Though full-size around-ear or over-ear headphones are inclined to ship the perfect sound, and listening expertise, not everybody desires to stroll round sporting cumbersome headphones with large, squishy ear pads. Whereas headphones that sit on high of 1’s ears aren’t everybody’s factor, on-ear fashions with smaller earcups are extra compact, travel-friendly and have a tendency to price much less. They’ve additionally developed, with extra fashions that includes lively noise cancellation, noise isolation, a headphone amp and different superior options that have been as soon as solely present in bigger over-ear fashions.

This is a take a look at our present high picks for the perfect on-ear headphones primarily based on key components similar to how efficient they’re at noise cancellation and the way good they sound. They’re all wi-fi headphone fashions besides the Grado Status Sequence SR80e and Beats Ep wired headphone. There is not a single earbud on this listing, so if that is one thing you are searching for, take a look at our wi-fi earbud listing to have music taking part in instantly into your ear canal.

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Launched in mid-2020, the Jabra Elite 45h was basically billed as the perfect on-ear headphone for the cash. Whereas there’s nothing terribly fancy about it is among the greatest on-ear headphone values proper now, with good sound high quality, a sturdy design and comfy match (for on-ear headphones, anyway). Moreover, this bluetooth on-ear headphone performs effectively as a headset for making calls and features a sidetone characteristic that means that you can hear your voice within the headphones so you do not speak too loudly. Battery life additionally good. Out there in a number of colour choices, it lists for $100 however incessantly will get discounted to $80. 

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The Solo Professional is the primary Beats on-ear headphone to characteristic lively noise cancellation and the primary full-size Beats wi-fi headphone to cost by way of Lightning. It makes use of the corporate’s Pure Adaptive Noise Canceling (Pure ANC headphones), “derived from the over-ear Studio3 Wi-fi, with up to date tuning to accommodate the on-ear kind issue,” Beats says. With a faucet of a button, you possibly can flip off that noise cancellation to avoid wasting battery life or hit the button a second time to enter an audio transparency mode that means that you can hear the skin world and ambient sound, not simply the music you are listening to.

Out there in a number of colour choices, the noise-canceling headphone is supplied with six microphones, two of that are beamforming mics designed to hone in in your voice once you’re making calls or speaking to your voice assistant (Apple’s H1 chip is on board for always-on Siri). The sound qualityof these wi-fi earphones is easy and well-balanced, with punchy bass that does not make music sound boomy. It is snug for an on-ear mannequin and it is extra compact design travels higher than some full-size fashions on this listing. I simply want it price rather less and got here with a cable to plug in to in-flight leisure programs. Alas, the Lightning-to-3.5mm is an optionally available bluetooth headset accent that prices $35, which is ridiculous.

Learn our Beats Solo Professional evaluation.


Skullcandy’s Riff is the non secular successor to the Grind Wi-fi, which I favored for the cash. Out there in a number of colour choices, it retails for round $50 and has puffy, pillowlike ear cups that make these snug headphones for an on-ear mannequin. It additionally has nice sound for its worth, with open, detailed sound high quality and plump bass that is comparatively well-defined. My solely gripes about its ear cup design are that the highest does not characteristic a padded headband (on the crown of your head) and it feels somewhat low-cost, with no steel components. That stated, it is good and lightweight and has a dual-hinge that permits the headphone to fold up and fold flat. No carry pouch is included. Battery life is rated at solely 12 hours, however a quick cost characteristic helps you to get 2 hours of juice from a 10-minute cost (this has micro-USB charging not USB-C).


Towards the top of 2019, Bowers & Wilkins launched its new noise-canceling headphones: The over-ear PX7 ($400) and on-ear PX5 ($300). Each are nice bluetooth headphones with slick designs, nice sound and first rate noise cancellation (it is not so good as the Sony WH-1000XM3’s however it’s not far off). The PX7 has greater drivers and bolder general sound, however the PX5 is extra compact, simpler to journey with (it takes up much less room in a bag) and might be had for about $100 lower than the PX7, which is not being discounted but.   

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Snug for an on-ear mannequin, the BackBeat 500 delivers good audio high quality and is sturdy. Battery life is rated at 18 hours. This bluetooth headset additionally is available in a sweat-resistant sport model, the BackBeat Match 500, which prices about $10 to $20 extra, relying on the colour.

Learn BackBeat 500 evaluation.

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AKG’s N60NC headphones have been out some time, however they’re nonetheless good on-ear Bluetooth headphones with lively noise cancellation and nice audio high quality. Samsung now owns Harman, which owns AKG, and Samsung does not actually know tips on how to market this venerable Austrian audio audiophile headphone model (AKG earbuds have been included with Samsung telephones). Initially, $300, you could find these wi-fi earphones for a lot much less. They’re actually extra engaging at that worth.

Learn AKG N60NC Wi-fi evaluation.

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Beats makes loads of bluetooth headphones with excessive worth tags, however its entry-level EP headphone is a surprisingly good listening expertise worth. The listing worth is $100, however you could find it on-line for nearer to $90 and typically much less. The EP is an on-ear mannequin that is not as swanky as Beats’ considerably forgotten on-ear Mixr, in addition to the over-ear Government and Professional fashions. However because of its bolstered steel body, it jogs my memory of low-frills variations of these headphones. By low-frills, I imply it is not extremely flashy and it does not fold up or fold flat for journey (it has no hinges).

I favored the best way they sounded and so did Steve Guttenberg, who as soon as wrote CNET’s Audiophiliac weblog. These open again headphones exhibit the traits of an excellent headphone: They’re clear and open-sounding, significantly for an on-ear headphone, and there is sufficient treble element to provide them some sparkle. (In different phrases: They don’t seem to be extremely dynamic.)

The bass is somewhat accentuated — that is Beats in spite of everything — however it’s not bloated or boomy. There’s sufficient bass right here to fulfill a low-end audiophile headphone lover however not a lot to show off somebody who’s searching for a extra balanced, neutral-sound high quality in a headphone.

Learn our Beats EP evaluation.

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Grado makes some nice sounding wired on-ear fashions, together with the entry-level SR60e ($80) and SR80e ($100), in addition to the dearer SR125e ($150) and 325e ($300). Like different Grado headphones, the SR80e options an open-back design, which delivers good open, articulate sound high quality. Nevertheless, that sound does leak out a bit from the headphones, permitting individuals close by to listen to what you are listening to, so they are not splendid for an open-office surroundings.

This headphone has been round since 2014 and it nonetheless sounds nice, with a easy tonal stability, loads of element, and deep bass. That is the wired on-ear headphone for individuals who need a wonderful listening expertise with nice sound for the cash. You want an adapter to make use of it with telephones which have solely Lightning or USB-C ports and no headphone jacks. 

Learn Grado SR80e evaluation.

See extra headphone and listening picks


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