TV and Audio

The Best On-Ear Headphones in 2021

best on-ear headphones

In today’s modern age headphones have a plethora of uses, from enhancing a long plane ride to carrying lengthy conversations with business partners on other continents while sipping your morning coffee.

But headphones also have different designs and features, which can get a bit confusing for the regular consumer. As such, we reviewed some of the best on-ear headphones you may want to have in your collection of devices.

We also have a comprehensive buying guide, so you’ll know which features guided us in selecting the products we reviewed.

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Last update on 2021-10-19 // The links above are affiliate // Images from Amazon

How to Choose the Best On-Ear Headphones?

Here are the features we consider important when selecting a pair of on-ear headphones:

Build Quality & Comfort

On-ear designs have smaller ear cups that actually sit on the rim of the ear (unlike over-ear headphones), which is why build quality and comfort are our main concern. If the headband is too tight, you won’t be able to wear the headphones for long. The same, if the headband is too loose, they’ll fall off.

Also, if the earpads don’t promote breathability, your ears will sweat.

The list could go on, but the idea is quite simple: you need good quality materials and a structure that adapts to your needs.

Sound Quality

The quality of sound is on the same place with the build quality because there’s no point to wear headphones that don’t deliver high-end sound. On the other hand, if the headphones hurt your ears, you won’t care that much about the sound quality.

To make sure the sound is good, look for an extended frequency range, good bass representation, and balance among low, mid, and high notes.

Closed back vs. Open Back

This refers to the back of the ear cups, which can be solid (closed) or perforated (open). Now, there is an entire debate on which is best, but in the end, it adds up to these main characteristics:

  • Privacy – open back designs don’t give you that much privacy as people can hear your music and your conversations.
  • Breathability – closed back designs don’t promote a strong airflow, so you may feel a bit sweaty in them.
  • Sound quality – according to specialists an open back promotes better sound quality because it allows the air to move through the ear cup. However, this doesn’t mean that closed back designs don’t support good sound quality as well.

Wired vs Wireless

You’ll see that the products we reviewed come in both wired and wireless designs (separate or together). So, which one should you choose?

We would recommend a product that supports both wired and wireless connections because it can be paired with a wider range of devices and provides wire freedom. However, these need a battery to work in wireless mode, which fades over time.

So, if you prefer to stick to the traditional wired design, this won’t be a hindrance to your listening time.

9 Best On-Ear Headphones

Sony WHXB700 On-Ear Headphones

Extra Bass & Wireless Freedom

sony whxb700 on-ear headphones
Sony is promoting hard the extra bass feature on these on-ear headphones. And, yes, they do sound amazing and the bass is punchy. But they could’ve been a little louder. Still, as long as the earcups are secure and don’t let the outside noise in, the volume is good enough to deliver clear, high-quality sound.

Another feature that’s quite amazing is the long battery life. These headphones are supposed to last for up to 30h on one charge and they support quick charging. Even so, if it happens and the battery dies, you can plug a 3.5mm cable and use them as wired headphones.

You can even use them for phone calls or communicate with your voice assistant (using the phone app). Furthermore, the accompanying app has useful settings that allow users to adjust the bass levels based on the type of music (club, concert hall, arena, or outdoor stage).

  • Simple and elegant design
  • Up to 30 hours of battery life
  • Swiveling ear cups
  • Built-in mic for calls
  • Supports both Bluetooth and NFC
  • Quick charge feature
  • The volume could go higher
  • A bit bulky on the sides
  • No built-in voice assistant

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Marshall Major III

The Best On Ear Bluetooth Headphones

marshall major iii
Equipped with Bluetooth aptX technology, which means higher bitrate and minimum syncing issues, the Marshal Major III maintains a perfect listening range of 30 feet. Moreover, the battery is said to last up to 30+ hours!

So, when you combine the listening range with the battery life, you get a pair of on-ear headphones that give the user absolute freedom. Also, the Major III headphones support 40mm dynamic drivers, custom-tuned for high-end bass response and a perfect representation of mids and highs.

Finally, the entire system is controlled using a multi-directional knob that has multiple functionalities. By activating it you can stop, skip tracks, control the volume and answer or reject phone calls.

  • Incredible sound quality
  • Support both BT & wired connectivity
  • Lightweight & easy to wear
  • Long life battery
  • Foldable design, perfect for transport
  • Amazing range
  • There are several fake Marshall headphones on the market
  • These are a bit small
  • The knob can be difficult to master

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Bowers & Wilkins PX5

Modern Sound & Comfort

bowers wilkins px5
The PX5 is backed by the Bowers & Wilkins signature sound quality and the custom-designed 35mm driver that manage to deliver impressive power and clarity. At the same time, the over-ear design, cushioned ear cups, and padded headband provide comfort, even for long sessions.

This is possible due to the special materials used for the frame and cups that keep the headphones in place without adding any pressure to the ears or head.

Equipped with adaptive noise canceling and looking sharp, the PX5 headphones are perfect for any type of environment. The volume and noise cancellation level adapt automatically so you can enjoy your tunes without missing out on anything important.

One battery charge gives you up to 25 hours of playtime and the 15-minute quick-charge feature provides another hour of juice. Moreover, these headphones are smart! If you lift one earcup, they’ll automatically pause the music and restart it when both earcups are on.

Lastly, the pairing is easy with most devices and you have quick access to controls, on the right ear cup.

  • Great build quality
  • Wonderful sound quality
  • 25h of playtime
  • 35mm drivers support a powerful bass
  • Responds to gestures
  • Comfortable on long sessions
  • LED battery status indicator
  • The price tag is high
  • The fabric case is too tight for the headphones

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Beats Solo Pro On-Ear Headphones

Stylish & Comfortable Wireless Headphones

beats solo pro on-ear headphones
These headphones look cool and feel great over your ears. In addition, they deliver high sound quality and a good bass presence due to the built-in ANC system. We also like that there are controls located right on the earcup, so you don’t have to use the phone for everything.

In addition, the headphones accept voice commands for your favorite virtual assistant. The battery is powerful (up to 20+h with ANC on) and the headphones are powered by the Apple H1 chip. As a result, the sound they deliver is powerful, clear, and quite punchy.

In wireless mode, they work with a Class 1 Bluetooth connection for extended range and fewer dropouts. Also, if you don’t have time to wait for them to charge, the fast charging function gives you another 3h for 10 minutes of charging.

Overall, the Beats Solo Pro headphones are comfortable, stylish, and prepared for almost any scenario.

  • Active Noise Canceling and Transparency modes
  • Apple H1 headphone chip and Class 1 Bluetooth
  • Compatible with both iOS and Android
  • Compatible with Siri
  • Up to 22h life battery
  • Quick charge feature
  • Auto On/Off
  • Track controls are a bit fiddly
  • You can hear the wind in the earcups (for outdoor use)

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Jabra Move

The Best On-Ear Wireless Headphones for People On the Go

jabra move style edition
With a small and lightweight design, the Jabra Move headphones are perfect for those hot summer days when you want to enjoy your favorite tunes on the go.

The headphones support both wireless and wired connectivity (in case the battery runs out of juice), and in both situations the sound quality is exceptional. Furthermore, you can use the Jabra Move for calls to the office or to your friends and family, whenever you are on the go.

It’s easy to switch between music and calls due to the easy-to-reach controls that only require one touch to make the change and the 2-Microphone technology. Also, due to the 14 hours battery life, you’ll never have to use the wired connection (unless you want to).

Overall, the Jabra Move headphones are easy to wear for long periods of time, deliver amazing sound quality, and don’t disappoint when it comes to lengthy phone call conversations.

  • Easy to wear for a long time
  • Wired and wireless connectivity
  • Good sound quality
  • Amazing value for the money
  • Long battery life
  • Controls are a little small
  • Headband material attracts and captures hair
  • BT connection is not always stable

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AKG N60NC Wireless

A Traveler’s Best Friend

AKG N60NCBT Wireless Headphones
If you’re looking for freedom from wires and sound quality in the same product, these BT headphones from AKG may be a perfect choice.
With a foldable design, swiveling cups, and no wires, the N60NC are perfect for traveling. They also deliver superior studio-quality sound with impressive balance among the low, mid, and high end.

As such, not only you can use them for movies and music, but for calls as well. It also helps the fact that they come with ANC, which means that any distracting noises the surround you will disappear. The ANC only works in wireless mode, but with the 15 hours battery life, you don’t have to worry you’ll be caught unprepared.

If you decide to use them in wired mode, the provided cable is long enough (1.2m) to accommodate your needs.

  • Good sound quality
  • Foldable design for traveling
  • Comfortable for long wearing
  • ANC
  • Wired and wireless connectivity
  • Long battery life
  • Doesn’t support USB-C charging
  • ANC can’t be turned off in the wireless mode
  • Tend to fall off your head if you change direction

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Audio-Technica ATH-M60X

Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

audio-technica ath-m60x
Designed by audiophiles for audiophiles, the ATH-M60X are the absolute sound badass on our list!

First, the body is made with metallic elements to increase durability and create that high-end design that attracts the eye. Also, the low profile, closed back design and padded headband and earpads provide perfect passive noise isolation and comfort.

Second, the sound they deliver is exceptionally clear and they feature an extended frequency range (15-28,000 Hz) with accurate bass response. The sound is delivered by their proprietary 45 mm large-aperture drivers with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils.

The headphones come with three interchangeable cables and a 6.3mm screw-on adapter so you can use them with any device. The detachable wires also guarantee long-lasting functionality of the headphones, as the wires are the first ones to go.

  • Durable design with metallic components
  • Studio-grade sound quality
  • Low profile and padded headband
  • Extended frequency range
  • Three different cables
  • Delivered with a protective pouch
  • Not comfortable for people who wear glasses
  • Not a good fit for people with large ears
  • There may be some sweating

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The Best On-Ear Headphones For Working Out

jbl e45bt
If you’re looking for the perfect companion during workout routines, the JBL E45BT are a good fit. You can just put them on and go about your activity while listening to your best workout music compilation.

The headband keeps them tight on the ears without being uncomfortable (so they stay on) and the earpads are engineered to let the ears breathe. Also, the headphones are incredibly light, so it’s easy to forget you even have them on!

The controls are placed on the ear cup, which gives you full control of the volume, order of tracks, and even phone calls. Of course, if you’re in a plane and can’t use BT, you always have the option to use the wired connection.

Finally, the sound quality is good, with powerful bass and a pleasant balance. True, they may not be studio-grade quality, but they do keep you focused during workouts and this is all that matters!

  • Lightweight design
  • Easy to wear for a long time
  • Wired and wireless connection
  • Good sound quality
  • Good value for the money
  • Battery life is decent
  • Annoying battery low warning
  • They don’t automatically connect to a device
  • The design is not very durable

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Grado SR60e Headphones

The Best On-Ear Headphones on a Budget

grado sr60e
They look fancy and deliver a rich audio spectrum that is appreciated by most audiophiles, so what more could you want from a pair of on-ear headphones?

Well, they’re also comfortable and don’t make your ears or top of the head sweat due to the open back design and leatherette headband without padding. Furthermore, the bass is quite strong, but the mid and high notes remain well-balanced.

While they only support a wired connection, the cable is tangle-free, and the entire design is lightweight and comfortable.

  • Good sound quality
  • Open back design
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Good value for the money
  • The plastic feels a bit cheap
  • Other people can hear your tunes
  • The cable is a bit too long

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Wrap Up

On-ear headphones are making a comeback all over the world because they provide good sound quality and are a bit more comfortable than in-ear designs. Also, they’re perfect for travels and summer days since the ear cup doesn’t make your ears sweat.

So, now that you have a list of the best on-ear headphones, it’s time to choose the ones that fit your budget and preferences and enjoy your favorite tunes!

About author

In her work, Mirela studies, tests and reviews the latest releases in audio, video, gaming, gadgets, and more. Mirela has been writing about tech for over 5 years now, during which she collaborated with people all over the world on various projects.
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