It can be hard picking out the best pair of over-ear headphones from a line-up. There are simply so many options out there – each of which offer a different combination of performance, features and value.
But instead of testing all of them by your lonesome, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you by compiling a guide to the best over-ear headphones for 2017.
Why buy a pair of over-ear headphones in the first place?
In-Ear headphones are better suited for trips to the gym, and for travelling on-ears provide a good balance of sound quality and portability. But when you’re in the comfort of your own home and want to listen to music with absolutely no compromises on sound quality, then over-ear headphones are the way to go.
They can be bulky, but the benefit is that by sitting over, rather than on, your ears, they’re much more comfortable when worn for long periods of time.
We’ve got picks from right across the price spectrum, so whatever you want to spend you should be able to find a pair of cans that are right for you.
- Oppo PM-3
- Philips Fidelio X2
- Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro
- Focal Listen
- Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
- Bose QuietComfort 35
- Sony MDR-1000X
- Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7
- Focal Listen Wireless
1. Oppo PM-3
BEST SOUND: Closed back planar magnetic headphones from the gods
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.71 pounds | Cable length: 9.8 ft or 3.9 ft | Frequency response: 10-50,000Hz | Drivers: 55mm | Driver type: Planar Magnetic | Sensitivity: 102dB | Impedance: 26 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Stunning sound quality
Faux leather earpads
Less precision than open-back cans
The Oppo PM-3’s are a truly stunning pair of headphones. Make no mistake, we’ve reviewed a lot of headphones in the last 10 years but none have we become more fond of than the PM-3.
They’re equally comfortable being plugged into a headphone amp at home as they are commuting through the hustle and bustle of a big city, and they stand head and shoulders above rival products from bigger brands. We really can’t recommend them highly enough, they’re just amazing.
Read the full review: Oppo PM-3
2. Philips Fidelio X2
BEST VALUE: Brilliant headphones for a brilliant price
Acoustic design: Open | Weight: .85 pounds | Cable length: 9.8 feet | Frequency response: 5-40,000Hz | Drivers: Two 1.9″ speakers | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100 dB @ 1mW | Impedance: 30 Ohm | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
The Philips Fidelio X2’s are a superb pair of headphones offering premium comfort and build quality with a sound that rivals even the most vaunted audiophile cans. Perhaps on sheer sound quality they’re a notch off the likes of the top Oppo or Sennheiser offerings – but the fact that you’d be saving vast amounts of cash by opting for the Philips is just a no brainer.
3. Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro
FOR ENTRY-LEVEL AUDIOPHILES: Recording studio pedigree, at a price
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 1.5 pounds | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 5-40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Beautifully crafted soundscape
They’re a bit bulky
The Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pros are a stunning pair of headphones. Are they expensive? To some no, to most yes; but for the sheer listening experience they deliver you’d be hard pressed to take them off after putting them on, even using them with portable HRA players and mobile phones.
That said, they really do push the boundaries of what you can do with a dynamic driver. All praise to Beyerdynamic for putting together such a wonderful product.
Read the full review: Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro
4. Focal Listen
THE FRENCH ALTERNATIVE: Some of the best high-end headphones that don’t destroy the bank
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.60lb (273g) | Cable length: 4.60ft (1.4m) | Frequency response: 15 – 22,000Hz | Drivers: 137/64“ (40mm) Mylar/Titanium | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 122dB SPL @ 1kHz – / 1Vrms | Impedance: 32 Ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Excellent build quality
Rich, balanced sound
Great noise isolation
The Focal Listen offer wonderfully balanced sound and great noise isolation. Overall, the Focal Listen offer a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. They offer stellar balance, build quality and understated design – and while they may not be as high resolution as the Pioneer SE-MHR5 and other headphones capable of High-Res Audio playback, their sound-to-dollar ratio is impressive.
At $250 (£150, AU$329), however, they’re not cheap but you actually get a lot for your money (see: sound and build quality). Should Focal continue to pump out cans that provide balanced sound and top-notch build quality at an affordable price, audiophiles might look more and more in the French company’s direction.
Read the full review: Focal Listen
5. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
WIRELESS CHAMP: Incredible audio fidelity backed by a serious price
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: 4.6 feet | Frequency response: 16-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 28 ohms | Battery life: 25+ hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: Yes
Everlasting battery life
Finicky multi-function button
These no-holds-barred wireless headphones are oozing with positive qualities, but for many, they’re almost prohibitively expensive. However, if you’re an audio lover that can spare the expense, do not hesitate on this comfortable, hard-working set of headphones that will likely last for years.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
6. Bose QuietComfort 35
NOISE CANCELLING WONDERS: Bose cut the wires off its flagship cans with great success
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.68 pounds | Cable length: 3.94 feet | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 20+ hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes
Broad and clear soundstage
Amazing noise cancellation
Active EQ an acquired taste
Bose has finally brought its fantastic noise-cancelling technology to a pair of wireless headphones and it’s done so without any of the traditional drawbacks of wireless headphones. They sound great, and their battery life is long enough for all but the longest of flights.
At $349, the QC35s sit firmly at the premium end of the spectrum, but if you want the best noise-cancelling headphones available right now then you can’t get any better.
Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35
7. Sony MDR-1000X
HI-RES AUDIO: Noise-cancelling headphones that care about Hi-Res Audio
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 275 grams | Frequency response: 4Hz – 40kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 103dB | Impedance: 46 Ohms | Battery life: 20 hours | Wireless range: 30 feet | NFC: Yes
Quick Attention mode
Lengthy battery life
Finicky Ambient Noise mode
The MDR-1000X are definitely the closest competitor to Bose’s QuietComfort series I’ve ever had the pleasure of testing. Some high-end codecs (LDAC, AAC and aptX) help the 1000X sound even better than the QC35s, but ultimately the noise canceling is a bit less effective in Sony’s pair of cans.
What should drive your decision on whether to buy the MDR-1000X is your music player – if you’re a Sony Xperia owner, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair of headphones that sound as good as these with noise canceling tech built-in. Even if you’re not, Sony’s wares are still worth a listen – and maybe a purchase – if you aren’t too put out by its $349 price tag.
Read the full review: Sony MDR-1000X
8. Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7
HEY GOOD LOOKING: These over-ear headphones bring both performance and value
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .64 pounds | Cable length: 3.9 feet | Frequency response: 5-40,000Hz | Drivers: Two 1.7″ drivers | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100 dB | Impedance: 35 ohm | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
Includes lots of goodies
Incredible sound performance
No inline volume control
It can be an expensive journey if you’re looking for a set of headphones that sound as good as they look. That’s why Audio-Technica’s MSR7 are a sight (and sound) to behold if good sound and sharp build quality are priorities.
These wired headphones retail for $199, which isn’t cheap, but we think you’ll love these. Why? First off, the sound is incredibly well-balanced, pushing out crisp highs and deep lows without distortion. Second, the build materials and included goodies help to offset the cost.
Read the full review: Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7
9. Focal Listen Wireless
LISTEN UP: Stellar-sounding but basic wireless headphones
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 300g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 15-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Electrodynamic Mylar Titanium | Sensitivity: 122 dB | Impedance: 32 ohm | Battery life: 20h | Wireless range: 15m | NFC: No
Balanced, audiophile sound
Good noise isolation
No multipoint Bluetooth or ANC
Fingerprint and dust magnet
If you like the sound quality of Focal’s Listen line of headphones but wished they were slightly more wireless, then the Focal Listen Wireless might be a better choice.
They’re slightly more expensive at $299 (£220, about AU$374), but for that money you get the same great audio resolution, and warm lush mids, which surprisingly see very little compromise in spite of the wireless operation.
While sound quality is good, we’ve included the headphones slightly lower down our list because their high price isn’t matched by the same amount of features as the competition. There’s no noise-cancellation for one, and nor is there any NFC pairing.
Nevertheless, if you want premium sound from a wireless pair of headphones, then the Focal Listen Wireless are a great choice.
Read the full review: Focal Listen Wireless
10. Sennheiser HD 800
THE GOLD WINNER: The Sennheiser HD800 is the headphones fit for kings
Acoustic design: Open | Weight: 330g | Cable length: 3m | Frequency response: 14 – 44,100 Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 300 ohm | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Sounds simply superb in every way
Comfort is excellent
The last entry on our list easily could’ve been the first if it didn’t cost well over $1,000/£1,000. The Sennheiser HD 800 are, hands down, one of the best-sounding pairs of over-ear headphones on the planet, affectionately praised by inner circles of audiophiles the world over. When paired with the proper hardware, they sound absolutely excellent – balanced in every way.
Unfortunately, they’re supremely expensive and require more audio equipment than the average consumer is ready to buy. Should you find yourself in need – or, let’s be honest, in want – of the best over-ear headphones, these are them.
Read the full review: Sennheiser HD 800
Note: We are not writer of this article, original source is mentioned below.