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Finest over-ear headphones for 2020: Sony, Bose and extra

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Headphones are available all types of sizes and shapes, however in case you’re a real audiophile searching for the perfect sound, you may wish to take into account full-size around-ear or over-ear headphones slightly than going the earbud route. Up to now, this record would have included many wired headphones. However today, extra shoppers are likely to desire wi-fi headphones, so most — however not all — of the over-ear headphone fashions on this record are wi-fi and have lively noise-canceling expertise to drown out ambient sound.

So, with apologies to audio purists (however not likely, as a result of these all provide nice sound high quality and a top-notch listening expertise with out tethering you by an audio cable), here is a take a look at our present prime picks for finest over ear headphones. We thought of elements like battery life, noise isolation, and the consolation of the ear cup (in addition to audio high quality, after all), and we’ll replace this record recurrently as we evaluate new merchandise.

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Sony’s WH-1000XM3, the third era of Sony’s glorious wi-fi noise-canceling headphones, has a extra snug match (the adjustable headband helps enormously, and the ear pads are very soft) and options even higher headphones sound and music efficiency than its predecessor. Battery life is essential, and with a robust battery life, it is at present our top-rated audio headphone with noise cancellation, edging out background noise and the Bose headphones on some key factors.

We get that these are among the many dearer headphones, however for folks trying to make an funding in high quality, these are actually good earphones to spend your cash on. 

Learn our Sony WH-1000XM3 evaluate.


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Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to its QuietComfort 35 II fashions, might not be a quantum leap ahead, however they provide barely higher sound, name and noise cancellation high quality for an optimum listening expertise. Alas, these Bose headphones value $400, however they are a robust all-around audio performer with as much as 20 hours of battery life on a single cost. That is plenty of battery life!

Learn our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 evaluate.

Sarah Tew/CNET

V-Moda’s M-200 is a wired-only headphone and one of many few wired over-ear headphones on this record. Launched in late 2019, these clear and detailed sounding over-ear headphones have nice sound and glorious bass response, and the soft ear cups imply they’re additionally snug to put on. That includes 50mm drivers with neodymium magnets, CCAW voice coils and fine-tuning by Roland engineers — V-Moda is now owned by Roland — the M‑200 is Hello‑Res Audio-certified by the Japan Audio Society. Different V-Moda earphones are likely to push the bass a little bit, however this has the extra impartial sound profile that you simply’d anticipate from a studio monitor headphone. These studio-quality headphones include two cords, one among which has a built-in microphone for making calls. It might be useful if V-Moda supplied Lightning or USB-C headphone cables for smartphone customers.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With regards to premium noise-canceling headphones, Bose and Sony have been the dominant sound gamers over the previous few years. However now Sennheiser has turned up with its new Momentum three Wi-fi and it deserves some consideration, significantly from of us who’re followers of the Momentum line. It is in the stores now for $309 — even lower than Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

Not solely does it function enhanced audio high quality with improved noise-canceling options (goodbye, exterior noise) and glorious sound and audio for listening to music, however it additionally performs effectively as a headset for making calls in your iPhone or Android. Whereas its noise cancellation and luxury degree does not fairly measure as much as the noise cancellation and luxury of Sony WH-1000XM3’s, it has effectively padded ear cups lined with sheep leather-based and I had no bother rocking it for a two-hour music listening session, to say nothing of the battery life.

Learn our Sennheiser Momentum three first take.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Whereas its noise canceling and luxury aren’t fairly on par with competing fashions from Bose and Sony, JBL’s Reside 650BTNC measures up effectively by way of sound — the perfect over ear headphones in case you do not wish to spend various hundred {dollars}. The listening expertise continues to be excellent, the ear pads are snug and little or no ambient noise leaks via. These over-ear headphones are value contemplating in case you do not wish to spend $300 or extra on noise-canceling headphones. We just like the sound of that.

Learn our JBL Reside 650BTNC evaluate.

David Carnoy/CNET

I favored Bowers & Wilkins’ unique PX noise-canceling over-ear headphones, however they had been barely missing within the consolation and noise-canceling departments. The corporate’s new PX7, launched within the fall of 2019, improves on each fronts, with glorious sound, 4 noise-canceling settings (Automated, Low, Excessive and Off) and a effectively padded ear cushion in a sturdy, eye-catching design. There’s additionally an adjustable ambient “transparency” mode that lets you hear the surface world.

The headphones are a tad heavy at 10.7 ounces (304 grams), however the construct high quality is top-notch — and it higher be, contemplating these are a little bit expensive at $400. Bowers & Wilkins additionally makes a extra compact on-ear mannequin, the PX5, which prices $100 much less and can also be fairly good. However this mannequin does sound a little bit higher.  

The sound is wealthy and detailed with deep bass that continues to be effectively outlined even at excessive volumes. This can be a fairly dynamic headphone, with a contact of additional power within the mid-highs. It isn’t laid-back like the sooner PX5 Wi-fi and its most direct competitor might be the Sennheiser Momentum three above. That Sennheiser is arguably superior for making calls, however this B&W in all probability wins on design. 

These Bluetooth headphones assist AAC and aptX, use Bluetooth 5.0, cost by way of USB-C and have as much as 30 hours of battery life at average quantity ranges. Its noise canceling is not fairly on the degree of the Bose or Sony, however it’s not far off — as I stated, it is improved from the unique PX’s noise canceling.  

Sarah Tew/CNET

When Jabra first introduced its new Elite 85h ($300, £280) over-ear headphones, it touted how it could be outfitted with always-on (hands-free) voice assistant management utilizing Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. Alas, that function did not make it into the ultimate product — apparently it affected battery life an excessive amount of, and battery life is important — however the Elite 85h is nonetheless a wonderful noise-canceling headphone that makes music and different audio sound good. It is snug to put on and in addition works effectively as a headset for making calls — essential for over-ear headphones.

Learn our Jabra Elite 85h evaluate.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Launched method again in 1991, the Sony MDR-7506 has lengthy been a favourite headphone of recording engineers and different sound professionals (sure, this can be a wired headphone). The origins of its design date even additional again, for the reason that MDR-7506 is, in actual fact, a refresh of the Sony MDR-V6 that rolled out in 1985. Each fashions had been designed for the professional sound market, however stay massively standard with shoppers.

Whereas the 2 headphones have the identical design and are very snug, they do not sound similar. Each provide very well-balanced sound and glorious readability for his or her modest costs — and each are nice general values. However the V6 makes a little bit extra bass and sounds extra laid-back and mellow, whereas the 7506 is leaner with a extra accentuated treble vary, which makes it a little bit crisper and livelier.

Learn our Sony MDR 7506 evaluate.

Sarah Tew

One other audiophile favourite, Grado’s Status Collection SR325e has been round for some time — we reviewed these over-ear headphones again in 2014. It is an open-back wired mannequin, which implies it leaks sound (do not use it in an open-office surroundings), however it delivers a few of the most open, detailed sound you may discover at this value. 

Grado, which relies in Brooklyn, New York, and builds most of its merchandise there, has not modified the enduring exterior design of the headphones and like its SR325 predecessors (the earlier mannequin was the SR325i), his mannequin has the identical agency, bowl-shaped foam pads that apply a little bit extra stress to the outer edges of your ears than the extra easy foam pads of the step-down SR80e, that are arguably extra snug. The SR80e headphones are considerably lighter, however not of the identical construct high quality because the SR325e mannequin. Some folks like Grado’s earpads (they’re user-replaceable), however general we might say this mannequin’s consolation degree is not as much as the extent of its sound high quality: Consolation is sweet however not nice.

Learn our Grado Status Collection SR325e evaluate.

Amazon

Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay H9 does not get talked about a lot within the dialogue of prime noise-canceling headphones as a result of at $500, it is a actually expensive pair of headphones. The most recent third-generation model has been upgraded in a couple of vital ways in which make it higher than the sooner H9i. Battery life for this model has improved over the earlier model to 25 hours, there’s now a devoted button on your voice assistant, the padding on the ear cushions and headband is cushier and the contact controls have been tweaked. The sound continues to be good.

Some folks, significantly weightlifters, wish to work out in full-size headphones, and the BackBeat Match 6100 over-the-ear wi-fi headphones are a really strong selection for each the gymnasium and on a regular basis use. The adjustable sport-fit headband has an IPX5-rated waterproof and sweat-proof design, 40mm angled drivers and noise-isolating ear cups with an “Consciousness” mode. Battery life is rated at 24 hours. They sound fairly good and actually keep in your head securely — you possibly can modify the stress within the headband, which is progressive and supreme for train headphones. 

They’re a little bit costly at their record value of $180, however typically the worth dips nearer to $100. They’re accessible in black, camo and grey.

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