🎉 Early Black Friday Sales 🤯👀Let Me See It

6 Best Clip-on Headphones [2021]

Koss clip-on headphones
Koss clip-on headphones

We explain the essential factors that go into buying the best clip-on headphones. And, feature our top picks!

ProductTypeConnectivityEar Clip AdjustabilityPrice
Koss KSC35 Best OverallOn-earWired or WirelessRotatable, Non-flexibleBUY
Sony MDR-AS210 Strong Runner-UpOpen EarbudWiredFlexibleBUY
Audio Technica ATH-EQ300M Best BudgetOn-earWiredSwing hingeBUY
Panasonic RP-HS46E-K Most ComfortableOn-earWiredRotatable, FlexibleBUY
Lizu Clip-type headphones Best for CallsOn-earWiredSwing hingeBUY
Bionik Mantis VR Best for Virtual RealityOn-earWiredExtendable clamp, Movable ear cupsBUY

How to Choose the Right Clip-on Headphones

Have you ever struggled with your headphones falling off when you’re in the middle of something? Even earbuds fall out sometimes, as they only rely on the shape of your ear to stay in place.

Introducing clip-on headphones — the solution that allows you to enjoy your music without the need to constantly adjust them.

However, just going with any clip-on headphones won’t do the trick. Picking the right pair of clip-on headphones can be a daunting task if you’re not sure what to look for.

Some clip-on headphones have uncomfortable ear clips that prevent you from wearing them for too long. Others may not include a level of water or sweat resistance — a must-have for those who want to use them while exercising.

Before you rush to buy any old pair, you must consider what goes into a good pair of clip-on headphones.

Koss clip-on headphones
Koss clip-on headphones

Clip-on headphones vs regular headphones

Unlike traditional headphones, which use a headband to hold up the ear cups that sit on or over the ear, clip-on headphones ditch the headband and use a hook design instead. This design gives them incredible hold, allowing you to to run, cycle, or work out without fear of them coming loose and disrupting your flow.

Leqingchun clip-on headphones. (From: Amazon.com) https://www.amazon.com/Headphones-subwoofer-Compatible-Interface-MicrophoneBlack/dp/B07YDYTD4T/ref=sr_1_9?dchild=1&keywords=clip+on+headphones&qid=1634685678&sr=8-9
Woman wearing Leqingchun clip-on headphones. (From: Amazon)

This unique design caters to an audience that dislikes the heaviness of headbands and the closed-in feeling of ear cups. The same is true for people who don’t like putting things in their ears, like earbuds.

Clip-on headphones rest on the ear and stay in place thanks to the hook that loops around your ear. Because they’re not completely covered, your ears can breathe freely and won’t overheat.

The disk-shaped speakers give you the benefit of listening through larger drivers, which are often padded for comfort. You’ll also have the mobility of earbuds, as clip-on headphones are small enough for easy transportation. This combination of benefits is attributed to the unique form factor of clip-on headphones that sits somewhere between headphones and earbuds.

Clip fit and stability

The biggest advantage of clip-headphones, by far, is the secure fit. They’re even better than earbuds in that regard. The clips are designed to keep the headphones in place, no matter what you’re doing. This removes the annoyance of continuously adjusting your headphones every time they move out of place.

But, how does this work if everyone has different sized ears? Well, the hook works similarly to in-ear earbuds and their tips, except instead of being able to replace the hook, you adjust it or find a hook that’s secure and comfortable for you.

Most hooks are highly adjustable, allowing you to rotate, spin, or swing them in order to find a comfortable but firm fit. Some hooks are also made from softer materials that allow them to shape to most ear sizes automatically.

Bear in mind that clip-on headphones should have enough tension to remain in place, but not so much tension that they cause you discomfort. Too much tension could cause headaches and force you to take regular breaks from wearing them. Too less, and they’ll just fall out.

Comfort

Of course, comfort is a leading factor when buying any pair of headphones. How can you enjoy your music, podcasts, or audiobooks if you’re fatigued by the heaviness of your headphones or the pressure build-up within the ear cups? Truth is, you can’t.

Clip-on headphones address these problems through their unique design, which is why they’re favored by many in terms of comfort.

But, just because their design offers improved comfort, doesn’t mean every pair is going to be the same. Here are essential factors when looking for a comfortable pair of clip-on headphones:

  • Earclip material: The earclip material is the number one comfort factor of clip-ons since these are the ones that directly make contact with your skin. Rigid materials like plastic offer a firm fit, while soft materials like rubber are bendable and softer on the skin.
  • Padding: Since the drivers aren’t resting directly on your ear, most clip-on headphones come with padding. The padding material may vary, but often it’s a cushion-like material to keep your ears comfortable. Good padding should be able to match the tension of the ear clips so they’re not tight.
  • Connectivity: Deciding whether to go wired or wireless is dependent on your lifestyle. Wired typically offers better sound quality and unlimited playtime, while wireless gives you much more freedom of movement.

Sound quality

As with any other type of headphones, there are clip-on headphones that sound good, and some that sound not-so-good, depending on how well the headphones are made.

Here are factors you can consider that affect the overall quality and performance of the headphones:

  • Frequency range: This lists how broad or narrow are the frequencies the headphones can reproduce. At minimum, they should have a range of at least 20 Hz to 20 kHz. But anything that goes beyond that is better, to avoid sound distortions.
  • Sensitivity: Sensitivity determines how loud your headphones will be based on how much power is provided. Typically, anything between 90 dB SPL/mW and 105 dB SPL/mW is good.
  • Impedance: Impedance determines how much power your headphones need to reach adequate volume levels. An impedance rating of around 30 ohms is good to use with portable devices.

These are typical sound quality factors of any pair of headphones. However, noise isolation is a lot different on clip-on headphones.

Noise isolation is hard to implement on clip-on headphones due to their design. Since they rest on the ear, there’s no way to completely seal the sound.

This can result in sound leakage at higher volumes, where the sound leaks out of the headphones to the point where it can be heard by others. The same is also true in reverse — outside noise can intrude a lot more due to a lack of a proper seal.

Will it match your lifestyle?

Most clip-on headphones are quite accessible thanks to relatively affordable pricing. However, this can sometimes be a downfall, as some manufacturers may need to compromise the build quality or features to achieve such a low price.

You must also consider the type of lifestyle you lead, and how you plan to use their headphones. If you have a very active lifestyle and love being outdoors, you’ll need headphones that can stand up to the elements like rain and sweat. If you plan to use them in the workplace, a simple design is less distracting than one that features lots of bright colors.

Think about what features you may need. Do you need to make or answer phone calls often? Consider some clip-on headphones that come with a built-in mic. What if you need to change songs without constantly picking up your phone? Then you will benefit from in-line controls.

6 Best Clip-on Headphones [2021]

Koss KSC35

Best Overall
Close look at Koss KSC35 (From: Amazon)
Close look at Koss KSC35 (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Type: On-ear
  • Connectivity: Wired or wireless
  • Ear clip material: Plastic
  • Ear clip adjustability: Rotatable, non-flexible
  • Frequency range: 15 Hz – 25 kHz
  • Built-in mic: Yes
  • In-line controls: Yes

The Koss KSC35’s earn the top spot on this list. They deliver great quality audio and allow you to listen to your music, podcasts, and audiobooks through a wired or wireless (Bluetooth 4.2) connection.

The built-in microphone allows you to make and receive calls without taking the headphones off. This is made even easier with the convenient in-line controls that allow you to control your calls, music, and volume without lifting your phone.

They also have the greatest frequency range on this list, allowing you to hear more details in your music. And, you can listen wirelessly for quite a while with the 6 hour battery life.

Compared to the previous Koss KSC75 headphones that confuse many with the higher model number, the KSC35’s don’t force you to stay tethered to a cable. The KSC75’s, however, feature rubber-coated spring steel ear clips that most may find more comfortable than the plastic clips on the KSC35’s.

While these headphones are almost perfect, some points are taken away for the uncomfortable ear clips. Made from a rigid plastic, the ear clips become uncomfortable over time, to the point where you need to take a break from wearing them. If they used the same rubber coating from the KSC75’s, this may have been different.

Want to learn more about the Koss KSC35 headphones? Check out our full review to take a closer look.

CHECK LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

Sony MDR-AS210

Strong Runner-Up
Close look at Sony MDR-AS210 (From: Amazon)
Close look at Sony MDR-AS210 (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Type: Open earbud
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Ear clip material: Rubber
  • Ear clip adjustability: Flexible
  • Frequency range: 17 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Built-in mic: No
  • In-line controls: No

Sony’s MDR-AS210 headphones use 13.5mm drivers with an angled design to deliver sound into your ears. The 17 Hz to 22 kHz frequency range brings out the clarity in your music so you can hear every detail.

Even with the most intense exercises, the headphones will stay put. The headphones are held in place by a flexible rubber hook that’s connected to a 3.9 ft tangle-free cable. The hook encompasses around your entire ear rather than clipping to a single part.

The open-ear design is perfect for active lifestyles and sits just beside your ears instead of inside them. This allows you to hear what’s going on around you in addition to your music and promotes airflow to cool your ears.

As they’re intended for active lifestyles, Sony have built them to withstand rain and sweat. However, they do not have an official IP rating so be mindful of how much water they come into contact with.

The MDR-AS210s are missing the microphone found on the previous MDR-AS210AP’s, despite them both weighing relatively the same at 12 grams. This removal comes as a surprise, considering this removes functionality from headphones that are almost identical in every other aspect.

Although the unique design may work perfectly for some, they may be completely unusable by others. Their adjustability is minimal, which results in them being too loose for those with smaller ears or too tight for those with larger ears. If you have below or above average ears, you may find that the MDR-AS210’s unique design actually does the opposite of what it’s supposed to.

CHECK LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

Audio Technica ATH-EQ300M

Best Budget
Close look at Audio Technica ATH-EQ300M (From: Amazon)
Close look at Audio Technica ATH-EQ300M (From: Amazon)

Key features:

  • Type: On-ear
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Ear clip material: Plastic
  • Ear clip adjustability: Swing hinge
  • Frequency range: 16 Hz – 24 kHz
  • Built-in mic: No
  • In-line controls: No

The Audio Technica ATH-EQ300M headphones deliver good quality sound at an affordable price point. They especially shine in the mids and highs where sound is detailed and clear. This is complemented by the wide frequency range, allowing you to hear more out of your music.

Plastic is the main material used for these headphones. Therefore, they have somewhat of a cheap feeling. Moreover, they don’t have any official resistance to water or sweat, which is something to keep in mind depending on where you’ll use them. These cut-backs, however, may be necessary to reach such a low and accessible price.

The headphones themselves are very thin and lightweight. They don’t feel like they’re weighing down your ears. And, because of their slim design, you can wear them comfortably while laying in bed — even side sleepers can enjoy their favorite tunes without discomfort.

These are available in many colors. It should be noted, however, that the Silver version uses a reflective material on the outside that’s very susceptible to capturing fingerprints.

The ear clip is the biggest concern of these headphones. It’s also made from plastic and can snap if too much pressure is applied. It uses a swivel design where you open it then close it to clamp around your ear. This design keeps them secure but it doesn’t offer much in the way of adjustability.

CHECK LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

Panasonic RP-HS46E-K

Most Comfortable
Close look at Panasonic RP-HS46E-K (From: Amazon)
Close look at Panasonic RP-HS46E-K (From: Amazon)

Key features:

  • Type: On-ear
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Ear clip material: Plastic
  • Ear clip adjustability: Rotatable, flexible
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Built-in mic: No
  • In-line controls: No

If you prioritize comfort, look no further than the Panasonic RP-HS46E-K headphones.

These headphones weigh only 15 grams. Their slim design places them as flush as they can be against your head. This makes them ideal for sleep, as they don’t push into your head as much as other headphones.

Moreover, they can easily slide onto your ears, or you can open up the clip and close it around your ear to find the right fit for you. For such a low price, you receive a pair of low-profile headphones that stay put no matter what the activity.

However, the foam padding on the ear cups needs some improvement, as it gradually pulls away from the ear cup with each use. The audio quality also deteriorates as the volume increases — not a problem if you listen at low volumes for sleep, but it can become a problem if you work in a noisy environment as external noise will easily overpower your audio.

CHECK LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

Lizu Clip-Type Headphones

Best for Calls
Close look at Lizu Clip-Type Headphones (From: Amazon)
Close look at Lizu Clip-Type Headphones (From: Amazon)

Key features:

  • Type: On-ear
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Ear clip material: Plastic
  • Ear clip adjustability: Swing hinge
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Built-in mic: Yes
  • In-line controls: Yes

Disappointed to find that there are so few clip-on headphones with microphones? The Lizu Clip-type headphones may be what you need. In addition to the included mic, audio quality through the 30mm drivers is impressive and well-balanced for a pair of headphones at this price.

The sponge earmuffs rest over your ears, allowing you to wear them for long periods of time without discomfort. Moreover, they only weigh 0.81 ounces so they won’t be weighing down your head. It has a swing-type clip that allows you to adjust the distance between your head and the headphones, which is especially useful if you wear glasses.

If you find yourself constantly in and out of meetings on platforms like Zoom and Skype, the in-line microphone will benefit you greatly. Your voice is clear for those on the other end of the call, and you have the added functionality of in-line controls to easily control calls, music, and volume.

In terms of durability, the Lizu clip-type headphones are lacking. While sound performance is good and the built-in mic is a nice addition, these headphones rarely last more than a few months. The materials used don’t offer much protection from physical damage and there is no warranty listed. Therefore, handling them with care is a priority.

CHECK LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

Bionik Mantis VR

Best for Virtual Reality
Close look at Bionik Mantis VR (From: Amazon)
Close look at Bionik Mantis VR (From: Amazon)

Key features:

  • Type: On-ear
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Ear clip material: Plastic
  • Ear clip adjustability: Extendable clamp, movable ear cups
  • Frequency range: 19 Hz – 18 kHz
  • Built-in mic: No
  • In-line controls: No

Consider yourself a gamer? The Bionik Mantic VR headphones are designed to clip on to most VR headsets. The spring-loaded clip fastens the headphones in place and attaches them to your headset. Now you can experience complete immersion while you’re playing your games in first person.

The majority of the headphones are made of plastic, including the clip. The clip works great, but this does leave room for error if you stretch the clip too far and stretch it. Regardless, once the headphones are attached to the VR headset, you may never need to adjust them again!

They are highly adjustable. When clipped on to your VR headset, the ear cups can be moved outward away from your head to keep one ear free or relieve some pressure. The actual ear cup can also pivot to align with your ear shape.

One major drawback, however, is the audio quality. Bass and treble are fine, but the mids sound muddy and inconsistent. Even though you shouldn’t expect high-end audiophile quality from these headphones, the lack of quality can break the immersion for some. And, for games like Beat Saber where the focus is audio, these may take away from the experience.

CHECK LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON

Leave a Reply