What Are Circumaural Headphones? [Circumaural Vs Supra-aural Vs Over-ear]

what are circumaural headphones

Circumaural headphones are sort of helping hands for audio enthusiasts. How? They are a source to explore itsy-bitsy details of your audio. If you are an audiophile, then the term circumaural would not be new to you. However, the layman may find it hard to understand these varieties of headphones. Though by name these headphones appear hard to understand, actually they are not.   

Like many other types of headphones, they are one of them. What makes them different? It is their structural appearance and the way they deliver sound output.

How can you use these types of earphones? How are they different from other types? What are the few best circumaural headphones available on the market?

You will get to read the answer to all these questions in this post. Moreover, the reviews of best circumaural headphones will let you know a lot about their major aspects.

Continue reading to explore crucial details about this significant component of a studio. 

What Are Circumaural Headphones?

Let’s first start by describing circumaural headphones:

The word “circum” means around, and the term “aural” refers to ear. Thus, Circumaural Headphones are those that surround the outside part of your ears completely. They come with large cups that reside speakers inside them.

These giant cups enclose your ears completely. Because, of their large size, they are also sometimes termed as full-size headphones. They literally hide your ear region and seal them. Consequently, you will obtain a great deal of isolation that will block all surrounding noise.

The design that assists in attaining this isolation is their large earpads. They are either circular or ellipsoid and manufactured using high-density foams. These pads serve as a barrier for outside noise by absorbing all unnecessary sound waves.

What’s the result of this design? It is the noticeable minor sound details with strong bass, treble, and ability to hold the highest sound level effortlessly. Moreover, almost zero to none sound leakage and noise canceling abilities are few of circumaural headphones’ traits.   

These are the significant advantages of circumaural over-ear headphones:

  • Gives off remarkable sound quality
  • May carry supplementary attributes
  • Feels comfortable to wear
  • Good amount of outside noise cancellation

With all these benefits, there are a few things worth revealing about these headphones as well. As we have already mentioned they come with large earpads/earcups. This thing and few other additional features make them considerably large in size and heavyweight.

Consequently, they are very hard to carry around everywhere. With a lack of portability, they might be heavy on your budget as well.  

How To Wear Circumaural Headphones?

These circumaural headphones come with a band and two earcups. The band sits on the top of the head, while earcups stay over your ear. However, they don’t only sit on your ears but covers the ear cartilages completely. Therefore, the ear cupping prevents any sound leakage.

In order to get the maximum benefits of these headphones, you should wear them properly. They won’t be able to do all their functions properly if they are are not fixed on their required place.

Good quality circumaural noise canceling headphones contain comfortable materials on their earpads. It can either be velvet or leather. Thus, it would feel pillowy on your ears and head rather chewing your head in between. 

However, you should remember the fact that circumaural headphones normally come in closed-back style. It is because they are supposed to stop external noise from distorting the audio quality. In the result, this design might produce sweat because of lack of air circulation.

Additionally, they might feel bulkier because of their complicated size. It is, therefore, possible to feel tired soon by wearing them for a long time. Therefore, it is important to wear them carefully. You should take rest for short intervals if you are listening to an audio by circumaural for the prolonged-time period. 

Circumaural headphones vs. Supra-aural headphones

Summary Table


Circumaural Headphones

These headphones are large in size. They fully cover the users’ ears and provide isolation from the surrounding world by blocking external sound. These types of headphones are particularly used in achieving noise cancellation attributes. Professionals and audiophiles usually prefer this headphone type.

Supra-aural headphones

Supra-aural headphones are small and lightweight. They sit on the ears instead of fully covering it. These headphones allow air circulation. They are also portable because of their adequate size. They do not block external sound. Thus, they are used for casual purpose. They are also suitable for places where you cannot ignore outside noise.

Circumaural headphones vs. Supra-aural

If we compare headphones circumaural and supra-aural, we can see they both are suitable for a completely different scenario.

The circumaural headphones are capable of jamming outside noise. It also gives outstanding bass, treble, and volume levels. It provides zero sound leakage. You can notice minor sound details with this headphone type.

All these traits make it capable of being the best headphone for studio use. It is also highly suitable for audiophile, professionals or audio enthusiast.

On the other hand, supra-aural headphones are capable of giving transparency to outside noise. They allow air to circulate between your headphones. However, it might not be able to provide trivial sound details, yet delivers good sound quality.

These traits make it suitable for casual use. In all those situations where you cannot ignore surrounding voices, supra-aural is the solution.

Regarding appearance, they both have a headband. However, the major difference exists in their size and weight. Circumaural are significantly larger in size and higher.

It is because of their complex functioning and feature of enclosing the ears. They have to cup your ears. Thus, they have cup-shaped earpads. Supra-aural headphones are lightweight and relatively simple. It is because of their functioning of allowing air circulation and portability feature. 

Circumaural headphones vs. over-ear headphones

Summary Table


Circumaural headphones: this term refers to something that stays around the ear. It covers the entire ear to prevent sound leakage while giving noise cancellation properties. It is because of this reason; such earpads are also used in noise cancellation headphones.

Over-ear headphones: as their name says, these headphones stay over your ear. It covers the ears completely and provides significant isolation. They either come in open-back or closed-back design.

Circumaural headphones vs. over-ear headphones

Literally speaking, both circumaural and over-ear headphones fall under the same category. We can declare them as part of full-size headphone’s category. They both are large and heavy in weight. They both serve the same purpose i-e to stop outside noise from disturbing you while preventing sound leakage. 

Best Circumaural Headphones Reviews

#1: Sennheiser RS175 Closed Circumaural Headphones

  • Bluetooth version: N/A
  • Waterproof: No
  • Sound quality: Good
  • Battery life: 24 hours
  • Sound isolating: Average to Good

Sennheiser RS175 Closed Circumaural Headphones


This RS175 Circumaural headphone is a premium quality Sennheiser Headphones. It provides very clear audio quality. Thus, even people with a slight hearing problem can listen to it. It comes with a number of attributes that make it highly suitable especially for your home theatre.

The headphone uses radio frequency technology for its wireless connectivity instead of Bluetooth. It gives very quick connectivity. It doesn’t create sync problems as well. Regarding range, you can enjoy its connectivity at a distance of almost 122 feet. However, you should be at the line of sight from the source.

It delivers good treble and bass effects. Consequently, it gives very exciting outcomes to your movies. However, there are options to turn them off as well.

It comes with rechargeable AAA batteries with good battery life. Thus, you can enjoy a full day of bombastic music without charging it even for once.

As these Sennheiser headphones have a closed-back design, they deliver significant isolation. You can even use them for average critical listening of your audios.

The design of RS 175 is durable and ergonomic. Its foam padding for earcups is very comfortable to wear. It further contains some padding for your head region. Moreover, it contains a few main controls on earcups for easy access.


  • Provides remarkable connectivity.
  • Is very comfortable to wear.
  • Gives long signal transmission.
  • Delivers outstanding bass.
  • Is easy to access the main


  • Cables are not of good quality.
  • The control scheme is limited.

#2: Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Circumaural Closed-Back Monitor Headphones

  • Bluetooth version: N/A
  • Waterproof: No
  • Sound quality: Excellent
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Sound isolating: Good to Excellent


This Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is the newer version of previous HD 280. It contains almost the same features as the previous version. However, the difference is all of them now came in an improved form.

It has a durable construction. Though it contains plastic, yet it is a durable material with sleek looks. Thus, you can expect it performing well even after a few serious drops.

Their design is bulkier yet comfortable that makes it suitable for the studio. The good thing is this pair of headphones are foldable. Thus, you can pack them to carry in your laptop bag easily.

HD 280 Pro is capable of providing deep bass, well-balanced treble, and amazing mid-ranges. It is further good for critical listening. It gives pretty good isolation with very little to no sound leakage.

Moreover, as HD 280 Pro comes with wired connectivity, it offers zero latency. Due to this trait, we can mark it as one of the best circumaural gaming headphones.


  • It gives outstanding isolation.
  • It provides high-quality sound
  • You can fold it to carry it easily.
  • You can customize its parts according to your requirements.


  • It looks old-fashioned.
  • Its cable is fixed.

#3: Sennheiser HD 600 Circumaural Headphones

  • Bluetooth version: N/A
  • Waterproof: No
  • Sound quality: Good
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Sound isolating: Poor


These HD 600 Circumaural Headphones are very popular headsets for its remarkable sound quality. It contains plastic as its construction material. Still, it is durable and doesn’t feel cheap at all.

Its design is relatively conventional yet comfortable. Additionally, as it is open-back headphones, you can expect an adequate amount of air circulation. It means you can carry out some long critical listening sessions using these headphones.

Regarding sound quality, this piece is versatile. It can go well on a variety of music types by providing amazing neutral treble, clear midrange, and consistent basis. However, it possesses somehow low sub-bass. 

Because of its open-back design, it delivers spacious soundstage. This thing makes it suitable for critical listening. It comes with wired connectivity. However, it would not produce noise while touching it. 


  • It delivers a well-balanced
  • Good for critical listening.
  • It is very comfortable to wear.
  • It doesn’t make your ear hot.


  • Leaks sound and doesn’t give isolation.
  • The band quality is not very good.

#4: Focal Clear Open Circumaural Headphones

  • Bluetooth version: N/A
  • Waterproof: No
  • Sound quality: Good
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Sound isolating: Poor


These Focal Clear Open Circumaural Headphones are high-profile headsets that come with a modern appearance. With its grey and black combination, it stands among other headphones with the great aesthetic appeal.

It contains M-shaped, full-range driver of 40 mm, and an inverted dome. The driver contains magnesium/aluminum alloy. It is capable of providing frequencies beyond our hearing frequencies. Thus, these headphones give a remarkable response to the whole range.

Regarding sound output, it provides spacious soundscape because of its open-back design. It delivers clear and distortion-free sound. You can also expect an exceptional mid-range from this headset. It also gives outstanding transient response and bass. It further comes with an impedance of 55 Ohms with 104dB sensitivity. These attributes make them able to use them with almost any smartphone. Your gadget’s quality won’t affect its output.

They are very comfortable to wear and give a nice fit. It contains aluminum yoke along with asymmetrical attachment point. These features assist in providing comfort along with suitable fit for each head size.

It further contains microfiber, leather, and memory foam material. They cushion your head and ears to provide a soothing feel. It doesn’t make your ears sweat.


  • Comes in a beautiful case.
  • Gives spacious soundscape.
  • Gives a remarkable frequency response.
  • Its lightweight and doesn’t create pressure.


  • You cannot fold them up for portability.
  • The grey fabric of headphones might appear dirty after prolonged use. 


Do you want to go astray in your dream world? Bring a pair of circumaural headphones pair for yourself. Which one to choose? You already have reviews of a few top circumaural headsets. We hope going through them would have informed you a lot about these headphones.

Circumaural literally enclose your ears to make you hear only the sound output it provides. It also prevents sound leakage and gives comfortable wear. These things make you able to critically analyze your sound output by them, and that’s what professionals do. This is the reason we can call these pair of headphones as a helping hand for these experts.

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