The 15 Best On-ear Headphones

On-ear headphones are more portable and more breathable than over-ear headphones. Their ear cups, which are usually circular, are smaller. And instead of completely enclosing your ears, the ear cups rest on your ears. Except for those equipped with active noise-canceling technology, on-ear headphones are usually mediocre when it comes to noise isolation. But that’s good news for those who prefer to be more aware of their surroundings while listening to music.

While they are not as popular as over-ear headphones and earbuds, there are a lot of good on-ear headphones on the market. If you are looking for on-ear headphones and want to speed up your shopping process, this product guide is for you. In this guide, you’ll find the best on-ear headphones currently out, from wireless headphones to noise-canceling headphones.

Table Of Contents

Short List

Marshall Mid ANCBest Overall: Marshall Mid ANC

The Marshall Mid ANC are versatile on-ear headphones suitable for different usages, offering decent noise isolation and great audio reproduction. They are wireless on-ear headphones with active noise-canceling technology, which makes them better at blocking out background noise than most on-ear headphones. While they are expensive, these Marshall headphones are the best on-ear headphones that you can get, especially if you want all-around headphones.

A pair of closed-back headphones, the Marshall Mid ANC are well-designed headphones with a good build quality and a nice aesthetic. They have that iconic Marshall look, featuring an all-black color scheme with gold-colored branding. The headband and ear cup covers have a textured finish, with the Marshall logo featured on the underside of the headband and on the ear cups’ outer shell.  The included soft case – which is collapsible for easy storage when not in use – also has a stylish design, with its red lining contrasting nicely with the all-black exterior.

The Marshall Mid ANC can be folded into a more compact form, which adds to their portability. The metal headband is sturdy, flexible, and well-padded. Unlike with most on-ear headphones, the similarly well-padded ear cups are square-shaped instead of circular. While not as luxurious as that of other premium headphones, the ear cups feel comfortable on the ears and don’t put too much pressure, which is a big plus for on-ear headphones. Overall, the Marshall Mid ANC are comfortable to wear due to their breathable design and good padding.

Like other wireless headphones, the Marshall Mid ANC feature on-cup controls. On the left ear cup, there is a multi-directional knob for call and music management. The golden knob also serves as a power button and Bluetooth pairing button. On the right ear cup, there is a dedicated switch for the active noise-canceling feature. Although not as fancy as touch-based controls, the control scheme is well implemented, with the knob offering good feedback. The included audio cable also has an inline remote.

Featuring excellent bass performance, the Marshall Mid ANC are some of the best-sounding on-ear headphones. Of the products listed here, they have the best audio reproduction, making them suitable for audiophiles who prefer on-ear headphones instead of over-ear headphones. The battery life is also good, with Marshall claiming up to 20 hours of playtime in wireless mode with active noise-canceling enabled. With active noise-canceling turned off, the headphones can go for more than 30 hours on a single charge while in wireless mode.

Speaking of active noise-canceling, the Marshall Mid ANC offer decent noise isolation. While they are not as good as some of the best noise-canceling headphones on the market, they are decent enough for office use and commuting. The sound leakage is also quite low, with the ear cups providing a decent seal on the ears. This means people near you won’t be distracted too much by your loud music, which is especially beneficial at the office.

Overall, the Marshall Mid ANC are fantastic on-ear headphones. They are well-designed wireless headphones that pair easily with compatible devices and boast an excellent wireless range. You can use them as your go-to casual headphones for commuting and office use, with their long-lasting battery allowing for all-day use.

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Audio-Technica ATH-M60xBest Wired On-ear Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M60x

If you prefer wired headphones over wireless headphones, the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x are the best on-ear headphones for you. They are wired on-ear headphones designed for professional studio use. Although they are limited in features, they are some of the best-sounding on-ear headphones on the market. This makes them an excellent wired alternative to the Marshall Mid ANC if you care a lot about sound quality.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M60x are closed-back headphones with an understated look similar to the more popular Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They have an all-black color scheme with minimal cosmetics outside of the branding on the ear cups. They don’t fold into a more compact form, which hurts their portability. There are three audio cables included in the box, one of which is a coiled cable.

Featuring a slim headband and small but well-padded ear cups, the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x have a breathable design that makes them comfortable to wear for long listening sessions. Compared to some on-ear headphones, they are a bit looser and don’t put too much pressure on the head. But on the other hand, they are not very stable headphones, making them unsuitable even for light workouts or jogging.

Like most headphones designed for professional use, the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x lack any form of controls. They don’t have on-cup controls, and the included audio cables don’t come with an inline remote, either. While the lack of controls can be inconvenient in some situations, it isn’t a total deal-breaker and is a non-issue for many people.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M60x are good-sounding wired on-ear headphones with a balanced audio reproduction. They are ideal for critical listening and are suitable for different music genres, including hip hop, heavy metal, and punk rock. In terms of overall sound quality, they are some of the best ones among the products in this guide. However, they are not as good as the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, with the latter being the better headphones for sound editing and DJ use.

Unlike the Marshall Mid ANC, the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x don’t feature active noise-canceling, which isn’t really surprising for headphones designed for professional use. They have mediocre noise isolation, making them unsuitable for commuting and travel. On the bright side, their sound leakage is quite low for on-ear headphones, provided the volume is at moderate levels.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M60x are also decent wired on-ear headphones for PC gaming: their wired connection removes latency issues, while their breathable design makes them comfortable to use for long gaming sessions. They are great for games with an excellent soundtrack such as Undertale and Nier: Automata. However, for online multiplayer gaming, they are not the most ideal headphones due to their lack of a mic for voice chat.

While they are not as versatile as other products, the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x are still some of the best on-ear headphones on the market. They are professional headphones with good audio reproduction and good build quality. They are suitable for studio use and casual home use, but for commuting and running, they are not recommended.

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Skullcandy Grind WirelessBest Budget On-ear Headphones: Skullcandy Grind Wireless

Selling for just $50, the Skullcandy Grind Wireless are the best budget on-ear headphones. They are wireless on-ear headphones with decent audio reproduction, good on-cup controls, and good battery life. While there are certainly more affordable options out there, none of them offer the same value as the Skullcandy Grind Wireless.

Featuring circular ear cups with a closed-back design, the Skullcandy Grind Wireless are well-designed headphones with a durable frame. They have a straightforward design with minimal cosmetics outside of the Skullcandy logo on the headband. There are different color options available, including black and blue. If you want to keep it simple, go for the solid black model. But if you want a more eye-catching design, go for the other models.

The Skullcandy Grind Wireless are a lot more comfortable to wear than most on-ear headphones, which is a big plus. They have softly padded ear cups and a sturdy headband. Unlike some on-ear headphones, they don’t press too hard on the head, making them more comfortable to wear for long stretches. They are also fairly stable, but they are not suitable for running and gym use.

With their simple but effective control scheme, the Skullcandy Grind Wireless allow for hassle-free call and music management and volume control. The on-cup controls, composed of physical buttons, are easily accessible and offer decent tactile feedback. The buttons don’t feel flimsy, which can’t be said for the on-cup controls of some budget wireless headphones.

Overall, the Skullcandy Grind Wireless are well-constructed headphones with a sturdy and comfortable design. They don’t fold into a more compact format, which is both good news and bad news. On the plus side, there are fewer moving parts to worry about. But on the other hand, their non-folding design makes them less portable. On a related note, there is no carrying case included in the package, so the Skullcandy Grind Wireless are not the most travel-friendly headphones.

Although their bass and mid-range performance are both great, the Skullcandy Grind Wireless are only decent at best in terms of overall audio reproduction. They are inferior to the Marshall and Audio-Technica headphones above, but they are good enough for non-audiophiles. The mic performance is also adequate enough. Regarding battery life, the Skullcandy Grind Wireless are good, offering up to around 12 hours of playtime on a single charge.

Like the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x, the Skullcandy Grind Wireless have poor noise isolation, which makes them unsuitable in a noisy environment. They don’t offer active noise-canceling and are not good at passively blocking out background noise. If you work in a quiet office, they are decent office headphones due to their convenient wireless connection, good controls, and comfortable design. But if you work in a noisy office, they are not recommended.

If you have a limited budget, the Skullcandy Grind Wireless are the best budget on-ear headphones on the market. They offer great value for the money and are suitable for casual everyday use. They have decent audio reproduction for budget wireless headphones and are not as cheaply built as other headphones in the same price range.

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AKG N60NCBest Noise-canceling On-ear Headphones: AKG N60NC

The AKG N60NC are wireless on-ear headphones with active noise-canceling. Of the products in this guide, they boast the best noise isolation, so they are the most suitable for commuting and office use. You can get these closed-back headphones for less than $200, making them more affordable than Sony and Bose premium noise-canceling headphones.

Compared to the Skullcandy Grind Wireless, the AKG N60NC are a bit more stylish and feel better-built overall. They have a sturdy metal headband and well-padded ear cups that can fold into the frame for a more portable setup. While the folding design introduces more moving parts that are susceptible to wear and tear, the hinges are durable and don’t feel flimsy. The AKG N60NC feature an integrated mic and include an audio cable with an inline mic. You can use the audio cable for switching to a wired connection when the battery runs out.

The AKG N60NC are comfortable to wear for long hours. They are lightweight and don’t put too much pressure on the head. You don’t need to worry about sweaty ears after just a few hours of use, as the on-ear design translates to a more breathable fit compared to an around-the-ear design. On the other hand, the AKG N60NC are not the most stable headphones, which makes them unsuitable for running and gym use.

For controls, the AKG N60NC have an on-cup control scheme composed of physical buttons and sliding switches. While limited in functions, the control scheme is easy to use, offering call and music management controls and volume control. The buttons offer decent tactile feedback while the sliding switches don’t feel flimsy.

The AKG N60NC are good-sounding wireless on-ear headphones, with good bass performance. They are not as good as the Marshall Mid ANC, but they are some of the better-sounding on-ear headphones on the market. With their 15-hour battery life in wireless mode with active noise-canceling, the AKG N60NC are good enough for all-day use for most people. If you use the headphones in wired mode with active noise-canceling enabled, the battery life increases to around 30 hours.

Regarding active noise cancellation, the AKG N60NC are decent. They are no match for some of the best Bose and Sony noise-canceling headphones. But for on-ear headphones, they are decent enough for office use and commuting. Moreover, their sound leakage is low, which is especially beneficial at the office, where some people may not like being acquainted with your loud music.

All in all, the AKG N60NC are the best option if you are looking for on-ear headphones with active noise-canceling technology. They are comfortable to wear, feature a good control scheme, and boast a long battery life. They can also pair with up to two devices, allowing you to connect them to your computer and smartphone at the same time.

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Beats Solo3 WirelessWireless On-ear Headphones with Best Battery Life: Beats Solo3 Wireless

One of the most notable downsides of wireless headphones is their reliance on battery power. The good news is that there are many products that offer excellent battery life. If you want wireless on-ear headphones with the best battery life, get the Beats Solo3 Wireless. They have an incredible 40-hour battery life, allowing you to use them for almost two full days without charging. They also charge fast, which is another big plus.

Available in different colors – including glossy black, rose gold, and silver – the Beats Solo3 Wireless are closed-back headphones with an integrated mic. They are good-looking headphones that easily stand out. They are sturdy and durable headphones made of high-quality materials, though their plastic exterior might suggest otherwise. They can be folded into a more compact format, making them more portable and easier to carry every day, with the included case protecting them from scratches.

The small, circular ear cups are generously padded, which is great since the Beats Solo3 Wireless are tighter than most on-ear headphones. While they do clamp tighter on the head, the thick padding on the ear cups makes for a more comfortable fit. They are also a lot more stable than most on-ear headphones. They are decent enough for jogging, but for more intensive workouts with a lot of head movement, they are not recommended.

The Beats Solo3 Wireless feature a well-implemented on-cup control scheme. They are composed of buttons that don’t feel too cramped on the small ear cup. The buttons are responsive and provide good tactile feedback. You get call and music management controls, along with volume control. The included audio cable also comes with an inline remote.

While they are not recommended for audiophiles, the Beats Solo3 Wireless are good-sounding on-ear headphones. They are good for listening to music and gaming, but they are not recommended for professional use. The Beats Solo3 Wireless easily pair with compatible devices. In addition, they have an excellent wireless range, allowing you to stay connected to your music while doing chores around the house.

Of the wireless headphones in this guide to the best on-ear headphones, the Beats Solo3 Wireless offer the best battery life at around 40 hours on a single charge. If you only use them for a few hours per day, you can go an entire week without charging. Furthermore, they charge really fast, with five minutes of charge time already translating to around three hours of music playback.

Unfortunately, the Beats Solo3 Wireless have a few flaws that some might see as red flags. The integrated mic is not that good, which makes it unsuitable for business calls. The headphones are also mediocre in terms of noise isolation, rendering them unsuitable in a noisy environment. Their sound leakage is also quite high at higher volumes, which can be unpleasant for people around you.

The Beats Solo3 Wireless are fantastic headphones overall. They are well-built wireless headphones with good audio reproduction and outstanding battery life. You can use them for casual everyday use, with their very stable design making for a more secure fit while on the move. They are especially recommended for those who use Apple devices.

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Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth HeadphonesMost Comfortable On-ear Headphones: Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones

If you want the most comfortable on-ear headphones for long listening sessions, check out the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones. They are supremely comfortable on-ear headphones, with soft padding on both the ear cups and the headband. They also sound good, with similar sound quality to the Marshall Mid ANC. On the other hand, they are expensive, selling for around $200.

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones are wireless closed-back headphones with a nice design. They look similar to the Bose QuietComfort 25 and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but they have smaller ear cups due to their on-ear design. They can be folded into a more compact form, which makes them easier to pack in your bag. Although they are mostly made of plastic, they are sturdy and durable and don’t break apart after just a few minor drops.

Unlike some on-ear headphones, the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones don’t put too much pressure on the head. The clamp is just enough to keep the headphones stable without sacrificing comfort. Both the ear cups and the headband are well padded, though the padding is not as luxurious as that of other premium headphones. While not as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, these Bose headphones are some of the most comfortable headphones out there.

The on-cup controls, composed of physical buttons, are located on the right ear cup. They are very easy to use and offer good tactile feedback. They offer the essentials: call and music management and volume adjustment. Due to the small ear cup, the buttons are a bit cramped, but that doesn’t make them more difficult to use. Unlike with some of the wireless headphones on this list, the included audio cable lacks an inline remote for call management.

Regarding sound quality, the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones are some of the best-sounding on-ear headphones on the market. They are just as good as the Marshall Mid ANC, but they are not suitable for professional use. Unlike the Marshall headphones, these Bose headphones don’t have active noise-canceling. They only provide passive noise isolation, but they are not very good on that front, making them unsuitable in a noisy environment.

The battery life is good. The Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones can run up to around 15 hours on a single charge, which is good enough for all-day use for most people. They also charge fast, with 15 minutes of charge time translating to two hours of battery. If you run out of battery in the middle of the day, you can either go for a quick charge or simply switch to a wired connection with the audio cable.

Overall, the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones are excellent on-ear headphones. They don’t feel too tight on the head and are very comfortable to wear. They have a good battery life, a good on-cup control scheme, and a decent integrated mic. They can also connect to two devices at the same time, which can’t be said for some wireless headphones.

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More Options

If you don’t like any of our top picks – whether it’s due to design flaws, sound quality issues, or other aspects – the good news is that there are many other products to choose from. The following products are the ones that are also worth checking out if you are in the market for the best on-ear headphones.

Sony MDR-XB550APSony MDR-XB550AP

If the Skullcandy Grind Wireless are still not within your budget, check out the Sony MDR-XB550AP instead. They sell for less than $40, but unlike the Skullcandy headphones, they are wired headphones, which makes them more cumbersome to use. They have a decent sound quality for budget wired headphones, with their always-on bass boost adding more punch to the bass performance.

The Sony MDR-XB550AP are made of plastic and feel cheaply built, which isn’t really surprising considering the price. They are decently comfortable to wear, with adequate padding on the ear cups, but they are not the most stable. The non-detachable cable has an inline remote for basic call and music management. The Sony MDR-XB550AP are best used for listening to music in a quiet room, as they don’t provide good enough passive noise isolation to be suitable in a noisy environment.

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Plantronics BackBeat 500Plantronics BackBeat 500

The Plantronics BackBeat 500 are budget headphones selling for around $60-70. They are wireless headphones with on-cup controls and an integrated mic that is decent enough for non-business calls. You can connect them to two devices at the same time, which is great if you own two smartphones or want to pair them to your smartphone and computer.

Regarding build quality, the Plantronics BackBeat 500 are only decent at best – the cheaper Skullcandy Grind Wireless are better-built and are more comfortable to wear for long hours. On the other hand, these Plantronics on-ear headphones have a better battery life: they can run up to 18 hours on a single charge. And unlike the Skullcandy headphones, they can pair with multiple devices at the same time, which is a big plus for some people.

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Beats EPBeats EP

On-ear headphones under $100 are usually decent at best when it comes to sound quality. But there are a few products that offer good audio reproduction. The Beats EP are some of the best-sounding on-ear headphones under $100, with good bass and excellent mid-range performance. However, they are not suitable for professional use.

A pair of wired headphones, the Beats EP have well-padded ear cups and a flexible headband. While they are a bit tight on the head, they are still comfortable to wear. The ear cups are not very good at passively blocking out background noise, so don’t expect too much regarding noise isolation. The non-detachable cable has an inline remote with basic controls. Overall, the Beats EP are good headphones for the price. They are available in different color options, including black and red.

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Koss Porta Pro WirelessKoss Porta Pro Wireless

The Koss Porta Pro Wireless are open-back headphones with a unique design. They are retro-looking on-ear headphones with a very thin headband and an around-the-neck cable that connects to the two ear cups. They are travel-friendly headphones, with their collapsible design making them more portable and their hard case protecting them from scratches and minor drops. While they are not as generously padded as other on-ear headphones, they are comfortable to wear because of their lightweight and breathable design.

Featuring an easy-to-use control scheme, the Koss Porta Pro Wireless are decent-sounding headphones with good bass performance. The battery life is good, with around 12-15 hours of playback on a single charge. The integrated mic is also acceptable enough for non-business calls, but it doesn’t fare well in a noisy environment. And on a related note, these wireless headphones don’t offer any noise isolation due to their open-back design.

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Grado SR80eGrado SR80e

If you like better-sounding open-back headphones than the Koss Porta Pro Wireless, go for the Grado SR80e. They are great for listening to music while sitting in a quiet room, but they are unsuitable for other usages and environments, especially considering their non-existent noise isolation. You can get these Grado headphones for less than $100.

Unlike the Koss open-back headphones, the Grado SR80e are wired headphones. They are comfortable to wear due to their lightweight design, but their ear cup padding feels cheap. They can’t be folded into a more compact format. But that also means there are fewer moving parts, which is actually a good thing since the Grado SR80e have a mediocre overall build quality.

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JBL Live 400BTJBL Live 400BT

Available in different colors, including blue, green, and white, the JBL Live 400BT are wireless on-ear headphones with good audio reproduction, superb battery life, and good app support. They are surprisingly versatile headphones suitable for casual everyday use. You can also use them for jogging and other light physical activities, with their tighter-than-usual clamp making for a more secure fit.

The JBL Live 400BT have a decent build quality, featuring a metal-reinforced headband and decently padded ear cups. The on-cup controls are easy to use and offer basic call and music management along with volume control. Compared to the Plantronics and Koss wireless headphones, the JBL Live 400BT have a better battery life, with up to 24 hours of operation on a single charge. They have poor noise isolation, though, which makes them unsuitable in a noisy environment.

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Marshall Major IIIMarshall Major III

The Marshall Major III look similar to the Marshall Mid ANC, featuring the same textured exterior on the ear cups and headband. They are wireless on-ear headphones with closed-back ear cups and an on-cup control scheme composed of a multi-directional knob. They can be folded into a more compact form, which adds to their portability.

Unlike the Marshall Mid ANC, they don’t feature active noise-canceling, so they are inferior when it comes to noise isolation. On the bright side, they have a great battery life, capable of running for more than 30 hours while in wireless mode. All in all, they are good on-ear headphones with a comfortable design and decent audio reproduction.

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Samsung Level On WirelessSamsung Level On Wireless

The Samsung Level On Wireless are relatively affordable noise-canceling on-ear headphones. They have a wireless connection and support NFC pairing for an easier setup. Unlike the Marshall Major III, these headphones feature touch controls, which are easy to use. They can be folded into a more compact format and come with a soft case that protects them from scratches.

While their build quality is not that great, the Samsung Level On Wireless are decent-sounding on-ear headphones that are comfortable to use. They provide decent noise isolation with the active noise-canceling feature enabled, which makes them suitable for office use and commuting. The app support is also good, but only for Android users. If you own an Android device, the Samsung Level On Wireless are some of the best on-ear headphones that you can get.

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Grado GW100Grado GW100

If you like the Grado SR80e but prefer the convenience of wireless connectivity, check out the Grado GW100, which sell for a much higher price. They are open-back headphones with good battery life and decent audio reproduction. Due to their open-back design, they are best used for listening to music in a quiet room.

The Grado GW100 look similar to the Grado SR80e, featuring a retro design with circular ear cups and a slim headband. While limited in functions, the on-cup control scheme is decent, with the responsive buttons providing good tactile feedback. They are better-built than the Grado SR80e, but their build quality is disappointing for a pair of headphones selling for over $200.

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