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What are Circumaural Headphones?

Noise-Canceling at its finest

We are here to tell you that not all headphones are created equal.  Some sit on the ear while others cover the entire ear for a noise-canceling effect.

If you have never had a pair of noise-canceling headphones before, you may not have heard of the term circumaural.  We will give you the low down on circumaural headphones or full-sized headphones as they are often called. 

By the end of this, you will be an expert and ready to purchase a pair for yourself.

Circumaural Headphones Explained

The word circumaural refers to anything that surrounds the ears.  Therefore, circumaural headphones encase the ears completely for complete noise cancellation

Not only do these headphones provide noise-cancellation, but they also prevent sound leakage as well

You might have guessed that they are relatively large, heavy, and somewhat bulky since they cover the entire ear.  Despite that, the foam pads that cover your ears are comfortable and allow you to wear them for long periods without discomfort. 

They fit over your head, so as with anything new, it might take some time to stretch them out for a comfortable fit.

Where do we even start when it comes to sound quality?  Circumaural headphones are excellent for sound quality since you are eliminating sound leakage.  Hear everything with a crisp, clean sound.

If you are a music lover, these headphones are definitely for you.  Hear even minor sounds while using them.  They are known for excellent bass and treble too. 

Circumaural over-ear headphones are perfect for those long plane flights or when you’re in a music studio.  In contrast to bone conduction headphones, circumaural allow you to leave ambient noise behind.

Open-Back Design for Circumaural Headphones

There are several different designs for circumaural headphones.  The open-back design allows air to pass through the ear cups to the speaker element. 

With headphones like this, you will have more sound leakage and less noise cancellation.  However, on the other hand, the sound quality will be more natural and transparent

Some of the best circumaural headphones have an open-back design and are used in professional studios everywhere.

Closed-Back Design Circumaural Ear Headphones

If there is an open-back design, there has to be a closed-back headphone too.  With the closed-back headphone, you might have guessed that they are entirely closed.  The seal is real here. 

This means you have full noise-cancellation and little to no sound leakage with this pair of circumaural headphones.  That said, the sound quality will not be as natural as with the open-back headphones. 

Closed-back circumaural headphones are used by professionals in studios and home offices.

How do they compare to Supra-aural Headphones?

While circumaural headphones cover the entire ear, supra-aural headphones fit on the ear without sealing it completely

Because they allow for air circulation between the ear and headphones, they are not noise-canceling, and minor noises are hard to hear.  They also have noise leakage, so it’s possible the friend next to you can jam right along with you. 

Supra-aural headphones are more common for casual use.  They offer good sound quality but less bass.  People enjoy them because they are lighter and smaller than circumaural headphones. 

If you want some ambient noise while wearing headphones, supra-aural headphones are definitely for you.  Plus, they are less expensive than circumaural headphones.  

Best Circumaural Headphones

Some of the best circumaural headphones are Focal Elegia with their high-frequency response, Audio-Technica ATH-M50X for their durability, and Sennheiser HD 280 Pro with their acoustic noise isolation. 

Depending on your budget, it will also dictate which pair of circumaural headphones will work best for you.  Do your research and enter total relaxation with these noise-canceling headphones. 

If you travel often, they will be your new best friend on a plane.  Just don’t sing too loudly.  Other people might not have gotten the memo on circumaural headphones.