully crafted music. Their M50x is a shining example of the kind of magic that A-T is capable of. They debuted MSR7 over-ear headphones as a high-resolution headphone. And theydo not disappoint us. They are one of the better-looking headphones in A-T’s lineup. They are the cheapest headphones that give you true high-resolution headphones. The extra features are relatively few. Most of the investment here is in the audio. We think they offers excellent value on the money to be on the best over-ear headphones of 2017 list.
Design and Features
Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 over-ear headphones are as sleek as A-T gets. They look just as beautiful as they sound. The popular version is done in gun-metal grey and brown hues. At 10.2 ounces the cans are heavy. But A-T engineers have perfected the architecture. The headband is moderately broad but padded lavishly. The earcups are also padded with plush cushions. The headband offsets the weight properly. It fits tight enough not to be dislodged by head movement but does not clamp at all. This precise engineering of MSR7 is why it is touted as one of the most comfortable headphones.
The earcups fold flat for easy storage. The headband and earcups are sheathed in the same brown or black leather. But the arms and back of the earpieces are all aluminum. This contributes to the higher weight of these over-ear headphones. There are subtly done glossy highlights that make it far more superior to anything A-T has offered till now. Only gripe we have is the rather childish ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ markings at the joint of the arms.
The MSR7 over-ear headphones come with 3 cables. One is a 1.2m simple cable and one is a 1.2 cable with 1-button remote control. The latter works with both Apple and Android phones. The last one is a 3m cable for connecting to equipment like amps, TV etc. A drawstring pouch is also included in the pack.
Audio-Technica has a great balanced studio headphone in the market already, the M50x. So then why do we need MSR7, you ask? Firstly M50x is far too decadent to be neutral. Secondly, MSR7 over-ear headphones have the more evolved and mature take on music. They have reined in the theatrics of M50x and gone for a more neutral profile without sounding surgical. Compared to M50x, their bass is tighter and only slightly north of neutral. The treble is smoother and the midrange has more presence. This translates to a more balanced sound. Because of A-T’s integrity and commitment to hi-res sound, they sound cleaner than our favorites, the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0.
But don’t think you will be bored. What MSR7 sheds in warm bass, it adds in dynamic range. The wide soundstage and the agility of sound make them plenty exciting. You discover new intricacies in your favorite music with these. The tones are more natural. The bad formats and recordings give up their flaws, so MSR7 may seems harsh on them. Audiophiles with shallow pockets who like to hear the details in the audio will not pass up on these over-ear headphones.
- True Hi-resolution sound
- Very dynamic and refined audio
- Tight bass and smooth treble
- Sleek looks with metal highlights
- Earcups fold flat
- 3 detachable cables, one with mic
- Few extra features
Sony MDR1A over-ear headphones are another pair that has the hi-res tag. While technically, these don’t satisfy the true hi-resolution criteria, they sound fun and exciting. Sony finally got the style memo with MDR1R and created stylish cans. The same physical traits have been carried to the MDR1R. Audio-wise, Sony has turned up the bass a bit and kept the whole frequency spectrum refined. This satisfies the audiophiles who prefer a warm and detailed sound signature. Sony MDR1A pivots with all its glory supported by comfort and brilliant audio, hence its place in the best headphones list of 2017.
Design and Features
Sony is notorious for sticking chunky designs with predominantly round earcups. They are a no-pretensions, great audio type. However, they have tried to step up their act in the recent years. The MDR1A over-ear headphones are a marvel of metal and plastic. Most of the structure is plastic. But they opted for cast aluminum arms and backplates for the ear pieces. Even with all the shenanigans, they clock only 7.95 ounces on the scale. This is because Sony opted for sleek over beefy.
The moderately broad headband is optimally padded. The racetrack oval earcups also see plush cushions. Both are swathed in protein leather which makes soft contact with our head. The headband of these over-the-ear headphones fits the head snugly but without any clamp. However, you stand the chance of displacing them if you shake your head too hard. The ear pieces fold flat, turning the headphones into a slick flat package. They are available in either black with red highlights or dark brown/silver combination.
The MDR1A over-ear headphones sport detachable cable. They have a 3.5mm port on the right earcup. They come with 2 cables: a 1.2m normal cable and a 1.2 cable with mic and remote control. These are heavy duty cables of excellent quality. Unfortunately a carry case is not provided, only a soft pouch. You have the option of programming the remote control keys using the SmartKey phone app.
The Sony MDR1A over-ear headphones are popular as hi-resoultion headphones. Only, we don’t think that tag is entirely appropriate. They have a warm sound signature with a solid bump in the bass. The agile bass is detailed and quite well-defined. This is bass emphasis done right. The rumbling bass comes in oodles and lends a powerful hand to the lower end. All the genres, be it rock, jazz, Techno or EDM, all benefit from the bass. There’s a minor bass bleed to the mids which sullies their claim of being hi-resolution. We can ignore the low-end resonance for the spice bass adds and its overall detailed nature.
The other parts of the MDR1A’s frequency response are refined. You see the nuances in midrange that you would expect of high-res headphones. The treble is smooth and detailed. But it has none of the bite of the M50x. The soundstage of these over-ear headphones are a point to note. They have a wide space for stereo imaging, almost like open-back headphones. The dynamic sound sets a good listening experience on it.
- Lightweight and suave looks
- Ultra-comfortable build
- 2 detachable cables, one with mic
- Folds flat
- Bold bass
- Smooth treble
- Refined but fun audio
- Light bass bleed
V-Moda Crossfade wireless over-ear headphones are a step up from their famous M100 headphones. They retain Val-Kolton’s dream of high fashion in music. They have the same hexagonal ear pieces with the contortionist headband. Both the headphones and the detachable cables have military-grade construction. They also bring the zingy audio with them that is exceeds expectations from the Bluetooth mode. The idea of owning such a gorgeous accessory is enough to make us swoon. The fact that it croons so well sends it straight to the best over-ear headphones, 2017 list.
Design and Features
The V-Moda Crossfade wireless over-ear headphones look every bit like the famed M-100s. These have hexagonal ear pieces hung from metal arms. The padding on the earcups is substantial and changeable. So you can switch to XL earpads for more comfort, if you have large ears. They block out noise quiet well passively. The headband is broad but relatively thin. It is sheathed with mesh on the underside for better ventilation. The backplate of the ear pieces is done in shiny metal. It can be swapped for laser-engraved custom designs that act a personal signature or team emblem.
All the controls of these over-the-ear headphones are on the right earcup. There is a power/ Bluetooth pairing button on one side. At the top, you find a multifunctional button for Play/Pause and call answer. It is next to the volume button. They have a rechargeable battery that holds power for 12 hours once charged. They can also be used in the wired mode using an accompanying cable which has a 1-button remote control. They ship with a sizeable load of accessories: a hard exoskeleton case, a studio adapter and a carabiner clip. But they do not fold for easy portability like the M-100s.
V-Moda combines some serious bass with detailed overtures in the Crossfade over-ear headphones. They have definite bass emphasis like the M-100s. But the bass attack is sharp and not sluggish like cheaper headphones with boosted bass. There’s a significant amount of detailing audible to the bass from sounding sloppy. The lower-registers are played vigorously and sound only a touch forward. This creates a full-bodied base for the vocals to land on. The singers’ words are heard clearly over the lower frequencies. They do not have to battle for a presence much. Occasionally when they do, the vocals still sound clear.
The bass reaches deep with these wireless over-ear headphones, especially in its wired mode. In spite of the bass-boosting, they never sound distorted, not even at high volume. There’s a difference between the wired and wireless performance, and the degree of it differs over songs. The Crossfade wireless headphones have a slightly heavier bass than the M100 that the bassheads will definitely approve of. The bump has been executed rather tastefully. But M-100 is clearer. But we will give the Wireless headphones brownie points because they sound comparable over Bluetooth.
- Hi-fashion look
- Extremely durable
- Can be used in wired mode
- Powerful and detailed bass
- Folds flat
- Battery life could be better
Bang and Olufsen have an established fan base in the speaker domain. With BeoPlay H6 over-ear headphones they hold the trump card. The leather and metal façade of these cans holds tremendous potential. And they have used some pretty classy colors too. They are portable and tight enough to stay on your head as you move around your kingdom. Detachable cable aids their portability. They sound surprisingly neutral and natural. But they are also priced to match that. Nevertheless H6 is one the newcomers that quickly established itself, right in our best over-ear headphones list for 2017.
Design and Features
The thing about Bang and Olufsen H6 over-ear headphones that we liked instantly is that they not only look pretty, they sit pretty. That is, the headphone looks great when worn. The petite body does not protrude too far from the head. So you don’t look dorky with these on. The construction has a large amount of anodized aluminum structuring and soft lambskin. The headband is padded ear to ear. The earcups are round. They are also cushioned optimally. This is sheathed in genuine leather. The grip of the headband may come across as a tad tight. But it’s an acquired taste. They are not uncomfortable for wearing over long hours. Good news is they don’t come off during workout.
These over-the-ear headphones have a detachable cable. The cable supplied with pack has inline mic and remote. The 3-button remote is compatible with iPhone, though the mute/play/Pause works with all phones. There are ports for cable on either earcup. So you can daisy chain two headphones and share music from the same source amongst them. The backplate of the speaker has minimal branding. These headphones are either available in all black. Or they come in tan color highlighted with either silver or gold color.
The B&O H6 over-ear headphones are better off with some amplifier in play. We suggest the FiiO E5 if you are a beginner. You can browse the best amplifiers in the market here. In the interest of neutrality, the bass is restrained into a tighter spot. If used directly with a source, you might not even get enough mid bass. Once you get the amplifier going, you get that detailed and clean bass that B&O was aiming at. It is nuanced and well-defined. But there’s no warmth or extra power to it. So purists might prefer the H6.
The midranges are neutrally crafted and sound natural with the flat bass. The vocals are translated as is in a wide soundstage. You can hear the musicality of the mid tones as they were originally intended. The highs are cut clean and crisp. Treble detail is commendable even at its price. It almost borders on sibilance but never crosses that border. The soundstage is more spacious than we expected out of a closed-back headphone. Stereo imaging has been accurately executed in this space.
- Neutral and natural sound
- Very clean and detailed audio
- Allows you to enjoy the true musicality of the tracks
- Comfortable for long hours
- Looks elegant on the head
- Detachable cable with 3-button remote and mic
- Folds flat
- Metal and leather premium construction
- Needs amplifier for full bass
Sennheiser HD 4.30 over-ear headphones are their middle-of-the road affordable cans that are just gaining market after being introduced back in the later half of 2016. When we look at them, we see potential. The build is a rather bold, in your face design. They certainly get comfortable with the ample padding and support. The audio quality is above average in the price range. A casual listener will respond well to its meaty bass and smooth audio. Sennheiser has tied everything in a neat bow for the best over-ear headphones list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Sennheiser HD 4.30 over-ear headphones have found a way to look elegant in less. We checked the all-black model which has just some metal accents. The moderately broad headband has optimal padding to keep the contact soft and pliable. The ear pieces are extensively cushy on these cans. The lavish padding drowns your ears in a sea of comfort. If you have small ears, they will fit right inside the dip in the middle. But if you have larger ears, the thick cushions are likely to press on your ears. The headband arch is wide so it does not pressurize the sides of your head.
The cable of these over-ear headphones is detachable. It connects to a port on the right earcup and terminates in an L-shaped plug. It has a 3-button inline remote. There are two models of these headphones: one with iPhone-compatible remote and one with Android-compatible remote. You can choose the one you want while buying. The headphone is same in both packages. The remote hangs just 4 inches south of the ear piece, so you will be operating blind here. The headphone has articulating arm.
The 32mm drivers of the HD 4.30 over-ear headphones work in 18-22,000Hz range. They do their best work in the lower registers. They offer warm punchy bass that hit you with a powerful impact. However, the imperceptible bump is very tightly controlled. So much so, we didn’t find bass overstepping into midrange. There’s also a decent amount of detail in these frequencies. So you won’t just be listening to random thumping.
The midrange of these over-ear headphones gets a clear space above bass. The vocals are played with panache. The mids aren’t as detailed and transparent as say the M50x. But they hold their own. For their price, they still exceed expectations in refinement. The treble is smoothened out in interest of containing any harshness. This compromises some high-end detail. The full-bodied audio is setup in a wide soundstage, even though this is a closed-back headphone. The audio experience is still intimate but not completely trapped inside your head.
- Plush padding
- Very comfortable
- Detachable cable
- Inline mic and remote
- Remote either Apple of Android-compatible
- Punchy and impactful bass
- Clean and crisp mids/highs
- Wide soundstage
- Make the ears warm
BÖHM is a formidable force in the audio market for delivering many high-end features in highly affordable headphones. Their B66 has consistently made it to our top lists like the best on-ear headphones. The BÖHM B76 is not much far off that mark. This brilliant piece of artwork debuted in the 2016. Like B66, it packs both Active Noise Cancellation and Bluetooth connectivity at less than one-third the price of QC35. We won’t say they are comparable but both features work decently on B76. These, the design and the audio together make a strong case for them to be on the best over-ear headphones for 2017 list.
Design and Features
The BÖHM B76 over-ear headphones ooze class like their on-ear brethren. This is credited to their metal and pleather framework. We saw mostly metal on the earcups and the arms. The matte silver finish highlights the jet black body. In spite of BÖHM’s indulgence in metal, the headband feels light on the head. The earcups are large racetrack-oval structures that sit around the ears than on it. The headband benefits from the reasonable amount of padding. The clamp is balanced between snug and painless.
These over-ear headphones employ ANC to cut off the ambient noise. And it actually works! Of course, it’s nothing in the ballpark of the Bose QC35, but look at the price. The lower frequency noises are suitably diminished. High frequency sound gets through. ANC can be turned off in these headphones. And that’s fortunate because sometimes when the volume is low, at around 10 percent, you can hear a faint hissing. That’s the sound of ANC at work. But at higher volumes, this gets drowned out by music.
The BÖHM B76 over-ear headphones are Bluetooth-enabled. The battery life is decent. They can be used in the wired mode when the battery drains. They are foldable and hence portable and perfect for running, walking, jogging, gymming etc..
We almost passed on over BÖHM B76 Bluetooth over-ear headphones because we thought no one headphone could accomplish all that and still sound decent. But B76 surprised us here too. The ANC drowns out around 60% of the airplane engine noise when no music is playing. With music on, the engine is a blip in our radar.
The bass has a lot of oomph here. It rumbles hard and is decently dynamic to complicated music. It does not hamper the flow of the midrange. With the ANC on, the lower frequencies get a kick up. The mids are clear and audible in the thick of bassy instruments. The detailing is substantial for a headphone of this price. There’s no distortion or sibilance in the audio. The balance between bass, mids and treble make for a natural-sounding audio.
- Elegant and comfortable
- ANC and Bluetooth-enabled
- Powerful bass
- Good detailing of audio
- Very affordable for all the features
- Hissing noise audible below 10% volume
Ultrasone has been coughing up great headphones during their occasional bursts of brilliance. The HFI-580 over-ear headphones are one of them. They have been around the block for more than a decade now. Ultrasone claims that these are surround sound headphones. While they aren’t exactly surround sound, they do not have any of the awkward after-effects of implementing surround. Their neutral sound signature and natural musicality is packed in a quite macho-looking form. They are a time-tested and out-of-the-box pick for the best over-ear headphones list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Ultrasone HFI-580 over-ear headphones look their age. They look large and chunky with those swollen joints. If you are trying to pull off a grungy look, you might probably like them. But this doesn’t mean lack of comfort. In fact the HFI-580 are pleasantly easy on your ears. The cranial arch of the headband and the earcups are padded. These are further covered in pleather. The cushions feel a little stiff out of the box. But with wear-in they seem to settle down just fine. They clock 10.05 ounces on the scale. The earpads are oval and stay around the ears than over them. Ear pieces can swivel forward on the arms and adapt to your ears better. Metal cap on the backplane of the ear pieces carries the brand name and logo.
The cable of these over-ear headphones is not detachable. But it is at least one-sided. So you are free to move your head around. It ends in a 3.5mm plug. A screw-on 6.3mm plug is shipped with the pack. The burly joints on the arms of the headphones allow them to fold and that reduces their footprint by half. The clamp pressure is moderate for use over a couple of hours. You need to take them off occasionally.
The Ultrasone HFI-580 over-ear headphones are relatively neutral except for noticeable bumps around 75Hz and 10KHz. This boost in the bass makes for some very interesting bass response. The sub bass region really shines with the attention. Tracks with deep bass signatures are bared for you to hear. Some otherwise un-heard resonance in the deep rumbling bass will surprise you in the bassy tracks. And the detailing here is also worth noting. The warm bass keeps from sounding boomy only because of the strong definition and detailing.
The midrange sounds recessed in the comparison to the enthusiastic bass. In bad recordings, you can find bass spilling into the mids. But they are generally clear. These over-ear headphones will appeal to the casual listeners and audiophiles who want to stock up on bass-forward equipment. The treble extends well with decent definition. There’s a zing of sparkle that makes it all the more exciting. There’s not a huge difference with the surround sound tag. The HFI-580 sound consistent across tracks and have superb bass.
- Outstanding deep and detailed bass
- Boosted bass
- Very natural sounding
- Chunky design
Skullcandy is infamous for funky colors and super-stylish design. They have gone for the muted dangerous look with the Crusher wireless over-ear headphones. Stemming from the Crusher wired version in 2016, these wireless cans are all about clean contours. They bring variable bass levels and stereo haptic bass with them. Skullcandy has worked to improve the comfort too since Hesh 2. They are good for portability. The price might be a little steep for their abilities right now but you can always wait for the sale. The Crusher crushes competition to make it to the best over-ear headphones of 2017 list.
Design and Features
We still have a hard time digesting the understated look of the Skullcandy Crusher wireless over-ear headphones. Not that we don’t like it, it’s just a surprising move from the Skullcandy. The model we picked is wholly black. All surfaces are smooth and matte, including the back of the racetrack oval ear pieces. There’s a discreet Skullcandy logo on the headband. There might be a reason for the flat backplate. These headphones do not stick out from your head. They fit snug. The memory foam earpads engulf the ears in comfort. The headband also has reasonable support.
The right earcup of these over-ear headphones carries three buttons. A central button is used for Play/Pause, call answer and Bluetooth pairing. They are flanked by up/down buttons for volume and track navigation. The bass slider is housed on the left earcup. This will work even in the wired mode. Apart from the USB charging cable, these cans come with a cable for wired listening. This has a single button control.
Skullcandy claims a battery life of 40 hours for the Crusher over-ear headphones. That is substantial compared to V-Moda Crossfade wireless. A fur-lined drawstring pouch is shipped with them. They can be folded at the arms for easy storage.
Skullcandy has never gone easy on bass and it wasn’t about to start with the Crusher wireless over-ear headphones. The stereo haptic bass creates a visceral effect with the lightest music tones. The bass-crazy fans will absolutely fall for this. The bass slider is a superfluous addition here because any setting beyond 2 or 3 is unusable with bass overpowering everything. But at the lowest setting, bass has a powerful presence. It gives a body to the mids and makes them sound rich. The lower registers get enough depth and definition at settings 1 and 2 on the bass level.
The midrange stands clear when the bass is not set at high levels. The bass-forward sound benefits the low-mid frequencies and they sound dynamic. The high-mids need a little more clarity in these over-ear headphones. Audiophiles and casual listeners who want natural audio signature should steer clear of the Crusher. The bass-addicts, be prepared to feel like a subwoofer invaded your head.
- Powerful bass at reasonable bass level
- Variable bass level
- Stereo haptic bass is visceral
- Comfortable and looks sleek on head
- 40-hour battery life
- Only the lowest levels of bass slider are usable
We are talking 50mm drivers at a two-digit price here. The Philips SHP9500 has stayed out of the limelight between all the Grados and Sennheisers. But these open-back over-ear headphones are big bang for the buck: We turned up the audio and kept waiting for it to be mediocre. But all we heard was the SHP9500’s remarkable talent at creating a natural audio response. For audiophiles who are looking for affordable around-the-head audio, these are a top choice. They sang themselves a place right into the best over-ear headphones, 2017 list.
Design and Features
Philips has actually sneaked in some innovative ideas into the design of the SHP9500 over-ear headphones. These open-back cans use a suspension-type headband. So there are two layers to it. The inner one that touches your head is made of a breathable, soft, mesh material. The upper band is made of a more rigid material. This arrangement allows the headband to conform easily to your head shape and size. It uses oval ear pieces. The earpads are thick and covered in the same mesh material as the headband. This allows ears to breathe through long hours of music listening. These headphones do stick out from the head. But as they provide little or no noise isolation, its best to use them indoors in a quiet place anyway.
The cable of these over-the-ear headphones is detachable. It connects to the right earcups. Philips provides a 3m cable to connect to amps, DACs or whatever your audiophile equipment is. There are no other extras. But do note, physically you are paying for good comfort. The clamp pressure is very low but it causes the headphones to move around a bit. One issue that we hope Philips addresses is that the earpads are not removable. But the material looks pretty comfy and durable so we are nitpicking here.
Philips SHP9500 over-ear headphones are mid-centric cans. These have the audio chops to bring out the best of classical music. That is not to say that the bass and treble are lacking. It’s just that mids have this clear and refined quality. Untainted by bass, it plays freely in the wide soundstage. Stereo imaging has an open space to play because of the open-back design. It is a special treat to hear piano vocals on these headphones. The balance is impeccable.
With open-back headphones the sub-bass is usually diffused. But it does not take the punch away from the low frequencies. The bass has a detailed and rumbling presence. What it doesn’t have is the depth and flow of Sennheiser audiophile cans like 558s. The treble needs to be equalized for a cleaner response. If you don’t like the SHP9500 over-ear headphones right out of the box, get the equalizer in play. It has the potential for brilliance for the unconvinced music-junkies once EQ’d.
- Clean and detailed mids
- Tight bass
- Clamp-free headband design
- Mesh-like breathable membrane on earpads and headband
- Detachable cable
- Earpads cannot be switched for velour pads
Bluedio has been trying to carve its own niche with uber-glamorous headphones. Their Turbine headphones are proof. But with U PPS 8 drivers over-ear headphones, they have upped the ante. These gorgeous wireless headphones are equipped with a mindblowing 3D audio option. They have retained the audio of their famed R+ headphones with minor tweaks. They keep pushing firmware updates to the headphone which adds value to your investment in them. Since their debut, a number of minor bugs have been fixed this way. Those are the kind of perks that come with the best over-ear headphones for 2017 list.
Design and Features
The Bluedio UFO over-ear headphones draw attention for their exquisite design. The headband has a matte and silicone finish. But the arms and the ear pieces are made of glossy plastic. The classy curves and strategic highlights make them look nothing short of ostentatious. If you like to stand out from the crowd, these headphones are for you. The ear pieces are racetrack-oval and carry reasonable padding. They are draped in pleather. They are comfortable for regular use. But some people might find them heavy owing to their metal parts.
The buttons reside on the right earcup of these over-ear headphones. These are large buttons (larger than that of R+) located on the backplate of the ear pieces. These include separate track navigation buttons, the volume buttons and the multifunctional call management and Play/pause button. They can also be operated in wired mode via a 3.5mm port on the right earcup. The battery lasts through 25 hours on Bluetooth. Bluetooth 4.1 used here is a power-smart technology. These have mic integrated for taking phone calls hands-free.
On the surface, the Bluedio UFO over-ear headphones sound similar to the Bluedio R+. Except that UFO is more balanced. The R+ favored bass just like Beats headphones do. But the UFO goes for the natural audio. It still packs the low-end power. The oomphy bass will partner up with the mids nicely. The midrange has sufficient details and clarity. The emphasis on high is lower but they aren’t absent. They are smoothened out for those who don’t like the harshness of treble. The UFO has a laidback audio that makes music sound fun.
But we were curious about the 3D DSP sound effect of these over-ear headphones. With music, we immediately switched it off. But with movies, this effect astounded us. It truly brought depth and character to the movie dialogues. And in spite of these being Bluetooth headphones, you can glean off tons of details from the movies playing out. Bluedio hit the home run with this surround sound effect. This becomes a multipurpose headphone. If you own a Bluetooth TV or have a Bluetooth transmitter connected to the TV, these headphones could be your home theater system.
- 3D Sound effect mode is excellent for movies
- Balanced and clean audio
- Large buttons
- Glamorous design
- Can be used in wired mode
Cowin is a hitherto unheard-of brand for most music enthusiasts. But their E7 grabbed our attention for being both Bluetooth-enabled and active noise cancelling. Since Bose QC line usually calls for deep pockets, we are always on the lookout for cheaper headphones with the same repertoire. E7 won’t create the eerie silence that QC35 is capable of. But these have functional ANC and provide freedom from wires. For casual listeners, these sound rich and musical. They are talented enough to be one of the best over-ear headphones for 2017.
Design and Features
The Cowin E7 over-ear headphones are catchy in terms of their appearance. They have made choice use of metallic sheen to create a chic look. The headband is mostly matte black, but the arms are metallic silver. The backplate of the ear pieces have a glossy black sheen. Both sides have a triangular panel on the earcups, one side holds the controls. The earpieces swivel forward on the arms to lean in towards your ears. Meanwhile, the arms rotate themselves so that the ear pieces can lay flat. The large circular earpads are sheathed in what looks like pleather. They are comfortable.
The wireless controls include Play/Pause and call management button and the volume buttons. The Bluetooth connectivity is smooth. You get 30 hours playtime out of a single charge on moderate volume. When the battery runs out of juice, these over-ear headphones can be used in wired mode. The noise-cancellation function cancels out 50-60% of the noise. This will keep the engine drone out of your music mostly. But it will make sure you are alert to other noises. The E7 is also available in a wireless only mode which has no ANC.
The Cowin E7 over-ear headphones are highly affordable cans with Bluetooth and ANC, two things which put off the audiophile at face value. All we expected from them is decent audio without any apparent problems like distortion or sibilance. And they deliver. There’s a good amount of detail across the board but nothing like the Sony MDR V6 in the same price range. The bass is gutsy. The midrange is not clouded by bass. The highs are smooth and not overly bright.
- Bluetooth-enabled and ANC
- Folds flat
- 30-hour battery life
- Choicest looks
- Can be used in wired mode
- Voice call quality is not great on mic
Avantree has many audio devices under its wing. The Audition over-ear headphones are just a tip of the iceberg. These are lightweight headphones without the bounds of wire. But they can also be used in wired mode. These are comfortable for long hours of music perusing. With their weight they are highly portable too. The long battery life only adds to that appeal. And all this is possible at a very affordable price. This ties a neat ribbon on the package of these headphones, hence their place on the best over-ear headphones list for 2017.
Design and Features
The design of the Avantree Audition over-ear headphone reminds us of the Sennheiser Momentums. These are not as elegant as the Momentums, but they have a similar backbone. The headband is a slim broad band with leather or pleather coating. It has uniform stitches in a contrasting color. The ear pieces are mounted on thin rods. The ear pieces are where the Sennheisers are outright winners. Audition has the sort of chunky earcups that its price can afford. They project off your head a bit. But the racetrack oval design is pretty accommodating for your ears. These are comfy cans overall.
These over-ear headphones can wirelessly connect through either Bluetooth or NFC. The NFC patch allows you connect the headphone to the source with a single tap, provided both are NFC-capable. The buttons are at the rim of the right earcups. They are large and made for tactile advantage. The battery can last through 40 hours per charge as claimed by Avantree. Audition can also be used in wired mode when the battery runs out. It has an integrated mic and the call quality was above average on it.
The Avantree Audition over-ear headphones were picked for the casual listeners who also like the convenience of Bluetooth and hands-free calls. So we didn’t dissect their audio into mids this and treble that. The headphones support AptX for better audio quality over Bluetooth. We listened to their audio and we liked it. It is clear and clean. There’s no distortion at top volumes. There’s no harshness in any song.
The bass is a point of interest for many people. You get a lot of that low-end fuzz and clarity here. It’s nothing that can rival the Skullcandy Crushers though. Avantree opted for balance in the audio response.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Bluetooth and NFC-enabled
- Good, natural audio
- 40-hour battery life
- Chunky ear pieces
The Panasonic Retry RP-HTX7 over-ear headphones are audiophile-listening made extremely affordable. They have the looks that make you think they cost way more. The maturity of the audio matches up with the looks. Panasonic has history of creating headphones that are well above worth their price. Not that we are complaining. These lightweight cans have been discovered late. But they are just in time to be in the running for best over-ear headphones of 2017 list.
Design and Features
Panasonic HTX7 over-ear headphones look every bit the retro model that they claim to be. Again, the design is somewhat similar to that of Sennheiser Momentums. They have the slim headband decorated with some perforated pattern. The earcups are mounted on the arms extending from the headband. These are oval ear pieces with optimal earpads. They are sheathed in pleather. But these can steam up your ears if you step out on a hot day. Another factor that contributes to their comfort is that fact that they are lightweight. They weigh only 5.4 ounces without the cable.
The branding is restricted to the brand name in small font on the joint of the earcups and the headband of these over-ear headphones. The cable connects only to the right earcup. It is 3.9feet long and suitable for studio use. There are no other extras with these cans. The rest of the investment goes into their audio. They are available in 9 attractive colors though.
The Panasonic HTX7 over-ear headphones are audiophile cans. They go for a neutral frequency response that casual listeners might find a little flat. There’s some oomph to the bass. It is tautly held against bleeding to the mids. In headphones of this price range, bass tends to be loose, if not bloated. So kudos to Panasonic for resisting the bass-bump urge. The mids have a clean texture. The highs are a touch harsh. So with extended listening, the treble might grate on you a little. The headphones respond quite well to music in good formats.
- Natural and neutral audio
- Clean audio
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Long cable for studio use
- No inline mic
AmazonBasics RF over-ear headphones were just rolled out late last year. We have had many successful RF headphones, mainly from Sennheiser and Sony. But AmazonBasics came up with a basic headphone which costs low enough for you to get a taste of the RF TV headphone domain. These work wirelessly and help viewers watch TV at their desired volume rather than the common volume. These are great for anyone who wants to watch TV in the dead of the night or for the hearing-impaired who like the extra volume. Their value on money lands them in the best over-ear headphones list, 2017.
Design and Features
The AmazonBasics RF over-ear headphones are a set of the transmitter base and the headphone. The transmitter base connects to the TV via wires. This could be a either an RCA-RCA connection or RCA-3.5mm connection. So basically your TV must have either a 3.5mm headphone port or the RCA ports. The transmitter also doubles as the charging dock. When the headphones are placed on the dock, they automatically start charging. The battery lasts through 15 hours per charge. So unless you are on a mega-marathon, these headphones will do just fine.
The over-ear headphones themselves are built unpretentiously. They are all black in color. The ear pieces are round and padded but not overly so. They remain lightweight. The buttons are placed on the earcups. You can control the volume of the headphone independently of the TV. So if you want to watch movies without waking anybody, just turn the TV volume to the lowest. And turn the volume of the headphone up to required level. The audio does not leak much out of the cans. They can even be used for sound from TV based apps.
The audio of AmazonBasics over-ear headphones doesn’t come close to the Sennheisers but then people who want to watch TV privately do not need to worry about treble and midrange. The audio is high and clear. Folks with hearing problem can hear the dialogues and nuances in the movies just fine. The audio is neither thin not distorted.
With music, we would not prefer these over-ear headphones. They are also not that portable due to their transmitter/headphone combination.
- RF wireless connectivity
- Headphones are for TV viewing
- They have independent volume
- 15-hour battery life
- Clear, clean audio
- Durability concerns