10 Best On-Ear Headphones of 2019
Are you seeking the best on-ear headphones for your needs, but with the huge amount of options are finding it difficult to narrow down your choices? To save you time we have located the top 10 on-ear headphones that provide the best performance in their respective price brackets. We have focused our attention on industry-leading features, high-quality reviews from previous buyers, and good brand quality. There are 3 price categories to choose from, which means you can buy the on-ear headphones that are within your budget.
Additionally, we have included a section on what must be considered to end up with headphones that match your specific requirements. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out the important point to note when you have never bought on-ear headphones before. The list of factors we have covered includes wireless connectivity, comfort, audio quality, brand quality, and durability.
We had a lot of fun putting together this buyer’s guide and hope you have just as much fun reading it. You should have a good idea of what the on-ear headphone marketplace is like by the time you finish the guide. This enables you to figure out the options that matches your needs and allows you to get the most value for your budget.
|Skullcandy Grind Wireless|
|Weight: 5.9 ounces|
|This headphone is suitable for all music genres.|
|Weight: 22.4 ounces|
|Excellent bass implementation and good aesthetics.|
|Beats Solo3 Wireless|
|Weight: 7.5 ounces|
|Nice lightweight design and solid bass performance.|
What are on-ear headphones?
On-ear refers to the format of the fit – the most popular options include in-ear, over-ear, and on-ear. They all suit different needs and you should select the format that best matches your requirements. Here are some of the advantages of on-ear headphones:
- Lightweight and portable: the on-ear design is significantly lighter than more bulky over-ear headphones. If you are looking for headphones to travel or walk around outside with, then on-ear is the format to go with.
- Comfortable: generally speaking the comfort level of on-ear headphones is better than with over-ear. That’s because the open design allows your ears to breathe, whereas with the over-ear headphones a lack of ventilation can be problem.
- Good balance: the sound quality of the on-ear design is not as good as the over-ear format, but better than the in-ear models. It hits a nice middle ground and there are some great deals to be had.
Items by price:
On-Ear Headphones Comparison Table
|Make and Model||Weight||Wireless||Price|
|Skullcandy Grind Wireless||5.9 ounces||Yes||Check Price|
|Grado SR60e||5.8 ounces||No||Check Price|
|Noontec ZORO II||6.4 ounces||Yes||Check Price|
|Plantronics Backbeat Sense||5 ounces||Yes||Check Price|
|Beats EP||22.4 ounces||No||Check Price|
|Samsung Level On Pro Wireless||13.6 ounces||Yes||Check Price|
|Beats Solo3 Wireless||7.5 ounces||Yes||Check Price|
|V-MODA XS||16.96 ounces||Yes||Check Price|
|Bose SoundLink||5.4 ounces||Yes||Check Price|
|P5 Wireless||26.88 ounces||Yes||Check Price|
Best On-Ear Headphones under $100
Do you have a limited budget and are interested headphones that still have a bunch of well-implemented features? Then you’ll love the options in this category as they offer a nice design, good comfort, excellent audio quality, and wireless connectivity.
The drawback of this category is the durability and lack of premium materials. However, if you can overcome the build quality then there is a lot to like here. Some of the designs such as the Skullcandy Grind Wireless have nice aesthetics, which for certain buyers might be more important that build quality.
1. Skullcandy Grind Wireless
Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5
The budget buyer is going to love the Skullcandy Grind Wireless as the value for money here is off the charts. You’re getting a comprehensive array of well-implemented features for the reasonable price point of around $60. They look great, sound great, and provide a choice of colors – this includes black, black/chrome, blue, gray, and white.
The headphones have a surprisingly premium feel to them for the budget price point. Solid metal is used to give the frame rigidity and the soft on-ear pillows of the earcups allow for long-lasting comfort. Furthermore, the low weight means they are not cumbersome to wear on a daily basis wherever you’re going.
You have up to 12 hours of battery life and a reliable Bluetooth implementation for solid audio performance. However, keep in mind that the 12 hours worth of battery life is based on usage at 75% volume level. This is roughly the volume level you’ll probably be using anyway as the max setting can be demanding for long periods of time.
40mm audio drivers deliver the crisp sound that makes the Skullcandy Grind Wireless suitable for all types of music. They can also be used for watching movies or playing games on your PC – the versatility of these headphones is one of the attractive features.
Before adding the Skullcandy Grind Wireless to your shopping cart consider some of the disadvantages – after all, scrutinizing the headphones is recommended to not be disappointed down the line. The headphones are practical, but they don’t fold up into the carrying case. Furthermore, the overall sound quality is great for the price point, but cannot compete with the more expensive items on this list.
To summarize, the Skullcandy Grind Wireless is our top pick in the budget category. The combination of the lightweight build, good use of materials, and competitive audio quality mean you’re getting a comprehensive package.
|Weight: 5.9 ounces|
|Battery life: 12 hours|
|Good value for money|
|Good use of materials|
|Suitable for all music genres|
2. Grado SR60e Headphones
Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5
The Grado SR60e headphones provide excellent value for money as they are under $100, but have enough quality to compete with much higher priced options. The blend of features makes these great for amateur headphone users and those that have a more refined taste. Take a look at the various features to see if it’s something that matches your requirements.
The quality of the definition for the price is amazing. The frequency response of 20 – 20,000 Hz allows you to appreciate a wide spectrum of detail. The open air design creates a big soundstage that is comparable to open back over-ear headphones. You’ll love the realistic sounding audio from the very first track you put on.
These are wired headphones, so if it’s wireless connectivity you’re looking for then you’ll have to go elsewhere. However, what you’re giving up in freedom of movement you gain in the quality of the overall audio with the Grado SR60e headphones.
The plastic housing of the earcups and overall structure means that durability can be problematic if you don’t look after them. However, at this price point you shouldn’t expect a premium build. Furthermore, these headphones are rather bulky, which means that walking around with them outdoors can be a bit of a cumbersome experience. Setting the right expectations for these headphones before the purchase will allow you to enjoy them.
To summarize, the Grado SR60e Headphones are a solid piece of technology that comes in at the competitive price point of around $80. We have recommended these headphones in the “Headphones Under $150” guide as the top budget pick and feel it’s one of the best on-ear headphones around.
|Weight: 7.8 ounces|
|Good value for money|
|Use of materials could be improved|
3. Noontec ZORO II
Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5
The Noontec ZORO II is manufactured by a brand that isn’t popular in the personal audio industry, but in this case they have released a competitive pair of headphones. At under the $100 price point they come with an array of solid features that gives you food for thought with regards to this particular purchase.
The battery provides an impressive 35 hours of playing time, which is among the longest in the headphone industry. You can get through a week’s worth of workouts with the Noontec ZORO II. APT-X technology is utilized to deliver crisp audio via the airwaves.
The NFC pairing technology allows you to pair up with devices in a seamless manner – especially with devices you have paired up with in the past. There is also a noise-rejecting dual microphone that allows you to have clear conversations. The impact of ambient noise is greatly reduced as the microphone tries hard to block them out.
The newest Votrik HD400 40mm drivers are used to deliver a range of sounds and impactful bass. You’ll love the execution of the audio at the low and mid frequency ranges, but the highs need a bit of work.
The materials used feel premium or at the at least above average depending on your opinion. The earmuffs are made from breathable and durable protein cotton. They are great for allowing you to get involved in long gaming sessions without feeling agitated with the fit.
Familiarize yourself with a few of the disadvantages before proceeding with a purchase of the Noontec ZORO II headphones. The overall connection quality lacks the refinement that allows for no audio distortion. Furthermore, the fit with glasses can be a bit cumbersome to get used to.
To conclude, the Noontec ZORO II headphones are a great choice for sports enthusiasts that are looking for a practical on-ear headphone solution. The combination of the good fit, great audio drivers, and affordable price point means the Noontec ZORO II is worth considering.
|Weight: 6.4 ounces|
|Battery life: 35 hours|
|Good value for money|
|Suitable for sports|
|The wireless connection could use improvement|
4. Plantronics Backbeat Sense
Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5
The Plantronics Backbeat Sense is a solid budget offering that has a combination of features that allows on-ear headphones to stand out. The visual white and brown design has a premium feel to it -even if the best of materials aren’t used. They also have a very lightweight design that might be appealing for those who are looking for a portable personal audio solution.
These are Bluetooth headphones that allow for up to 18 hours of playing time and take 2.5 hours to charge. The range is a maximum of 100m (330 feet) and has a microphone that can be used to take calls. This allows you to take calls at a distance from your smartphone, which can be convenient if it’s at the other end of your house while you’re using the headphones. However, a 3.5mm cable is included if you want to switch over to wired mode. The flexibility to switch between connectivity methods can come in handy when you have run out of battery life.
The low weight design is comfortable to wear, but the only drawback might be the lack of durability. It’s not the sturdiest of builds, which means the damage incurred when dropped reputedly could break them eventually.
The audio quality of the Plantronics Backbeat Sense provides good clarity across the frequency range, but the highs can be a bit rough at maximum volume levels. Also, the bass isn’t strong, but the overall sound quality can be described as clean. The sound quality at this budget price point is competitive.
To conclude, the Plantronics Backbeat Sense is a solid offering at a price point that will not put a huge dent in your wallet. Furthermore, the mixture of the 18 hours battery life and comfortable fit means you’re going to enjoy what’s on offer here for around $50.
|Weight: 5 ounces|
|Battery life: 18 hours|
|18 hours of battery life|
|Good value for money|
|Use of materials could be improved|
|The high could use improvement|
Best On-Ear Headphones under $150
There are two solid options in this category that represents good value for money from reputable brands. You’ll love the execution of the visual look and overall audio quality here. They might not be audiophile grade, but good enough for the majority of the marketplace. Furthermore, the quality of the Bluetooth connection in this category is solid providing you with many hours of music.
5. Beats EP
Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5
The Beats EP is one of the cheapest headphones in the Beats line up, but it’s also the one that provides the most value for the money. They come in a number of colors, which includes black, blue, red, and white. The relatively minimalist design looks simple and elegant, so you can wear it with various outfits while rocking them outside.
A premium level of sound is provided here that’s finely tuned by the Beats sound engineers. Given the relatively low price point for the brand, they are perhaps one of the best Beats entry headphones. The strong amount of bass is what will stand out in music that has a requirement for it.
The level of durability in these headphones is amazing, which means you’ll get many serviceable years of performance. The sturdy build is reinforced with stainless steel and there are vertical sliders to allow for a personalized fit.
There is a microphone with built-in controls that allow you to take calls on the go. The buttons are easy to use and remove the need to reach for your smartphone whenever there is a call. You can also alter the volume and skip tracks with the buttons provided.
A foldable carrying pouch is included, which means they are convenient to take with you when traveling. The package also includes a quick start guide and warranty card. It’s a wired design, which is something different for this brand as their flagship choices are typically wireless.
Before pulling the trigger on the buy button consider the disadvantages of the Beats EP. The cable is quite long, which can be a bit of a hassle when trying to walk around outdoors with them. Also, the earcups cannot fold down to reduce the overall size of the headphones when not in use.
To conclude, the Beats EP provides great value for the money as the execution of the various features is relatively high. The bass boosted audio is a joy to listen to music with and the visual aesthetics are excellent.
|Weight: 22.4 ounces|
|Nice choice of colors|
|Excellent bass implementation|
|Good overall value for money|
|Earcups cannot fold down|
6. Samsung Level On Pro Wireless
Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5
Samsung is an industry leading electronics brand, but they aren’t known for releasing personal audio products. However, the Samsung Level On Pro is a great option in the marketplace that provides a lot of value for the price. The visual look has an elegant design and you’ll appreciate the level of sophistication that’s gone into the engineering of these Samsung headphones.
They have a noise canceling feature that drastically reduces ambient noise to increase the clarity of your personal audio experience. The noise canceling feature increases the rate at which the battery is consumed, but it’s worth it. The battery allows for 11 hours of playing time and the freedom of the wireless approach these give you is amazing.
The comfortable fit means you can move your head freely and not worry about the fit coming loose. It’s a relatively low weight model and the earcups are soft, which means you won’t feel frustrated to wear these for multiple hours at a time. Furthermore, the headband is fully adjustable to allow for a fit that matches almost any head size.
The Samsung Level App allows you to customize the audio experience and connect with your Android based smartphone. Using the app you can view the battery life, control the audio, and access other Samsung apps.
Before buying the Samsung Level On Wireless consider a few of the disadvantages. The overall build quality could be improved so that durability does not become a problem shortly after buying the Samsung headphones. Furthermore, the battery could be increased to be more competitive with the rest of the marketplace.
To summarize, the Samsung Level On Wireless has a mixture of good quality features that provide a nice personal audio solution. The combination of the wireless connectivity, noise cancelation, and portable design means you’ll love to walk around with these while outdoors.
|Weight: 13.6 ounces|
|Battery life: 11 hours|
|Good quality microphone|
|Durability could be improved|
Best On-Ear Headphones under $250
Do you have a big budget to spend and are looking for some of the best on-ear headphones that the marketplace has to offer? In this category you’ll find the perfect blend of comfort, long battery life, good aesthetics, and an impressive level of audio quality.
However, the options here have a big asking price and it’s up to you to figure out if the features offered justify the price. There is a good dose of variety here to give you the freedom to choose the headphones that are most appealing to you.
7. Beats Solo3 Wireless
Editor’s Rating: 4.9/5
The Beats Solo3 Wireless is our top pick in the Best Headphones for Hip Hop guide, and we have chosen them as the top pick here. The implementation of the various features, premium feel, and reputable brand means this is a stellar option. There is a choice of colors, which includes black, blue, grey, red, silver, pink, white, and gold. You can select the visual style that best matches your preferences.
The battery life of 40 hours is one of the best in the music industry and will give you enough battery juice for multiple days of use. Some users might get away with only charging these headphones a couple of times per month– however, the total battery time between charges will depend on the volume. Furthermore, the connectivity distance is 30 feet from the audio emitting device.
A quick charge feature is available that allows you to get 3 hours of battery time for only 5 minutes of charging. This is an exceptional ratio that is perhaps the best in the industry when it comes to the quick charge feature.
The finely tuned acoustics allow for maximum clarity and balance across the frequency range. However, what stands out the most is the execution of the bass, which is remarkable. You’ll love enjoying hip hop and rock music with the strong bass that Beats have implemented with these headphones.
A few setbacks of the Beats Solo3 Wireless should be examined before you go ahead and add them to the shopping cart. The headband has a stiff nature to them that can be cumbersome over time. Without flex, you’ll feel that handling them is not as easy. Also, the overall audio fidelity could use improvement to fully justify the price tag.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless is one of the best on-ear headphones that provide a number of functional features. The extremely long battery life, comfortable fit, choice of colors, and reputable brand means these headphones are a safe bet.
|Weight: 7.5 ounces|
|Battery life: 20 hours|
|Choice of colors|
|Solid bass performance|
|Overall audio could be better for the price|
8. V-MODA XS
Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5
The V-MODA XS is a highly competitive on-ear design that oozes class. The design is one of the bulkier when it comes to on-ear headphones, but the quality of the audio here is breathtaking. They have an array of features that fully justifies the high price point and it ensures various types of buyers will have a use for them.
The durability is built to last as every component has been carefully considered. The STEELFLEX headband is said to be virtually indestructible and the cables can be bent over a million times before signs of wear and tear begin to show. Furthermore, the headphones are protected from negative environmental effects like extreme temperatures and UV exposure.
The audio is based on years of research and includes the 40mm patent pending audio drivers. They deliver vibrant bass, mids, and highs for a comprehensive audio experience. There is also passive noise isolation, which drastically reduces the ambient noises around you. Therefore, the clarity of your audio will improve – even in what is typically a noisy environment.
A 1-Button SpeakEasy Mic cable is added to provide you with a way to answer calls or use these as a gaming headset. The microphone is finely tuned to allow for calls to be taken in a noisy environment. A 3.5mm cable is provided that can connect to a wide range of smartphones.
There are a couple of disadvantages to the V-MODA XS that should be understood before buying. Firstly, the bass could provide a higher level of impact as it is lacking when listening to bass boosted music. Also, the fit on the head can be rather loose, which means they aren’t the best for walking around with outside.
To summarize, the V-MODA XS is a good offering for those that are interested in more performance than what’s available with the budget options. The combination of excellent durability and detailed audio is a dream come true for audio enthusiasts.
|Weight: 16.96 ounces|
|Solid audio performance|
|Headband can provide a loose fit|
9. Bose SoundLink
Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5
The Bose Soundlink on-ear headphones are a mixture of premium design and functionality that will provide an impressive level of music for a long time to come. It’s a sleek and cool look design that will be a joy to wear while out and about. Bose is one of the top audio brands in the world and this particular model has a great reputation among previous buyers.
These are Bluetooth headphones that provide up to 15 hours of playing time via the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The wireless nature contributes to the portable nature of the design and it’s around 40% lighter than comparable models. The relatively low weight means they will not be cumbersome to wear over long periods of time.
Worried about getting a call while you are listening to music? No problem, simply connect these headphones to your smartphone and receive calls whenever they come. Buttons are available to accept calls, which means you don’t have to interact with your smartphone at all. The microphone is surprisingly clear and you’ll love using it for all your conversations.
The crisp and clear beats across the frequency range are impressive. In particular, the bass is strong without being too overwhelming – a balancing act the majority of brands have a problem with. The overall quality of the audio is typical of the Bose brand.
Before buying the Bose Soundlink consider some of the disadvantages for a balanced overview. There is a wired mode, which is great for flexibility reason, but the audio isn’t as good with the wire. Furthermore, the overall price is quite steep and there are competitive alternatives at a lower price point.
To summarize, the Bose Soundlink is a great offering that is better than the majority of the competition in the wireless on-ear marketplace. You’ll love the combination of the long battery life, excellent bass, and lightweight portable nature of the design.
|Weight: 5.4 ounces|
|Battery life: 15 hours|
|15 hours of battery life|
|Wired mode audio is lacking in quality|
10. P5 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones by Bowers & Wilkins
Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5
The P5 Wireless is a solid choice for fans of headphones that have premium materials and the audio quality to match. The luxurious design is typical of the Bowers & Wilkins brand that consistently delivers high-quality audio products to the marketplace. Delve deeper into the various features of the headphones to find out if they justify the high price point.
The P5 Wireless uses the award-winning audio drivers of the P7 and they sound amazing. The accuracy of the beats across the frequency range allows you to appreciate every note of the track. Furthermore, the execution of the bass means you can enjoy rock and hip hop music like never before.
The battery life of the P5 wireless is 17 hours and has high-quality Bluetooth aptX for connectivity. You can charge the battery via USB and if you want to save battery life then you can opt to use the included cable. Intuitive onboard controls are available for you to skip tracks and also adjust the volume.
Another highlight of the design is the comfort that allows for long-lasting listening sessions with a minimal amount of discomfort. The overall leather design is easy on the skin and will stand the test of time. Also a soft carrying case is included that allows you to store the headphones while not in use – a useful accessory for traveling with.
There are also a few drawbacks with the P5 Wireless that should be understood before proceeding with a purchase. The leather can result in the build-up of heat if you are in a warm environment. Furthermore, the overall fit might be a bit snug for those with above average head sizes.
To conclude, the P5 wireless is a solid choice for those with a big budget and interested in a well-rounded pair of headphones. The audio accuracy is amazing and you’ll enjoy the luxurious looking aesthetics for a long time to come.
|Weight: 26.88 ounces|
|Battery life: 17 hours|
|17 hours battery life|
|Excellent audio quality|
|Nice leather aesthetics|
- What are on-ear headphones?
- Buying considerations
- Wireless connectivity
- Audio quality
- Items by price:
- On-Ear Headphones Comparison Table
- Best On-Ear Headphones under $100
- 1. Skullcandy Grind Wireless
- 2. Grado SR60e Headphones
- 3. Noontec ZORO II
- 4. Plantronics Backbeat Sense
- Best On-Ear Headphones under $150
- 5. Beats EP
- 6. Samsung Level On Pro Wireless
- Best On-Ear Headphones under $250
- 7. Beats Solo3 Wireless
- 8. V-MODA XS
- 9. Bose SoundLink
- 10. P5 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones by Bowers & Wilkins