On Ear vs Over Ear

On-Ear vs Over-Ear Headphones (Comparison & Guide)

If you’re in the market for a new pair of headphones, you might be trying to decide between on-ear vs over-ear options. You’ll need to understand what the differences are between these two styles of headphones. The advantages each type offers will impact their comfort and performance.

In this article, I’ll compare on-ear vs over-ear headphones, exploring the differences and highlighting how each style performs in terms of comfort, music quality, price, and style.

Let’s get right into it.

Over-Ear Headphones

Over-ear headphones tend to be the favorite of people who want to experience the best of their music. In general, the most comfortable headphones and headphones with the highest sound quality tend to be over ear models.


Performance: Over-ear headphones have the largest drivers of all the headphone types. As a result, they tend to have the best range of frequencies, giving you the best music listening experience. The fact that over-ear headphones completely cover your ears also creates a better noise isolation experience than other kinds of headphones, making the sound even better.

Comfort: The most comfortable headphones on the market tend to be over-ear headphones. The ear cups cover your entire ear, making it less likely that you will end up with soreness. It’s true, however, that some more expensive headphones are quite heavy. This is one reason why you should look for headphones that have a padded headband. Also ensure that they have thick ear pads that are made of a breathable material. It’s important to find cups with breathable materials, especially if you plan to wear your headset for extended periods.


Can be heavy: As mentioned earlier, over-ear headphones can be quite heavy. This can make them tricky to wear for longer periods if you don’t have a padded band and cushiony ear pads. The reason why high-quality over-ear headphones tend to be heavy is because of all the internal components and the superior materials that are used.

Not very portable: If you want your over-ear headphones to be portable, you will have to get a model that you can fold up. They should also come with a travel case, so you can prevent your headphones from getting damaged.

On-Ear Headphones

Over-ear headphones tend to be the best for the most serious music listeners. However, on-ear headphones have great features that might make them a better choice for you. On-ear headphones have earpieces that are positioned against your ears and don’t completely cover them. These headphones seek to bring you some of the features of over-ear headphones while giving you the benefit of portability.


Portable: Most of the on-ear headphones you will find on the market are made specifically to be portable. They have smaller ear cups and there are even types available that are foldable. This makes them easy to bring with you when you are on the go. If you invest in more expensive on-ear headphones, you should put them in a case when you bring them along with you. You will end up damaging them if you just put them loose in a bag.

Comfort: Whether you find over-ear or on-ear headphones more comfortable will depend on your personal needs and preferences. If you find over-ear headphones too hot to wear for extended periods of time, you may prefer on-ear headphones. That is because on-ear headphones don’t cover the entire ear.


Potential irritation: If you tend to have sensitive skin, you should be aware that on-ear headphones can sometimes cause irritation to the outside of your ears.

Sound quality: While some on-ear headphones can have excellent sound quality, it is difficult for them to be comparable to the best over-ear headphones. Also, as on-ear headphones don’t cover the whole ear, the noise isolation isn’t as good as over-ear headphones. On-ear headphones have smaller drivers than over-ear headphones, meaning is difficult for them to compete with sound quality. They aren’t able to deliver such a wide range of frequencies. However, they are certainly better than in-ear earphones. Therefore, on-ear headphones can be a good compromise between the portability, convenience, and sound quality of different headphones.

Bluetooth Headphones

If you are planning to get headphones with Bluetooth connectivity, ensure that the device you will be using also has Bluetooth. You will only get the benefits of headphones that have Bluetooth 5.0 if your device supports Bluetooth 5.0. If you don’t, the Bluetooth headphones should still work, but you will not get the full features.

Huge advancements that have been made in Bluetooth and wireless technologies over the last few years. However, consumers who want the absolute best listening experience with their headphones tend to use wired models. If you want the convenience and portability of Bluetooth, you should make sure to do research and check out reviews on the sound quality. If you are investing in a relatively expensive pair of high quality or premium headphones, this is especially important.

On-Ear vs Over-Ear Depends on Your Preferences and Needs

As we’ve seen here, over-ear and on-ear headphones both have pros and cons. The type you choose should depend on what you want and need in a headset. If portability if the most important feature for you, on-ear headphones may well be your best option. If on the other hand it’s superior sound quality you’re after, over-ear headphones are probably the headphones for you.