Over-Ear Headphones Buyers Guide
What To Look For When Buying Over-Ear Headphones?
If you’ve never bought over-ear headphones before, then you might wonder what it is that you should be looking out for. We’re now going to look at those key features so that you can then make an informed choice.
Open Vs Closed?
Closed-back headphones direct the sound toward the listener, immersing them in audio. They help to shut out background noise, which makes them great for noise cancellation. Some audiophiles, however, think that the sound quality can come across as a little synthetic.
Closed-back headphones are best for public settings, as those around you are less likely to be able to hear what you’re listening to. You will also be unable to hear the noise that the people around you are producing too. Closed-back headphones can be uncomfortable for long listening sessions, as you can become overheated if they don’t feature a breathable design.
Open-back headphones are more natural sounding. They give the sound a more spatial quality. Open-back models can demonstrate directional sound, giving users a more multi-dimensional listening experience.
That means, however, that the bass has less of an impact as compared with closed-back models. Some find the audio too airy. The lack of noise isolation means that you can hear everything going on around you, and there is also sound leakage, so the people around you will also be able to hear what you’re listening to. That being said, an open-back set can be safer when traveling, as it can give listeners a better awareness of their surroundings.
Semi open-back headphones are a good compromise. They offer the dimensional sound advantages of an open-back headset. They still filter the audio straight to the listener and provide a little noise isolation, but they are cooler and comfier. The drivers are more efficient, thanks to the extra airflow. This means bass and treble frequencies are often far more defined.
Wired Vs Wireless?
The most important thing to think about is your lifestyle. This will indicate whether you need a wired or wireless pair. If you’re looking for a way to privately listen to your tunes and intend to use your headphones as an extension of your mobile, iPod, or other devices, then, ultimately, a wireless set may benefit you, as they usually feature touch controls. This is best for easy switching between calls and audio.
If this is the case, look for a wireless pair with Bluetooth and NFC. Get a decent mic with active noise cancellation technology if you want to have the option to make voice calls, as well as to be able to use a voice-controlled assistant, such as Alexa or Siri.
However, one feature you’ll need to be aware of with a wireless set is battery life. Good battery life for over-ear headphones is at least fifteen hours. Anything below this is sub-standard, in our opinion. You should only consider less than ten hours if you’re purchasing earbuds rather than headphones. For wireless headphones, then you should be looking at around twenty hours, we think.
You can get wireless, over-ear headphones with and without noise-canceling technology. However, be aware that if you activate the noise-canceling technology when wearing wireless headphones, then it will drain the battery quicker. The good news is that most headsets include the option to switch this technology on and off.
If you want to monitor or mix audio you will, ideally, want a more direct signal. In that case, go for a wired headphone.
For studio use, the set you select will need to operate with higher resolution audio. Live use will need zero latency. The clarity, fidelity, comfort, build-quality, and durability of over-ear headphones are paramount. Studio use means long listening sessions and much more general wear and tear as you work between headphones and speakers.
It’s important that the ear cups can rotate. This makes them more flexible, which relieves pressure on your head, reducing the possibility of fatigue. They should be adequately cushioned to provide comfort. The cushioning should be skin-friendly and breathable, ensuring that you are less likely to suffer from hot ears and sweaty ear-cups.
We suggest going for coiled cords, as they are tougher but still provide good reach. They should have reinforcement where they meet the headphones or be detachable.
Once you know what you want and expect from your headphones, then you can narrow down the choices and the market becomes easier to navigate.
If you’re serious about sound quality, then choosing over-ear headphones is certainly the best option. The only reason to choose an earbud option is if over-ear headsets are too bulky. Otherwise, you’re better with over-ear models, as they deliver a much more immersive listening experience.
No matter what your budget is, you’ll be able to find a high-quality product, as you will have learned from the wide range of products that we have reviewed in our article. You can get great value for money from a budget model or you can pay the big bucks to get headphones that deliver a premium experience that will suit both audiophiles and studio engineers. The key, regardless of how much you spend, is that you choose a product that delivers durability, comfort, and includes effective components. You might also want to consider the advanced technology that’s included in each headset too.
Once you’ve worked out if you want open-back or closed-back headphones, decided if you want a wireless or wired model, and defined what levels of comfort you require, then you should be in the best position to invest your money. We can certainly recommend any of the ten products on our list. We hope that you’ve found this article valuable.
If you still aren’t sure about what type of headphones to opt for, then read our 10 Best Beyerdynamic Headphones article for an in-depth overview of one of the leading brand’s ranges of products.
Did you Know
Beyerdynamic produced one of the world’s first dynamic-balance headphone models in the 1930s. That was just a decade after the company was founded. Bayerdynamic and Sennheiser are two of the oldest manufacturers of headphones in the world.