How we review over-ear headphones

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Alex Choros
Aug 19, 2022
Icon Time To Read2 min read

When we review over-ear wireless headphones, there are five main considerations:

  • Sound: Do they sound good? Audio quality is pretty important for headphones, after all.
  • Comfort & Design: Are they comfortable to wear over extended periods of time?
  • Features: How long does the battery last? Is the connectivity reliable? Is the noise-cancelling good?
  • Vibe: What's the overall experience? 
  • Value: Are they good for the money?

While audio products can be quite subjective for many reasons, we have standardised testing procedures across the team designed to help us look at the category in a consistent way, and give you the best recommendations possible

Compare over-ear headphones

Product
Rating
Price
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Fast charging
Noise cancelling
Availability

Sound Quality

Sound quality is obviously an important part of testing when it comes to headphones. We always listen to tracks we love and are familiar with, but supplement this with a standardised testing playlist to help us better work out the best of the best.

The playlist covers a wide range of genres, spanning from saccharine pop to progressive death metal. These songs have been carefully chosen to test certain sonic characteristics. 

You can check out the playlist by hitting the button below.

Microphone quality is also important, so we take microphone samples from the headphones we review, and make them available on our Soundcloud for easy comparison.

Comfort & Design

Comfort and design are also important considerations in our testing process. You don't want to wear headphones that feel like a vice grip, especially on a long-haul flight. 

Some of the questions we consider as part of our editorial testing include:

  • Do they pass the headbang bang test? 
  • Do they use gestures or physical buttons? Are they any good? 
  • How compact are the headphones and their case? 

Features

Bose QC45s

When it comes to more general functionality, we look at a broad range of features we'd expect to find on headphones and benchmarks they should pass. 

  • How long does the battery last? 
  • Is there noise cancelling and is it any good? 
  • Is connectivity reliable? 
  • Do they have an ambient mode? 
  • Can you use them as wired headphones? 

Vibe

In addition to more concrete factors, we also consider a product's vibe. It's overall energy, it's aura. The parts that you can't just encapsulate through a checklist of features. The overall experience of using it. A good vibe doesn't fix a bad product, but it can further elevate an already solid device. 

Value

Value is ultimately the final lens we evaluate headphones through. We're not just asking if headphones are good, but if they're good for the money. 

Not everyone needs or wants expensive headphones, so we always make sure more affordable options are considered on their own merits. 

When looking at price during the review process, we always refer to retail price as a baseline - even if there might be temporary discounts available. 

Alex Choros
Written by
Alex Choros
Alex Choros is the Group Reviews Editor for Clearlink Australia's local websites - Reviews.org, Safewise, and WhistleOut - and the Managing Editor for WhistleOut Australia. He's been writing about consumer technology for over eight years and is an expert on the Australian telco sector, to the point where he knows far too many phone and internet plans by heart. He also contributes to Gizmodo and Lifehacker, and makes regular appearances on 2GB. Outside of tech, Alex loves long hikes, red wine, and death metal.

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