The 9 Best Over-Ear Headphones


Over-ear headphones are considered the more comfortable fit of all headphone designs. The reason for this is that no part of the headphone is resting on the ear, reducing any pressure or heat from the headphone ear cups. In this article, we look at the ten best over-ear headphones, taking you through different price points, fits, applications, wireless and cable options.

It’s important to note that there are better headphones that may not be featured on this list. If we had to feature the very best over-ear headphones available, most people wouldn’t be able to afford them as premium audiophile headphones can run into the hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of dollars. This list is meant to accommodate the general consumer with something for everyone.

The 9 Best Over-Ear Headphones 1
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones

If you are looking for excellent sound and build quality, there isn’t much competition when it comes to the ATH-M50x.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Monitor Headphones

Best Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

If you’re after a pair of wireless over-ear headphones, then our best recommendation is the Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones. The Studio3 not only features the latest version of Bluetooth but also incorporates Apple’s W1 chip, allowing you to connect to and switch between multiple Apple devices effortlessly.

The advanced button system on the earcup means you can have absolute control over your Bluetooth-connected device – including chatting to SIRI.

The Sony MDR-RF985RK Wireless RF Headphone is the best wireless headphone for use in the home or office. With a range of 150ft, you can move around freely without worrying about dropout. Unfortunately, the MDR-RF985RK can’t be used for travel as they have to be connected to the base station to operate.

Best for the Gym

The best over-ear headphones for the gym, in our opinion, is the Bose QuietComfort 25. I realize some people don’t want a cable while they train, but you can put this down the back of your shirt, bra strap, or the strap you use for your MP3 device. At 195g (6.8oz), the Bose QC 25 is one of the lightest over-ear headphones on the market.

The QC 25 also has exceptional noise canceling technology, so you can shut off the rest of the gym and focus on your workout. They also really comfortable to wear, so you won’t experience any discomfort while training.

If you are dead-set on a wireless headphone, then the Beats Studio3 is your best option. The Beats have excellent Bluetooth, and they also offer big bass – which means you can pump the sound for some skull-rattling motivation.

Best for Travel

The best over-ear headphones for traveling is, without a doubt, the Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Headphones. The HD1 headphones feature one of the best noise-canceling technologies on the market today. Sennheiser has gone a step further than most brands by adding ambient microphones to the exterior of the headphone to pick up and cancel as much noise around you as possible.

Aside from noise canceling, the HD1 can also operate with or without the cable and comes with an in-flight adapter so you can use it with in-flight entertainment. The headphones can also be used for hands-free calling, and the quality is exceptional. This is great for corporate travelers who want to listen to some audio but also be ready for any incoming calls.

Best Under $300

The best over-ear headphones in the $200 – $300 range is the V-MODA Crossfade M-100. These headphones are well worth the price and built to last! These are premium headphones with exceptional sound and one of the best metal designs on the market. The ability to customize the ear cup shields is a nice touch to have a little fun with too.

Best Under $200

The best over-ear headphones for under $200 goes to the Bose QC 25. These are great headphones for just about every application. The headphones are lightweight and super comfortable. Bose noise cancellation is some of the best you’ll find – so these are especially great for travel!

Best Under $100

Our best over-ear headphones under $100 goes to the Sennheiser HD280PRO. These studio-quality headphones are both comfortable and sound great. These headphones offer excellent noise isolation and deliver the best audio quality in this price range. In fact, the HD280PRO will probably beat a lot of headphones in the $200-$300 range too. The fact that so many studio engineers use the HD280PRO should say a lot about its audio quality.

What Are Over-Ear Headphones?

You get three primary fits when it comes to headphones. In-ear, on-ear, and over-ear. The name is actually in the title as it describes the actual fit. Over-ear headphones fit over the ear, so your ear sits inside the ear pads. This is good for noise isolation and improves any noise-canceling features the headphones may have. For people with bigger ears, some over-ear headphones might sit slightly on the ear.

Benefits of Over-Ear Headphones

Why would you want a pair of over-ear headphones? First, they’re usually the most comfortable head-worn headphone. Less of the earpad sits on the ear, and thus any heat or fatigue is reduced. This is especially beneficial for the studio or traveling.

When it comes to noise cancellation, over-ear headphones generally outperform on-ear or in-ear headphones (unless, of course, you have molded in-ears that are custom designed).

1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Over-Ear Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Headphones
  • Driver: 45 mm
  • Battery: none
  • Type: wired
  • Noise Canceling: no

For a long time, the ATH-M50 headphones have been the flagship headphone of Audio-Technica. The new ATH-M50x are near identical in every way. However, there have been some slight audio enhancements making the new M50x warmer and not as bright as their predecessor.

Build & Design

The ATH-M50x are made primarily of plastic and PU leather with aluminum reinforcement in the headband. Although they are made of plastic, the quality is exceptional, and they are built to last a long time. The headband ear cups are well padded and covered in a soft PU leather. The ear cups fit nicely over the ears with a fit that offers some isolation. While the ATH-M50x are by no means noise canceling, they do offer better isolation than most non-noise canceling headphones on the market.

The ear cups are designed to rotate 180°, which means you can place them flat on the table or flat over your shoulders when around your neck. Having the headphones around your neck like this is extremely comfortable, with the soft ear cups resting on your shoulders rather than the hard plastic. A minor detail, but the added comfort certainly adds to the desirability.

The ATH-M50x headphones also found up to be pretty compact. This is great for storage and travel.

Sound Performance

The ATH-M50x feature a 45mm driver in each ear. As to be expected from Audio-Technica, the sound quality is excellent, with deep, punchy bass, balanced mids, and clear highs. These headphones will ultimately deliver a “true” detailed sound for any audio application.

If you are looking for Bluetooth headphones, the ATH-M50x are not going to be best, as they are a cable-only headphone. The headphones come with three detachable cables. The 10ft cable is great for audio professionals in live or studio environments. The 4ft cable is for mobile devices with a special ⅛ inch AUX designed to fit in your phone even if it has a cover.

The last cable is a coiled 4ft, extending to 10ft cable. On both the 10ft and coiled cables, there is a ⅛ inch jack with a screw fitting to accommodate a ¼ inch jack adapter. All the cables feature a screw lock on the headphone earcup end – so the cable won’t pull out accidentally.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Conclusion

The ATH-M50x is possibly the best over-ear headphones under $200. If you are looking for excellent sound and build quality, there isn’t much competition when it comes to the ATH-M50x. The fact that so many musicians and audio professionals use these headphones should say a lot about the sound quality. While they might not be as trendy and stylish as the Sony or Beats, they will certainly sound better and offer more comfort over your ears.

What’s in the Box?

  • ATH-M50x professional headphones
  • 10ft (3m) straight cable
  • 4ft (1.2m) straight cable
  • 4ft – 10ft coil cable
  • Soft carry pouch
  • ¼ inch adapter

2. Bose QuietComfort 25 Over-Ear Headphones

Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones
  • Driver: unspecified
  • Battery: 30 hrs
  • Type: wired
  • Noise Canceling: yes

For a long time, the Bose QuietComfort (QC) 15 were the preferred choice for travelers. The QC15 featured exceptional noise cancellation, perfect for shutting out plane noise, trains, and other noisy environments. The QC25 is the next generation and still retains the top spot when it comes to noise-canceling headphones. The design is sleek and modern and will appeal to corporate and regular travelers.

Build & Design

The Bose QC25 are made of a premium flexible plastic, PU leather over the ear cups and a high-quality fabric over the headband. There is a premium overall look and feel to the QC25 headphones. The plastic is extremely flexible, giving you the ability to stretch the headband to near flat.

The ear cups are very comfortable and fit nicely over the ears. The actual hinge of the ear cup is made of metal – offering improved strength. The resulting fit is that of extreme comfort, and you can go for hours wearing the QC25 without getting uncomfortable.

The Bose QC25 are cable only headphones, so don’t offer wireless or Bluetooth. The cable comes with an inline remote and microphone, so you can still take calls while wearing the headphones. The call sound quality is very good, and callers shouldn’t notice you’re on a hands-free device.

The headphones come in an Apple or Android version which allows you to control the device via the inline remote. You can answer/end/reject calls, adjust volume and skip tracks all from the remote.

Sound Quality

The sound on the Bose QC25 is very flat. They do lack a little bass definition, but this is a minor issue. Unless, of course, you’re a bass-head, in which case you may be underwhelmed with the bass. Having said that, the QC25 sound incredible, with great clarity across all frequencies, which makes the noise canceling that much better.

The noise-canceling is operated via a standard AAA battery inserted into the ear cup. Bose claims you should get around 30 hours of playing time per battery. You can also use rechargeable AAA batteries (which may result in less playing time, depending on the brand). The headphones will still work as normal without the battery. You just won’t be able to activate the noise-canceling feature.

The noise-canceling on the Bose QC25 is certainly one of the best on the market – guaranteed to deliver a superior listening experience on planes, trains, etc.

Bose includes a two-prong in-flight adapter so that you can use the QC25 with any in-flight entertainment system. A big plus for frequent travelers.

The QC25 fold up to be ultra-compact and come in a stylish soft-shell carry case. At the back, there is a neoprene sleeve for storing the cable. On the inside, you can store the headphones, travel adapter, and an extra AAA battery.

Bose QuietComfort 25 Conclusion

If you’re a frequent traveler and looking for a set of headphones for traveling, then the Bose QC25 is going to be your best choice. These headphones look and sound great, with all the features you need for the best listening experience when traveling.

The compact carry case will fit in most laptop bags or carry-on bags without taking up too much room. You also have the option of purchasing a pair to match either Android or Apple, so they accommodate every device. After originally retailing well over $200, you can now get the QC25 for under $200 on Amazon.

What’s in the Box?

  • Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Canceling Headphones
  • Detachable cable with inline remote
  • Inflight adapter
  • AAA battery
  • Softshell carry case

3. Sony MDR-RF985RK Wireless RF Over-Ear Headphones

Sony MDR-RF985RK Wireless RF Headphone
  • Driver: 40 mm
  • Battery: 35 hrs
  • Type: RF wireless
  • Noise Canceling: no

The Sony MDR-RF985RK is a wireless RF headphone. The RF985RK comes with a separate base station which you use to plug in your audio feed. The base station transmits the signal to the headphones via a programmed RF signal. So these headphones are primarily for fixed-application use – like using on the PC, watching TV or playing games.

Build & Design

The first thing you’ll notice is the MDR-RF985RK is a large headphone. The ear cups are more than big enough to fit over most head and ear sizes. The headband is well padded and will feel comfortable even when listening for extended periods of time. The MDR-RF985RK is designed as a speaker replacement, so Sony has made sure comfort is optimized.

The base station allows for two inputs, ⅛ inch jack and stereo RCA. This means you shouldn’t have an issue connecting just about any device in the home. The base station powers up via the supplied AC adapter and acts as the charger for the headphones’ built-in battery. The headphones sit neatly on top of the base station while charging, which is also a great place to leave them when not in use.

Settings & Sound Quality

There is a choice of 3 RF presets, so you can switch between the 3 to find the best quality signal. In some areas, specific frequency ranges are affected differently, so you’ll need to find the best one for your location. Once a frequency is selected, you simply press the Auto-Tune button on the headphone, and it pairs to the base station.

If at any time you experience static or noise, unplug the base station and plug it in again to remove the noise. RF can be sticky at times, so it’s something to keep in mind if you decide to purchase the MDR-RF985RK.

A really cool feature is that you can have multiple headphones connected to the same base station. Therefore, if you have more than one set of Sony MDR-RF985RK, you can have multiple people listening at the same time. Each headphone has an independent volume control on the ear cup so that you can control your own volume.

The MDR-RF985RK is extremely good when it comes to sound leakage so, even if someone is sitting or sleeping right next to you. They shouldn’t hear what you’re listening to.

The Sony MDR-RF985RK sound great. None of the frequencies lack in any way – the bass is defined and present, mids are clear, and the highs are crisp. These headphones are exceptionally good for movies and dialogue. There is an excellent separation between vocals, music and special effects. This is no surprise since this is the primary application the MDR-RF985RK were designed for.

Sony MDR-RF985RK Conclusion

The Sony MDR-RF985RK is best suited for those who like to watch TV, play games or listen to music but don’t want to disturb others. If you live in an apartment or dorm when noise is an issue, then these headphones are an excellent choice to continue listening to the volume you wish without disturbing others. The MDR-RF985RK is also excellent for the hard of hearing who need to have the sound right up close.

With an exceptional 150ft range, you can easily get up and move around without experiencing drop-out. Going into other rooms shouldn’t be an issue depending on how many walls and obstacles are in the way.

The Sony MDR-RF985RK is excellent for home use. You can’t use these headphones without the base station – so essentially, they are only for home use.

What’s in the Box?

  • Wireless stereo headphones MDR-RF985R
  • RF stereo transmitter/base station
  • AC adapter
  • Stereo RCA to ⅛ inch cable

4. V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Metal Over-Ear Headphones

V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Metal Headphone
  • Driver: 2 x 50 mm
  • Battery: none
  • Type: wired
  • Noise Canceling: yes

If you’re looking for an indestructible headphone, then V-MODA is the brand to go for. V-MODA is renowned for its metal headphones, built for ultimate strength and durability. The V-MODA Crossfade M-100 is no different in this regard. The entire headphone is made of custom V-MODA parts built to take as much punishment as you have to throw at them. In fact, V-MODA claim their headphones offer military-grade durability. Not sure what that means, but it sounds impressive!

Build, Design & Features

The earcups feature a comfortable memory foam with just the right amount of cushioning covered in a comfortable PU leather material. The headband also has a similar memory foam, covered with a breathable fabric over the head and a PU leather over the top. The headband is very comfortable and can be worn for extended periods without experiencing discomfort.

The Crossfade M-100 comes with two cables. The first is a Kevlar cable around 7ft long. The cable has a 45° connector to minimize tension on the ⅛ inch jack when inserted into your device. The cable also features a “share connector” so someone else can plug in and listen to what you’re listening to. This is a great feature for couples or friends traveling or hanging out together.

The second cable is 4ft long and includes an inline microphone close to the headphone with an inline one-button remote a little further down. Separating the mic and control makes sense as you don’t have to hold the mic to your mouth like on some headphone cables. V-MODA does offer a three-button remote for either Apple or Android, which can be purchased separately.

The Crossfade M-100 comes in an awesome ultra-compact softshell case. The headphones themselves fold up pretty small, so the case will fit perfecting into laptop bags, carry-on’s or even a lady’s handbag without taking up too much space.

Sound Quality

The Crossfade M-100 features two 50mm drivers in each ear. One driver for the bass and a second for the highs. This isolation meant V-MODA was able to adjust the bass without affecting any of the other frequencies. The result is a nice, chunky, defined bass sound with clear mids and exceptional brilliance on the highs without being harsh on the ears. To put it simply, these are exciting headphones to listen to. Even bass-heads will appreciate the sound of the Crossfade M-100.

It’s important to note that these are by no means audiophile or professional audio headphones; they’re exceptionally good sounding for their league.

The Crossfade M-100 are not noise canceling but rather noise-isolating headphones. They fit comfortably over the ear, which blocks out some extraneous noise and prevent bleed to a certain degree.

V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Conclusion

The Crossfade M-100 is a lot of fun. Great for general listening, bass-heads, gaming, watching movies and traveling. There are a fair amount of professional DJs who also use the V-MODA Crossfade M-100. For skaters, BMXers and other action sports enthusiasts, the Crossfade M-100 is also an excellent choice. They’re designed to take some punishment, so if you fall while wearing these headphones, the chances are they’ll suffer less damage than you will.

What’s in the Box?

  • V-MODA Crossfade M-100
  • Softshell carry case with carabiner
  • 4ft cable with inline remote and 1-button controller
  • 7ft cable with share extension
  • ¼ inch adapter

5. Sony MDR-7506 Professional Over-Ear Headphones

Sony MDR-7506 Professional Headphones
  • Driver: 40 mm
  • Battery: none
  • Type: wired
  • Noise Canceling: no

The Sony MDR-7506 has been a long time favorite in the professional audio industry. The headphones have been around for around two decades, which means they must be doing something right! The MDR-7506 is popular due to the fact that they are relatively well priced, and the sound is very flat and true – no coloration from bass boosts like many modern headphones. This is why audio professionals and musicians love them so much too.

Build & Design

The MDR-7506 headphones are made primarily of plastic with an aluminum extension inside the headband for more durability. The ear cups are made of PU leather and are large, fitting nicely over the ear. The actual earpads are not the most comfortable, but thankfully, because so many people love these headphones, there are upgraded earpads available on Amazon for the MDR-7506.

After some time, you may experience some ear fatigue from the foam, so it’s recommended to upgrade the ear pads. Even with the standard earpads, though, the MDR-7506 is still pretty comfortable.

Sound Performance

The sound of the MDR-7506 is great but not exciting. These headphones are designed for studio use, so the response is pretty flat. This is because audio professionals and musicians want a true reference to what the recording sounds like. If they have a bass boost on the headphones, they’ll compensate on the recording, and the result will be less on the finished audio.

So in terms of sound, you’re going to get exceptional, detailed quality. Vocal clarity and effects like reverb really come alive on these headphones. All the frequencies are present, and you won’t be unhappy with the sound of the MDR-7506. Unless, of course, you’re a bass-head, then these are not the headphones for you.

There are no extra/ additional features on the MDR-7506 headphones. The cable is a +-4ft coil which can extend to almost 10 feet. This is great for home use, in the studio or even DJing. But for travel, the cable does feel a little heavy, and the hanging coil doesn’t really seem practical. Especially if you’re getting on and off trains. The cable comes with a fixed ⅛ inch connector and thread for the ¼ inch adapter. Both are gold coated to offer superior connectivity.

One of the great things about the MDR-7506 headphones is the fact they’re able to fold up to be extremely compact. The headphones come with a drawstring bag which they fit neatly into.

Sony MDR-7506 Conclusion

The Sony MDR-7506 are exceptional headphones for audio professionals, musicians, and DJs. If you want a pair of headphones for home use, then the MDR-7506 is also a good choice. The cable is not great for travel – the ear cups don’t swivel.

Due to their size, the ear cups sit directly under the chin when around your neck, which isn’t very comfortable. So not a great travel headphone but other than that, the Sony MDR-7506 offer exceptional sound and, being a couple of decades old, have stood the test of time.

What’s in the Box?

  • Sony MDR-7506
  • ¼ inch adapter
  • Soft PU leather drawstring bag

6. Sennheiser HD280PRO Over-Ear Headphones

Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphones
  • Driver: unspecified
  • Battery: none
  • Type: wired
  • Noise Canceling: yes

Sennheiser is renowned for their professional audio products. The company design and manufacture high-quality electronic components and products with great after sales service and support. The Sennheiser HD280PRO are excellent studio reference headphones. Many studio engineers use the HD280PRO, and in fact, many audio institutions and universities will list these as a prerequisite for students. At just under $100 on Amazon, the HD280PRO are affordable for a professional set of headphones.

While the HD280PRO are not noise-canceling, they do offer exceptional noise isolation by attenuating or reducing the noise around you. This is great for studio engineers who need to focus on their mix but can also be very beneficial for those looking for a decent pair of noise-isolating headphones. You don’t need a battery, so you will always get the benefits of noise-isolation and don’t have to worry about recharging.

Build & Design

Even though the Sennheiser HD280PRO look bulky, they’re actually pretty lightweight, coming in at 285g (10oz). The headphones are pretty sturdy and can be bent and twisted a fair bit without feeling like they’re about to break. The HD280PRO sit comfortably on the head with plenty of padding over the headband.

The ear cups are also well padded and sit comfortably on the ears. Both the headband and ear pads can be swapped out, so if at any point they wear down or tear, you can order replacements on Amazon or from Sennheiser directly. Both are easy to remove and replace by simply clicking out and then back in. Further instructions for replacing can be found on the Sennheiser website too. 

The audio cable can also be changed if it gets damaged. You can do this yourself, or I’m pretty sure your local electronics store will do this for you too. Being able to swap out and replace these parts is great for extending the life of your headphones. In the “throwaway” lifestyle we find ourselves in, it’s good to see a brand making an effort to repair rather than toss out.

The cable is a 3.3ft coil extending to almost 10ft. This is great for using around the house, studio or DJing, but might get in the way when traveling. The HD280PRO are very comfortable and include some decent noise isolation, so they do make excellent travel headphones from that perspective.

Sennheiser HD280PRO Conclusion

If you’re looking for studio-quality headphones on a budget, then the HD280PRO are the best over-ear headphones under $100. The headphones look pretty clean with minimal branding, so should appeal to all users. The HD280PRO produce exceptional audio quality and can be pumped up pretty loud.

The noise isolation is great and up there with some of the more pricey options available. While the HD280PRO is not the best for traveling, it can be used for this application. The only thing travelers won’t like is the bulky cable which isn’t necessarily a big issue.

What’s in the Box?

  • Sennheiser HD280PRO
  • ¼ inch adapter

7. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO Studio Over-Ear Headphones

Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO Studio Headphones
  • Driver: unspecified
  • Battery: none
  • Type: wired
  • Noise Canceling: yes

Beyerdynamic is a trusted name in professional audio equipment. They are better known for their exceptional microphones. However, they do make excellent studio quality headphones too. The DT 770 PRO is Beyerdynamic’s flagship studio headphone, available in closed back, semi-open back and open back. These are some of the most comfortable over-ear headphones you’ll find on the market.

Design & Build

The first thing you’ll notice is the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO are really big with fabric (rather than PU leather) over the ear pads. The ear cup fits nicely over the ear, and the fabric feels soft and comfortable on the head and around the ears. The padded headband is also super comfortable, and you can easily wear the DT 770 PRO for extended periods without any discomfort.

The fabric on the ear cups certainly adds to the comfort and doesn’t create heat as PU leather does. The earpads are also replaceable and can be found on Amazon or via the Beyerdynamic website.

It is important to note that the DT 770 PRO comes in various impedances. The only pair suitable for mobile devices is the 32 Ohm model. There is an 80 Ohm model available for laptops, computers and similar devices. However, it’s best to use the 32 Ohm model if you plan to buy the DT 770 PRO for general listening with mobile devices.

Both the 80 & 32 Ohm models come with a straight cable which is better for traveling. The professional studio models feature a 250 Ohm impedance. This is better suited for headphone preamps and professional sound cards. This sound output will offer more detail for a studio engineer or musician to reference accurately. The DT 770 PRO’s 250 Ohm model is the only one available in closed, semi-open, and open-back headphones. The cable is also coiled to allow for movement around a mixing desk.

Sound Quality

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO sound exceptional. There is a lot of detail and clarity in these headphones – which is much needed in the studio environment. They’re also pretty meaty on the low end, with a decent amount of punch and definition. Having said that, these headphones are very true and flat, and the bass response is by no means a boost in any way. It’s just a really well-mixed set of headphones, and every frequency is upfront and present with excellent separation.

The DT 770 PRO comes with a soft drawstring bag and a ¼ inch adapter. You can purchase a cable extension for the 32 & 80 Ohm models as well as a hardshell case and earpad replacements on the Beyerdynamic website or Amazon.

Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO Studio Headphone Conclusion

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO is great for the studio, listening to music, DJs, gamers, and watching movies. The sound is exceptionally clear, and these headphones will only improve the listening experience of anything you’re listening to. The DT 770 PRO doesn’t fold up, so they’re not too compact but would fit easily in a carry-on or backpack.

Smaller bags and laptop bags might not be suitable if there is already a lot in the bag. Remember to purchase the 32 Ohm with the straight cable if you plan to use these headphones with mobile devices or for traveling.

What’s in the Box?

  • Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO Studio Headphones
  • Drawstring soft bag
  • ¼ adapter

8. Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Headphones
  • Driver: unspecified
  • Battery: 22 hrs
  • Type: wired/wireless
  • Noise Canceling: yes

The HD1 is part of the Momentum range from Sennheiser. The Momentum range has become one of Sennheiser’s most popular headphones in the consumer audio market evening, attracting the attention of some critical audiophiles.

With the exposed aluminum headband, stitched leather, and oval ear cups, the HD1 has a retro look and feel. Some might even say a classic look. The design and detail are very impressive; you can see Sennheiser has put a lot of money into producing this exceptionally beautiful set of headphones.

Design & Build

The ear pads feature a soft memory-foam covered in luxurious genuine leather. The ear cups fit nicely over the ear and should feel comfortable on all head sizes. The headband is mostly aluminum with leather covered memory-foam where it’s needed over the head.

The aluminum offers a lot of strength and support – you can stretch and bend the headphones without worrying too much about breaking them. Although with that said, you might not want to test that too much in case you do break them. Just know that it will take a considerable amount of force to break any part of the Sennheiser HD1 headphones.

The HD1 features Sennheiser’s NoiseGard noise-canceling technology, which includes four microphones on the headphones to cancel any extraneous noise. The result is that you block out a lot more noise and frequencies than you would on normal noise-canceling headphones. This means you’re able to listen to audio at lower levels, which ultimately protects your ears.


With the Sennheiser HD1 headphones, you have the choice of Bluetooth wireless or cable for listening. To the average listener, there is no audio difference between wireless or cable use. Sennheiser also provides you with an in-flight adapter for use with in-flight entertainment – A big plus for frequent travelers! The connectors on the cable and in-flight adapter are gold-coated for superior connectivity. To the average listener, there is no audio difference between wireless or cable use.

The HD1 feature Bluetooth 4.0. Pairing the headphones is really quick and easy. When you pair the headphones initially, they will auto-pair to the same device every time you switch them on. There is also an NFC sensor, so NFC devices can just tap the sensor for instant pairing. 

When paired with a mobile phone, the HD1 built-in microphone can be used for hands-free calling. In fact, the HD1 features two microphones for voice to ensure the best vocal quality and to eliminate any noise.

The buttons are located on the ear cup, with the power button also acting a Bluetooth pairing button. Then there is also a button for volume control as well as for skipping tracks.

The battery life on the Sennheiser HD1 is designed to last 22 hours of continuous playing time -more than enough for long-haul flights. If the battery is flat, you can still use the headphones as normal, though – you just won’t be able to activate the noise-canceling or make calls. From flat, the battery will fully recharge in 3 hours.

One of the great features for travelers is the fact the HD1 is able to fold up to be very compact, making them easy to store in laptop bags, carry-on’s or even a woman’s handbag.  Sennheiser provides you with both a softshell case as well as a drawstring bag. There is also a pouch inside the softshell case for storing cables and connectors. Personally, I would store the HD1 inside the pouch (even inside the soft shell case). If any of the connectors or cables come out of the pouch while traveling, they could scratch the headphones.

Sennheiser HD1 Conclusion

The Sennheiser HD1 is a traveler’s dream! With the HD1’s sleek, professional design and features, they will appeal to corporate travelers in particular. With exceptional noise-canceling, as well as the multiple built-in microphones for hands-free calling, these headphones were made for the road (or air).

The HD1 headphones are pretty sturdy and should survive most of the bumps and bruises travel has to throw at them too. These headphones are on the pricey side at around $350, so perhaps not for those looking for a budget headphone. The Sennheiser HD1 is certainly worth every penny, though, so if you’re considering saving for good over-ear headphones, then this is a premium headphone worth spending some money on!

What’s in the Box?

  • Sennheiser HD1
  • Softshell carry case
  • Drawstring carry bag
  • 1.4m (4.5ft) cable with ⅛ inch connectors
  • ¼ inch adapter
  • Inflight adapter
  • Micro USB charging cable

9. Beats Studio3 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones
  • Driver: unspecified
  • Battery: 22 hrs
  • Type: wired/wireless
  • Noise Canceling: yes

The Beats Studio range is one of the more popular Beats headphones on the market, with the Studio3 Wireless Headphones being the latest model available in this range. As with all Beats headphones, the Studio3 Wireless have trendy and stylish design features that we’ve all come to expect from Beats.

Design, Features & Build

The Studio3 Wireless Headphones feature a mostly plastic and PU leather design, with metal hinges on the ear cups. The headband can withstand some serious bends and twists, which means they’ll be difficult to break during normal use. The Studio3 headphones will also likely survive the odd mishap which usually occurs while traveling.

The Beats Studio3 allow you to choose between using a cable or wireless Bluetooth to connect to your device. The headphones have a built-in, rechargeable battery with a 22-hour battery life – more than adequate for the average traveler. With the battery flat, you can still use the Studio3 as normal with the provided cable. You just won’t have the noise canceling function.

The noise canceling on the Beats Studio3 (or ‘pure ANC – Adaptive Noise Canceling’ as Beats call it) isn’t the best on the market. However, it does enough to block out the extraneous noise. It’s not that the noise canceling is bad, just that there are other brands with better noise canceling technology.

One thing the Studio3 does have over its competitors is the Apple W1 chip. This enables you to connect to multiple Apple devices and effortlessly switch between your Mac Book or iPhone, for example. A great feature for Apple users with multiple devices.

Sound Quality

Bass-heads love Beats in general because of their extra bass feature, and the Studio3 are no different. There is a decent amount of chunky, defined bass on the Studio3. Unfortunately, as is the case with many bass headphones, this extra bass boost does muddy the mids slightly when played at higher volume.

The highs are present but not as clear when compared to other brands. That said, the Studio3 are fun to listen to if you like bass-heavy music.

One thing Beats are good at is making the design features on their headphones both stylish and functional. The ‘B’ on the left ear cup is a multi-function button, allowing you to play/pause/skip tracks. You can also use it to summon SIRI or Google Assistant. Pressing above and below the B is the volume up and down.

On the right ear cup is the noise-canceling activation button. On the left ear cup, you’ll also find the ⅛ inch input for the cable, while on the right ear cup is the micro USB input for charging.

You can also take calls with the Studio3 using the built-in microphone as a hands-free device. The audio quality is good at both ends. However, in noisy environments, the caller will hear a lot of the noise around you.

The Beats Studio3 fold up to be very compact – fitting neatly into the soft shell travel case provided. This is great news for travelers as the case can easily fit into most laptop bags, carry-on’s, or women’s handbags. There is also space inside the case for the cables and attachments too.

Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones Conclusion

The Beats Studio3 is a great pair of over-ear headphones for music lovers, especially if you like pop, dance music, hip-hop, R&B, and the like. Other genres of music don’t sound quite as exciting due to the issue with the mids. The Studio3 will also be great for games and movies.

Travelers will appreciate the Studio3 for its noise-canceling and compact size. The true winners with the Beats Studio3 will be the bass-heads who will love the extra bass the headphones offer.

What’s in the Box?

  • Beats Studio3 Headphones
  • Softshell carry case
  • 3.5mm (⅛ inch) RemoteTalk Cable
  • Micro USB charging cable

Understanding Headphone Terminology

Before we get into the headphones, let’s take a look at some of the terminology so you can understand exactly what everything means and whether or not certain features will apply to you.

Speaker Driver

This is pretty straightforward – it’s the speaker within the headphone ear cup. Often only the word “driver” is used, and this is essentially referring to the speaker.

Noise Canceling

Noise-canceling is a technology where the headphones block out extraneous noise or sound. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a complete block, and headphones usually only cancel frequencies below 400-600Hz. These are the frequencies that interfere the most with our hearing when traveling on planes, trains, and buses.

You get two types of noise-canceling – active and passive. Active noise canceling requires a power source such as a battery. Usually, these are built-in rechargeable batteries found in the headphone’s ear cup. In some cases, AAA batteries are used. Passive noise canceling is more of a noise-isolating technology or design within the headphones and won’t cancel out noise but rather isolate the ears effectively.

Flat Frequency Response

A flat frequency response describes a headphone with no boosts or dips in any of the frequencies. So the frequency response is even from the lowest bass to the highest highs. This will give you what’s often referred to as a ‘true audio response’ because the headphones produce the sound almost exactly as the audio was recorded.

Most audio professionals want a headphone with a flat frequency response so that they can get a true representation of the audio they’re listening to. If they have a set of headphones with a massive bass boost, the final audio mix might lack bass because they have been turning the bass down to reduce the amount of bass in the headphones.

Gamers and bass-heads like a bit of a bass boost, but this can affect the other frequencies too. In some cases, this may make watching movies or TV difficult because the bass-heavy headphones lack clarity in the mid-range and high frequencies.

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Author: Matt Hallowes

Matt has worked as a sound engineer and tour manager since 2003. His work as a sound engineer includes both live production and venue installations. With a passion for the industry, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us.

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