On-Ear vs Over-Ear Headphones: What’s The Difference?

If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that can deliver quality sound, you have a variety of models to choose from. One important distinction is between on-ear and over-ear headphones. The type you pick will depend on your personal preferences and needs.

On-ear headphones rest directly against the ears, while over-ear headphones envelop and surround the ears entirely. If you’re looking for portability, on-ear headphones are the better choice because they’re smaller. On-ear headphones also tend to be the more affordable option because they usually use less material than over-the ear models. Over-ear headphones are better at blocking out background noise than on-ear types, making them ideal if you want to focus on your music while traveling or in a busy area.

Another thing to consider is comfort level. Over-ear headphones generally provide more cushioning, which may make them more comfortable if you’re going to wear them for long periods at a time. However, some people find that on-ear models fit better or find that they become accustomed to getting used to how they feel with time.

Which headphone style is better?

The final headphone type is In-Ear. These are the smallest headphones and they sit directly inside your ear canal. They’re ideal for people who are out and about, because they can be easily stashed away in a handbag or coat pocket. They’re also great for blocking out background noise.

The downsides of In-Ear Headphones are that they often aren’t as comfortable as other headphones if you’re wearing them for long periods of time – especially if you have a larger ear canal. This can also cause an unpleasant eardrum pressure sensation in some people.


One of the most important things to consider when you’re buying a pair of headphones is how portable they are. After all, if you’re going to be traveling or commuting, you don’t want something that’s extremely heavy or bulky to carry around.

On-ear headphones and over-ear headphones both have pros and cons when it comes to portability. On-ear headphones are generally more portable than over-ears, but there is far more variation among on-ears than over-ears in terms of weight and size. Some on-ear headphones are so light and small that they fold up into a ball that can fit easily in your pocket, while others are as big and heavy as some over-ears.

Over-ears tend to be less portable, but because they’re usually bigger, they can house larger drivers (the part of the headphone that actually produces sound) and batteries for noise cancellation or Bluetooth. Over-ear headphones also tend to be a bit more comfortable than on-ears due to their bigger earcups and better padding.

Pros And Cons Of On-Ear Headphones


  • Compact size makes them great for travel
  • Often less expensive than over-ear cans
  • Better for commuting on public transport (you can still hear when someone talks to you)
  • More stylish (the smaller form factor looks better on the head)


  • Less comfortable than over-ear headphones (can cause pain after a couple of hours of use)
  • Leak more sound outwards (over-ear cans are better if you want to listen in peace without disturbing others)

Pros And Cons Of Over-Ear Headphones


  • More comfortable than on-ear headphones because there is less pressure on the ears.
  • Less sound leakage than on-ear headphones (less sound escapes from the ear pieces).
  • Better sound isolation than on-ear headphones (you can block out more sounds from your surroundings).


  • Not as comfortable as over-ear headphones, some people dislike the pressure on the ears.
  • Less sound isolation than over-ear headphones (easier to hear your surroundings).

On-ear headphone design and comfort

On-ear headphones can be just as comfortable as over-ear headphones if they’re properly fitted. They’re also easier to store since they fold up more compactly than a larger pair of over-ear headphones do. Additionally, on-ear headphones usually cost less than over-ear headphones.

This is most likely due to the fact that many people find on-ear headphones uncomfortable, so the market for this style of headphones is smaller. Over-ear headphones are also often preferred by audiophiles because they typically have larger drivers and other hardware that produce better sound quality.

If you plan on wearing your headphones for several hours at a time, it’s best to try both types out before making a purchase so you can see which is most comfortable for you

On-ear vs over-ear noise-canceling headphones

The headphone market is now at a point where the noise-canceling market is easily accessible for most people. It’s not just for the rich and famous anymore. The market has grown so much that we’re now seeing noise-canceling in all sorts of headphones, from earbuds to over-ears.

The two main types of popular noise-cancelling headphones are on-ear and over-ear. Both have their pros and cons, so it really comes down to personal preference when choosing between the two.

One of the main differences between over-ear and on-ear headphones is the size of them. Over-ear headphones wrap around your ears while on-ear headphones rest on top of your ears. This means that on-ear headphones are smaller than over-ears, making them more portable and easier to store in a bag without taking up too much space

On-ear vs over-ear sound quality

On-ear headphones rest on the ear, and over-ear headphones, also known as circumaural headphones, enclose the ears. Both types of headphones provide sound isolation from outside noise but over-ear headphones are more effective at isolating outside noise than on-ear headphones.

On-ear headphones reduce ambient noise by up to 20 decibels while over-ear headphones reduce ambient noise by up to 40 decibels. This active noise cancellation is caused by the physical barrier created by the ear cups which block sound waves from reaching your inner ear.

Sound quality is not significantly different between on-ear and over-ear headphones. When you consider that both types of headphones use a similar design, it is not surprising that they both produce high quality sound. Some people prefer on-ear because they sit closer to the ear canal and deliver an intimate listening experience.

Final Words

On-ear headphones are much smaller and lighter than over-ear headphones. This can make them more comfortable for some people, as you’re not pressing a large weight against your head for hours at a time. It can also make them a better choice if you want to take your headphones out and about — they’re small enough to fit in a pocket, and the closed back will prevent sound from leaking out and disturbing others around you.

But there are drawbacks. On-ear headphones don’t have the same sound isolation and noise cancellation abilities as over-ear models. As noted above, this means that they may not be suitable for use in noisy environments like airports or on public transport. Also, because they press directly against your ears rather than surrounding them, on-ears can cause ear fatigue when worn for long periods of time.