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Which Headphones? : Over-Ear Headphones vs In-Ear Headphones

The debate between over-ear headphones and in-ear ‘headphones’ continues to be a heavily contested topic not just in modern technology, but in the world overall. Knowing what pair to get and coming to a final decision can be a very difficult task, but thankfully, we are here to help make that choice a little bit easier. Below, we will rate both in-ear and on-ear headphones based on sound, portability, and overall comfort. The goal will be to help you find the best fit possible for your own lifestyle. 

Over-Ear vs In-Ear


Many people say that ‘bigger is better’ don’t they? Well let’s take a look and see if that statement is true in relation to headphones. Typically, over-ear headphones will have a better sound quality because there is a larger drive inside the headphones to push that quality out. Larger divers allow for deeper bass, which everyone wants when they are listening to their favourite tunes.

When it comes to comfort, over-ear headphones are unbeatable. It is rare that you will find a pair of over-ear headphones that don’t have a padded ear cushion. The type of foam used on the headphones has a big impact on their sound, but some are made with premium memory foam — which is extremely comfortable.

When it comes to portability, they are not the best on the market. Due to their larger size, they are not ideal for the likes of running, gym workouts, or activity that is active or heavy. However, they are perfect for home use, commuting or travelling if you have the extra space in your bag.


Entry-level In-ear headphones will tend to have the worst quality of sound among the different types of headphones. This is because they are the smallest, and as a result, their drivers are not large at all.

In-ear headphones can also be the least comfortable type of headphones for some people, basically because of the fact that they sit inside your ear canal. Over long periods of time, you’ll notice more and more that they’re there, so if you’re planning on listening for hours at a time, you may want to get a different type of headphone. If you do opt for in-ear headphones then be sure to test the different size eartips to make sure you have the most comfortable fit possible. You may even use a different size on each earbud, it's all about fit and comfort!

Now, when it comes to portability, there is nothing better than in-ear headphones. They are small enough to fit into a pocket, they are often water resistant or sweatproof, making them perfect for running or gym use, and they are modern and stylish in their design. Just beware that if you are using wireless in-ear headphones, most of these models are wireless so you'll need to keep them charged. Many models have a 5-minute fast charge which can get you through a gym session if you accidentally let them run out of battery.  Also while their small size is an asset, they can be lost quite easily, and they are not cheap to replace, especially if you get the more high-end brands.

The Best On-Ear

To be honest, this is a difficult choice, because on-ear and over-ear headphones each have their pros and cons, regardless of what brand you choose. However, if we were to narrow it down to the best 1-2 on-ear headphones to go with, it would have to be:

Sony Over Ear Wireless Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones

Did someone say value? Because we don’t think that you will be able to find a more well-priced set of on/over-ear headphones anywhere. With Bluetooth connectivity making connection seamless, noise cancelling capability to help shut out the world when you need to, and a stylish and comfortable fit to boot, the headphones are perfect for anyone looking to buy a quality pair of over-ear headphones on a budget.

 Apple AirPods Max Wireless Headphones 

Okay look, we know that the price tag is a little large but hear us out. Not only are you getting state-of-the-art sound quality, you get on-head detection, an announce message feature by Siri, 20 hours of battery life, ultra-low power mode when they are in their case so that they conserve energy, distortionless playback, noise cancelling capabilities, and immersive listening technology. And that just scratches the surface.

The Best In-Ear

When it comes to looking for the best in-ear headphones to buy, there is a range of things to be considered, from Bluetooth capabilities to battery life, to style, price, and colour. Here are the two best in our humble opinions:

  • Jabra Elite 4  – The perfect balance of price and quality, Jabra are a high-quality brand that we think have a lot to offer with their wireless Elite 3 collection. Their Sound+ app allows you to fine-tune your sound experience to suit you, they are noise cancelling, and they have Alexa and Siri capabilities built-in. and with nearly 30 hours of playback from a full charge, you would be crazy not to consider them, especially at their price. 

  • Apple AirPods with Charging Case – Considering their price and their reputation, we don’t think that this is a bad deal to be fair. The AirPod range is hugely popular, but it is popular for a reason. With a sleek design, quality sound, long-lasting battery, and 3 hours of playtime off just 15 minutes of charging, they are the perfect portable in-ear headphone and should be strongly considered.

To Conclude

In all honesty, the choice is yours. Both on-ear and in-ear headphones have their own pros and cons and depending on what you are looking to use them for and what you need, then one style might be more appealing. What we will say is that if you are looking for style, comfort, and sound quality, then consider over or on-ear headphones. However, if convenience, portability, and versatility are what you need, then the in-ear variety might be a better fit for you.