Over-ear headphones vs in-ear headphones

Not sure which headphones to choose? We’ll help you decide…

10 Sep 2020

New headphones are a great thing. If you choose a set that’s right for you, they can breathe new life into your favourite songs – letting you hear details in the music that you might not have noticed before. It’s easy to miss those little moments when you’re playing music over a speaker. But when you’ve got your headphones on, it’s just you and your music. No distractions.

The big question is – which type of headphones are right for you? There are lots to choose from, and two of the most popular types are over-ear headphones and in-ear headphones. Both come with their own set of benefits, so prick up your ears and we’ll give you a quick run-through of what to expect…

What’s the difference between over-ear and in-ear headphones?

Over-ear headphones enclose your entire ear, giving you a completely immersive listening experience. If you’d describe yourself as a true music fans that wants the best quality sound, these are the headphones to go for.

In-ear headphones fit snugly into your ear and connect to your device via Bluetooth. They’re a good option if you’re looking for lightweight, portable and comfortable headphones. Some models come with hooks that fit over your ear to give you a better fit, and connect to each other with a neckband. You can also buy true wireless earbuds that are completely separate - giving you loads of freedom. 

Why should I buy over-ear headphones?


Over-ear headphones aren’t as portable or compact as in-ear headphones. When you’re not listening to music, you’ll probably be wearing them as fashion accessory round your neck.

Fit and comfort

You won’t find anything more comfortable than a pair of big, padded over-ear headphones. Look out for thick padding on the headband, and ear cups that can breathe – that way, you’ll be able to wear them for longer. In fact, you might even forget you’ve got them on after a while!

Sound quality

If you’re looking for top quality sound, a good set of over-ear headphones is exactly what you need. They’re famous for their superior sound quality, making them a popular choice for DJs, music professionals and serious music lovers.


Over-ear headphones do a great job at cancelling out unwanted external noise, so you can hear exactly what you want to listen to, and not much else.

Some models are designed to actually let some outside noise in, so you can be aware of your surroundings if you need to. But if you really want to immerse yourself in music with no distractions, look out for headphones that feature active noise-cancelling tech. This uses a microphone to analyse the soundwaves created by noise from your surroundings (such as traffic or crowd noise), and then creates an opposite sound wave to cancel out that external noise. Clever stuff.

We recommend… Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones

You’ll love how these headphones make your favourite tunes sound. They transfer three times more data than standard Bluetooth audio, making everything from vocals to percussion sound amazing. You’ll hear every part of the mix loud and clear – just as the artist intended.

Adaptive noise-cancelling filters out all those unwanted background noises, so you can focus on what you’re listening to. And with Adaptive Sound Control, these headphones intelligently adapt to your environment to give you the best possible noise-cancelling experience. All in all, they’re pretty unbeatable.

Buy Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones


Why should I buy in-ear headphones?


In-ear headphones are compact and extremely portable. When you’re not using them, you can pop them into your pocket and taken anywhere. Because of this, they’re a popular choice for anyone that listens to music while they exercise.

Fit and comfort

In-ear headphones are never going to be as comfortable as padded over-ear headphones. But they still give you a snug fit, and some models have foam ear tips if you’re looking for an extra touch of comfort.

Sound quality

Sound quality of in-ear headphones can be just as good as over-ear models, but they need to be sitting right inside your ears to get the best out of them – so make sure you get a set that fits you well!


Because they’re placed directly into your ear, in-ear headphones are good at cancelling out unwanted sounds that could affect your listening.

We recommend… Beats Powerbeats Pro

These in-ear headphones have a special wrap-around hook, so they’ll stay in place when you’re hitting the gym or out for a run. They’re also sweat and water resistant, so you can really push yourself – and you can keep running even if it starts to rain!

Sound quality is fantastic, and smart features give you the best quality version of your workout playlist.

Buy Beats Powerbeats Pro

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