Over-the-ear headphones are exactly that: headphones designed to fit around your ear, which are different from “on-ear.” They’re also referred to as “circumaural,” which means that padded cups fully enclose your ears.
The following list includes models that range from under $40 up to $300, but they’re all the best-sounding, most transparent headphones we’ve ever heard (relative to their price).
True audiophiles may consider the top-tiered headphones well worth a lifetime of listening.
1. Aiaiai TMA-1 Professional DJ Monitoring
Pro quality performance with a modern appeal. Proven on stage and in the studio by the world’s most demanding DJs, the TMA-1 has been made in collaboration with 25 professional and renowned DJ’s (James Murphy, A- Trak, Seth Troxler, Madlib, amongst others). Tested in studios and on tours all over the world, this is a specialized piece of equipment for the hard working musician and audiophiles alike.
2. Audio-Technica ATH-M50
With the ATH-M50 professional studio monitor headphones, Audio-Technica has achieved an exceptionally accurate response and long-wearing listening comfort. Designed especially for professional monitoring and mixing, these studiophones feature an efficient collapsible design for space-saving portability and storage. Circumaural ear pieces swivel 180° for easy one-ear monitoring and luxuriously padded ear cushions create an outstanding seal for maximum isolation. The adjustable headband is generously padded for ultimate comfort during long mixing sessions. A coiled cable at the left earpiece terminates to a gold-plated mini-plug with included screw-on ¼” adapter.
Audio-Technica’s sophisticated driver technology and superior components deliver exceptional power handling and very high SPL capabilities while maintaining clarity of sound throughout their extended range, with deep, accurate bass and outstanding high-frequency extension. The headphones feature proprietary large-aperture drivers with neodymium magnet systems for ultra-efficient signal transfer.
3. V-Moda Crossfade M-100
M-100 combines V-MODA’s top-ranked M-Class modern audiophile sound signature with a comfortable over-ear form factor. A true timeless masterpiece constructed from exotic materials and tested to rigorous military standards. Crowdsourcing development from over 200 audiophiles, professionals and music legends, the M-100 includes numerous innovations including a unique CLIQFOLD design that allows for compact storage. Dual headphone inputs allow real-time mixing by allowing you to listen to multiple sources simultaneously. The M-100 comes with a specially tuned SpeakEasy cable with mic for universal compatibility and communication. An additional SharePlay cable is included to allow you to share your sound with your friends. A newly designed, compact exoskeleton hard case with V straps for accessory management, offers the modern day road warrior added protection and convenience.
4. Sennheiser HD280 Pro
The HD 280 Pro is Sennheiser’s most significant closed, around-the-ear headphone to be introduced in years. Designed to exceed the demands of the professional environment, the HD 280 Pro boasts extremely robust construction combined with the sound quality, modular design, and aggressive noise isolation the necessary in the field. The unique collapsible design, combined with swiveling ear cups, offers maximum flexibility in any application.
5. Noontec Zoro
The ZORO Professional Steel Reinforced SCCB Sound Technology Headphones have been developed from the outstanding intelligence and perfect SCCB technologies of professional masters. The 40mm high-quality neodymium magnet speaker is almost fully hand-selected, with low frequency sound cavities calibrated at ten thousand times – and the cotton buds of the acoustic earphones have undergone professional tests. The low frequency sounds are solid and powerful, intermediate frequency is well-balanced, the high frequency is down to earth and lively, and the overall three-dimensional effect is outstandingly clear. The ZORO Professional Steel Reinforced SCCB Sound Technology Headphones bring you an incomparable perspective of real music.
6. Sony MDR-1R
Countless details combined to deliver: precision sound quality, thoughtful design, and long-term comfort. Available in three models, including Bluetooth and Digital Noise Canceling capable models, Sony MDR-1R headphones offer premium style with performance for a headphone experience without equal.
7. Beats Studio 2013
The world’s most famous headphone has been completely redesigned and reimagined. The new Beats Studio is lighter, sexier, stronger, and more comfortable, with precision sound, Adaptive Noise Canceling, a 20-hour rechargeable battery, and RemoteTalk. It has all the energy and excitement you expect from Beats, plus a powerful, reengineered sound.
8. Sennheiser HD 598
Not only are the HD 598 aesthetically pleasing to the eyes but they also provide an impeccable sound quality and unrivalled comfort. These beige-coloured open, circumaural headphones come with high-gloss burl wood parts and matching ear pads for a sophisiticated, premium finish. With Sennheiser’s innovative E.A.R. technology, audio signals are directly channelled into your ears. These headphones also incorporate a special diaphragm geometry that minimizes intermodulation distortion while delivering an impressive frequency response range, plus a highly constant compressed cellulose fleece to hold harmonic distortion to less than 0.1%. And to accentuate the already outstanding listening experience even further, their high-quality leatherette headband and velour ear pads provide outstanding wearing comfort, even for long listening sessions.
9. Panasonic RP HTX7
Great sound and great looks aren’t mutually exclusive. The RP-HTX7 headphones put modern headphone performance in a comfy vintage package, with an ergonomic fit, a four-foot cable, and well-cushioned ear pieces.
10. Focal Spirit One
Designed for the discriminating listener who demands the finest personal sound experience possible; Focal’s new Spirit One headphone combines space age materials, 32-years of acoustic industry leadership, and a dash of French design flair to create a luxury experience sure to delight your senses. With its aluminum billet “Made for iPhone telephony controls and clear sound microphone capsule located on its acoustically damped modular signal cable, you’ll hear perfect telephone conversations from both cups, as well as world class musical fidelity thanks to 40mm sculpted mylar-titanium driver elements.
Sold with an attractive hard case, cloth bag and a full compliment of accessories, and backed by a two-year parts and labor warranty, your Spirit One will become your trusted travel companion for years to come. Listening to your music everywhere in your everyday environment, it’s now possible. Focal-JMlab has the solution to bring a quality sound in any room in your home (living-room, bedroom, Hall, kitchen etc.), in your garden, in your car or in your professional studio. Innovation is pushing the envelope. Focal permanently invents new solutions to integrate a hifi quality sound whatever the conditions, in-wall, on-wall or in-ceiling loudspeakers.
And everything becomes possible. Since 1979, Focal-JMlab is one of the world leaders of the High End acoustic loudspeakers. 30 years to fight our values, to keep our production in France and to stand up for the idea of a luxury ? la fran?aise. Innovation, tradition, be the world’s best in everything we create for your pleasure, that’s Focal philosophy; the Spirit of Sound.