Top 5 Best Supra-Aural (On-Ear) Headphones Under $250 Of 2021


Supra-aural (on-ear) headphones are generally lightweight, compactable and easy to use, making them a go-to for on-the-go listeners. They’re often less expensive than their circumaural (over-ear) counterparts while sounding much better than typical in-ear earphones.

When it comes to supra-aural headphones, like anything else, some models are superior. In this article, we’ll discuss the best supra-aural headphones that fit within a $250 USD budget.

The top 5 best supra-aural (on-ear) headphones under $250 are:

At $250, you’ll find some top-of-the-line supra-aural headphones. There are many to chose from, and these are the best of the best in this price range.

Since we’re having a discussion within the context of a price cap, I figure I should leave a link to a related My New Microphone article: Are Expensive Headphones (Or Cheap Headphones) Worth It?


What Makes A Great Supra-Aural Headphone?

Though the term “best” is subjective, we should still list the criteria used to determine what makes a great supra-aural headphone.

  • Comfort: this is perhaps the simplest yet most important criterion of any headphone especially because supra-aural headphones rest and put pressure on our ears. Fortunately, supra-aural headphones are typically lightweight and allow heat to dissipate. Comfort is a big part of the equation.
  • Impedance/device compatibility: since supra-aural headphones are generally used on-the-go, it’s important that they be compatible with mobile devices. This means that the impedance should be low to avoid required a portable headphone amplifier. The sensitivity rating should also be considered in this discussion.
  • Frequency response: a great pair of headphones should be able to reproduce the full audible spectrum from 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz with clarity. Unfortunately, supra-aural headphones are notorious for lacking bass. However, being able to produce all audible frequencies is important none-the-less.

Note that, by the nature of the supra-aural/on-ear design, noise cancellation is more difficult to achieve than with over-ear designs. It’s still possible, and I’ll write about it when applicable. However, I wouldn’t call noise cancellation a necessity of a great supra-aural headphone.

It’s also a benefit if the headphone is foldable for easy storage. A nice set of on-ears is great to have if we’re out in public and regularly putting our headphones away and taking them back out.

Wireless (especially Bluetooth) capabilities are also seen as a benefit since they further improve the functionality and general comfort of the headphones.

With that, let’s get into our top 5 best supra-aural (on-ear) headphones for under $250!


Related articles:

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Philips Fidelio NC1

The Philips Fidelio NC1 (link to check the price on Amazon) is the first supra-aural headphone we’ll be discussing in this article.

Philips Fidelio NC1

The Philips Fidelio NC1 supra-aural headphone is a great choice with excellent sound and active noise-cancelling.

Let’s start with the sound. The NC1 gets the stamp of approval from Hi-Res Audio by meeting the stringent standards of audio performance and reproduction.

Each of the 40mm neodymium drivers are optimized for producing a wide frequency response and dynamic range. The sound is enhanced even further by specially-tuned acoustic chambers that maintain accuracy across the impressive frequency response of 7 Hz – 40,000 Hz.

To learn more about headphone frequency response, check out my article What Is Headphone Frequency Response & What Is A Good Range?

What we get with such a design is a superb bass response with clear mids and non-fatiguing highs. The housing also ensures that sound is not affected by active noise cancellation (ANC) components.

The hybrid ANC technology in the Fidelio NC1 utilizes both feedforward and feedback circuits to help cancel noise in the low-end, which is typical, and does a pretty decent job of cancelling mid-frequencies as well.

To learn more about active noise-cancellation in headphones, check out my article How Do Noise-Cancelling Headphones Work? (PNC & ANC).

The battery offers up to 30 hours of ANC playtime on a full charge.

Though the Fidelio NC1 is lightweight and doesn’t put an overbearing amount of pressure on the ears. It includes ear cushions made of a combination of fabric, soft protein leather and memory foam. They mould perfectly to the listener’s ears, providing superb comfort while also enhancing ANC performance by offering improved passive isolation (covering of the ear canal).

Note that many on-ear headphones are poor passive noise isolators. With the ear cushions, the NC1 doesn’t fit into that stereotype.

This headphone utilizes a wired connection. It comes with a detachable cable with in-line controls and a microphone. Use the headphone for telephony and with voice assistants in addition to listening to clean audio.

For more info on headphone cables, check out my article An In-Depth Look Into How Headphone Cables Carry Audio.

With a nominal impedance of only 16 ohms, the Philips Fidelio NC1 will not need a dedicated amplifier and will work perfectly with mobile and consumer-grade audio players.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 40mm Dynamic with Neodymium magnet
  • Impedance: 16 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 7 Hz – 40,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 107dB/mW
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Surpa-aural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 191g
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

To learn more about headphone specifications, be sure to read my article Full List: Headphone/Earphone Specifications w/ Examples.


Audio-Technica ATH-M60X

The second headphone on this list is the Audio-Technica ATH-M60X (link to check the price on Amazon).

Audio-Technica ATH-M60X

The Audio-Technica ATH-M60X comes from AT’s popular M series of headphones. This headphone is actually modelled after the sonic signature of the flagship M50x.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x (link to check the price on Amazon) is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
 Top 5 Best Headphones For Podcasting Under $200
• Top 5 Best Circumaural (Over-Ear) Headphones Under $200
Top 5 Best Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphones Under $200

This sound is achieved with the same proprietary 45mm large-aperture drivers found in the ATH-M50x. These drivers are designed with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils to deliver exceptional clarity throughout an extended frequency range with accurate bass response.

To learn more about dynamic drivers and driver size, check out my articles The Complete Illustrated Guide To Moving-Coil Dynamic Headphones and What Is A Good Driver Size For Headphones? respectively.

The main difference between the two is that the M60x is supra-aural while the M50x is circumaural.

The ATH-M60x’s low-profile closed-back design actually offers pretty decent passive noise isolation, which helps to reduce the level of external noise heard by the listener. This feature is made possible with memory foam earpads that conform to the ear and effectively seal it off from the outside world.

The earpads and headband are designed for durability but also for comfort. I mentioned memory foam in the last paragraph. Not only does the earpad help with noise isolation, but it also makes these on-ear headphones pretty comfortable, which is critical for longer listening sessions. Note that both the earpads and the headband detach for easy replacement.

The nominal impedance of the M60x is 38 ohms. This headphone will work perfectly well with the vast majority of mobile and consumer-grade audio devices. There’s no need for a dedicated headphone amplifier!

To learn more about headphone impedance, check out my article The Complete Guide To Understanding Headphone Impedance.

Three interchangeable cables come with the M60x:

  • 1.2 m – 3.0 m coiled
  • 3.0 m straight
  • 2 m straight

Each cable has 3.5mm connectors, though a 3.5mm to 6.35mm screw-on adapter is included to allow easy connection to 1/4″ jacks.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 45 mm Dynamic
  • Impedance: 38 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 15 Hz – 28,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 102 dB
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Supra-aural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 200 g (7.1 oz), without cable and connector
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Audio-Technica is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World
Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use
Top 11 Best Turntable/Record Player Brands In The World
Top 11 Best Phono Cartridge Brands In The World


Klipsch Reference On-Ear II

Klipsch is perhaps best known for its loudspeakers. The Klipsch Reference On-Ear II (link to check the price on Amazon) gets the company mentioned as one of the best supra-aural headphones for under $250 USD.

Klipsch Reference On-Ear II

The Klipsch Reference On-Ear II is a superb headphone.

40mm dynamic drivers are carefully designed into the headphone housing to produce a transparent sound across the audible frequency spectrum. The vocals are heard clearly; the high-end is crisp, and the bass is true and accurate. The closed-back design keeps noise out.

To learn more about closed-back (and open-back) headphone designs, check out my article The Complete Guide To Open-Back & Closed-Back Headphones.

Premium ear cushions help to improve noise isolation. They’re soft and deep, ensuring that pressure is applied evenly across the ear. The adjustable headband, when fitted properly, ensures this pressure is not overbearing. The result is a surprisingly comfortable on-ear headphone that can be worn for hours without issue. Just don’t play the headphone too loud for too long!

A 32-ohm nominal resistance rating means these headphones will provide plenty of level and sound clear with consumer-grade headphone amps/outputs. In other words, the headphones will perform just fine with mobile devices and consumer-grade audio players.

Connect these wired headphones with the durable, tangle-resistant cable that comes with any purchase of the headphones. This detachable cable has an in-line three-button mic, allowing for easy control of smart device volume, call functions and voice assistants.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 40 mm Dynamic
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 110 dB @ 1 mW
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Supra-aural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 232g
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired
  • Microphone: Apple Mic + 3-button Remote

Klipsch is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 11 Best Home Speaker Brands You Should Know And Use
Top 10 Best Loudspeaker Brands (Overall) On The Market Today
Top 11 Best Subwoofer Brands (Car, PA, Home & Studio)
Top 11 Best Soundbar Brands On The Market


Beyerdynamic DT 1350 Pro

Fourth on the list is the Beyerdynamic DT 1350 Pro (link to check the price on Amazon).

Beyerdynamic DT 1350 Pro

The Beyerdynamic DT 1350 Pro is a stand-out in the DT Pro series as it’s the only on-ear model, though the company certainly has other on-ear headphones.

This headphone utilizes dynamic Tesla drivers to reproduce audio. These transducers are highly efficient with extremely low levels of distortion.

With the help of a closed-back housing/cup around the Tesla drivers, the DT 1350 reproduces a perfectly balanced, analytical sound even at the highest volumes.

The soft earpads are removable and replaceable. The flexible split headband is adjustable. Find the right fit for your head and enjoy this lightweight, comfortable and secure on-ear headphone for as long as your listening session lasts.

The secure fit and closed-back design offer excellent isolation from ambient noise, and the earcups swivel 90º to allows for easy single-ear monitoring (for the DJs out there).

The 80-ohm system is like the best of both worlds. It’s low enough to work well with mobile devices and regular headphone jacks but high enough to really benefit from a dedicated high-end amplifier.

To learn more about headphone amplifiers, check out my article What Is A Headphone Amplifier & Are Headphone Amps Worth It?

The headphone comes with a single-sided 1.5 m straight cable (with 3.5mm plugs) and a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter.

For more info on 3.5mm and 6.35mm headphone plugs and jacks, check out my article The Differences Between 2.5mm, 3.5mm & 6.35mm Headphone Jacks.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 80 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 30,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 109 dB
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Supra-aural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 174 g without cable
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Beyerdynamic is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.


Beats Solo3

Let’s wrap things up with the fifth and final headphone: the Beats Solo3 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Beats Solo3

The Beats Solo3 is a wireless supra-aural headphone with a closed-back design. It uses Class 1 Bluetooth via the Apple W1 chip to provide seamless pairing, extended range and stronger connections.

To learn more about wireless headphones, please consider reading the following My New Microphone articles:
• How Bluetooth Headphones Work & How To Pair Them To Devices
• How Do Wireless Headphones Work? + Bluetooth & True Wireless

The Solo3 has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with 40-hour battery life, and Fast Fuel gets the headphone an additional 3 hours of playback with a 5-minute charge. The headphone is charged via the included Micro-USB cable.

Dynamic drivers offer that bass response we’ve come to expect of Beats products. The adjustable fit with comfort-cushioned ear cups allows for a secure fit, improving the low-end and overall clarity. When fitted correctly, the headphones can be worn for extended periods without issue.

The f-tuned acoustics of the Solo3 allows the headphone to clearly reproduce audio across the audible frequency range with depth and focus.

Multi-function on-ear controls allow the user to make calls, control music, and activate voice assistants without ever touching the paired device. To make calls easy and clear, the Beats Solo3 is designed with a built-in beamforming microphone.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: no info
  • Frequency Response: no info
  • Sensitivity: no info
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Supra-aural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 7.58 oz / 215 g
  • Wireless/Wired: Class 1 Bluetooth

Beats is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World
Top 8 Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker Brands On The Market


Honourable Mentions

Here are a few supra-aural headphones within the same price range that didn’t quite make the cut but are still definitely worth considering:


Choosing the right headphones or earphones for your applications and budget can be a challenging task. For this reason, I’ve created My New Microphone’s Comprehensive Headphones/Earphones Buyer’s Guide. Check it out for help in determining your next headphones/earphones purchase.


Other Top Headphones/Earphones Articles

Here are additional My New Microphone articles regarding the best headphones/earphones by type, application, and price:
Top 5 Best Balanced Armature In-Ear Monitors
Top 5 Best Balanced Armature In-Ear Monitors Under $500
Top 5 Best Bone Conduction Headphones
Top 5 Best Circumaural (Over-Ear) Headphones Under $100
Top 5 Best Circumaural (Over-Ear) Headphones Under $200

Top 5 Best Circumaural (Over-Ear) Headphones Under $500
Top 5 Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $100
Top 5 Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $200

Top 5 Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $500
Top 5 Best Earphones For Sleeping Under $250
Top 3 Best Earphones For Swimming Under $200
Top 5 Best Electrostatic Headphones
Top 10 Best Headphones/Earphones For Hiking
Top 5 Best Headphones Under $50
Top 5 Best Headphones For Podcasting Under $100
Top 5 Best Headphones For Podcasting Under $200
Top 5 Best Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphones Under $100
Top 5 Best Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphones Under $200
Top 5 Best Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphones Under $500
Top 5 Best Noise Cancelling Earphones Under $100
Top 5 Best Noise Cancelling Earphones Under $200
Top 5 Best Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $100
Top 5 Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under $200
Top 5 Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under $500
Top 5 Best Open-Back Headphones Under $100
Top 5 Best Open-Back Headphones Under $200
Top 5 Best Open-Back Headphones Under $500
Top 5 Best Planar Magnetic Headphones
Top 5 Best Supra-Aural (On-Ear) Headphones Under $100
Top 5 Best Supra-Aural (On-Ear) Headphones Under $500
Top 5 Best Wireless Earphones/Earbuds Under $100
Top 5 Best Wireless Earphones/Earbuds Under $200
Top 5 Best Wireless Earphones For Running Under $50
Top 5 Best Wireless Earphones For Running Under $100
Top 5 Best Wireless Earphones For Running Under $200
Top 5 Best Wireless Headphones Under $100
Top 5 Best Wireless Headphones Under $200
Top 5 Best Wireless Headphones Under $500


This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.

Arthur

Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement (hikersmovement.com) or composing music for media. Check out his Pond5 and AudioJungle accounts.

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