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Circumaural vs Over-Ear vs Supra Aural Headphones

A Detailed Comparison Between Three Types of Headphones

Circumaural Headphones vs Over-The-Ear Headphones vs Supra Aural

So, you set out on an adventure to find the best headphones on the market and land yourself in a store or online shop where you are flooded with different types of headphones. And, you finally have to choose between circumaural headphones vs over-the-ear headphones vs supra aural headphones What will you do? Do you know how these headphones are different from one another?

Well, not to worry if you don’t! That’s exactly what our experts will do in this post. Here, we’ll discuss everything about circumaural headphones vs over-the-ear headphones vs supra aural headphones. Read on to know more.

Different Headphones Form Factors

You’ll find four primary headphones and earphones form factors on the market today:

  • Circumaural
  • In-Ear
  • Over-the-Ear
  • Supra Aural

However, in our post today, we’ll cover only three of these – circumaural, over-the-ear and supra aural.

Technically speaking, circumaural headphones are worn around the ear. They completely block the ears from the external environment. Over-the-ear headphones can be on-ear or circumaural. Instead of circling around the ears, they rest on the outer surface of the ears. Like circumaural headphones, supra aural headphones also sit on the ears; however, they don’t cover the ears completely. These are just the basic differences between circumaural, over-the-ear and supra aural headphones. Let’s discuss more in detail.

Circumaural vs Over-the-Ear Headphones

In simpler words, both circumaural and over-the-ear headphones belong to the same category. They are together, also known as “full-sized” headphones. They are both bulky and large. Nevertheless, they both serve the same purpose; they eliminate external noise and prevent sound leakage.

Circumaural headphones

Circumaural and Over-the-Ear Headphones Comparison – Differences and Similarities

Circumaural refers to something that surrounds the ears. It completely covers the ears to prevent sound leakage while providing the noise cancelling feature.As the name suggests, over-the-ear headphones stay on the ear. Instead of covering the ears completely, they sit on the surface of the ears. They are available in closed-back or open-back designs.
They are also called full-size headphones. They are also called full-size headphones.
Circumaural headphones cover the users’ ears with dense circular or ellipsoid earpads and prevent the leakage of sound while adding noise cancellation effects.Instead of resting on the ears, the large earpads in over-the-ear headphones beautifully rest over the ear and prevent sound leakage.
They are heavyweight and large.They are heavyweight and large.
A Pair of Over-the-Ear Headphones

Circumaural vs Supra Aural Headphones

A Pair of Supra Aural Headphones

Both circumaural and supra aural headphones serve different purposes.

Circumaural headphones can completely block outside noise. They also provide great bass and treble. With circumaural headphones, you get to switch between multiple volume levels without any sound leakage. If you are a fan of minor sound details, these headphones can work wonders for you. All these spectacular features of circumaural headphones come together to make them the best studio headphones on the market. So, whether you are an audio enthusiast or a professional, we bet you’ll love circumaural headphones.

Supra aural headphones provide transparency to external noise. They allow air circulation between your headphones and fail to provide minor sound details. Therefore, they are highly suitable for casual/daily use.

Quick Roundup of the Best Circumaural and Supra Aural Headphones

Best Circumaural HeadphonesSony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
Best Supra Aural HeadphonesBeats Solo3 Wireless 

Circumaural and Supra Aural Headphones – Differences and Similarities

CircumauralSupra Aural
Circumaural headphones completely cover the users’ ears and cancel outside noise.Supra aural headphones sit on the users’ ears instead of completely blocking them. They do not cancel external noise/sound. Therefore, they are highly suitable for scenarios where you cannot ignore external noises/sounds.
They are used by audiophiles and professionals.They are suitable for casual or daily use.
They prevent sound leakage and provide noise cancellation.They allow sound to leak and accept external noise/sounds. Also, they do not provide noise cancellation.
They are heavyweight and large.They are lightweight, small and portable.

Circumaural Headphones vs Over-the-Ear Headphones vs Supra Aural Headphones – Comparison Based on Pros and Cons

Types of HeadphonesProsCons
Circumaural– Excellent noise cancellation
– Great sound quality; clear and refined listening experience
– Gradual low end response
– Prevent sound leakage
– Heavyweight and large
– Typically more expensive than over-the-ear and supra aural headphones
– They can overheat the ears as they completely cover them
– The wide headband can be annoying
Over-the-Ear– Good noise cancellation
– Decent sound quality
–  Heavyweight and large
Supra Aural– Lightweight and small
– Easy to carry around; most models are foldable
– Less powerful bass
– Suitable for daily use
– Low price
– Allow sound leakage
– Do not provide noise cancellation


While circumaural headphones are not as lightweight or affordably priced as supra aural headphones, they provide excellent noise isolation, crisp sound, and great bass and treble. They are perfect for studio use. Also, there is not much of a difference between circumaural and over-the-ear headphones; they belong to the same category.

All in all, even a basic pair of circumaural headphones will provide crystal clear sound and accurate noise cancelation. However, your choice will entirely depend on your budget and listening requirement. If you are on a shoestring budget and are looking for daily-use headphones, then supra aural headphones would be a good bet.

We hope you found our post on circumaural vs over-the-ear vs supra aural headphones useful. If you wish to add something more to the information already shared in the post, please feel free to write to us. If you have any questions, you can post them in the comment section below. Our experts will pick your questions as soon as possible and will get back to you with a suitable answer.