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FAQ About On-Ear Headphones

Portable music players have made it easy to enjoy high-quality audio on-the-go. The wide variety of headphones available to help you get the most out of your music, movies, and games has expanded and evolved to keep up. The result is a great selection of styles and features among 4 main types: earbuds, in-ear, over-ear, and on-ear. Here we answer a few questions about on-ear headphones to explain what sets them apart, and help you decide if they're the best headphones for you.

What are on-ear headphones?

On-ear headphones are designed with cushions that rest on your outer ear, making them a more lightweight and portable alternative to full-size or over-ear headphones, which completely enclose the ear with larger ear cups. There's a wide variety; some are inexpensive and ultra-portable, others offer high-quality components and materials for superior sound reproduction, with many styles to choose from.

What situations are on-ear headphones best for?

On-ear headphones are a versatile, comfortable way to enjoy audio and can be especially convenient when you're on-the-go or working out at the gym. They tend to offer better bass response and fit more securely than in-ear headphones or earbuds, and are less likely to overheat your ears than full-size models. They don't isolate sound as effectively as their over-ear counterparts, a characteristic that may be desirable in an environment where you want hear some outside noises, like traffic or co-workers. More sound also escapes, so keep in mind people around you may hear more of what you're listening to at high volumes.

What are the best features to consider with on-ear headphones?

Wireless headphones with Bluetooth connectivity let you move freely without cables cramping your style. If you do prefer the wired variety, look for cables with in-line controls and microphones that allow you to pause, play, adjust volume, and even make calls without handling your audio device. Or, would you rather silence the outside world and enjoy your music undisturbed? You can get noise-cancelling on-ear headphones with active audio signals that reduce ambient sounds.