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FAQ About Over-Ear Headphones

What are over-ear headphones?

Over-ear headphones are popular because they’re comfortable, powerful and can close off the world around you so you can focus on music, TV and video programming, podcasts and all kinds of other audio needs.

Over-ear headphones have soft ear cups that rest, as the name suggests, over the ears and combined with a headband to distribute weight and add balance, over-ear headphones can give wearers an extremely comfortable fit.

Who should use over-ear headphones?

Over-ear headphones are ideal for gamers, TV and movie viewing and long-wear uses, as many find them to be more comfortable, but with their larger drivers and high fidelity design and construction, over-ear headphones can provide some of the best quality audio too, making them great for listeners who demand the best.

Audiophiles, DJs, and music lovers will appreciate the depth, clarity, and volume that over-ear headphones provide. Because they're often heavier and bulkier than other types of headphones, over-ear styles are best suited for use at home, in the office, in the recording studio, or on the DJ stage. But anyone who appreciates comfort and sound quality will get a lot from them.

Why choose over-ear headphones?

Over-ear headphones are comfortable for long periods of wear because the ear cups surround the outer ears rather than press against them (as in on-ear headphones).

Over-ear headphones also tend to have what’s called sound isolation properties. Sound isolation is the act of physically blocking outside noise to keep it from bleeding into your headphones, and in over-ear models, this is done through the use of plush ear cushions and a good fit.

Plus, equipped with large drivers, these headphones often pump out higher-quality sound and bass than their on-ear headphones and in-ear counterparts.

Wired vs wireless over-ear headphones: which to choose?

Which type of headphone you’ll want to choose depends in part on how you’ll be using it. Some music producers swear by the fidelity and longevity of wired over-ear headphones. Others want to be completely tangle-free, and Bluetooth connectivity lets you wirelessly connect the headphones to your device so you can not only listen, but move freely to the beats.

If you want to use your headphones with a smartphone or tablet, you’ll want to check that it has an aux jack—otherwise it’s pretty much mandatory to go the wireless Bluetooth route.

What features should I look for in over-ear headphones?

Look for Active Noise Cancelling over-ear headphones if you want to focus, or drown out low, ambient noise such as the hum of an air conditioner or airplane, since noise cancelling uses digital signals to cancel out unwanted noise before it can bleed into your headphones.

If you’re collaborating with others, look for headphones with transparency mode or ambient mode—they can help you stay attuned to what’s going on around you by allowing some sound in while you’re wearing headphones.

Need to take calls and take part in videoconferences? You’ll want to ensure a microphone is included. If you're a recording artist, DJ, producer, or other music professional, consider studio-quality headphones that are specially tuned for accurate sound reproduction. For convenient storage and portability, look for over-ear headphones that fold flat. Finally, if you like the ease of voice-only communication with a digital assistant, look for over-ear headphones that are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.