On-ear headphones accept appear a continued way aback their flimsy, ’80s-style Walkman days. Now, with big names — anticipate Beats, Bang & Olufsen and Skullcandy — authoritative a bulk of affection accessories that bang some austere complete quality, the acreage has blossomed into one accomplished with choice.
So we’ve cut out the assumption and begin the best on-ear headphones on the bazaar — in agreement of complete quality, comfort, architecture and value. Afterwards poring through abundant able reviews, blockage out the best accepted brands and application our adeptness of the headphones market, we absitively on a basin of eight on-ear headphones to put to the test, alignment from $40 to $400. We activated aloft six categories, including complete quality, abundance and array life.
Over the advance of a few months, we spent added than a anniversary with anniversary pair. And afterwards a fair allotment of head-bopping playlists and too abounding drained batteries to count, we acclimatized on three standouts. As is consistently our aim, we capital to ensure the headphones we highlight actuality accommodate the best bulk in agreement of affection aloft all categories. In our testing, we begin that while the sub-$100 headphones accept highlights in one or two areas, none of them accommodate the all-embracing affection we were adorable for, and accordingly we anticipate you’re bigger off spending a bit added for some absolutely abundant on-ear headphones. Actuality are the three that shone in our testing:
The Beats Solo 3s are a astounding brace of on-ear headphones. Their complete affection was amid the top of those we tested, pumping out absolutely bright vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the ascendancy arrangement too, demography the anatomy of buttons in a annular agreement that alloy seamlessly into the larboard ear cup design. They are additionally light, adequate and are no slouch in the looks administration — added than you’d apprehend accustomed their reasonable $199.95 bulk tag.
For an added $100, the Bowers & Wilkins PX5s additionally accept agitating complete affection and absolutely flash with their deep, acceptable bass. But, best importantly, they additionally accommodate able noise-canceling abilities, a affection absent in our all-embracing pick. They’re fabricated of affection abstracts and accept a admirable array life, and the abandoned agency that kept them from bit-by-bit up into our top atom was their somewhat aerial bulk of $298.98.
We wouldn’t commonly highlight headphones with such an absonant price, but the $400 Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8is action some almighty adequate touches that we capital to point out for those accommodating to splurge. Amid them: a cowhide chaplet and adequate lambskin ear cups forth with accomplished complete affection and ANC. If your annual allows, these are annual considering.
The Exhausted Solo 3s were appear aback in 2016, which in headphones years agency they’re basically alive their aureate years. But admitting their age, they consistently captivated their own during our testing. They were about abutting with headphones alert their price, if not apace before them.
The Solo 3s produced complete you’d apprehend from a abundant added big-ticket brace of headphones. Instrumental and articulate accuracy were amid the best we’ve heard. The drums, saxophone and synthesizers of “Jazz Crimes” by Joshua Redman came through with amazing clarity. Every boom exhausted popped, alike during the song’s busier moments with assorted instruments arena simultaneously. During “Your Best American Girl,” you adeptness affirm you were in the recording collapsed with Mitski as she sang and strummed the guitar.
The Solo 3s put on absolutely a achievement aback it came time to accompany the bass, absolutely besting their successors, the Beats Solo Pros. “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish had lots of abyss as able-bodied as a nice concrete bang to the audio. And while the PX5s and H8is topped the Solo 3s in this category, the array were actual abutting — primarily advancing bottomward to differences in their all-embracing intensity. This was best credible during “Modern Jesus” by Portugal. The Man, which relies added on attenuate bass with a abundant bang rather than abyss alone. Still, the Solo 3s provided bass we could bedrock out to. Their achievement was abutting abaft that of the PX5s and H8is, admitting costing abundant less.
These headphones accommodate an aesthetic faculty of 3D sound, too. We could acquaint absolutely breadth the instruments were in amplitude while alert to “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen. The acquaintance fabricated us feel as if we were on date with him, and his articulation rang out with appropriately absorbing resonance. Never did a song feel bedfast or beneath its advised quality. This was accurate alike during the acute saxophone peaks of Joshua Redman’s “Jazz Crimes.” And, as we discussed above, the Solo 3s could handle the almighty abysmal troughs of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” afterwards issue.
These headphones can accomplish and booty calls, so we rang up some bodies to put them to the test, and what we begin was acceptable alarm affection overall. Our recipients about declared us as aural “pretty good,” with reasonable articulate clarity. For comparison, our choir were abundant added deadened during calls with the Bowers & Wilkins PX5s, while the Beoplay H8is calls delivered a hardly college articulation affection than the Beats Solo 3.
The Solo 3s were additionally a breeze to operate. Best of the buttons abide on a cap aloft the larboard ear cup. They are able-bodied dent into the design, with a ample centermost button assuming best functions, including playback, clue skipping, alarm ascendancy and Siri (holding the button bottomward will arouse her). Around this button is a ring; acute in the top increases the volume, and carnality versa on the bottom. The buttons do aftermath a credible exhausted sound, but not abundant to acquisition distracting. The adeptness button is on the adverse cup with a row of LEDs beneath it that announce actual array life. The controls were accessible to learn, and it’s not adamantine to acquisition them with your duke while you’re jamming out.
The artificial alive in these headphones seems abundant — with actual that feels college affection than that acclimated on best of the added accessories we tested, but additionally absolutely lower in affection than the PX5s’ and H8is’ material. The abutting skeleton is metal, but it doesn’t add abundant backpack to the device. Overall, these headphones are abbreviate and light. The ear cups additionally bend in so you can bundle them in the included accustomed case.
Visually, these headphones are arresting aloft all nine colorways (including alive options). The artificial carapace on the chaplet flows continuously adjoin the ear cups, acceptable the annular caps on top of them. The beanbag central the chaplet merges seamlessly with the adjoining artificial as it, too, curves adjoin the ear cups. Admitting there’s not abundant cushioning to allege of, the accessory manages to be actual comfortable. Not abandoned are the ear cup cushions high-quality, but the headphones are additionally abandoned about 7.5 ounces, so the accessory doesn’t put abundant burden on your head.
Behind the adorableness and adeptness of the Solo 3s is an appropriately abundant battery: The Beats Solo 3 are able of a little added than 40 hours of playback. That, in a word, is bonkers — you’ll rarely accept to bung these in. And bigger yet, they affection a quick allegation that’ll accord you three hours of array activity from aloof a five-minute charge.
As we mentioned above, the Beats Solo 3 are rather old, accepting debuted aback in 2016. The Bowers & Wilkins PX5s, on the added hand, were appear in 2019, and the Beoplay H8is came out in 2018. Alike so, it’s bright these headphones are still up to snuff. They additionally still accommodate Apple’s H1 chip, which admiral AirPods (just not AirPods Pro) to this day and provides cool fast Bluetooth pairing. Furthermore, Apple offers a one-year warranty, additional two years and two incidents of adventitious accident coverage, with AppleCare .
By the time we were done with the Beats Solo 3, we had alike added annual for Beats. They’re able of audio affection like few others, comfortable, and absolutely accessible on the eyes. Alike afterwards ANC, these headphones denticulate on top of our list, admirable of the appellation of best on-ear headphones. At $199.95 (and about on auction for less), this brace continues to bear the analysis of time.
We had a abundant time with the Bowers & Wilkins PX5s. They look, feel and complete professional, accomplishing able-bodied or best on about every analysis we threw at them. And while they were surpassed by the Beats Solo 3 in agreement of abundance and best audio affection measures, they accept a glassy ascendancy arrangement and hardly bigger bass. And of course, these headphones affection abundant ANC.
The Bowers & Wilkins headphones aftermath ample complete quality. Instrumentals and vocals had aberrant clarity. Circuitous applesauce pieces such as “Jazz Crimes” by Joshua Redman showed off this affection with accurate saxophone playback and brittle boom medleys. And during “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish, it acquainted like she was whispering appropriate in our ear, while a abysmal and befuddled bass fabricated it absurd not to head-bob.
Listening to “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen absolutely provided a faculty of 3D sound. The positions of instruments are absolutely represented, and feel as if they’re surrounding you in absolute space. Bruce’s articulation comes out bright as day, too. We did ascertain some minute overcompression, which hardly aerial higher-pitched notes. For example, during “Jazz Crimes,” the accomplished saxophone peaks are hardly bargain in volume. It’s not abundant to be distracting, but the acute ear will ascertain it. What’s more, the accurate playback and adept bass added than fabricated up for that shortcoming. Overall, the PX5s’ complete affection actual about affiliated that of the added big-ticket Beoplay H8is.
The abandoned absolute able in the armor was alarm quality. Recipients consistently appear a deadened articulation affection advancing through the PX5s microphone, and buzz alarm choir heard through them articulate too loud at times.
The Bowers & Wilkins PX5s additionally delivered able-bodied on ANC. We approved them out with a blatant abrasion apparatus nearby, and they were able to abolish out a acceptable ambit of bass and higher-frequency sounds fabricated by the machine, as able-bodied as abate the casual complete of zippers clanking adjoin the metal machine. Our added analysis circuitous arena a soundtrack of a blatant restaurant army from adjacent speakers. This yielded agnate after-effects — added complete was cut out well, and higher-pitched choir and noises were abject to a acceptable level. The Beoplay H8is accepted able to bedew a added ambit of low-frequency sound, but we were still blessed with the PX5s’ ANC (and it’s annual acquainted that best of the on-ear headphones we activated don’t affection ANC at all).
The annual of these headphones was one of the qualities that set it afar from the others. On the appropriate ear cup, you’ll acquisition a row of three buttons for playback, alarm ascendancy and acute abetment activation (Siri and Google Assistant). The centermost button, which operates best of the device’s functions, is aloft so you can acquaint you’re affecting it afterwards accepting to look. Beneath that is a switch, wherein the boilerplate position turns on the headphones and the extreme position activates Bluetooth pairing. On the larboard ear cup is a button that lets you acclimatize the ANC strength. These are the abandoned headphones on this annual that let you change this. They can additionally be affiliated to assorted accessories at once, a adequacy that the Beats Solo 3 lack. While best of the headphones we activated allotment one or some of these abundant features, the PX5s are the abandoned brace with every distinct one.
Additionally, the Bowers & Wilkins accompaniment app enables ascendancy over a cardinal of the device’s features, like a standby timer, the adeptness to toggle articulation prompts (which acquaint you of, for instance, array affiliated and bond mode) and a cardinal of adequate soundscapes to accept to (we were fractional to the crackling campfire, but others accommodate a babbling brook, a bank beach, and a waterfall).
The PX5s backpack a admirable array accommodation that’ll aftermost you an absolute day. At 20 hours with ANC on and added with the affection angry off, you shouldn’t accept to acknowledgment to an aperture frequently. And aback you do, you’ll adore a agitating quick charge. In aloof 15 minutes, these headphones will accretion bristles hours of array life. So if you forgot to allegation them for a while, you won’t be larboard in blackout for too long.
These headphones are congenital with affection materials, before the Beats Solo 3 in construction. They affection a sleek, athletic chaplet with accessory cushioning inside. The chaplet accoutrements are composed of a thick, high-quality artificial and extend to authority the ear cups, which are ovular with a metal breadth bulging on the alfresco and blubbery cushioning on the inside. Overall, they were adequately comfortable, admitting the ear cups tended to clasp the arch afterwards some time if not adjusted. And admitting the body affection is high, these headphones are on the heftier ancillary at about 9 ounces, so the chaplet was decumbent to applying added pressure.
In short, we had a abundant acquaintance with the Bowers & Wilkins PX5s. Their audio performance, ANC adeptness and body affection are some of the best we’ve credible in on-ear headphones, with a professional, minimalistic architecture that we can’t advice but bore at. If you’re adorable for powerful, attractive, ANC-capable on-ear headphones, and aren’t angry off by the $300 bulk tag, you’ve begin your pair.
The Beoplay H8is had a abstract complete affection aloft what we could accept absurd in a brace of on-ear headphones. Playback of “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen showed off awfully bright vocals and an accurate 3D soundstage. Like the Beats Solo 3s, the H8is could anxiously carbon apparatus positions. Forth with amazing vocals, it’s accessible to abutting your eyes and brainstorm yourself in the performance. The guitar in “Your Best American Girl” by Mitski, for instance, articulate like it was actuality plucked appropriate abutting to us. The H8is additionally performed flawlessly on compression, administration the saxophone peaks in “Jazz Crimes” by Joshua Redman afterwards muting them or authoritative them shrill. Bass was a agnate story; the H8is accept an incomparable ambit of depth, able to comedy the bass in Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” with the clap acuteness advised by the artist.
These headphones outperformed the Beats Solo 3s on bass by a acceptable margin. The aberration was primarily credible in songs with subtler bass than in Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” such as Portugal. The Man’s “Modern Jesus.” The choir takes advantage of bass as a strong, about atmospheric exhausted that the H8is fantastically fulfill. The Solo 3s, on the added hand, accept abundant depth, but not abundant acuteness to accommodate the aforementioned element.
The H8is put out the best alarm affection out of our top picks. Choir articulate conspicuously beneath deadened than they did on competitors. It’s annual acquainted that alarm affection was abandoned hardly bigger than the Solo 3s but far bigger than the muffled, ailing aeroembolism calls on the PX5s.
The Bang & OIufsen app was addition highlight. This accompaniment app provides amazing ascendancy over your accessory and music. You can toggle ANC, analysis array life, angle up Google Assistant to your accessory and more. But best of all, you accept admission to a “mood wheel,” which works like an blaster and enables you to clothier audio settings to bout moods like “relaxed” or “energetic.” Aback you annoyance the affection adjoin “energetic,” for example, the acute and bass are both boosted, while a “commute” preset boosts the bass and “workout” lowers the acute slightly.
The H8is absolutely blew us abroad aback it came to ANC. During both of our tests, these headphones decimated deep, bassy sounds. They were bigger able to aphasiac the boom that accompanies the complete of a blatant abrasion apparatus than the PX5s. Aback we stepped up to the machine, it was adamantine to accept the aberration with them on against off. And aback alert to a complete blow of restaurant army ambient on adjacent speakers, we begin the abysmal dawdling hum of the army was absolutely muted. This is alike bigger achievement than abounding over-ear headphones, which don’t about awning as abounding abysmal frequencies.
The H8is’ volume-reducing accomplishment was appropriately bright to us. This was best credible during the army complete clip, breadth a cacophony of choir was quieted to article added affiliated to a library conversation. Alike the brusque sounds of closing doors and clinking apparatus were no bout for this ANC. By the way, these headphones additionally affection accuracy mode. This affection amplifies adjacent sounds rather than atramentous them so you can tune into your environment.
As the name implies, on-ear headphones blow anon on your ears, which can actualize some appealing afflictive binding afterwards able padding. And, in general, companies assume to accept a difficult time advancing up with a adequate setup. Beoplay succeeded with aerial colors, amalgam abstracts and tech into the H8is that go a continued way adjoin answer their $400 bulk tag. They counterbalance in at aloof 8 ounces, which is ablaze about to headphones of agnate quality, such as the 9-ounce Bowers & Wilkins PX5s.
The ear cups on the H8is are anamnesis cream lined with lambskin, authoritative them abundantly bendable on the aerial — about unnoticeable, in fact, as they abate the burden you adeptness commonly feel from on-ear headphones. The chaplet has adequately adamant cushioning, but the H8is are so failing the bandage artlessly rests calmly on your head. Central is a failing aluminum bar that makes the headphones both ablaze and flexible. Aloft the top of the chaplet is 18-carat cowhide, consistent in a abiding and visually beauteous design. Beige, atramentous and blush are your options for blush on this device. And while the H8is don’t bend up for portability, they do accommodate a accustomed bag.
The controls on these headphones are glassy and intuitive. On the appropriate earcup is a row of three buttons. The centermost button, which controls playback and clue skipping, has a bang so you can differentiate it from the others; the top and basal button ascendancy volume. On the larboard earcup is a about-face that allows you to toggle ANC in one position and accuracy approach in addition — and the about-face doubles as the adeptness button, which we anticipation was a appealing able alliance of controls.
The H8is accommodate a abundant bulk of array life, to boot. With ANC on, they accomplished 30 hours, and exceeded that with ANC off. This is 10 added hours than the PX5s get with ANC on. The abandoned downside was a abridgement of quick charge, which you get with both the Beats Solo 3s (three hours in bristles minutes) and the Bowers & Wilkins PX5s (five hours in 15 minutes).
In the end, the H8is produced bigger complete than the Solo 3s. They are added adequate (thanks to abstracts hardly begin on headphones) and denticulate hardly bigger on bass. And, naturally, they affection ANC while the Beats Solo 3s do not. The kicker, though, was the price. The Beats Solo 3s bear a appealing agnate acquaintance on aloof about every aspect at bisected the price. Still, the Beoplay H8is are a adequate and adequate brace of headphones that booty things to the max. If you can acquiesce the $400 bulk tag, we acclaim them on all accounts.
We put anniversary brace of on-ear headphones through a absolute array of tests. We looked into abundance over time, abstruse every ascendancy and accompaniment app, listened to assorted music genres, activated alive babble abandoning breadth available, put the batteries through their paces and catalogued warranties.
Check out the breakdown of our categories below.
ANC (Active Babble Cancellation)
Each accessory accustomed a account for every subcategory. The accumulated array of anniversary subcategory comprised its corresponding category’s best abeyant score. We didn’t abode abundant accent on ANC, as abounding of the headphones we activated do not abutment this feature. Analysis out our exact point breakdown below.
Notably, these credibility were assigned price-blind. We did not appetite a device’s amount to bent our ratings. Already every point was assigned, we layered in bulk to actuate the bulk that anniversary headphones provided.
Beats Solo Pro ($299.95; amazon.com)
The $299.95 Beats Solo Pros were our runner-up aces for the best noise-canceling headphones. (Read our abounding analysis here.) Of course, ANC isn’t the abandoned breadth area these headphones came through: Their complete affection was terrific, and they accustomed the aforementioned account as the Bowers & Wilkins PX5s. Ultimately, they denticulate beneath the PX5s in bass performance, a subcategory we account appealing critical. Design-wise, the Solo Pros are a masterclass in aesthetics, not to acknowledgment able-bodied built. However, they absent some credibility in comfort, additional their ear cup button controls are actual loud aback pressed, which detracted from our acquaintance with them. So aback we bare abroad ANC as a primary archetype for this guide, the Solo Pros didn’t accomplish the cut.
JLAB Collapsed ANC ($59.99; bestbuy.com)
The $59.99 JLAB Collapsed ANCs were black overall. They had a light, about adequate design, with different wireframe ear cup arms. They additionally action ANC, which, admitting not actual strong, is added than a cardinal of headphones we activated in this lower bulk ambit can boast. Alike the array is absolutely acceptable at over 34 hours of playback afterwards ANC on. The primary affair with these headphones was complete quality. They served up a collapsed complete acquaintance with bare bass.
Skullcandy Riff Wireless ($49.99; amazon.com)
The $49.99 Skullcandy Riffs are a berserk affordable brace of on-ear headphones. They absolutely accommodate acceptable bass, admitting we begin the complete to be ailing compressed. They don’t abutment ANC, the array activity is aloof 12 hours and they feel bargain in both body and comfort. However, we anticipate they accommodate appropriate bulk overall. This is fabricated bigger by their accessible ascendancy arrangement and admirable quick charge. That actuality said, the complete accuracy and body affection accomplish these a ambiguous purchase.
Jabra Move Style Edition ($99.99; amazon.com)
The $99.99 Jabra Move Style Edition denticulate the best amid our annual options. They put out decidedly bright sound, but ache abundantly on bass performance. On top of that, they do not abutment ANC and accept a blah array accommodation of about 14 hours. Their body quality, however, is appealing high, with abundance that rivals added big-ticket accessories — acknowledgment in allotment to belief beneath than 5.5 ounces in total.
Urbanears Plattan 2 Bluetooth ($70; urbanears.com)
The $70 Urbanears Plattan 2 Bluetooth weren’t abundant bigger than the JLAB Collapsed ANCs. They allotment a actual agnate design, but with lower body affection and comfort. And admitting they bear appealing brittle sound, the bass is poor. These headphones do not affection ANC. On the upside, they accept over 30 hours of array life, which is absolutely good. We additionally enjoyed the controls, which took the anatomy of a distinct joystick-like button: Acute the button toggled playback and calls, while affective it left, right, up and bottomward controlled aggregate and clue skipping, respectively.
Read added from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:
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