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.
Last update on 2023-11-01 // 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.
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
Affordable, yet Highly Capable On-Ear Headphones
Sony WH-CH510 are compact and highly portable on-ear headphones that offer a pretty good audio experience, for their reasonable price. These headphones offer a limited number of features; however, they bring more than enough for a regular everyday user.
They are fitted with 30-millimeter drivers that deliver clear and solid audio, and they feature swivel design that makes them suitable for transportation and easy to carry wherever you go. More importantly, these wireless headphones offer 35 hours of playtime and come with a built-in microphone and the support for voice commands, offering compatibility with both Siri and Google Assistant.
Sony WH-CH510 comes with the USB C charging capability and has Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity that offers reliable performance at up to 10-meter distance. In other words, Sony WH-CH510 is an affordable, good-performing, and highly portable headset, which is what you should look for in the best on-ear headphones, after all.
- Swivel design
- Good battery life
- Very good audio quality
- No active noise cancellation
- No 3.5mm jack or USB audio
Marshall Major IV
User-Friendly On-Ear Headphones
If you seek well-performing, yet not too expensive on-ear headphones that bring reliable wireless connectivity and more importantly, good quality audio, Marshall Major IV headphones are the device for you. To make things even better, these headphones also feature an amazing 80-hour battery life and offer a collapsible, ergonomic design that makes them ideal for travel.
More importantly, their sound is dynamic and rich and features a strong, deep bass, as should be the case with one of the best on-ear headphones out there.
Marshall Major IV comes with both BT5.0 and 3.5mm connectivity, and features USB-C charging. Moreover, the frequency response is between 20Hz and 20 kHz, while their ease of use makes them a practical option for a large base of users.
Therefore, if you are after one of the best on-ear headphones out there, Marshall Major IV is a great choice.
- Reasonable price
- Excellent battery life
- Strong bass
- Very good audio
- Easy to use
- Not the best sound accuracy
Bowers & Wilkins PX5
Modern Sound & Comfort
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
Beats Solo Pro On-Ear Headphones
Stylish & Comfortable Wireless 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)
Jabra Elite 45h
High-Performing On-Ear Headphones
Jabra Elite 45h are another reasonably priced headphones that are bringing ease of use, practicality, and the most importantly, a very good audio experience. To be exact, they deliver accurate, bass-heavy sound, yet lack a bit more clarity for the sound to be perfect.
On the other hand, they offer a 50-hour playtime, as well as a lightweight, foldable design that makes them practical for carrying around.
Jabra Elite 45h comes with Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and support for SBC and AAC codecs and offers a reliable connection at up to 10-meter distance. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to their Bluetooth multipoint function that demands a serious upgrade.
In addition, these headphones are fitted with a dual microphone, and they offer voice command support that allows their use along with Alexa, Siri, as well as Google Assistant. If you are into optimizing sound, you will be glad to know that all that can be managed through the dedicated Jabra Sound+ App, while the affordable price is another major selling point of these amazing headphones.
For that reason, if you want some of the best on-ear headphones out there, Jabra Elite 45h is an exceptional choice.
- Very good battery life
- Very good microphone quality
- Voice commands support
- Two-year warranty
- Reasonably priced
- No aptX support
- No 3.5mm jack
- Not the best Bluetooth multipoint
AKG N60NC Wireless
A Traveler’s Best Friend
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
- 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
Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
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
Reliable Headphones with Detailed Sound
GRADO SR325x are reliable and rugged headphones that bring detailed and articulated sound, with a great level of detail, offering a great audio experience. These headphones come with a one-year warranty and a frequency response between 18Hz and 24 kHz.
Moreover, they are fitted with 44mm drivers and equipped with eight conductor copper wirings and a braided cable that prevents twisting and kinking, allowing ease of use. In addition, these headphones also bring a very good build quality and offer a 3.5 mm connection, as well as a 6.3 mm one, with the help of an adapter.
In other words, they are simple to use, reliable, and offer a very good audio experience, delivering exactly what you would expect from one of the best on-ear headphones out there.
- Very good dynamics
- Braided cable
- A very good audio experience
- Open back design allows for certain sound leakage
Excellent On-Ear Headphones
If you seek affordable, yet good-performing on-ear headphones that deliver a pretty good sound and a punchy bass suitable a large base of users, check out GRADO SR60e. These headphones come with a 3.5mm connection, as well as the 6.3mm adapter, offering a pretty good versatility.
Moreover, they have a frequency response between 20Hz and 20 kHz and come fitted with a 44mm driver that is one of the key reasons for their exceptional, dynamic performance. In addition, these headphones also have an expansive soundstage and offer a comfortable, lightweight build that makes them practical for use.
Therefore, if you are after solid, yet affordable headphones, GRADO SR80x is a great choice.
- Punchy bass
- A certain level of sound leakage
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!