Choosing the right headphone size is important to get the most out of your purchase. This way you can optimally listen to music, podcasts, and other audio content while on the go. But what size of headphones should you wear? There is no one-size-fits-all solution because people come in different shapes and sizes. Below I describe my search for the best fitting headphone, so you get the best wearing comfort as well.
Best on-ear and over ear headphone size
I’m surprised that few brands and resellers share headphone sizes. Research shows that many people can use the same size, but what is the most ideal size? There are four dimensions that affect the wearing comfort of the headphone. We explain these further below. In addition, we list the best combination of ear and head with headphone size in a table. Finally, we will deal with the frequently asked questions.
So 4 factors determine the right fit of your headphone. If you’ve mapped these out for yourself, then your headphones are in place.
- Left and right earpad
- Your ear size compared to headphone size
- Ear to ear size
- Clamp force: tight or loose headphone
Please note: In this article we talk about on-ear and over-ear headphones. You wear on-ear headphones on the ear. Over-ear headphones press against the head around the ear. Both have their own advantages, as described below at the frequently asked questions. The device in the photo is an over-ear model.
1. Left and right earpad
Yes, headphones have a left and a right. The size is the same, but the placement on the head is different. By setting it up correctly, the device is more comfortable. Moreover, the sound then comes from the right direction. This is especially important when you’re gaming. Usually there is a letter L and R on the inside. These stand for left and right. Sometimes this letter is also shown on the bottom of the earpad.
Furthermore, it is important that you place them straight on the head. Especially with over-ear headphones. You can recognize this by placing the band vertically above the ears. You can also check whether the logo on the outside or the letters L and R on the inside are straight.
2. Your ear size compared to headphone size
There are different types of ear sizes. For headphones (and ear muffs), these are divided into three categories. The S size is for children’s ears that range from 4 to 5 cm (1.5 – 2 inches). Most ladies and gentlemen fall into the M category. This is an ear size of 5 to 7 cm (2 – 2.75 inches). Finally, we have the L category which is suitable for an ear size of 7 to 9 cm (2.75 – 3.5 inch). These are representative sizes for the on-ear headphones.
Calculate earpad of on-ear headphone size
The on-ear headphone comes in many different sizes. However, the ear size is less important for this type of headphones, because the earpad rests on the ear. Furthermore, these shapes can also be oval or square. Therefore, it is best to calculate the total size of your current on-ear pads:
- Measure the length and width of the earpad
- Divide it by 2 to get the average
- Match the closest earpad
Ear size for over-ear headphone
As you can see in the photo below, the over-ear headphone has a larger size than the on-ear headphone. This earpad is 9 cm (3.54 inch). However, the inside of the earpad is only 5 cm (2 inches). So is this headphone too small if I have an ear size of 6 cm (2.56 inches)? Luckily not. This is because parts of the ear are under the cushion. So add 2 cm (0.75 inch) to the inside of an over-ear headphone, if you want to calculate the space for your ears.
Over-ear headphone size table
|Ear size in cm||Ear size in inch||Earpad size in mm|
|4 cm||1.6 inch||60 mm|
|5 cm||2.0 inch||70 mm|
|6 cm||2.4 inch||80 mm|
|7 cm||2.8 inch||90 mm|
|8 cm||3.2 inch||100 mm|
|9 cm||3.6 inch||110 mm|
The earpad size is usually indicated in mm. So choose the right earpad size to ensure that the ear does not get trapped. The over-ear headphone should fit snugly around the ear. This distributes the pressure well and ensures that noise canceling works optimally.
In addition to the circumference, the depth can also differ per model. People share their measurements on this forum. However, it does not give a complete picture of the ideal size, because the ear circumference is missing.
3. Ear to ear size
For the best wearing comfort, also take the ear to ear size into account. The optimal size prevents pain, such as stinging and headaches. You measure it with a measuring tape from one ear, over your head, to your other ear. You can also use a string for this and then lay it along a ruler.
As you can see in the image below, you can measure the ear to ear size of headphones on the inside of the band. Always check whether the band of a headset or headphone is adjustable before making a purchase. If this is not the case, you should choose a model with the ideal ear to ear size.
Tip: you should only feel the pressure on the ears and no upward or downward pressure.
Why is ear to ear size important for headphones?
This size is important to ensure that the headphones can be worn comfortably. This makes sure that you properly distribute the pressure between the top and the sides of your head. This way the headphones stay in place better and you prevent uncomfortable pain when wearing them a lot.
4. Clamp force: tight or loose headphone
The clamp force of a headphone is the pressure on the head between the earpads. This is a measurement of the total pressure. The pressure on the head is determined by the earpad size.
However, if headphones are too tight, the pressure is too high. Are headphones too loose? Then the clamp force is too low. Below the photo we give tips on how to adjust this.
Furthermore, you can measure in advance what the width is between the two earpads. Pull the headphones apart so that the earpads are straight up (slightly further than in the photo below). Then measure the distance.
With the help of another person you can measure your head size from temple to temple. It is best if this size corresponds to the measured width of the headphones. Eventually, the device will also loosen up if you wear it more.
How to fix a headphone that is too tight?
It is best to set up a stack of books that are slightly wider than your head. Then place the headphones on it, so that the band is stretched. Then wait 3 to 10 days before allowing the material to stretch. You will usually notice a difference after 10 hours, but to ensure that the width is maintained, more time is needed. You could also check out this Youtube video:
How to fix a headphone that is too loose?
If the headphones are too loose, you can also solve this with a few books. Make a stack that is slightly narrower than the width of your head. Place the headphones over them and make sure that the earpads press against the books thanks to a rubber band or string. The stack of books ensures that the strap of the headphones does not break.
Conclusion on getting the best headphone size and FAQ
To choose the right size, it is best to pay attention to the earpads, band size and clamp force. Are the headphones still not comfortable? Then make sure that the device is set up correctly on your head.
Which is better: on-ear headphones or over-ear headphones?
Both have their own advantages. An over-ear headphone is better at noise cancellation and usually offers a higher quality. The on-ear headphone is lighter and easier to store. The latter is usually cheaper too.
How do you wear headphones so they don’t hurt?
Make sure the earpads are big enough. Especially with over-ear headphones. Remember that the larger the earpads are, the better the clamp force pressure is distributed. In addition, it is important that the band has the right length for an optimal ear to ear size.
How do you wear glasses comfortably with headphones?
It is of course difficult to adjust your glasses. Therefore, it is preferable to opt for on-ear headphones in combination with glasses. Do you have over-ear headphones? If your earpads are not too expensive, you can also cut a space where the temples will be placed. In this way you ensure that the pressure is distributed evenly everywhere. So it does not hurt anymore when you wear glasses in combination with headphones.
Which headphone earpads for big ears?
Do you have ears that are longer than 7 cm? Then it will be difficult to find ear cups that fit around them. In that case, it is best to go for on-ear headphones.
Do you have questions or additions? Let us know below! Did you find this article valuable? Feel free to share it or click to another article and stay a few seconds longer.