Over Ear vs On Ear Headphones: 8 Features To Consider

by | Headphones

The choice between over-ear vs on-ear headphones can be a difficult one to make. Both types of headphones have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to understand the differences before making your decision. That’s why we put together this article to help you decide which type is right for you.

In this article, we’ll compare and contrast over-ear and on-ear headphones, so you can make an informed decision. We’ll explore their differences in design, sound quality, comfortability levels, and more.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of which type of headphones is right for your needs. So without further ado, let’s dive into our comparison.

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Comparing Over Ear vs On Ear Headphones


The first major difference between over-ear and on-ear headphones is in their design. Over-ear headphones are designed to fit curving your ears, whereas on-ear headphones sit on top of your ears. This gives the listener more space and comfort with over-ears, as they don’t press against the sides of the head.

The design difference also affects the sound quality. Inner-ear headphones tend to have better noise isolation, as they completely enclose your ears in cushioned cups that block out external noises. On-ear headphones do not provide this extra level of noise isolation, which may be a concern for some users.

The design of both types of headphones will also impact their portability and durability. Over-ear headphones tend to be bulkier and heavier than on-ear, making them less portable. On the other hand, on-ear headphones are usually smaller in size and weight, making them easier to carry around with your ear canal.

Additionally, over-ear headphones often come with a more durable design, as they are designed to last for extended periods due to their larger size. In-ears headphones do not have this same guarantee of durability, so it’s important to consider how often you plan on using them when making your decision between the two styles.

Sound Quality

The next major difference between over-ear headphones and on-ear headphones is sound quality. Over-ear headphones are generally better for audio quality, as the larger design offers more space for drivers to produce a deep and detailed bass response.

On-ear headphones, also known as supra-aural headphones, generally have smaller drivers with less space to produce sound. This can lead to a muffled or flat-sounding experience.

In addition, over-ear headphones offer a more immersive soundstage due to their ability to cover the entire ear, unlike in-ear headphones. This allows for a richer and more detailed listening experience than on-ear headphones can provide.

On-ear headphones also suffer from sound leakage because of their open design. This means that people around you may be able to hear your music, which can be distracting. Over-ear headphones typically have more sound isolation and leakage protection than their on-ear counterparts.

So if you’re looking for the best sound quality available, over-ear headphones are the way to go. Just keep in mind that they may be bulkier and heavier than on-ear headphones. But with the improved sound quality and soundstage, it’s a worthwhile trade-off!


After the design and sound quality, comfort is another major factor to consider when choosing between over-ear and on-ear headphones. Over-ear headphones have a tendency to be more comfortable due to their larger size and cushioned ear pads.

On the other hand, on-ear headphones can become uncomfortable after extended listening sessions because they press against the sides of your head.

If you’re someone who listens to music for long listening sessions, it’s especially important to consider comfort levels when choosing between over-ear and on-ear headphones. Over-ears will generally provide more cushioning and less pressure against the sides of your head, allowing for a more comfortable listening experience in the long run.

On the other hand, if you only listen to music for short periods at a time and don’t mind slight discomfort, on-ear headphones may be your best bet.

Comfort levels can also be affected by the weight of the headphones. On-ear headphones generally have a lower weight than over-ear, and you may find them more comfortable if you don’t want to feel the extra weight over your ears.

However, this lighter design can mean they won’t stay in place as well during movement, so it’s important to consider this when choosing the right headphones for you.

Battery Life

On-ear headphones are often more lightweight than over-ear models, which means they will typically have lower battery life. With on-ears, you’ll usually get around 10 to 20 hours of battery life, while with over-ears, it can go all the way up to 40+ hours.

That being said, if you’re looking for something to use primarily while on the go, you might want to consider an on-ear design, as they are easier to carry around than over-ear models.

Ultimately, it’s up to you — if you don’t care how long your headphones can last or need more portability then go with on-ears; if you want longer battery life and better sound quality, then go with over-ears. It all depends on your needs!

Stable Fit

When it comes to finding a good fit for your headphones, over-ear and on-ear headphones have different advantages. Over-ear headphones provide greater stability in their ear cups due to the way they encircle the entire ear and are often better suited for active activities or for those who want their audio device firmly secured in place.

On-ear headphones, on the other hand, rest on the ear and provide less stability but are often more lightweight and comfortable.

Sometimes, the best fit may be a combination of both. With some on-ear headphones designs, you can rest the cups on the tips of your ears for greater comfort and stability. Either way, it is important to find what works best for you and your lifestyle.

Be sure to research different models from various brands before deciding which type of headphones is right for you. You can read reviews, watch YouTube videos, and talk to others who have bought similar products to help ensure your purchase is the right one.

When you find a pair of headphones that offer both comfort and stability, you’ll be ready to enjoy your music like never before.


When it comes to price, over-the-ear headphones tend to cost more than their on-ear counterparts. This is because of their larger size and extra padding, which provides more comfort and sound quality. That said, you can still find decent over-ear models at a reasonable price if you look around!

On the other hand, on-ear headphones tend to be more affordable, making them a great choice if you’re shopping on a budget. Keep in mind that price doesn’t always equate to quality – you should always do your research beforehand, so you know what to expect.

With both over-ear and on-ear headphones, there are high-end models which can cost several hundred dollars, as well as cheaper models which are more budget-friendly. Eventually, it all boils down to your personal preferences and how much you’re willing to spend. So make sure to do your research and find the right pair of headphones for your needs!

Active Noise Canceling

Active noise cancelling (ANC) is a technology that uses built-in microphones to detect ambient sound and then creates an opposite sound wave in order to cancel out background noise. ANC is usually found on more expensive models of headphones, so if this is something you’re interested in, over-ear styles are more likely to have it than on-ear.

However, some on-ear models are now offering active noise-cancellation features. Keep in mind that the sound quality of ANC can vary greatly depending on the type and size of headphones you choose. So if you’re looking for good noise canceling, be sure to read reviews before making a purchase.

It’s also worth noting that the ANC feature can be beneficial for two different reasons: first, it can help reduce environmental noise so you can enjoy your music without distraction; and second, it can actually improve sound quality by making sure no ambient sound is interfering with your listening experience.

Noise Isolating

Noise isolation is a passive technology that works by eliminating ambient noise with the help of physical barriers. This type of technology can be beneficial for those who value sound quality and want to block out extra noise without having to use batteries or extra power.

Over-ear wireless headphones are usually better at providing noise isolation due to their larger design which wraps around the entire ear. The physical barrier of the headphones prevents outside sound from entering your ears, providing a quieter listening experience.

On-ear circumaural headphones have a much smaller design, which typically makes them less effective at blocking out ambient noises. They also tend to let more sound leakage than over-ear models since they don’t cover the whole ear.

That said, some on-ear models provide a decent level of noise isolation due to their advanced technology or design elements, such as earpads made of memory foam. In this case, they are just as good (if not better) than over-ear headphones at providing an isolated listening experience.

All in all, if you want to block out the outside world and enjoy intense sound quality, over-ear headphones are usually your best bet. On the other hand, if you want something more discreet and comfortable that still provides a decent level of noise-canceling performance, on-ear models can be an excellent choice as well.

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The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference. Over-ear and on-ear headphones both have their own unique benefits that can make them suitable for different situations.

Whether you’re looking for comfortable headphones and an immersive listening experience or something more compact and lightweight, there’s a pair of headphones out there for everyone.

In the end, it comes down to what kind of sound quality and comfort you’re looking for in a pair of headphones. Consider your needs, do some research, and find the right pair that fits you best.

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