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Best Over Ear Headphones of 2022

Our experts test over ear headphones from Bose, Sony, Apple, Audio-Technica, and more to determine the best
Best Over Ear Headphones of 2022
Our audio team buys and tests over ear headphones year-round to bring you reliable assessments needed to make the best decisions for your next headphones.
Credit: Laura Casner
By Max Mutter and Michelle Powell  ⋅  Jul 11, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

To find the best over-ear headphones available today, we researched more than 50 models before purchasing the 12 most promising, then spent over 100 hours listening to them all side-by-side. We listened to music podcasts and used each pair while watching movies. Our team of varying head sizes and ear shapes wore each pair for a full day to ascertain their relative comfort levels. Finally, we tested each model's noise cancellation capabilities in noisy cafes and airports. Whether you're looking for an audiophile-approved premium listening experience, or just want an inexpensive way to enjoy music and concentrate better in your open office plan, we have you covered.

With so many headphones on the market, it can be challenging to know where to start your search or what kind of headphones you really need. With our extensive headphone review options from Bluetooth earbuds and wireless headphones to exercise headphones and those good for running, we think there is something for everyone.

Editor's Note: We revised this review on July 11, 2022, removing two discontinued pairs of headphones from our lineup.

Top 12 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $350 List
$348.00 at Amazon
$400 List
$299.00 at Amazon
$350 List
$292.49 at Amazon
$169 List
Check Price at Amazon
$159 List
$149.00 at Amazon
Overall Score
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Star Rating
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Pros Superb active noise cancellation and overall sound quality, multipoint Bluetooth pairing, auto-pause, relatively comfortable for most peopleExcellent sound quality, field-leading noise cancellation, comfortableGreat sound quality, good noise cancellation, comfortable, built-in Google AssistantGreat overall sound, punchy bass, comfortableIncredibly well balanced, detailed and articulate sound, comfortable
Cons ExpensiveExpensiveExpensiveNot particularly portable, mediocre noise isolationNot very portable, mediocre noise isolation
Bottom Line Top-notch in terms of both noise cancellation and sound quality, it's hard to find a better listening experiencePillowy comfort and one of the best personal listening experiences we've enjoyed from any deviceTop of the line headphones that offer nearly everything you could wantWell-rounded and impressive, high-quality sound in an inexpensive wired designA great and relatively inexpensive option for audiophiles looking for a flat frequency response
Rating Categories Sony WH-1000XM4 Bose Noise Cancelli... Bose QuietComfort 3... Audio-Technica ATH-... Beyerdynamic DT 770...
Sound Quality (30%) Sort Icon
10.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Noise Isolation (25%)
10.0
10.0
8.0
3.0
3.0
Comfort (25%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
User Friendliness (10%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Portability (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
2.0
Specs Sony WH-1000XM4 Bose Noise Cancelli... Bose QuietComfort 3... Audio-Technica ATH-... Beyerdynamic DT 770...
Noise cancelling? Yes Yes Yes No No
Wireless? Yes Yes Yes No No
Manufacturer reported battery life (hours) 30 20 40 wired, 20 BT N/A N/A
Measured weight (ounces) 8.8 9.2 10.9 10 9.5
Included case Semi-hard case Semi-hard case Semi-hard case Soft carrying pouch Soft carrying pouch
App Yes Yes Yes No No
Earcup padding cover material Foamed urethane/leatherette Leather Synthetic protein leather Leatherette Soft cloth
Charging cable length (inches) 7.9" 42" 47.2" N/A N/A
Microphone for voice? Yes Yes Yes No No
Bluetooth version 5.0 5.0 4.1 N/A N/A
Onboard buttons Volume, change track, take/make calls Volume, play/pause, forward/back, noise cancelling, voice assistant, power/bluetooth, answer/decline/mute calls Volume, play/pause, forward/back, noise cancelling None None


Best Overall Over Ear Headphones


Sony WH-1000XM4


92
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Sound Quality 10.0
  • Noise Isolation 10.0
  • Comfort 8.0
  • User Friendliness 9.0
  • Portability 8.0
Active Noise Cancellation: Yes | Weight: 8.8 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent sound quality
Field-leading noise cancellation
User-friendly touches
Pairs with two devices at once
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive

Most people upgrade from earbuds to over ear headphones in search of better sound quality and more sound isolation. If you're looking for the best possible experience in both of those categories, we highly recommend the Sony WH-1000XM4. These headphones offer effective noise cancellation and clear and detailed audio quality throughout all of our tests. This ability gave us a new appreciation of familiar songs and provided us with a quiet and distraction-free listening environment. The audiophiles among us were very satisfied. Those looking for top-notch features won't be disappointed, either.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are premium wireless headphones, and they ask a correspondingly premium price. Additionally, the earcups are just a bit smaller and less padded than those of the top Bose models, so if you have larger ears, you may want to direct your attention there. However, if you're willing to pay a bit extra for top-tier headphones, we highly doubt you can do much better than the Sony WH-1000XM4.

Read review: Sony WH-1000XM4

best overall over ear headphones
The WH-1000XM4 are some of the best sounding headphones we've ever tested.
Credit: Laura Casner

Most Comfortable Premium Over Ear Headphones


Bose Noise Cancelling 700


92
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Sound Quality 9.0
  • Noise Isolation 10.0
  • Comfort 9.0
  • User Friendliness 9.0
  • Portability 8.0
Active Noise Cancellation: Yes | Weight: 10.9 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Great sound quality
Great noise cancellation
Comfortable
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive

The Bose Noise Cancelling 700 headphones offer both noise cancellation and overall sound quality that, in our opinion, are just barely short of top-notch. They back that performance up with very large and ergonomically shaped earcups with ample padding swaddled in supple faux leather, providing an incredibly comfortable and luxurious fit. That's not to say that other premium headphones aren't comfortable; almost all of them are, but the Bose Noise Cancelling 700 takes it to another level.

Unfortunately, all that comfort comes at a pretty high price and one that is higher than headphones that sound slightly better. However, if you don't mind small sacrifices in sound quality and cost to get premium headphones with the best chance of providing you with long-term comfort, we think the Bose Noise Cancelling 700 is well worth the investment in the end.

Read review: Bose Noise Cancelling 700

most comfortable premium over ear headphones
Even noisy cafes are no match for the 700's active noise cancellation.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Best Bang for the Buck


Soundcore Life Q20


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Sound Quality 7.0
  • Noise Isolation 6.0
  • Comfort 8.0
  • User Friendliness 8.0
  • Portability 7.0
Active Noise Cancellation: Yes | Weight: 9.3 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Inexpensive
Effective noise cancellation
Comfortable
REASONS TO AVOID
Lacks some brightness in mid and vocal ranges
Headband may be too large for smaller heads

The Soundcore Life Q20 punches above its weight class in every category, offering one of the best values currently on the market. For just a fraction of what the premium models cost, these wireless headphones provide a well-balanced and smooth sound and some of the most effective active noise cancellation we've ever seen in this price range. Perhaps most notably, they also buck the budget model trend of small, claustrophobic earcups in favor of ample space and fluffy padding.

While our testers agree this model sounds great, there are notable shortcomings compared to the higher-end competition. Namely, they lose some clarity in the vocals, and in very bassy tracks, the low end can sound a tad muddled. The noise cancellation also lets in more voices than slightly pricier versions of the same technology. However, these are only minor imperfections and certainly not flaws that ruin the overall listening experience. If you desire all-day comfort, good sound, and reasonable noise cancellation at an affordable price, then look no further than the Soundcore Life Q20.

Read review: Soundcore Life Q20

over ear headphones - best bang for the buck
The Life Q20 from Soundcore offers good sound on a budget, performing surprisingly well up against models costing well over double the price tag of this pair.
Credit: Laura Casner

Best Headphones for Dedicated Apple Users


Apple AirPods Max


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Sound Quality 8.0
  • Noise Isolation 9.0
  • Comfort 7.0
  • User Friendliness 10.0
  • Portability 5.0
Active Noise Cancellation: Yes | Weight: 13.6 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Pairs perfectly with Apple devices
Effective noise cancelation
Robust battery life
Easy-to-use controls
REASONS TO AVOID
Not as user-friendly when paired with Android devices
Pricey
Earcups could fit better

If you're dedicated to the ecosystem of Apple, you're in luck when it comes to over-ear headphones. The Apple Airpods Max sounds like a dream, has excellent noise cancellation, and is very user-friendly when paired with iPhones, iPads, and Macbooks. Equipped with several mics, a gyroscope, and even an accelerometer, these headphones have plenty of data inputs to adjust EQ based on what you're listening to, dynamically fine-tune the noise cancellation, and pause your music or movie when you remove them. The button and dial controls are intuitive and provide a more satisfying degree of feedback than touch-sensitive controls.

All the tech crammed into the Airpods Max comes at a premium price, which is significantly more than the top-scoring, arguably better-sounding competition. Still, we're willing to bet that Apple fanatics will fork over the extra dollars for integrating their other Apple devices. That leaves our main gripe that the earcups fail to provide a perfectly even seal, which is the primary detraction from these headphones. We found there is more pressure at the top of the earcups, allowing for some sound leakage at the bottom. That aside, these headphones have the quality and features that keep Apple fans loyal, and they won't disappoint that crowd.

Read review Apple Airpods Max

over ear headphones - best headphones for dedicated apple users
If you need to take off your headphones to interact with a co-worker, these headphones will pause your music or podcast when you take them off, and then start right back where you left off when you put them back on. Slick.
Credit: Jason Peters

Best Wired Model


Audio-Technica ATH-M50x


65
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Sound Quality 9.0
  • Noise Isolation 3.0
  • Comfort 8.0
  • User Friendliness 6.0
  • Portability 4.0
Active Noise Cancellation: No | Weight: 10 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Great overall sound
Punchy bass
Comfortable
REASONS TO AVOID
Not particularly portable
Mediocre noise isolation

Opting for a pair of wired headphones can often get you excellent sound quality for a lot less than competing wireless models. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is perhaps the best example of this. These headphones produce exceptional sound, balancing sharp, punchy bass with phenomenal clarity and separation in the higher registers. With a corded pair of headphones, you're guaranteed fast and lossless audio that's key for podcasters and recording artists. These headphones are comfortable, and we like that they come with multiple different lengths and styles of detachable cables.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is slightly less portable than many wireless models on the market due to its required cable and inability to fold up relatively small — not to mention that the only carrying case is a cloth bag. It also lacks active noise isolation. Although the earcups do block some sound, our testers frequently found themselves cranking the volume higher to drown out ambient noise. These headphones are an excellent choice for those seeking exceptional sound quality and not bothered with wireless functionality or noise cancellation.

Read review: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

over ear headphones - the headphones fold up into a fairly small package.
The headphones fold up into a fairly small package.
Credit: Max Mutter

Compare Products

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Score Product Price Our Take
92
$350
Editors' Choice Award
An excellent choice for both audiophiles and those looking to enhance their concentration by drowning out distractions
92
$400
Editors' Choice Award
The clear choice for those that place a premium on comfort without sacrificing sound quality and noise cancellation
86
$350
Perfect for audiophiles that want exceptional possible sound and good noise cancellation
81
$250
Though not the absolute best noise cancelling phones on the market, these puppies come close
79
$549
Top Pick Award
These headphones have sound quality to satisfy most and noise cancellation to convince all while providing seamless integration with other Apple devices
73
$229
Ideal if you want great sound, but don't want to pay top dollar and don't need active noise cancellation
71
$60
Best Buy Award
Good overall sound quality, noise isolation, and comfort at a great price
69
$200
One of the best values available on the market today
65
$169
Top Pick Award
Fantastic sound for much less than comparable wireless models
65
$350
Aesthetic design, but lacks the performance of other expensive, high-end models
63
$159
A good choice for those looking for an even and detailed listening experience
59
$130
Simple wired phones that emphasize the treble range

a solid pair over ear headphones can be a huge boost for...
A solid pair over ear headphones can be a huge boost for productivity, as many have active noise cancellation to "cancel" distractions.
Credit: Laura Casner

Why you Should Trust Us


In designing our sound quality testing process, we consulted with Palmer Taylor, who has been working as a professional sound recordist since 2005. In that time, he has worked on music composition and recording and has completed location audio projects for clients such as ESPN, Apple, and National Geographic. Reviewers Michelle Powell and Max Mutter have now used that testing process to assess the quality of more than 150 personal audio products.

Our headphone tests are divided across five rating metrics:
  • Sound Quality tests (30% of overall score weighting)
  • Noise Isolation tests (25% weighting)
  • Comfort tests (25% weighting)
  • User Friendliness tests (10% weighting)
  • Portability tests (10% weighting)

We've bought and tested more than 150 personal audio devices over the years. Our testing methodology puts each product through extensive multi-point performance analysis to rate and rank each headphone for sound quality and more. We divided our over-ear headphone tests and resulting scores into five weighted metrics. We gave the most clout to sound quality, comfort, and noise isolation — the three things you'll notice most when using your headphones. We assigned less weight to user-friendliness and portability. These are two things that can be differentiating and significant in certain circumstances but are generally less noticeable in day-to-day use. The top testing metric of sound quality includes sub-testing for fullness (40% of total sound quality metric), clarity (measuring 35% of the total), and bass (measuring 25% of total) to give a full-spectrum analysis for better side-by-side comparisons of products.

To complete this review, we spent hundreds of hours listening to dozens of headphones in a side-by-side manner, meticulously critiquing their relative clarity and overall quality in every frequency. We traveled with all of these headphones on planes, trains, and noisy coffee shops to test their portability, ease of use, and ability to isolate from outside noise. All of our headphones were purchased: our testing results are never influenced by manufacturer freebies.

One of our test locations for noise cancellation is a bustling cafe.
One of our test locations for noise cancellation is a bustling cafe.
We cycle through all settings and onboard controls to assess user...
We cycle through all settings and onboard controls to assess user friendliness.
Our audio team tests over ear headphones all over town and in the lab.
Our audio team tests over ear headphones all over town and in the lab.

Analysis and Test Results


Our tests are designed to help you find the right headphones for you. Each product in this review is tested side-by-side with various users to provide the most detailed information possible to help with your buying decision.


Value


If your budget is more at the shoestring level, the Soundcore Life Q20 offers decent sound at an impressively low price and doesn't skimp on key features like active noise cancellation. If you want truly premium sound, you will have to pay a corresponding price premium. Still, for those that value excellent acoustics, we think the high price tags of the Sony WH-1000XM4, the Bose Noise Cancelling 700, and the Apple Airpods Max are well worthwhile. If you can deal with wires, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x provides great sound quality for much less than the elite wireless models.

headphones can provide a high-quality soundtrack to life, anywhere...
Headphones can provide a high-quality soundtrack to life, anywhere you go.
Credit: Laura Casner

Sound Quality


Thanks to superior noise isolation and proximity to your ears, over ear headphones can produce some fantastic listening experiences. We listened to a range of music to assess sound quality, from bass-heavy thumpers to balanced melodies and higher-pitched acoustic numbers, with each pair of headphones. All of this was done back-to-back, quickly shifting through multiple models to accurately grade their relative bass, mid, and treble quality, overall clarity, and fullness.


We've tested several headphones that we think sound great. However, sound quality is a somewhat subjective thing, and each of these headphones appeals to different tastes and preferences. The Sony WH-1000XM4 is perhaps the most universally loved headphones in our review. These headphones maintain power, balance, and clarity throughout the bass, mid, and treble frequencies, making for an incredibly detailed listening experience. Additionally, this evenness throughout allows you to adjust the EQ any way you want — super bassy or high and bright — and still get fantastic sound quality.

over ear headphones - the sony wh-1000xm4 offers exceptional sound quality, no matter what...
The Sony WH-1000XM4 offers exceptional sound quality, no matter what you like to listen to.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Bose Noise Cancelling 700 offers a similarly high-quality listening experience to the Sony WH-1000XM4. However, it leans into a more bass-forward and warmer palette, losing a bit of its quality if you adjust the EQ too far away from that.

over ear headphones - the bose noise cancelling 700 is one of our favorite sounding pair...
The Bose Noise Cancelling 700 is one of our favorite sounding pair of headphones.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is arguably the best-sounding pair of headphones we tested. These headphones emphasize the bass and treble ranges, producing a powerful yet controlled low end and incredible detail in vocals and higher guitar riffs. This creates a broad and engaging soundscape. However, some people can find that extra brightness and detail in the upper registers a bit taxing to listen to, preferring a warmer overall sound.

over ear headphones - thanks to a wired design and the eschewing of active noise...
Thanks to a wired design and the eschewing of active noise cancellation, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x offers fantastic sound for a more reasonable price.
Credit: Max Mutter

Noise Isolation


Many people look to over ear headphones to provide an acoustic barrier between themselves and the outside world. Some of the models we tested employ active noise cancellation, a technology that pipes in sound waves opposite the ambient noise around you to cancel out that noise. To test this, we began by sitting next to a fan whirring at 70 decibels while wearing each pair, carefully noting how much of the fan noise made it to our ears. We then conducted real-world testing, wearing each pair while working in our open office, in crowded cafes, while traveling on busses and airplanes, and in busy train stations.


It was no surprise that models employing active noise cancellation fared better in our noise isolation tests. The best of the bunch was the Sony WH-1000XM4. These cans can effectively cancel well over 90% of ambient noise in most situations. Case in point, even without music playing, we barely noticed coworkers talking just 5 feet away at the adjacent desk. The hum of airplane engines and the clack of railroad tracks virtually disappear.

For those seeking the best possible active noise cancellation we...
For those seeking the best possible active noise cancellation we recommend the Sony WH-1000XM4.
Noise-cancelling headphones are absolutely key for tuning out the...
Noise-cancelling headphones are absolutely key for tuning out the distractions of an open office environment.

The Bose Noise Canceling 700's noise cancellation performs very similarly to the Sony WH-1000XM4 but lets in just a bit more noise when the ambient cacophony gets particularly loud. The Apple Airpods Max also offers great noise cancellation but suffers slightly due to the uneven fit of their earcups.

the soundcore life q20 offers both good sound and decent noise...
The Soundcore Life Q20 offers both good sound and decent noise cancellation at a bargain price.
Credit: Laura Casner

Comfort


You're likely to wear over-ear headphones for long periods, say while working in the office or on a long flight; therefore, they need to be comfortable. To find the most comfortable pair, we had multiple people with different head and ear shapes and sizes wear each model for an entire workday and then assess any discomfort they experienced. We generally found the most significant differentiating factor to be the size; thus, the higher-scoring models in this metric are typically the ones that are friendly to large and small ears alike. However, if you can't stand something on your head for long periods, earbuds might be more your speed.


In general, the higher-priced models we tested provide large earcups and flexible headbands that easily accommodate large heads and ears without creating uncomfortable hot spots. They can also slim down to fit snugly on smaller heads as well. This includes all of the Bose models, the Sony WH-1000XM4, and the Jabra Elite 85h.

over ear headphones - the bose noise cancelling 700 provide an even seal around your ears...
The Bose Noise Cancelling 700 provide an even seal around your ears and most of our testers found them very comfortable.
Credit: Jason Peters

Luckily, there are more reasonably priced models that are friendly to those with big noggins. For instance, the Soundcore Life Q20 features large earcups with a lot of cushioning, akin to the design of the premium Bose models, which are cozy no matter your ear size.

a &quot;user-friendly&quot; pair of headphones readily pairs with your devices...
A "user-friendly" pair of headphones readily pairs with your devices and has a control set that is intuitive and easy to use.
Credit: Jason Peters

User Friendliness


While we've never found a pair of particularly difficult headphones, there are certainly some that make things a bit easier than others. To score user-friendliness, we had multiple testers run through an interface obstacle course with each model, pairing them with their phones, adjusting volume, skipping tracks, and summoning virtual assistants with the on-headphone controls, and using any associated mobile apps that unlock advanced features and customization.


The Bose Noise Cancelling 700 is the most unique product in this category, as it uses an intuitive and responsive touch-sensitive control pad to complete standard functions. The Sony WH-1000XM4 also utilize touch-sensitive controls, but we found them to be a bit less responsive. The have a sensor that automatically pauses music when you take the headphones off, a feature we ended up loving.

over ear headphones - the jabra elite 85h automatically pauses your music or mutes your...
The Jabra Elite 85h automatically pauses your music or mutes your phone call when you take them off, and resumes when you put them back on.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ironically, the Apple Airpods Max headphones don't employ any touch-sensitive controls. Instead, they rely on buttons and a dial that provides great tactile feedback. When paired with other Apple products, they automatically pause any media automatically, be it Netflix or Youtube, so that you won't miss a word.

Portability


Over ear headphones tend to be at their best when on the go, whether traveling, at the office, or on city commutes. Therefore, we assessed how easy it was to tote each pair of (often costly) headphones along with us during our daily lives. We accomplished this by weighing each model, measuring how small they fold up, grading the protective qualities of any included cases, and taking them along while traveling and commuting.


Most of these headphones are of similar weight, and the vast majority fold up to some extent. Therefore, the most differentiating factor tends to be the included carrying case. Stiffer cases that securely hold the headphones in places provide more peace of mind when shoving the headphones into an already over-stuffed carry-on.


In general, you're going to get a semi-rigid carrying case included with your headphones if you're spending an amount well into the triple digits. All of the Bose models and the Sony WH-1000XM4 fall into this category.

pricier models like those from sony tend to come with relatively...
Pricier models like those from Sony tend to come with relatively rugged and well-designed carrying cases.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Conclusion


A good pair of over ear headphones can quickly become a treasured, everyday accessory. Whether you're looking for a pair to block out the din of the world or to make your music listening more enjoyable in general, we hope our testing results have helped you find the right pair, no matter what headphone style they might be.

Max Mutter and Michelle Powell


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