The best over-ear headphones 2020: the best-sounding, most comfortable cans

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Nothing can beat the best over-ear headphones in terms of soundstage, audio quality, and comfort. Plus, if keeping your ears healthy long into your twilight years is just as important to you, these headphones also tend to be better for your ear health overall, because you don’t need to amp up the volume to get a great audio performance and noise-cancellation.

These formidable head-cannons often have the biggest drivers and come in both open-back and closed-back variations, the former of which offers an almost concert hall-like feel to your favorite music. There’s wireless models like the Philips PH805, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7, and the Sennheiser PXC 550-II, however old-school cool is still very much in – just check out the brilliant Audeze LCD-1 and Cleer Next for proof that wired headphones are still among the best you can buy.

2020 could be the year we’ll see the first-ever pair of over-ear Apple headphones, too – and that could really shake up the competition, just as the Apple AirPods have taken over the world of in-ear headphones.

You’ll find a number of wired models in this guide because of their more consistent sound quality but if you’re looking for other cool features, make sure you check out our dedicated guides to the best noise-cancelling headphones and the best wireless headphones, too.

Our top picks

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

(Image credit: Beyerdynamic)

1. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

Professional headphones that know how to have fun

Acoustic design: Open | Weight: 370 g | Cable length: 9.8 ft or 3.9 ft | Frequency response: 5-40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 102dB | Impedance: 250 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Sturdy and comfortable

Breathtaking resolution

Slightly recessed mids

Highs can be fatiguing

While Beyerdynamic may not be as well known as its German brother, Sennheiser, the audio company has a history of creating some of the best sounding audio gear on the market – the company’s DT770, DT880 and DT990 were renown for their excellent build and sound quality. 

Above them all, however, stands the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro, an open-back version of the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro, a headphone which won our Editor’s Choice for its imaging, design and value for the money. Both headphones are priced the same ($599, £589, AU$1,159), so you won’t find a deal picking up one over the other. The difference here comes down to sound. 

As they’re open-back, the DT 1990 Pro are meant to be used at home or in the studio for serious analytical listening. Sound is able to get in and out but the good news is that the open-back design gives you the DT 1990 Pro a great sense of space. Soundstage is quite wide, too, allowing even the most lackadaisical listener to pinpoint the exact location of where each instrument is playing.  

If you’ve been searching for a pair of Hi-Fi headphones that are used by some of the world’s leading audio engineers, these are them.

Read the full review: Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

 Philips Fidelio X2

(Image credit: Philips)

2. Philips Fidelio X2

Brilliant headphones for a brilliant price

Acoustic design: Open | Weight: .85 pounds | Cable length: 9.8 feet | Frequency response: 5-40,000Hz | Drivers: Two 1.9″ speakers | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100 dB @ 1mW | Impedance: 30 Ohm | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Brilliant sound

Superb value 

Very comfortable

Lacks extras

The Philips Fidelio X2’s are a superb pair of headphones offering premium comfort and build quality with a sound that rivals even the most vaunted audiophile cans. Perhaps on sheer sound quality they’re a notch off the likes of the top Oppo or Sennheiser offerings – but the fact that you’d be saving vast amounts of cash by opting for the Philips is just a no brainer.

There’s a pair of Fidelio headphones on the scene – the Philips Fidelio X3 come with an audiophile-friendly open-back design that allows for a wide soundstage. Stay tuned to see if the new cans make it onto this round up.

Read the full review: Philips Fidelio X2

Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro

3. Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro

Recording studio pedigree, DJ booth price

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 1.5 pounds | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 5-40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

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