Finding a good set of headphones can be tough, especially when you’re looking for a distinctive style, like on-ear headphones. Sure, you can find different brands and options around every corner of the big electronic stores and even online storefronts, but how do you know which sets are actually worth your time and money? That’s where we come in. We’ve put together a list of the best on-ear headphones available to help you sort through the junk and find a diamond worth taking home.
Of course, there are always some things you can keep an eye out for when looking for the best headphones. First, look for something that will fit you. If you have a smaller or larger head, you’re going to want something adjustable. This will help ensure you can wear the headphones comfortably. You’ll also want to decide whether you want wireless or wired. There are a lot of options for both, but not many pairs allow you to switch between the two options easily.
Some headphones also suffer from audio bleed, which means your audio might leak through, letting others head what you’re listening to. While this can be a concern in quiet environments, louder environments should cover things up pretty well. If you’re in a place that you don’t have to worry about audio bleeding you, it might be worth looking into one of the best Bluetooth speakers out right now, instead.
Best on-ear headphones overall: Beyerdynamic Aventho Wireless
Pros: Adjustable sound profiles, touch controls, support for multiple Bluetooth audio codecs
Cons: Expensive, no active noise cancellation
Beyerdynamic has become a well-known name in the headphone market and for good reason. While most of the company’s headphones are designed with monitoring or studio use in mind, they can almost always be used in other settings too. For the Aventho Wireless, though, Beyerdynamic brings its tried and trusted audio quality to a great set of audio cans that you’ll want to keep an eye on.
These aren’t the most affordable wireless headphones available, but you get more than what you pay for. Support for multiple Bluetooth audio codecs means you can use them with just about every audio type you might come across. The ability to use adjustable sound profiles in a secondary app is also handy, though they aren’t necessary to enjoy the delightful sound these cans give off.
Finally, you can expect the usual touch controls seen on these styles of headphones to make a comeback. This makes it easy to move around your playlists without having to pull your phone out. There also isn’t any active noise cancellation here, which is disappointing for the price. However, you can always check out the best noise-canceling headphones for more ideas.
Best on-ear headphones for Gaming: Bowers & Wilkins PX5
Pros: Wear-detection system, low-latency with Qualcomm APTX HD Audio
Cons: Expensive, low battery life
When it comes to wireless headphones, using them for gaming can often be rough. Not only do you have to worry about audio latency, but you also don’t want to have to worry about the battery on your headset going dead halfway through a match. While the Bowers and Wilkins PX5 won’t satiate those looking for long-lasting battery life, it does resolve one part of the equation: latency.
Thanks to the inclusion of Qualcomm’s APTX HD Audio, the Bowers and Wilkins PX5 make for a fantastic set of cans for those looking to do a little gaming on their Bluetooth-enabled devices. The low-latency audio means you’ll hear footsteps and other game noises as quickly as possible, something you just won’t get with a lot of other headsets out there.
The downside, of course, is the expensive price tag that’s associated with this set. Despite that, though, Bowers and Wilkins have delivered a great set of headphones that gamers will be more than happy to make use of when playing their favorite games. Of course, if you want a headset made specifically for gaming, then we suggest heading over to our guide on gaming headsets available right now.
Best budget on-ear headphones: JBL Tune 510BT
Pros: 40-hour battery life, on-headphone controls, support for Siri and Google Assistant
Cons: No active noise cancellation, may be difficult to connect to PC
JBL is another well-known name in the headphone world. While it has made a name for itself with options like the JBL Tour One, the company is also making strides with its more affordable options like the JBL Tune 510BT. Designed to work with both Android and iOS, this more affordable wireless headphone set comes with 40-hour battery life, on-headphone controls, and support for both Siri and Google Assistant.
By designing the headphones specifically for mobile devices, JBL has made it exceptionally easy to set up and start using. The sound profile onboard here is also great, especially for a set of cans in this price range. Of course, you’re not going to find the more expensive features like active noise cancellation including, but for this price, you really can’t expect it.
While there are no doubt other options within this price range, if you’re looking for a good set of budget-friendly on-ear headphones, JBL’s Tune 510BT delivers exceptional sound quality at a price you can’t beat. As if that wasn’t enough, the 40 hours of battery life is made even better thanks to fast charging technology, which lets you recharge five minutes for up to two additional hours of playtime.
Best on-ear headphones for working out: JBL Live 400BT
Pros: Tighter fit perfect for exercising, alternative wired connection, ambient aware feature
Cons: Might be too tight for some users, cheap look and feel
Another entry on our list from JBL, the Live 400BT brings all the things you could have loved about the JBL Tune 510BT to another set of headphones perfect for those who want to jam out to their favorite songs while working out. Another affordable option on the list, these cans can often be found for under $60, despite the $100 retail price tag they typically carry.
Even at full price, though, that $100 gets you a great-sounding set of headphones, complete with a tight but comfortable fit for those who need something to stay on their head while they go running or exercising. These also ship with support for ambient aware mode, which lets you hear things going on around you, to help ensure you’re safe while out and about.
They don’t have quite the battery life of the cheaper Tune 510BTs, however, with 24 hours of battery life, you aren’t going to run out of juice during your workout. Additionally, you can easily charge things up with a 15-minute jaunt on the charger, which will give you another two hours of battery life. Finally, the built-in mic lets you talk to friends and family on the go, though it isn’t the highest-rated microphone you’ll ever find on a headset like this.
Best wired on-ear headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M60X
Pros: No battery life concerns, premium sound quality, interchangeable cable options
Cons: Cables may be too short for some users, not very portable
If you love on-ear headphones but aren’t really into wireless, then the Audio-Technica ATH-M60X is the perfect set of headphones for you. Without any wireless functionality, you won’t have to fuss over how long the battery lasts, or whether or not you charged it up the night before. Instead, you just plug in your preferred cable option and run with it.
The wired connection also makes this a perfect addition for those who want to use them with their computer, especially if they’re using a system that doesn’t support Bluetooth by default. Of course, price is a bit of a contender here. But Audio-Technica’s past history in the audio industry and the overall quality that these cans offer make them more than worth the price you’ll pay.
The cables might be a bit short for users who need cables that typically run six feet or so, but with three different options to choose from, it’s likely you can find one that works for you. What really makes the M60X shine, though, is how well it delivers the power and quality of more expensive headsets to a pair of cans that only cost $200. That might seem like a lot to pay for headphones, but in a market where you can spend upwards of thousands on high-fidelity options, Audio-Technica continues to deliver great performance and sound at a price that isn’t completely out of reach.