If bulky over-ear headphones and tiny earbuds had a baby, it’d probably look a lot like a set of on-ear headphones. The good news is that you get to enjoy the best of both worlds. That’s because on-ear headphones have the benefit of having speakers large enough to produce hi-fi sound (the way over-ear headphones do) while remaining compact enough to stow away for easy transport (the way earbuds do).
The makers of quality on-ear options can pack the ear cups full of technology, like active noise cancellation and radio frequency technology while ensuring that the headphones are still lightweight and produce great audio full of rich bass and crisp mids. On-ear headphones typically have adjustable headbands to fit all head sizes and plush padded cushions that relieve pressure on the ears, regardless of how expensive or cheap.
Since virtually every company claims its headphones produce the best sound, are made from the best materials, and have the best features available, we decided to turn to reviewers to see which on-ear headphones were the most worthy of your money.
Bose Quietcomfort 35 II – Best On-Ear Headphones
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones are fantastic for their noise-canceling properties. Blocking out lots of ambient noise, thanks to their comfy and sizable ear pads, they’re perfect for traveling and avoiding the noise of other commuters or travelers. Even with noise cancellation switched off, they’re highly effective at eradicating irritating noises. As for the audio quality, they’re not quite as exceptional as some of Bose’s competitors, but they still deliver great sound. A 20-hour battery life (significantly increased if you switch off noise cancellation) means longer listening time than much of the competition. Additionally, Google Assistant is available through the headphones, reading back notifications and even news headlines or reminders. It’s not a device seller, but it’s a convenient bonus in an already remarkable set of headphones.
AKG N60 NC – Most Portable
PCMag gave this set of headphones 4 out of 5 stars because they produce powerful, balanced audio. Amazon customers seem to agree, awarding the AKG N60 NC on-ear headphones 4.2 out of 5 stars. These headphones have up to 30 hours of battery life and are designed for easy transport. The lightweight black earphones can be folded down to fit comfortably into your pocket, so you can have them whenever you’re ready to rock out. This set also comes with active and passive noise cancellation capabilities so, if you’re on your next flight and want to block out the sound of jet engines, you can do that. If you sit next to a noisy coworker, you can block their sound out too.
Or if you just want to silence the world while you take a nap, you can do that too.
Super plush earcups will keep you comfy for long-term wear, but the best part of these headphones is that they’re solidly reliable. They seem to check off all the boxes that you’d want: Good audio, solid battery life, collapsible, optional audio cord, and more.
Sennheiser RS120 On-Ear Wireless RF Headphones – Best Value Overall
The RS 120 RF (Radio Frequency) Wireless Headphones were built to let you enjoy the sound without dealing with cumbersome tangly cables. These lightweight, on-ear headphones by Sennheiser work by receiving sound from the included transmitter base when it’s connected to the output of any audio source. So you can connect it to your TV, computer, smartphone or sound system and receive the audio from up to 300 feet away, even if you’re in another part of the house, with walls and doors in the way. The base also acts as a charging station when the headphones are not in use.
Perhaps our favorite thing about these headphones is that they can connect with multiple users, so you can all share the same audio experience being transmitted from the same source.
Sennheiser is known for creating headphones that produce detailed, clear sound along with impressive bass. The RS120 model has received more than 14K customer reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
Let us know in the comments your favorite on-ear headphone.