Circumaural Headphones vs Supra Aural Headphones: Is There Any Difference?

Circumaural Headphones vs Supra Aural Headphones

Circumaural and Supra Aural Headphones have been pitted against each other for a long time based on their design, comfort, portability, and others. These terms can be complicated when you’re new to the headphone scene, even more so when you’re considering buying one! Both types have distinct advantages and disadvantages that you should know about to make your purchasing decision easier. Here we’ll break down both types of headphones, compare them, and give you an idea of which one you should go for. So, without further ado, let’s begin!

Introduction to Circumaural Headphones

These are the types of headphones with earcups that surround your ears. You may also know them from their alternative identities, “Over-Ear Headphones.” Circumaural headphones usually have a comparatively large driver and feel a lot bulkier than the rest. They have a reputation for compensating for that lack of portability with superior sound quality.

Introduction to Supra Aural Headphones

On the flipside, Supra Aural headphones are the kinds of headphones that have their ear cups designed to rest ON your ears instead of around your ears like the traditional circumaural ones. These types of headphones are also known as in-ear headphones. As you can tell by now, Supra Aural headphones are more compact and portable when compared to the circumaural models. But, due to the smaller drivers, the sound quality takes a noticeable dip.


Basics aside, circumaural headphones, in most cases, are most famous for their comparatively affordable form factor. Since with their build, your ears remain free and without contact with the ear cups, prolonged usage won’t cause any ear fatigue whatsoever. Another benefit of having large ear cups is a makeshift seal around your ears, which gives you a good amount of passive noise cancellation.

With Supra Aural Headphones and their smaller form factor, they are much easier to carry around wherever you go. The small size means you can literally just toss it in a laptop bag and go wherever you want. But with the comparatively smaller earcups, you won’t get that sweet and silent sound isolation you’d get from circumaural headphones. But, this has its perks, since you’ll be more aware of your surroundings, which would benefit you if you’re an office person or commuting in public.

With the circumaural design and the seal, noise isn’t the only thing you’re getting isolated from. The design doesn’t let air pass through the cups, and your ears will like the sound. This means that even though it might be comfortable to wear for a long time, your ears might get warmer than you’re used to. Supra Aural headphones, being the opposite, allow the air to pass through, which doesn’t pile up the heat and allows your ears to breathe, although you might feel sore after prolonged usage.

Which One Would Be Better for You?

Well, as you know by now, different people have different perspectives and preferences. But, in general, when you’re looking for a pair of headphones with excellent sound quality, rumbling bass, and good noise isolation that’s relatively comfortable, you could invest in a Sony WH-1000XM4 or a Sennheiser HD 800, both of which are fabulous circumaural headphones!

But, when you want to go low-profile, a compact and portable Supra Aural headphone could be the one for you when you want to go commuting and need a sense of environmental awareness. Also, Supra Aural headphones are the way to go when you prefer openness, portability, and a lighter price tag. If so, we’d highly recommend going for the Sony WH-CH510 or Audio-Technica ATH-S200BT, superb supra-aural headphones, both of them!

Final Verdict

So, that was a comparison between circumaural headphones and supra-aural headphones. We do hope that this article will help you to figure out if you’re a circumaural person or a supra-aural person, but we would completely understand if you went in and bought a pair of each!

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Nafiul Haque

Nafiul Haque has grown up playing on all the major gaming platforms. And he got his start as a journalist covering all the latest gaming news, reviews, leaks, etc. As he grew as a person, he became deeply involved with gaming hardware and equipment. Now, he spends his days writing about everything from reviewing the latest gaming laptops to comparing the performance of the latest GPUs and consoles.