Update: We've had a chance to review the excellent Sony MDR-1000XM2 which have earned a place at number seven on our list of the best over-ear headphones.
Best Over-Ear Headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best over-ear headphones you can buy in 2017.
When it comes to raw sound quality, nothing beats the sense of scale a pair of decent over-ear headphones can provide.
Over-ear headphones are some of the most diverse headphones out there, and this guide focusses on those with the best sound quality. Features like wireless operation and noise-cancellation are increasingly essential, but we like to address those form-factors specifically with our best wireless headphones and best noise-cancelling headphones guides specifically.
This guide, meanwhile, will focus on sound quality above all else. There are a couple of wireless and noise-cancelling equipped choices in our list, but that's only because they sound great in addition to packing these features.
Over-ear headphones can get expensive very quickly, so here's our guide to getting the most for your money, whatever your budget.
- Check out TechRadar's exhaustive guides to the to buy today including the and the .
- For some more specialist pairs, take a look at our guides to the and the .
- Looking for some headphones you can take in the pool? Check out our guide to the .
1. Oppo PM-3
BEST SOUND: Closed back planar magnetic headphones from the gods
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.71 pounds | Cable length: 9.8 ft or 3.9 ft | Frequency response: 10-50,000Hz | Drivers: 55mm | Driver type: Planar Magnetic | Sensitivity: 102dB | Impedance: 26 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
The Oppo PM-3's are a truly stunning pair of headphones. Make no mistake, we've reviewed a lot of headphones in the last 10 years but none have we become more fond of than the PM-3.
Better still, since the headphones were first released they've seen continual reductions in price, which has kept them competitive over the years.
Yes, they're wired, and noise-cancellation is completely absent, but if the best overall sound quality is your aim then the Oppo PM-3's offer the best performance around.
We really can't recommend them highly enough, they're just amazing.
Read the full review: Oppo PM-3
2. Philips Fidelio X2
BEST VALUE: Brilliant headphones for a brilliant price
Acoustic design: Open | Weight: .85 pounds | Cable length: 9.8 feet | Frequency response: 5-40,000Hz | Drivers: Two 1.9" speakers | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100 dB @ 1mW | Impedance: 30 Ohm | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
The Philips Fidelio X2's are a superb pair of headphones offering premium comfort and build quality with a sound that rivals even the most vaunted audiophile cans. Perhaps on sheer sound quality they're a notch off the likes of the top Oppo or Sennheiser offerings – but the fact that you'd be saving vast amounts of cash by opting for the Philips is just a no brainer.
3. Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro
FOR ENTRY-LEVEL AUDIOPHILES: Recording studio pedigree, at a price
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 1.5 pounds | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 5-40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
The Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pros are a stunning pair of headphones. Are they expensive? To some no, to most yes; but for the sheer listening experience they deliver you'd be hard pressed to take them off after putting them on, even using them with portable HRA players and mobile phones.
That said, they really do push the boundaries of what you can do with a dynamic driver. All praise to Beyerdynamic for putting together such a wonderful product.
Read the full review: Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro
4. Sennheiser HD 800
THE GOLD WINNER: The Sennheiser HD800 is the headphones fit for kings
Acoustic design: Open | Weight: 330g | Cable length: 3m | Frequency response: 14 – 44,100 Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 300 ohm | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
The fourth entry on our list easily could've been the first if it didn't cost well over $1,000/£1,000. The Sennheiser HD 800 are, hands down, one of the best-sounding pairs of over-ear headphones on the planet, affectionately praised by inner circles of audiophiles the world over. When paired with the proper hardware, they sound absolutely excellent – balanced in every way.
Unfortunately, they're supremely expensive and require more audio equipment than the average consumer is ready to buy. Should you find yourself in need – or, let's be honest, in want – of amazing over-ear headphones, these are them.
Read the full review: Sennheiser HD 800
5. Focal Listen
THE FRENCH ALTERNATIVE: Some of the best high-end headphones that don't destroy the bank
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.60lb (273g) | Cable length: 4.60ft (1.4m) | Frequency response: 15 – 22,000Hz | Drivers: 137/64“ (40mm) Mylar/Titanium | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 122dB SPL @ 1kHz – / 1Vrms | Impedance: 32 Ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Overall, the Focal Listen offer a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. They offer stellar balance, build quality and understated design – and while they may not be as high resolution as the Pioneer SE-MHR5 and other headphones capable of High-Res Audio playback, their sound-to-dollar ratio is impressive.
At $250 (£150, AU$329), however, they're not cheap but you actually get a lot for your money (see: sound and build quality). Should Focal continue to pump out cans that provide balanced sound and top-notch build quality at an affordable price, audiophiles might look more and more in the French company's direction.
Read the full review: Focal Listen
6. Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature
ULTRA-PREMIUM: The B&W P9 Signature is all about the sound quality
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 413 g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 2 – 30,000Hz | Drivers: 1.6 inch (40mm) Mylar/Titanium | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 111dB SPL @ 1kHz – / 1Vrms | Impedance: 22 Ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
The B&W P9 Signatures are simply some of the best-sounding headphones we’ve ever used. They have a tight, refined sound that offers an almost unmatched level of detail.
That said, the fact remains that they’re a comparatively feature-light pair of cans. If you want to spend less then you can get a much more portable pair that’ll be better suited to the morning commute or a plane ride thanks to additional features like noise-cancellation and Bluetooth connectivity.
But, if you’re looking to invest in a seriously high-quality pair of headphones to listen to a high-quality music collection, then there are few that can match the P9s at this price point.
Read the full review: B&W P9 Signature
7. Sony MDR-1000XM2
FEATURE-PACKED: Cans that offer the whole package
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 23g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 10 hours | Wireless range: 33 ft | NFC: Yes
An improvement on Sony's existing flagship, the Sony MDR-1000XM2 sound great, pack excellent noise-cancellation, and manage to do this all wirelessly.
Other headphones offer better sound quality, longer-range wireless connectivity, or better battery life, but the Sony MDR-1000XM2 manage to offer the best balance of features and performance.
It's also got a couple of interesting tricks up its sleeve like a selective noise-cancellation mode that lets in certain useful sounds, and a shortcut that allows you to quickly hear what's going on around you.
Offering all of this without a serious price-premium over the competition means the Sony MDR-1000XM2 are a great choice for on-the-go music listeners.
Read the full review: Sony MDR-1000XM2
8. Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT
HEY GOOD LOOKING: These over-ear headphones bring both performance and value
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .64 pounds | Cable length: 3.9 feet | Frequency response: 5-40,000Hz | Drivers: Two 1.7" drivers | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100 dB | Impedance: 35 ohm | Battery life: 40 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
Audiophiles typically shun wireless headphones because of poor sound quality. However, Bluetooth audio has improved tremendously over the years. There are now plenty of wireless headphones that can please the music enthusiast, with Hi-Res Audio support being more and more prevalent.
That said, the Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT feature some of the best wired and wireless sound quality for a headphone under $200 (£150). They play well with all music genres and offer a near-flat response curve. They're extremely comfortable for long listening sessions and are well built. Battery life is equally impressive with nearly 40 hours of playback from a charge. And while they lack some features of more expensive wireless headphones like active noise cancelling and multi-device pairing, these are tradeoffs worth making for phenomenal sound.
Read the full review: Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT
9. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
WIRELESS CHAMP: Incredible audio fidelity backed by a serious price
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: 4.6 feet | Frequency response: 16-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 28 ohms | Battery life: 25+ hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: Yes
These no-holds-barred wireless headphones are oozing with positive qualities, but for many, they're almost prohibitively expensive. However, if you're an audio lover that can spare the expense, do not hesitate on this comfortable, hard-working set of headphones that will likely last for years.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
10. Bose QuietComfort 35
NOISE CANCELLING WONDERS: Bose cut the wires off its flagship cans with great success
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.68 pounds | Cable length: 3.94 feet | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 20+ hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes
Bose has finally brought its fantastic noise-cancelling technology to a pair of wireless headphones and it's done so without any of the traditional drawbacks of wireless headphones. They sound great, and their battery life is long enough for all but the longest of flights.
At $349, the QC35s sit firmly at the premium end of the spectrum, but if you want the best noise-cancelling headphones available right now then you can't get any better.
Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35