Top 5 Best Supra-Aural (On-Ear) Headphones Under $500 2021


Supra-aural (on-ear) headphones are a great on-the-go choice for busier listeners. They’re generally lighter, less expensive and easier to pack away than their circumaural (over-ear) counterparts. They also typically sound much better than in-ear earphones.

Of course, some on-ear headphones are better than others. In this article, we’ll discuss the best supra-aural headphones that fit within a $500 USD budget.

The top 5 best supra-aural (on-ear) headphones under $500 are:

$500 is actually pretty pricey for a pair of true supra-aural headphones. You’ll notice that some of the headphones mentioned here look similar to circumaural headphones with their padding. Some even provide noise cancelling. Rest assured, they are all on-ear headphones. It’s the added functionality, comfort and sound quality that bring their price points up.

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. If we’re out in public and regularly putting our headphones away and taking them back out, it’s nice to have a compatible set of on-ears.

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 $500!


Related articles:

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Grado SR325e

Grado Labs has become somewhat synonymous with great-sounding supra-aural headphones. The Grado SR325e (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video) is great proof of this.

Grado SR325e

The SR325e is the flagship model from Grado’s Prestige Series of supra-aural headphones.

The dynamic drivers are matched to 0.05 dB, and the backs of the earcups are open. This makes for a wonderful soundstage with a natural-sounding stereo image. Hear mixes as they were intended with the superb sound of the Grado SR325e.

The added mass from the headphone’s metal housing minimizes transient distortions and gives the headphone excellent durability. Fear not about comfort, though, as the L ear cushions and leather headband keep users’ heads and ears comfortable. The headphone fits securely but without putting undue pressure on the ears.

This wired headphone utilizes an 8-conductor dual-ear (split) cable. This keeps audio in pristine condition as it travels from the connected device to the superb stability across the entire frequency range with defined low-end, clear mids, full-bodied vocals, and a near-perfect high-end.

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

With a rated impedance of only 32 ohms, the SR325 will work with nearly any audio device. The cable has a 3.5mm plug, but the headphone comes with a golden 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter to easily plug into 1/4″ jacks. Whether we’re using our smartphone or a dedicated high-end headphone amplifier, these Grado headphones will sound great (though likely much better through the amp).

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

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 18 Hz – 24,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB SPL/1mW
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Supra-aural/Open-back
  • Weight: 12.6 oz. (358 g)
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

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

Grado Labs is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World
Top 11 Best Phono Cartridge Brands In The World


Bowers & Wilkins PX5

The second supra-aural headphone we’ll be discussing is the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Bowers & Wilkins PX5

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 is more than just a supra-aural headphone. It’s also a wireless headphone with active noise cancellation technology.

The PX5 features custom-designed 35.6 mm drivers that are expertly tuned to deliver an amazing sonic experience for whoever chooses to listen. Built into a closed-back design, these drivers reproduce audio with superb clarity across the ultra-wide frequency response of 10 Hz – 30,000 Hz.

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

Expect accurate sound reproduction with present bass, defined mids and non-fatiguing high. Even with wireless audio and active noise cancellation (ANC), the headphone sounds great.

Speaking of wireless, the PX5 uses Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX Adaptive, among other codecs. This protocol allows for the low-latency signal transfer (great for screened media). Pairing is made easy, and automatic pairing to the last paired device will happen as the PX5 is turned on, so long as that device is within the 33-foot operating range.

If you’d like to go wired, the PX5 also has the option for wired connectivity. Plug the included 1.2m stereo audio cable into the headphone and into the audio device for a wired connection. Note that the jack in the headphone is 3.5mm, and the cable has 3.5mm plugs at either end.

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.

Bower & Wilkins developed “Real-World Listening” features that are included in the PX5. These features include:

Adaptive noise-cancellation offers an uncompromising listening experience by sensing the noise of the environment and automatically applying an appropriate type and amount of ANC.

The headphone has 4 microphones for active noise-cancellation and 2 for telephony. Cancel out external noise and make crystal clear calls with this excellent supra-aural headphone.

Ambient pass-through, when engaged, passes external sounds from the environment, such as conversations, through to the headphone, allowing them to be heard clearly.

Wear sensing technology can be set to stop and start audio as the headphone is taken off and put back on the listener’s head.

Enable these features and further customize the sound of the B&W PX5 with the Bowers & Wilkins Headphone App.

The woven carbon fibre composite arms of the PX5 are modelled after the strength of the fastest race cars. In terms of durability, the PX5 is hard to beat in the headphone game.

Along with superb ruggedness, the PX5 is also very comfortable, and the adjustable headband can be set to achieve the perfect fit. It’s light and compact as well, making it easy to carry when in use and when not in use.

A full battery offed 25 hours of Bluetooth with ANC engaged and even more if only one of these features is engaged. Get an additional 5 hours of playtime with only 15 minutes of charging via the included USB-A to USB-C cable.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 35.6 mm Dynamic
  • Impedance: no info
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 30,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 111 dB
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Supra-aural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 241g
  • Wireless/Wired: Either

Bowers & Wilkins is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World
Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World
Top 11 Best Home Speaker Brands You Should Know And Use
Top 10 Best Loudspeaker Brands (Overall) On The Market Today
Top 11 Best Soundbar Brands On The Market


Austrian Audio Hi-X50

Third up is the Austrian Audio Hi-X50 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Austrian Audio Hi-X50

The Austrian Audio Hi-X50 is a professional on-ear headphone that sounds as cool as it looks. It’s a headphone crafted from scratch by expert Austrian engineers.

The Hi-X50 (Hi-X = High Excursion) utilizes expertly designed 44mm dynamic drivers. These drivers move tons of air while remaining stiff and reducing unwanted resonance.

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.

These headphones are capable of producing sound from 5 Hz all the way to 28,000 Hz, which is beyond the audible spectrum into infrasound (below 20 Hz) and ultrasound (above 20 kHz). It’s more than capable of producing audio accurately from the deepest bass to the airiest highs and everything in between.

The Hi-X50 has a rated nominal impedance of 25 ohms and a high-quality detachable cable with 3.5mm plugs. This tells us the headphone will work perfectly and sound incredibly good with mobile and consumer-grade audio devices.

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

The 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter makes it easy to plug into 1/4″ headphone jacks, which are commonly used in professional audio equipment and dedicated headphone amplifiers.

In terms of construction, the all-metal hinges and bow afford these headphones superb durability and stability. The headband is adjustable, and the earcups are foldable for improving fit and making storage easy.

The earpads are made of soft slow-retention memory foam for comfort that lasts throughout the longest of listening sessions.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 44mm Dynamic
  • Impedance: 25 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 28,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 118 dB SPL/V
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Supra-aural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 285g without cable
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Beyerdynamic Aventho

The Beyerdynamic Aventho (link to check the price on Amazon) gets a spot on this list at number 4.

Beyerdynamic Aventho

The Beyerdynamic Aventho is a Bluetooth-wireless supra-aural headphone.

It uses Qualcomm® aptX™ HD und AAC Bluetooth codecs, has an operational range of 10 m (33 ft.), and its rechargeable lithium-ion battery has a runtime of over 30 hours. Use the included USB-A to USB-C charge cable to full charge the battery within only 2 hours.

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 headphone also comes with an audio cable (with mini-jack plugs/3.5 mm connectors). We can choose to use the headphones wirelessly or wired with the detachable audio cable.

Note that, when going wired, that the nominal impedance of the Aventho is 32 ohms, so the headphone will sound great with mobile and consumer-grade devices along with professional audio equipment.

In terms of sound quality, the Aventho utilizes Beyerdynamic’s Tesla drivers to deliver incredible sound. From a powerful, precise bass to clear mids and silky-pleasant highs, this headphone will recreate audio with pristine clarity, impressive dynamic range and a naturally wide stereo field.

This headphone is made from high-quality materials such as brushed stainless steel and high-quality leatherette to guarantee longevity and resistance to normal wear and tear.

The adjustable headband allows us to find the perfect fit. The headphone’s soft earpads feel great and help to reduce external noise along with the closed-back cup. On top of that, the lightweight headphone doesn’t push against the ear with too much pressure, making for an ergonomic pair of headphones that can be worn for extended periods of time without issue.

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

When pairing wirelessly to smart devices via Bluetooth 4.2, the intuitive integrated touchpad on the Aventho earcup makes it easy to control the paired device. Pause, play and skip tracks; make/take calls or activate voice assistants without ever having to reach for the device.

To make calls easier and higher quality, the Aventho does have a built-in MEMS microphone.

Use the Aventho with Beyerdynamic’s innovative MIY App to personalization your headphones. Complete the hearing test and create your own personal sound profile by Mimi Defined. The app will then adjust the EQ of the audio to best suit your hearing.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 40,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL (1 mW|500 Hz)
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Supra-aural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 238g without cable
  • Wireless/Wired: Bluetooth or wired

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


Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i

Last but not least, we have the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i (link to check the price on Amazon) as the fifth supra-aural headphone we’ll be discussing.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i

The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i delivers the high-quality sound B&O is known for in an on-ear headphone with advanced active noise cancellation.

The 40mm dynamic drivers deliver a frequency response from 20 Hz to 22,000 Hz, covering the entire audible frequency range. Expect superior audio quality whether you choose to use the headphone wirelessly or with a headphone cable. Extended low-end, accurate mids and perfect highs are part of the H8i’s sonic character.

Yes, these headphones can be connected by cable or wirelessly.

The included 1.2 audio cable has a 3.5mm plug for easy wired connectivity. You may need to pick up a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter if you’re plugging into 1/4″ (6.35mm) headphone jacks. With a nominal impedance of 21 ohms, this headphone will work well with any audio device.

The rechargeable lithium-ion battery only takes 3.5 hours to fully charge via USB-C. The battery life depends on which functions we choose to use:

  • Up to 30 hours with Bluetooth and ANC
  • Up to 45 hours with Bluetooth only
  • Up to 42 hours wired with ANC + control

The advanced ANC of the Beoplay H8i keeps low-end and even low-mid frequencies out of the listener’s ears, whether audio is playing or not.

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

In addition to superb ANC, the H8i featured a Transparency Mode, allowing users to filter in the sounds around them if need be. This works like the opposite of noise-cancellation.

With proximity sensors, we can choose to make the H8i automatically pause or play the music/audio when the headphones are taken off and put back on, respectively.

Calls and voice assistant engagement are made easy with 2 dedicated telephony microphones.

Combine the H8i with the Bang & Olufsen App and customize the headphone EQ (or choose from presets).

These lightweight on-ear headphones are built with superior durability and comfort. The frame is largely made of aluminum. The leather headband and fabric ear cushions are superbly pleasant, and the low pressure keeps the ergonomic headphones comfortable over long listening periods.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 40 mm Dynamic
  • Impedance: 21 Ω +/- 15%
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 22,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: no info
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Supra-aural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 255 g
  • Wireless/Wired: Bluetooth 4.0 or wired
  • Microphone: Electret

Bang & Olufsen is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World
Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World
Top 8 Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker Brands On The Market


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 $250
• 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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