If you love listening to music, you should have an over-ear headphones pair.
Yes, earbuds/in-ear headphones give you portability and a smaller profile to take care of, but they can’t stand against over-ear headphones when it comes to the real deal – the sound quality (thanks to their larger sound drivers).
Not only over ear headphones give you excellent passive isolation, the comfort level, and the soundstage are on the next level as well.
Over ear headphones are also far less harmful (generally) to your hearing because of their increased distance from your eardrums.
Best Over Ear Headphones 2023
Below I’ve shortlisted some over-ear headphones that I believe to be the best ones right now.
1) AKG Pro Audio K72: Check Price On Amazon
Best Budget Over Ear Headphones 2023
At first, we have affordable K72s by AKG.
AKG is generally known for focusing on the sound quality of their headphones rather than the aesthetics. And the same is true for K72.
They are a simple-looking headphones paired with synthetic leather ear cups that will be large enough for most of us. This leather is of high quality, which makes these cups comfortable.
These ear cups are joined together by two steel bands that are connected by a fabric hammock.
Despite being plastic for the most part, these headphones are well built and don’t feel as cheap as their price suggests.
It comes with a 3-meter long thick cable that’s tougher than what you’ll normally find at this price. It’s not removable though, which doesn’t make it as future-proof as some high-end headphones.
The simple design and extra-long cable mean that you can’t take these out without looking like a weirdo. The lack of in-line remote controls doesn’t help in this regard either.
But this is not a dealbreaker because they’re made for in-home or studio listening.
In terms of raw specs, K72 comes with 40mm dynamic drivers, has a frequency range of 16-20,000Hz, has an impedance at 32 Ohms, and a sensitivity at 112 dB.
Being cheap headphones, K72s don’t have the sound quality of other monitor headphones.
But you do get a flatter frequency response instead of one skewed towards the bass – as is the case with many budget models.
Music sounds wider and airy in K72, but the midrange is a bit coloured, and the vocals don’t sound completely natural.
2) GRADO SR80x: Check Price On Amazon
The GRADO SR80e was on our older lists but this has since been replaced with the forth generation SR80x.
GRADO are best known for their premium headphones, but the SR80x falls within the prestige range with prices going up to around $300 for the SR325x. The SR80x are the most popular within this range, offering a great balance of performance for the price you pay.
The SR80x features an attractive retro design with round-shaped ear cups covered with large-sized extended foam ear pads. These foam ear pads are very comfortable but not so durable. The good thing is that these ear pads are replaceable but you would have to buy extras on your own.
The metal prongs that connect the ear cups with the headband, and the grill cover that allows you to see the inside the back of these ear cups, add to the vintage looks of these headphones.
One of the weak spots of the SR80e was the cable and Y splitter was not the best quality, this has now been upgrade with a new braided cable that is much nicer, and there's a new Y-splitter with less harsh angles to compensate.
There is no in-line remote which is surprising considering the $125 price tag.
This long cable is also the reason why these headphones are not so portable despite having rotatable ear cups and low weight.
There’s no noise isolation in SR80x, and you get sound leakage as well. But it’s an inherent issue with all open-back headphones.
Thanks to its high-class treble performance, classical songs do well here. For the SR80e, the bass was tight and smooth, but sub-bass and thump are lacking, which makes it less suitable for certain genres. The SR80x is not designed for bass heads but the bass is more present with basslines easier to make out.
Mids are clearer than SR80e, and it has less piercing for notes or vocals such as plosives. Treble then has subtle but noticeable improvement.
Like all open-back headphones, SR80x gives you a wide and open soundstage that, along with detail in midrange, makes music more lively and energetic.
My main gripe is the average build quality which means you can’t afford more than a few minor drops.
3) Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT: Check Price On Amazon
ATH-M50xBT is the wireless variant of Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50x.
ATH-M50x was released way back in 2014 and were praised for their excellent build quality, comfortable design, detachable cable, and well-balanced sound.
Let’s see how ATH-M50xBT fairs, shall we?
As far as the design is concerned, it looks exactly like the original M50x because you can’t differentiate which one of them is wireless without checking specs.
The ear cups and headband are made up of good quality plastic, and cups are further covered with thick ear pads. There’s no active noise cancellation, but these thick pads give enough noise isolation.
The left ear cup is the one where you’ll find the controls: volume up/down buttons and a physical slider to turn them on or off.
The ear cups can be folded against the headband which reduces it to half of the original volume and makes a good portable option.
In case you don’t want wireless connectivity for any reason, ATH-M50xBT comes with a 1.3 m cable. that contains in-line controls.
To turn these headphones on, you just need to move the physical slider on the left ear cup and they will be discoverable by your device.
Unlike in some premium headphones, multiple devices cannot be connected simultaneously.
Powered by Bluetooth 5, these headphones consume very little energy, which results in their long battery life of more than 30 hours on a single charge.
But as much as Bluetooth has evolved, it still can’t compete with a wired connection for sound quality. This is the reason why the original ATH-M50X sounds slightly better than the M50xBT.
The latency problem becomes more visible when you’re watching the video content. You can work it around by using the included wire, but it would defy the overall wire-less purpose of these headphones.
Like its predecessor, M50xBT has crisp highs, clear mids, and an overall open sound. The sound signature is the same, but the bass is slightly over-powered and will make it a good option among young listeners.
My main problem with these headphones is the lack of Active Noise Cancellation and thick ear pads which can make your ears hot if used for several hours continuously.
4) Sony WH-1000XM5: Check Price On Amazon
Best Over Ear Headphones 2023
The 2023 version of this swaps out the excellent WH-1000XM4 for its superior successor the Sony WH-1000XM5.
It’s the fifth iteration of Sony’s widely acclaimed WH-1000XM line-up of high-end wireless headphones.
Since its inception, these headphones have been getting better, and this range of headphones has been constantly regarded as having the best ANC on the market.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 has been redesigned. The chassis is still carbon fibre giving them a lightweight build and increasing long-term comfort. The body has been slimmed down, from the headband made of a new synthetic leather to the arms attached to each earcup. The earcups also have a more consistent oval shape and the earcups now provide superior isolation for improved passive noise cancelling.
The XM5 has an all-new 30-millimeter driver, which when paired with the previous-gen model's Integrated Processor V1. The XM5 also benefit from LDAC and DSEE Extreme restoration that upscales digital music files in real time. It has also been upgraded to use Bluetooth 5.2 vs 5.0.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 improve on the WH-1000XM4's noise cancellation abilities, with two processors controlling eight microphones now compared to one processor controlling four microphones. Tests have shown that the WH-1000XM5 has a significant improvement in cancelling out high frequencies, and it is the high frequencies that most noise-cancelling headphones struggle with.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 offers the same features as the XM4, including Ambient sound controls, 360 Reality Audio and ANC optimization, speak-to-chat functionality, custom EQ and EQ presets, and more.
Battery life has had a massive improvement, the Sony WH-1000XM4 lasts about 20 hours with ANC on and the Sony WH-1000XM5 lasts over 30 hours.
Just like the previous 1000XM and WH-100XM4 the WH-1000XM5 has a focus on bass and treble when it comes to audio. Audiophiles may not regard these as the best-sounding headphones but the frequency responses are similar to that of most other consumer headsets.
The WH-1000XM5 has a more rolloff beyond 10kHz, which resolved the overemphasis heard in the previous generation. The overall sound is warmer this time.
Of course, you can tweak the EQ settings in the companion app if you don’t like it, but this is how it is by default.
I am a UK tech blogger and have been in the industry for over 10 years now, running Mighty Gadget and its sister sites and contributing to other sites around the web. I am passionate about all tech, including mobile, wearables, and home automation. I am also a fitness fanatic, so I cover as much fitness tech as possible.