On Ear vs Over Ear Headphones: What Is the Difference?

04:42 AM March 20, 2019

Have you been contemplating about which headphones will work the best for you? Figure out what you want in a set of headphones, then proceed with reading this article that determines the advantages and disadvantages of using on-ear and over-ear headphones. Just a few things to consider are: budget, compatibility, usage, and duration of daily listening time. Also, you might want to decide on whether to purchase a wired or a wireless headset. The perks are also provided, so you can see the different advantages that each type of headphone offers.

Investing in a good quality headphone is a battle over your heart wanting it, and your wallet screaming for savings. But once decided, another question comes to mind, “Which type of headphone is a better buy?” It is now a battle between on-ear vs. over-ear headphones. We heard you and your inquiries, and have found an answer.


It might be tough to choose the perfect brand, color, or style of headphones, but really, it all comes down to the budget, right? The headphones have to fit in your budget range and meet you audio needs.

Here, we’ll discuss more differences between on-ear vs. over-ear headphones.


On-ear headphones are smaller in size compared to the larger over-ear versions, and they often sit on or in your ears. Their size allows them to fit in your purse or easily be tucked in your backpack. The headphones allow you to listen to your media without being fully distracted from the world around you. Rest assured that the sound quality is still at its finest.

On the other hand, over-ear headphones are like the classics. They cover your entire ear, which gives you the alone time you need to immerse yourself in your music, movies, or other audio media. The thing to consider is that the over-ear headphones require much more physical space to carry around and store.

Pros: On-Ear vs. Over-Ear Headphones

Here’s a benefit of on-ear headphones, they may be smaller in size compared to over-ears, but they can give you about the same quality at a lesser cost. Depending on your budget, you can have on-ear headphones with noise canceling ability, deep bass, and true surround sound. As I have mentioned before, they are definitely compact and lightweight, so if you’re an on-the-go person, this could be your perfect audio headset. Additionally, due to the smaller build model, the headphones often cradle inside your ears for movement stability.

On ear headphones. Note how they sit directly on top of your ear

On-ear headphones also come in a great deal of either faux leather, ear pads, or velour ear pads. In some cases, there’s also an actual leather or lambskin as an option, but of course, the more expensive the material is, the more expensive the product will be. Faux leather has a very natural feel and it’s durable. Velour ear pads are soft and spongy, so your ears won’t hurt even after hours of use.

On the other hand, over-ear headphones, as mentioned before, cover your entire ear. With this setup, comfort and premium audio output is priority. They can be worn for long hours without the pain of some material pressing down onto your ears. It’s perfect for gamers, call center agents, travelers, and moments where you want to be absorbed in your audio media. Most models of over-ear headphones have 7.1 Dolby surround sound, which means you can hear the most distant sounds on your movie, or the most subtle instrumental details in your music.

Over-ear headphones also have open back styles, which means you do not have to worry about sweat build up or corrosion. For the price, over-ear headphones are also a more durable product. Due to the actual leather and lambskin ear pad material, they are able to last for a long time. The wires and connectors are also reinforced with material to prevent malfunction.

Both on-ear and over-ear headphones now come wired or wireless. That is another choice you need to decide on. Basically, the wired version comes with added convenience and reliability; the wireless may be comfortable, but they require charging and a Bluetooth connection.


Cons: On-Ear vs. Over-Ear Headphones

It is clear that the different types of headphones offer different advantages and disadvantages. The thing to consider with on-ear headphones is, due to the smaller size, it is easy to forget where you last placed them. Yes, it is an item you can just crumple and insert in any pouch or side pocket, but forgetful people may struggle when trying to recall where they are. Also, on-ear headphones exert some pressure on or in your ear, often leading to some aching sensation if worn for extended periods of time.

The headphones are also not ideal for athletes or gym enthusiasts. They may stay on your head, but once soaked in sweat, they can start slipping off your ears. Also, the slightly thin wires may corrode over time and tangle during the fitness activity. However, if you are careful and treat your on-ear headphones with care, they often last for a long time.

Over ear headphones. Note how they completely cover your entire year. The rest on the side of your head rather than your ear.

For over-ear headphones, the size is really the enemy here. The size makes you want to wear them over your neck when you bring them along, and if that’s cool with you, then we have no problem here. But if you’re the type of person who likes to keep everything in the bag after using it, you can’t use pouches or small bags anymore. Aside from this, the leather or velour pads tend to wear out faster than the headphones. You can replace them, so it’s not that of a big deal.

Another consideration with over-ear headphones: you have to be careful not to get too absorbed in the audio, especially when walking across streets or spending time outdoors. You don’t want to miss some important sounds, like a car honking or a person screaming.

Choosing between over-ear and an on-ear headphones is solely up to its users; try to figure out what you like to do when listening to your audio content, and find the best headphone match for you.

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