Comfortable listening for the tiny-headed
August 16, 2016 8:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for the absolute most comfortable closed-back over-the-ear headphones for a small head. ~$100-$150. Sound quality not especially important.

I like to listen to music throughout the workday, and I find that hard with most headphones I've tried because they hurt my ears or my head very quickly. In- or on-ear headphones are out of the question, I've discovered. I have a small head, so although squeezing too tight on the ears is bad, I more often have a problem where headphones don't squeeze tight enough so they end up putting all the weight on the top of my head, which hurts.

I'm currently wearing a hand-me-down set of Sony MDR-V6s that I've added new padded ear cups and extra padding on the headband to, and I can only wear them for 20-30 minutes without it killing the top of my head. It's possible that since my normal-head-size husband used them for a few years before trading up he stretched them out some? But either way they're not working now.

So now I'm looking for a set of over-the-ear, closed-back (needs to not leak too much sound to not bug my colleagues) comfortable headphones that I can wear for hours and hours. I don't really care at all about sound quality - I generally prefer "tinny", bad/weak bass to the alternative, but this should be the least important criteria either way. I don't need noise cancelling. I'd prefer if they weren't super noise isolating so I could hear conversations around me if I have them on. I just want them to be comfortable on my small sensitive head.

I'm looking in the range of $100-$150, but I'm a little flexible there. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Also, any recommendations for stores in San Francisco or environs where one can try on lots and lots of headphones would be good too!
posted by brainmouse to Shopping (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've had a pair of Sennheiser HD 485s for quite some time now that I wear basically all day when I'm working. They are the most expensive headphones I've ever owned and, perhaps not coincidentally, they are the only ones that I can actually wear all day without pain.

They are open-back style, so they might not work for your needs (although sound leakage is not bad), but you might want to consider some headphones that are over-the-ear style rather than on-the-ear. This is the style I'm talking about (and those purport to be "closed"). I don't know if those hit all of your needs, but that earcup design is the only design I've found comfortable for long-term wearing.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:04 AM on August 16, 2016

I'm a headphone nerd. I've tried tons of different kinds of headphones and although I'm not a huge fan of their sound, Bose makes the most comfortable of anyone. Check out their Soundtrue Around Ear.
posted by mattholomew at 9:58 AM on August 16, 2016

Seinheisser HD 580 - if you can find a pair, these are very comfy and light. They're also an open style set of cans, so be cool with that.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:45 AM on August 16, 2016

You don't want open-back headphones. Even the "semi-open back" ones leak a fair amount of sound.

I was about to suggest the Sony MDR-7506 until I saw you mention the MDR-V6s which are physically almost identical. I would think they'd work fine with any size head -- when I take them off the cups press flat against each other.

Sennheiser HD 280 is worth looking into. In fact the first review complains that they're a bit small.

(Another thing to consider is that closed-back over-ear headphones are generally much heavier than the on-ear or open-back kind.)
posted by neckro23 at 12:55 PM on August 16, 2016

I'm a pin head, I understand what you're talking about. It's about how the head strap fits, most are too long for me, and the phone portion hits on the lower part of my ear, sometimes even below it entirely.

When you are shopping, ask for KID SIZED HEADPHONES.
Do a search on Amazon, you'll find a wide variety with all the reviews listed.

For a full ear coverage head phone I'm currently using Urge Basic wireless headphone. This one happens to fit me exactly, and has fun flashy lights on the exterior of the ear phone piece. It came from
But I personally use earbuds most of the time. Wired or wireless, and the smaller bud covers work ok with my rather narrow ear openings.
posted by IpsoFacto at 3:12 PM on August 16, 2016

I've gone through a lot of headphones with similar issues, and these are my current favourites: Creative Sound Blaster Jam Ultra-light Wireless. I have a small head and small sensitive ears so almost all earbuds don't sit right or feel uncomfortable, and the over-ear padding ends up crushing my ears or weighs on my head painfully etc. I can't wear headbands because of headaches for example. The only other headphones I use are very very basic earphones like the default Apple iPhone ones and I can wear those for about an hour max.

These are incredibly light and bendy so I can wear them easily for up to 3-4 hours without noticing any pressure on my head. They use basic foam pads rather than shaped pads which I find more comfortable than the shaped pads for small ears because they don't have a shaped edge to press against my ears, just a flat soft push. The wireless bluetooth sound is good quality and there's very little leakage - my son liked them enough that he asked me to buy him a pair and I can't hear his music when he's wearing them sitting next to me. The microphone is fine for phone calls and Skype, and I use them while walking with my phone in my pocket. I can hear someone with a raised voice over an audiobook but not over blasting dubstep.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:39 PM on August 16, 2016

Audio Technica M50s are the best closed back cans I've ever owned. And I have a tiny head too.
posted by TheCoug at 8:52 PM on August 16, 2016

Response by poster: So, update: I went to a Bose store and tried them on and they were all too big for my head. Then I went to Best Buy and almost everything they had on display was too big for my head until I accidentally wandered into the Expensive Section ("Magnolia") and put on some V-Modas, which actually fit, and didn't immediately hurt the top of my head! The are over my budget, but the amount that nothing fit me made me really nervous to purchase anything I couldn't try on so I have purchased them anyway, and will report back after a a few weeks of use.
posted by brainmouse at 11:58 AM on September 12, 2016

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