On Ear vs Over Ear Differences: Choosing the Perfect Headphones

On Ear vs Over Ear Differences Choosing the Perfect Headphones
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Headphones are great devices since they help you keep entertained whether you are at home, at the gym, in the park, or even when you need to answer a phone call hands-free. Nowadays though, choosing the perfect pair of headphones for you can be a rather daunting task as there is a wide variety available on the market.

Generally speaking, for those who are seeking comfort and immersion over other factors such as convenience and portability, you should opt for a good pair of on-ear or over-ear headphones. These headphones are typically bulkier in size but offer a greater deal of comfort due to the fact that they have a headband and earcup padding. The size of the headphones also generally results in increase audio quality due to a greater number of drivers as well as some other features.

That said, since we have different needs and lifestyles, this article looks to provide a better understanding of the on ear vs over ear differences.

On Ear vs Over Ear Differences

On Ear vs Over Ear Differences

We'll look at each type of the headphone system and analyze their benefits as well as their potential drawbacks.

On-Ear Headphones

On-ear headphones sit across the exterior of your ear with the cup positioned directly over the ear canal. These are more popular options among active individuals or those who use headphones to entertain themselves while doing physical activities such as weightlifting and jogging.


  • The majority of these headphones standout due to their portability because they usually have a compact size. Also, most models often have a folding mechanism that allows the headphones to be neatly put away into a convenient travel case.
  • These headphones have large ear cups, so they usually have more drivers; thus, improving the overall sound quality.
  • Due to their more compact size, these headphones are more lightweight when compared to their over-ear counterparts.
  • They're non-invasive, unlike in-ear headphones. This increases their level of comfortability.


  • The generally tighter fit of on-ear headphones can become rather uncomfortable after long periods of time.
  • If used for sporting activities or in the gym, these headphones can easily be displaced, causing them to slip off.
  • As most of this type of headphones can be folded for increased portability, this can lead to more breakages in both the folding mechanism and the wiring which will require the whole headset to be replaced.
  • These headphones are more prone to sound leaking when compared to over-ear or in-ear headphones.
Over-Ear Headphones

Over-Ear Headphones

The ear cups of over-ear headphones encompass the whole of the ear. These headphones are a more popular choice when it comes to buying a pair of stay-at-home headphones.


  • These headphones have a higher level of noise cancellation thanks to their over-ear design.
  • The majority of these models offer Dobly 7.1 surround sound. They can offer this superior sound quality due to the ear pieces being fully enclosed as well as extra room in the ear cup for increased drivers.
  • Over-ear headphones are typically more comfortable than other headphone types thanks to their increased ear cup size paired with a headband that supports the weight of the device. This allows them to be worn for a long time.
  • Users will also notice that these headphones are extremely sturdy thanks to their lack of moving parts. They also usually have thicker cabling, resulting in fewer connectivity issues.


  • In order to add in all of their extra functionality, over-ear headphones do have a rather large size, making them awkward to carry around which isn't ideal for long trips.
  • Having an enclosed ear cup is great for sound quality and general comfort, but after long periods of time, they can become overly warm and cause users to sweat more than other headphones.
  • These are typically more expensive than other headphones types due to their increased size and generally higher levels of functionality.


Both types of headphones are built with comfort and functionality in mind, and they offer a ton more features than more standard in-ear headphones. When it comes to audio quality, they are close enough since both have a relatively large size.

However, over-ear headphones are definitely easier to wear over long periods of time as you don't have any compression on your ear itself. On the other hand, on-ear headphones provide added convenience as they are small enough or have a foldable design which allows them to be transported easily.

When it comes down to looking at on ear vs over ear differences, it really comes down to their intended use as well as personal preference. Our advice would be to visit your local store and try a variety of each before making any final decision on what type you feel more comfortable with.

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