On-Ear headphones offer a more compact design than over-ear models and have smaller ear cups that rest on the ears instead of around them (read our article about Over-Ear vs On-Ear headphones). They're usually easy to wear but can apply a lot of pressure on the ears. Below are our recommendations for the best on-ear headphones we have tested so far.
Best On-Ear Headphones
The best on-ear headphones are the Beats Solo 3 Wireless. Design wise, they are almost identical to the Solo 2, but they have a better-balanced sound quality that’s good for both casual and critical listeners. If you’re looking for a well-rounded pair of headphones to use every day and like the look of the Solo 2, then upgrade to the Solo 3. They have solid build quality, an excellent battery life and they’re decently portable. They can be a bit tight on the head and lack isolation for really noisy environments, but they’re comfortable and stable enough to take to the gym.
If you prefer a classier looking pair of headphones that you do not plan to use at the gym, then get the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless. They do not sound as good but they still deliver a sufficiently balanced audio reproduction that should please most listeners. They’re also built with premium materials that give the headphones a durable yet luxurious appeal that’s decently portable but doesn’t fold like the Solo3. On the upside, they have an excellent battery life.
Best Mid Range On-Ear Headphones
Most on-ears headphones are a bit tight on the head which causes fatigue when using them for a while. However, the Bose SoundLink On-Ear are one of the most comfortable on-ear headphones we’ve reviewed so far. If comfort is a big priority for you, then get the Soundlink On-ear. They’re simple to use and easy to pair with your Bluetooth devices. They won’t be ideal for loud, noisy environments, but they have an above-average sound that should satisfy most listeners.
The Marshall Major II are much cheaper than the SoundLink OE, but they’re also wired and less practical for most use cases. If you want a good audio reproduction and don’t want to spend as much as you would for the headphones higher on this list, then the Major II are a suitable mid-range option. They feel a bit flimsy, but they're decently comfortable, portable and stable.
Best Budget On-Ear Headphones
If you want a budget option for on-ear headphones, then get the Sennheiser HD 202 II. Like the Marshall Major II, they’re wired, passive, headphones that are not the most suitable for loud, noisy environments or varied use cases. They do one thing well, and that’s sound. They have an above average audio reproduction that’s balanced enough for most listeners.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best On-Ear headphones to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
A few examples of On-Ear headphones that didn't make the cut:
Momentum 2.0 On-Ear. Sturdy and durable for an on-ear design. Decent sound quality but struggles in loud environments and they're a bit leaky. See our review
Bowers & Wilkins P5 S2. The wired version of the P5. Great build and sound quality but not the most comfortable fit for everyone. See our review
- Samsung Level On Wireless. Good versatile headphones with an above average sound but a flimsy build and weak isolation. See our review
- Grado SR60e. Good and open audio reproduction. Leaky and the audio quality suffers in loud environments due to the open design. See our review
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for on-ear headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference and listening habits will matter more in your selection.