Embodying the classic design generally associated with headphones, the over- or on-ear versions offer complete comfort, significantly larger drivers (speakers) for better sound and, in some cases, noise cancellation to take you away from the hustle and bustle of life.
The following are our picks offering quality and reliable performance.
If you’re talking design, the Bose 700s are the crème de la crème. Sleek and smooth lines, the soft touch silicone material that cover the ear cups and headband scream luxe. But it doesn’t just end on aesthetics – the touch control technology is second to none and amongst the best we’ve tested, with excellent response whether it’s raising or lowering the volume, skipping a track forward or engaging with the voice assistant control that supports Alexa and Google Assistant. There are 11 levels of noise cancelling, from full blocking and opening the door to full ambient sound. The 700s are rounded off with 20 hours of battery life and exceptional precise sound performance.
Entry level wireless headphones don’t have to mean a compromise on sound. These Pioneer on-ears have generous 40mm drivers, so you’ll be sure to catch all the bottom end of today’s chart topping hits. Pioneer has opted for a round rather than oval shape, which provides ample deep housing for acoustic formation. You will get up to 25 hours of continuous playback, with a 10 minute quick charge enabling an impressive four more hours of play time. A single button handles playback, hands-free calls and voice assistance. Users can also pair the S3 with two devices, so you can monitor calls on your phone while enjoying music from your laptop or tablet.
Melbourne-based Nura has designed a pair of headphones that combine both in- and on-ear headphones in one unit. The cups themselves have a soft gel earbud protrusion that fit neatly and comfortably right into your ear canal. Are you looking for deep audio customisation in your headphones? You’ve found it. Once connected via Bluetooth, the Nura app, through audio tests, learns how your ear listens to music and then offers a suite of options to personalise your very own hearing profile – get the music exactly how you want it. The Nuraphones also come with effective active noise cancellation (ANC) that can be deactivated using a toggle so you can hear your surroundings.
Sony WH-CH 710N
If you want distraction-free listening on the go, you should give these on-ear headphones a try. The battery holds 30 hours on a full charge, with a quick charge feature providing one-hour battery life after only ten minutes of charge time. On the right earcup you will find the multifunction control for voice assistance and ambient sound mode if you want to take in your surrounds. The oval earpads are comfortable, and the light all-plastic body means weight won’t be much of a factor, even though it packs a 30mm driver for great bottom end response. Complete with noise cancelling technology, the swivel design enables the headphones to be packed flat.
Audio-Technica’s 900BT iteration of A-T’s wireless, noise cancelling headphones are first-rate from several angles. They utilise a digital hybrid noise cancelling tech – which ensures mighty ambient sound reduction – and there are touch and swipe controls built into the earcup. The earpads have been lovingly crafted from memory foam! Powerful 40mm drivers deliver superb audio reproduction, a switchable hear-through function allows you to quickly tap out of your musical reverie and into real-life conversation with ease, and a neat fold-flat design means portability is a cinch.
Sony WH1000 XM3
If primo noise cancellation is the road you wish to tread, pump up your kicks for the WH1000 XM3s as these are a great choice when it comes to weeding out every bit of ambient sound that wants to infiltrate your listening experience and spoil it. These over-ear beauties feature Sony’s new HD QN1 processor, which is four times more effective than its predecessor, while new Adaptive Sound Control and Atmospheric Pressure Optimisation automatically adjust noise cancelling and ambient sound based on your activity. There’s also the infinitely clever and easy-to-activate Quick Attention tech: just cover the right cup with your hand, and the volume instantly drops to allow you to interact with the world.
Bose’s already incredible QuietComfort wireless over-ear headphones have been given a top-notch upgrade: they now come with Google Assistant built right in, so you don’t have to clap eyes on your phone to kick all your digital goals. Simply press and hold the Action button, and get yapping. In addition, Bose’s acoustic noise cancelling technology is right up there with Sony’s: it incessantly measures, compares and reacts to the hubbub outside your head, then reacts with the opposite signal. A quick 15-minute charge will give you 2.5 hours of play, but you can charge these corrosion-resistant but soft-as-butter headphones up to 20 hours.