They’re big, stylish and noise-cancelling – over-ear headphones are currently on the rise. Gen-Zs are seen sporting these chic over-ear audio devices, in lieu of discrete earbuds, continuing the ongoing revival of 2000s fashion trends. But, they're more than just a fashion accessory. Curious trendsetters who picked up an old-school pair to elevate their outfits, soon realised how instrumental these headphones were in boosting their productivity, too.
Why should I buy over-ear headphones?
No one can deny the ability of over-ear cans to tune out the world. They engulf the ears and create an ambient noise barrier by design - unlike on-ear headphones that sit directly on the ear shell.
Reza Moradi, audiovisual producer and instructor at Canadian University Dubai with over 10 years of experience, told Gulf News: "Over-ear headphones cancel a good amount of surrounding noise compare to on-ear cans, and if they come with noise cancellation technology, they perform the best among all the headphones".
Their large form factor, including the driver, helps them deliver "a clear, full-range frequency", from low and mid to high frequencies. Moradi added: "That's why you can see that they are being used in helicopters or airplanes, remixing or DJ-ing, and gaming."
Which over-ear headphones are worth it?
According to our expert, here are some essential features to look for in a pair of over-ear headphones: wireless and wired connectivity, minimum of 20-hour battery, a USB-C charging port, adjustable arms and, of course, noise-cancellation. "Headphones [with active noise cancellation] do cancel a good amount of noise; I would say up to 97 per cent," said Moradi.
Watch a TV show in the busiest room in your university or work in a crowded café with a pair on to muffle ambient distractions. We went ahead and compiled the best-rated over-ear headphones on Amazon, featuring Moradi's number-one pick. You can also browse our lists of best headphones for children and gamers. Now's the time to splurge, with discounts on wireless headsets.
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1. Best Overall: Shure AONIC 40 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, Black
- Three levels of active noise cancellation
- Comfortable to wear for hours, per reviews
- Dual connectivity with Bluetooth and audio cable
- 25-hour battery life and fast charging
- Comes in a sleek protective case
- Headband can be wide and bulky for some
An industry favourite, the Shure AONIC 40 is Moradi's best choice for delivering studio-quality sound, long 25-hour battery life and adjustable noise cancellation. This pair is lightweight and durable, crafted with glass-filled nylon and aircraft-grade aluminium alloy. But, despite the premium build, they're made for on-the-go listening, with a collapsible design and a protective carrying case. You can listen to the outside world with just the press of a button to activate the Environment Mode. Only 15 minutes of charge will buy you five hours of play time and audio calls. With the included 3.5mm audio cable, the headphones can be plugged into any device, like flight entertainment systems. Audiophiles in the reviews praise the excellent sound quality and comfort.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh83.25 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh57 and two years for Dh94.
2. Best for Work and Play: Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
- Minimalistic design
- HD noise-cancelling processor with eight mics
- Music stops when wearer speaks or takes off the headphones
- 30-hour battery life
- Voice assistant compatible
- Maximum volume is low for some reviewers
- Case is bulky
Touted as the best affordable alternative to AirPods Max on the internet, Sony's WH-1000XM5 headphones are viral for their attractive matte design, padded headband and smart noise cancellation. Coming in silver and black, the headphones boast pressure-relieving ear cans that have eight built-in microphones to capture ambient noise and then cancel them out. The same technology automatically stops the music once you start conversing with someone, allowing for an advanced hands-free experience. You can even command Google or Alexa to control the noise cancellation, change music or join a work meeting, with these on. With 30 hours of playback, you’re getting the most out of a single charge. The pair comes with a cable for wired use, too. Reviewers attest to the noise isolation, but do note how users should tweak the audio equaliser for the best sound results.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh93.17 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh69 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh113.
3. Best for iOS Users: Apple AirPods Max
- Seamless integration with Apple devices
- Ability to switch off noise-cancelling mode
- Comfortable mesh headband
- Music stops when wearer takes off the headphones
- 20 hours of playback; case preserves battery
- Heavy cans
- No wired option
Designed especially for users with an existing Apple ecosystem, the AirPods Max are the tech brand’s very own active noise-cancelling headphones. If you frequent Apple Music a lot, this pair enhances your favourite songs to a theatre-like clarity. It also stands out for its breathable knit mesh headband, which distributes the weight of the bulky accessory sitting on your head. AirPods Max employ six outward-facing microphones to capture ambient sounds and two inward-facing ones to listen to your audio. In case the headphones cancel noise too well, you can always opt out by activating the transparency mode. Buyers love the open soundscape and how all frequencies, from low to high, are balanced. Over at TikTok, multiple users under the '#airpodsmax' hashtag note how the pair is heavy, so it's not the best option for a run or extended periods of play time.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh166.58 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh114 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh188.
4. Best Comfort: Bose QuietComfort 45 Headphones
- Four mics for noise-free calls
- Ability to switch off noise-cancelling mode
- Up to 24 hours of playback
- Lightweight at 240 grams
- Wired option
- Reviews say audio quality could be better
- Not enough bass
Pick your preferred level of noise-cancellation with Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones. These over-ears are an upgrade from the previous model QC 35 – you get plush leather headband and ear cushions, better noise-rejection technology and longer battery life. Six microphones work hard to capture and cancel surround sound in crowded areas, four of which also focus on your voice to improve call quality. Listen uninterrupted even if you’re nine metres away from the paired device – you can pair up to two at once! The headphones last up to 24 hours on a single charge and can be wired when they run out of juice, too. Reviewers say the Bose app does a good job of keeping the equaliser controls simple. And, of course, true to the headphones' name, the comfort is unrivaled.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh104.85 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh74 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh122.
5. Best Budget for Bass: Skullcandy Crusher Evo Wireless Headphones
- Powerful bass
- 40 hours of battery life; 10 minutes of charge gives four hours of playback
- Can be used wired
- Good grip during workouts
- No active noise cancellation
Calling all ‘bassheads’: Skullcandy Crusher Evo headphones deliver a brain-tingling experience, to the point that they visibly vibrate when the bass slider is maxed out. Though they don’t actively cancel noise, reviewers say you can enjoy some cancellation thanks to its sealing earcups. You’re getting 40 hours of battery life, high audio quality, incredible bass levels and clean design. These even stay on during high-intensive exercises at the gym, according to buyers.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh58.25 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh40 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh66.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.