Best over-ear headphones of 2020

Headphones are available all styles and sizes today, however full-size around-ear or over-ear headphones are inclined to ship one of the best sound. Again within the day, pre-Bluetooth, we’d have had a bunch of wired audiophile headphones on this record. However extra folks today gravitate towards wi-fi headphones and simply as many people appear to need noise canceling and different high-tech options. Consequently, most — however not all — of the fashions on this record are wi-fi and have noise canceling. 

So, with apologies to audio purists, here is a take a look at our present high picks. 

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Sony’s WH-1000XM3, the third era of Sony’s glorious wi-fi noise-canceling headphones, has a extra comfy match and options even higher sound and music efficiency than its predecessor. Battery life is necessary, and with a robust battery life, it is presently our top-rated audio headphone with noise cancellation, edging out the Bose fashions on some key factors.

Learn our Sony WH-1000XM3 evaluate.

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Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to its QuietComfort 35 II fashions, might not be a quantum leap ahead, however they provide barely higher sound, name and noise cancellation high quality. Alas, they price $400, however they are a robust all-around audio performer with as much as 20 hours of battery life. That is lots of battery life!

Learn our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 evaluate.

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V-Moda’s M-200 is a wired-only headphone and one of many few wired headphones on this record. Launched in late 2019, these clear and detailed sounding over-ear headphones have glorious bass response, and the comfortable ear cups imply they’re additionally comfy to put on. That includes 50mm drivers with neodymium magnets, CCAW voice coils and fine-tuning by Roland engineers — V-Moda is now owned by Roland — the M‑200 is Hello‑Res Audio-certified by the Japan Audio Society. Different V-Moda headphones have a tendency to push the bass a bit, however this has the extra impartial profile that you’d count on from a studio monitor headphone. It comes with two cords, one in all which has a built-in microphone for making calls. It could be useful if V-Moda supplied Lightning or USB-C headphone cables for smartphone customers.

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With regards to premium noise-canceling headphones, Bose and Sony have been the dominant gamers over the previous couple of years. However now Sennheiser has turned up with its new Momentum 3 Wireless and it deserves some consideration, notably from of us who’re followers of the Momentum line. It is available for purchase now for $400 (£369) — the identical worth as Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

Not solely does it function improved noise-canceling options and glorious sound and audio, but it surely additionally performs properly as a headset for making calls. Whereas its noise cancellation and luxury stage does not fairly measure as much as the noise cancellation and luxury of Sony WH-1000XM3’s, it has properly padded ear cups coated with sheep leather-based and I had no hassle rocking it for a two-hour music listening session, to say nothing of the battery life.

Learn our Sennheiser Momentum three first take.

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Whereas its noise canceling and luxury aren’t fairly on par with competing fashions from Bose and Sony, JBL’s Stay 650BTNC measures up properly by way of sound. These over-ear headphones are value contemplating in the event you do not need to spend $300 or extra on noise-canceling headphones. We just like the sound of that.

Learn our JBL Stay 650BTNC evaluate.

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I preferred Bowers & Wilkins’ unique PX noise-canceling headphones, however they have been barely missing within the consolation and noise-canceling departments. The corporate’s new PX7, launched within the fall of 2019, improves on each fronts, with glorious sound, 4 noise-canceling settings (Automated, Low, Excessive and Off) and properly padded ear cups in a sturdy, eye-catching design. There’s additionally an adjustable ambient “transparency” mode that means that you can hear the skin world. 

The headphones are a tad heavy at 10.7 ounces (304 grams), however the construct high quality is top-notch — and it higher be, contemplating these are a bit expensive at $400. Bowers & Wilkins additionally makes a extra compact on-ear mannequin, the PX5, which prices $100 much less and can be fairly good. However this mannequin does sound a bit higher.  

The sound is wealthy and detailed with deep bass that is still properly outlined even at excessive volumes. It is a fairly dynamic headphone, with a contact of additional power within the mid-highs. It isn’t laid-back like the sooner PX5 Wi-fi and its most direct competitor might be the Sennheiser Momentum three above. That Sennheiser is arguably superior for making calls, however this B&W in all probability wins on design. 

It helps AAC and aptX, makes use of Bluetooth, fees through USB-C and has as much as 30 hours of battery life at average quantity ranges. Its noise canceling is not fairly on the stage of the Bose or Sony, but it surely’s not far off — as I stated, it is improved from the unique PX’s noise canceling.  

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When Jabra first introduced its new Elite 85h ($300, £280) over-ear headphones, it touted how it could be geared up with always-on (hands-free) voice assistant management utilizing Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. Alas, that function did not make it into the ultimate product — apparently it affected battery life an excessive amount of, and battery life is essential — however the Elite 85h is nonetheless a superb noise-canceling headphone that makes music and different audio sound good. It is comfy to put on and in addition works properly as a headset for making calls — necessary for over-ear headphones.

Learn our Jabra Elite 85h evaluate.

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Launched approach again in 1991, the Sony MDR-7506 has lengthy been a favourite headphone of recording engineers and different sound professionals (sure, this can be a wired headphone). The origins of its design date even additional again, for the reason that MDR-7506 is, actually, a refresh of the Sony MDR-V6 that rolled out in 1985. Each fashions have been designed for the professional market, however stay massively in style with shoppers.

Whereas the 2 headphones have the identical design and are very comfy, they do not sound an identical. Each provide very well-balanced sound and glorious readability for his or her modest costs — and each are nice general values. However the V6 makes a bit extra bass and sounds extra laid-back and mellow, whereas the 7506 is leaner with a extra accentuated treble vary, which makes it a bit crisper and livelier.

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One other audiophile favourite, Grado’s Status Sequence SR325e has been round for some time — we reviewed it again in 2014. It is an open-back wired mannequin, which suggests it leaks sound (do not use it in an open-office setting), but it surely delivers a number of the most open, detailed sound you may discover at this worth. 

Grado, which is predicated in Brooklyn, New York, and builds most of its merchandise there, has not modified the long-lasting exterior design of the headphones and like its SR325 predecessors (the earlier mannequin was the SR325i), his mannequin has the identical agency, bowl-shaped foam pads that apply a bit extra strain to the outer edges of your ears than the extra easy foam pads of the step-down SR80e, that are arguably extra comfy. The SR80e headphones are considerably lighter, however not of the identical construct high quality because the SR325e mannequin. Some folks like Grado’s earpads (they’re user-replaceable), however general we would say this mannequin’s consolation stage is not as much as the extent of its sound high quality: Consolation is nice however not nice.

Learn our Grado Status Sequence SR325e evaluate.


Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay H9 does not get talked about a lot within the dialogue of high noise-canceling headphones as a result of at $500, it is a actually expensive pair of headphones. The newest third-generation model has been upgraded in a number of vital ways in which make it higher than the sooner H9i. Battery life for this model has improved over the earlier model to 25 hours, there’s now a devoted button to your voice assistant, the padding on the ear cushions and headband is cushier and the contact controls have been tweaked. The sound continues to be good.

Some folks, notably weightlifters, prefer to work out in full-size headphones, and the BackBeat Match 6100 over-the-ear wi-fi headphones are a really stable alternative for each the health club and on a regular basis use. The adjustable sport-fit headband has an IPX5-rated water resistant and sweat-proof design, 40mm angled drivers and noise-isolating earcups with an “Consciousness” mode. Battery life is rated at 24 hours. They sound fairly good and actually keep in your head securely — you may alter the stress within the headband, which is modern and supreme for train headphones. 

They’re a bit costly at their record worth of $180, however Amazon has them for $130, and generally the value dips nearer to $100. They’re out there in black, camo and grey.

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