HeadRoom Reviews The Best Earpad Headphones!
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Properly called 'supra-aural' headphones, earpad headphones are also known as 'on-ear' hps and have ear pieces, or earpads, that rest on the earlobes. Some have foam cushions that rest directly on your ear, while others have earcups that look almost like full-size headphones but will still rest on the outer part of the earlobes. Generally, earpad or on-ear headphones can tend to be lower in cost, but they appear in all price ranges and often can sound as good as full size headphones at the same price.
Earpad headphones are available in open, closed, and noise-cancelling types; they usually have a normal headband (some fold for more compact transport or storage), but earpad headphones can also be behind the neck or clip-on (or 'ear-clip') types as well. Closed back, or sealed, earpad headphones do isolate you from some outside ambient noise, but typically not quite as well as full size closed headphones due to their smaller earcup sizing and not quite as thorough ear coverage.
Favorite HeadRoom 'Low-Cost' Earpad / On-Ear Headphones
Clip-on or behind-the-head ('neckband') earpad headphones are great for active uses and typically well-priced. Priced at only $20, the Koss KSC75 has long been a top 'clip-on' headphone with a very awesome sound and free lifetime warranty. The more expensive Yuin G2A clip-on brings a warmer and more refined overall tone to this category.
Compact earpad / on-ear headphones with a traditional headband are plentiful here; the classic Koss Porta-Pro still sounds terrific while the affordable Beyerdynamic DT235 sounds quite similar but in a closed-back design providing mild ambient noise isolation. Bass heads will enjoy the plush Sony MDR-XB500 which tastefully exaggerates the bumpin' bass and looks just terrific. Unassuming but good-sounding, the Sennheiser HD203 is another great on-ear sealed-back model with smooth, clear sound and an extremely simple, tough-built headband construction.
Favorite HeadRoom 'Mid-Priced' Earpad / On-Ear Headphones
This category is crowded and we'll mention a few great earpad headphones, but there are many other good ones!
It's hard to talk about on-ear headphones without discussing the Grado SR60i, perhaps the headphone of choice in this field and the most fun you'll have with your music system for only $79. Present in every category with quality products, Sennheiser makes three exceptional compact on-ear headphones: the open-back Sennheiser PX 100-II and sealed-back Sennheiser PX 200-II which provide some isolation. Both are very small headphones that fold up like sunglasses and store in about as much space. The other compact model is the Sennheiser HD 229 which sounds terrific and is a particularly handy headphone in an office environment. Offering solid isolation and a warm, full sound is the AKG K81DJ, a great choice for all portable music uses. A mid-priced model for gigantic pump-up-the-jams bass is the Sony MDR-XB700 which is not murky in any way, so an outstanding job jacking the lows without destroying sonic balance. Ideal for hip-hop and funk fans, or anyone just looking for a fun, cool can.
Favorite HeadRoom 'High-End' Earpad / On-Ear Headphones
Earpad / 'on-ear' headphones can start to become thin on the ground once we climb into the higher price ranges, but there a few excellent candidates. A sweet earpad headphone for the deep music afficionado, the Audio Technica ATH-ESW9 is just as lovely to listen to as it is to look at. Tonewood earpieces and soft leather earpads and headband are elegantly brought together in a portable audiophile treat for all your senses. Sennheiser makes a good pro-oriented sealed earpad headphone the HD 25-1 II while Beyerdynamic strikes again with the supremely clear DT1350. Both are clean-toned, punchy and tonally balanced with superb price-to-performance ratios. Brooklyn's famous Grado Labs has long been a leader in the on-ear category with a huge line of 'open-back' earpad cans all featuring that classic signature Grado tone -- immediate, intimate, and so present you'll think you're onstage with the players. At HeadRoom, we particularly like the SR 225i and the PS500 models as big 'bang-for-the-buck' audio performers. Perhaps the top portable headphone ever released, the uber-pricey Ultrasone Edition 8 will sonically blow away most other mobile-oriented on-ear/earpad headphones on the market, but it may also blow a giant gash in your wallet too.
We've listed our top HeadRoom on-ear/earpad picks below, but you can also click here to see all earpad headphones.