The Best Over Ear Headphones Under $500

Over-ear headphones – they’re excellent for private listening while being exceptionally comfortable. But with a market flooded by over-ear headphone options, where should you begin? We’ve got your covered with some picks for the best over ear headphones, which include both wired and wireless options.


1. Editor’s Pick: Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony WH-1000XM3

The Sony WH-1000XM3 contains a dedicated HD Noise Canceling Processor and close-fitting ear pads, for silence similar to what you’d experience inside your own home, even on the go. The noise cancellation is automatically adjusted via Sony’s Adaptive Sound Control, which detects how much noise there is around you, and Quick Attention allows you to rapidly turn the feature off to participate in conversations.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 also features LDAC transference of sound for excellent high-audio experiences, and a Unique Atmospheric Pressure Optimizing feature to sound great at high altitudes. The headphones also feature voice assist in the form of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa accessible through the app, as well as easy-to-use touch features. The Sony WH-1000XM3 can be connected to your audio source with a cable.

Sony has hit an absolute home run with the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones,” says Headphone Review. “They look great, are very comfortable, offer excellent noise cancellation, and sound good too.” CNET agrees, adding the Sony WH-1000XM3 is “excellent-sounding” and “is more comfortable and 20 percent lighter than its predecessor.” Sound Guys point out that while the headphones are a little more expensive, a “really good set of active noise canceling headphones is worth its weight in gold, and the Sony WH-1000XM3 is among the best out there.”


2. Sony MDR-1AM2

Sony MDR-1AM2

The Sony MDR-1AM2 has a specified frequency response extending up to 100 kHz. Humans can’t hear that, but it gives them the ability to cleanly reproduce high-res audio with ease, and sound great while doing it. The closed-back, over ear design ensures your listening remains private, even in public spaces. The Sony MDR-1AM2 are wired headphones, though with their adjustable headband and folding earcups, they still maintain a very easy-to-travel-with quality. The headphones also include an in-line remote and microphone, both of which are compatible with Android and Apple devices.


3. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II feature compatibility with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, as well as Bose AR. The AR technology interfaces with fellow Bose products to give you beyond typical noise-cancelling headphones. The Bose QuietComfort 35 II allows users to choose exactly how much noise cancellation is employed in any given situation, while the headphones’ overall performance can be adjusted via the Bose mobile app or the headphones’ action button. The Bose QuietComfort 35 II can be connected to your audio source with a cable.

What HiFi praises the Bose QuietComfort 35 II as “the smartest pair of headphones around at the moment”, adding their functionality is something “rivals simply cannot match.” CNET says while Bose QuietComfort 35 owners may not need to upgrade, “the addition of a dedicated Google Assistant button gives the already excellent wireless noise-canceling headphone an extra bit of personality.” Sound Guys makes more mention of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II’s features, saying “the music sounds fine, but what you’re really paying for is all of the cool new features.”


4. Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 are a step up from previous iterations, namely that they feature larger earcups and sleeker headband for a much more comfortable listen. A listen, we might add, that will blow you away. Unlike their predecessors, the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 features a foldable design that allows for easy transportation. The headphones also feature an in-line microphone for phone calls with both Android and Apple products, though these are two separate models. So choose carefully.

What HiFi cites the headphones as What Hi-Fi? Award winners, saying the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0. Have “retained their looks, but now boast extra portability and improved sound quality.” CNET focuses more on their comfortability, saying the headphones “offers more spacious and softer earcups, making it a more comfortable headphone. It offers excellent, refined sound, high-end build quality, and a new folding design.” Trusted Reviews addresses the fact that the headphones’ predecessor weren’t exactly lauded as comfortable, saying “The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 fix this by using significantly larger cups and pads. Even if you have fairly large ears, the pads should surround them without resting on them like a giant doberman who just won’t get off your lap.”


5. Shure SRH1540

Shure SRH1540

The Shure SRH1540 are a closed-back pair of headphones which provide listeners with an expansive soundstage. The Shure SRH1540 are incredibly light thanks to its aluminum alloy and carbon fiber construction, and sit comfortably over your ears while isolating noise with their Alcantara ear pads. The headphones come with a storage case, replacement set of Alcantara ear pads, replacement cable, and threaded adapter.

What HiFi praises the Shure SRH1540’s sonic palette, saying its “broad sonic presentation serves up a nice spread that’s easy on the ears, and their balance never leans either side of neutral.” PC Mag takes a little more of an analytical approach, citing the Shure SRH1540 as “an excellent tool for both analyzing a mix and critical listening. They present almost zero embellishment, and are a purist’s dream.” Digital Trends calls the headphones “the point of diminishing returns in headphone fidelity, and they are unparalleled in terms of comfort,” while later adding “money can and should be saved for something this sweet.”


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