headphones over-ear vs on-ear - What is the difference?

What is the difference between on-ear, over-ear, and in-ear headphones?

Over the past numerous years, headphones have long past from the red-headed step-child of the audio international to a must-have style accessory. Today, there may be a wider choice of headphones than ever before.

When searching for a brand new pair of headphones, the first component you should decide is whether you are looking for in-ear headphones, on-ear headphones, or over-ear headphones. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

At Audio Advice, we think there is a time and place for every of these forms of headphones. Let’s check every style and speak about how they perform in three primary areas -- portability, comfort, and performance.

On-Ear Headphones

headphones over-ear vs on-ear - What is the difference?

On-ear headphones lay on your ears. They're smaller and lighter than over-ear headphones, making it smooth to carry around. Ambient noise is still audible to a constrained extent. This makes on-ear headphones suitable for domestic use. Even if you ride a motorbike, for example, on-ear headphones are more secure than over-ear headphones, given that the traffic stays audible. Because the ear cup doesn't fall over your ear however rests on it, you won't enjoy burning ears during prolonged use. The headphones will hurt more quickly, for the reason that ear cushions press your ears. I think that an over-ear model is always extra comfortable. Certain materials, such as authentic leather, do make sure that the ache occurs less quickly.


Most on-ear headphones are made with a tour in mind. The earcups are smaller than you may discover on over-ear headphones. Many even fold up for smooth transport. Of course, in case you get a nice pair, you’ll need to discover some that include a hard-shell case to save you adverse them whilst you throw them in your bag.


Again, that is a matter of private preference. On-ear headphones don’t typically get as hot as over-ears can, and that they don’t sit interior your ear canal, which bothers some humans. On the alternative hand, some human beings are greater sensitive, and on-ear headphones can now and again lead to discomfort from the consistent contact together with your ears.


On-ear headphones can’t create a seal the way in-ear and over-ear headphones do, so they typically leave a little to be desired in relation to noise isolation.

The first-rate of the sound itself, in reality, relies upon greater on the product itself than the form of headphone, but on-ear headphones have large drivers than in-ears, that means that in the same best and charge range, they can typically reproduce a wider range of frequencies.

Over-Ear Headphones

headphones over-ear vs on-ear - What is the difference?

Over-ear headphones fall over your ears. As a result, ambient noise is close off and they're first-class to wear on the train, at the office, on the bus, or at the same time as studying. Because the ear cups are lots larger in evaluation to on-ear headphones, over-ear headphones don't in shape your bag as easily. You'll also experience burning ears extra quickly. On the other hand, your ears will not hurt as quickly, since the ear cushions don't at once press your ears, due to the fact the ear cushions do no longer fall at once on your ears. So, if you want to listen to music for an extended time - as an example longer than an hour -, you ought to choose an over-ear model.


While a few over-ear headphones may be folded up and even include a tour case, this isn't always their strong suit. Of all the varieties of headphones we’re discussing today, over-ear headphones are the biggest and least portable.

Instead of occurring a journey and bringing them along, over-ear headphones can deliver you properly from your table or couch.


Wearing a pair of cushty over-ear headphones is like snuggling up with a warm blanket. The outsized ear cups cowl your ear entirely, so that you don’t have to worry about your ears getting sore. Some higher-stop over-ear headphones can get pretty heavy, however, so be sure to look for a couple that has a padded headband, snug pads on the earcups, and doesn’t make you sweat.

Some higher-quit over-ear headphones can get quite heavy due to their fantastic materials and inner components. Be certain to search for a pair that has a padded headband, and comfortable ear cups. The issue to appearance out for right here is whether or no longer they make you sweat all through long listening sessions.


Because they have the most important drivers, high-end over-ear headphones can usually reproduce the widest range of frequencies, from silky easy highs to tight, deep bass. By enclosing your ears completely inside the earcups, over-ear headphones are capable of offering true isolation at the same time as still permitting an extensive sound stage.

From a legitimate perspective, all the very fine headphones in the world are over-ear headphones.

In-Ear Headphones

headphones over-ear vs on-ear - What is the difference?

Sometimes referred to as earphones or “earbuds”, in-ear headphones are perhaps the most not unusual kind of headphone today. The white “earpods” that come in the field with every new iPhone have made them a must-have accessory. On their way out the door to class, the average college student probably makes positive they have their keys, wallet, cellular phone, and earbuds.


Due to their small size, in-ear headphones price the best in terms of portability. Some include a journey case, but for lots of people, it’s as easy as wrapping the twine around their hands a few instances and tossing them in their bag or pocket.

Tangling may be an issue, however, so search for in-ear headphones that come with tangle-loose cords.


Most in-ear headphones healthy just inside the opening of your ear canal, creating a nice seal. Others are held on with small pieces that wrap around the lower back of your ears. How comfortable they truly rely upon for your personal choice and how you will be using the headphones.

To some, in-ear headphones are extremely comfortable, at the same time as to others they may be traumatic and occasionally even painful. We recommend considering in-ear headphones that utilize memory foam or Comply ear-tips, instead of tough plastic or silicon. If you do purchase a couple that includes silicon tips, however, they typically include a few special sizes. Finding the right size for you may be key to a snug fit. Either way, in-ear headphones aren't ideal for hours-long listening sessions.

If you’re looking to concentrate on the track while jogging or working out, in-ear headphones are your first-class bet. Most will live snug to your ears without falling out, and you won’t take care of sweat from leather-wrapped earcups.


Because in-ear headphones are so prevalent today, it can be really difficult to judge the whole class on sound-quality. You can discover a pair of cheap, multi-colored, plastic earbuds at the neighborhood drug store, or you can purchase high-performance in-ear headphones in authorized stores.

One element that maximum in-ears have going for them is they create a pleasant seal interior your ear canal, supporting to isolate you from the outdoor world.

In-ear headphones have small drivers, so maximum can’t produce the sorts of highs and lows that on-ear or over-ear headphones can. They also pump the tune instantly into your ear-drum, so they’re less spacious or “open” sounding than other kinds of headphones.

Of course, there are exceptions. The Audeze iSINE, for example, utilizes a planar magnetic design, unlike anything we’ve seen in every other in-ear headphones.


This article doesn’t inform you precisely which headphones to buy, but it's going to hopefully help you apprehend what differentiates the fashions and why some humans decide upon one fashion of to another. Headphones are very particular but don’t allow your predispositions to guide destiny decisions. You may be missing out, and lately the transportable audio era has advanced far enough that even I locate myself being challenged by means of new products and new ways of producing sound. The great thing you may do is provide a couple of headphones a listen.