Do Over Ear Headphones Look Stupid?

by Alex.   Last Updated On February 1st, 2023.
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In this day and age, more and more people are concerned with how the world sees them and whether or not they are given the label of “weird”. People wear headphones that are large and oversized to get the best return on their sound, but this may get you some stares from the younger crowd or may send teenagers into a fit of laughter as you pass by.

But are large and obvious headphones really that bad to wear in public? Many people say yes because it can make you look weird or stupid, but others say no and encourage you to wear headphones you enjoy.

It’s no secret that large headphones can often provide a much better quality when being worn in a busy city, on a crowded bus, or when walking alongside a street with cars and trucks moving by – but everyone can see they are not the most discreet option that people wear outside of their own homes.

The depth and quality of the music of a good pair of large headphones can offer simply can’t be matched by ear buds.

However, the biggest benefit to ear buds is they are extremely discreet and, in most cases, passers-by may not even realize you are using them.

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Why do over-ear headphones look stupid?

It’s really up to you and how you feel about them. If you don’t mind the stares and are more concerned with better sound quality, then, by all means, rock those headphones!

But if you’d rather keep a low profile and not announce to the world that you are using headphones, then earbuds may be a better option for you. Just make sure to wear your earbuds correctly.

How People View You

For most people living in a busy city, the general consensus is that large headphones are fine to wear out and about in public and you won’t be seen as weird or wrong for doing so.

After all, large cities have thousands of people all going about their day, wearing a wide range of different clothing and accessories, strolling, jogging, talking, and rarely paying attention to you.

Surely you can expect your over-the-ear cans won’t be the weirdest thing they have seen that day. On the other hand, in smaller cities and rural towns, wearing your large headphones may earn you some weird looks from the old guy sitting on his porch, or the guy that is driving the taxi.

Seeing someone walking down the sidewalk wearing large headphones on their head might not be the most common sight in smaller areas. These stares may make you feel personally self-conscious and might make you rethink your options.

When it comes right down to it, wearing your over-ear cans outside of your home will be a choice only you personally can make.

If you are greatly concerned by how other people form opinions of your clothing and fashion sense, you may do better wearing smaller and more discreet earbuds when you leave the house.

If you simply love music and want to get the best audio possible while jogging, cycling (see also the best headphones for cycling), or window shopping, wearing over-ear cans will be your best option even if they might look a little bit ridiculous to some people.

While over-ear headphones will never be as discreet as

earphones, there are many styles which are much smaller and less obvious than others and may even have stylish accessories that add a tiny bit of cool factor as you walk through your town getting lost in your own musical world.

Black headphones in dark environment

Large and Gaudy Headphones

If you have zero concern over how people view you and your fashion choices and simply prefer outstanding music, there is a wide range of large headphones that can deliver some amazing sound as well as background noise cancellation.

The good thing about large headphones is that they can be very comfortable on your head whether you are just walking, or jogging. Larger earphones are also great for listening to longer podcasts as they are well padded for your head shape and size.

Even if you have a smaller-sized head, you can comfortably wear large earphones while on your commute, enjoying a park, or hanging out with friends. The biggest benefit to large earphones is that you can cancel out more noise from the background, which makes them the best choice to wear on buses, in taxis, or when jogging along a busy roadway.

Large and gaudy earphones also offer more options when it comes to how they deliver different sounds. Unlike the tiny speakers on your phone, larger earphones can perfectly balance a bunch of different highs and lows in your favorite songs.

High-Quality Cans

If you are looking for high-quality cans, consider brands such as Sony, Bose, or Sennheiser. If you have a Best Buy locally, be sure to check if they carry the brand you are searching for. If not, online options such as Amazon will carry all major and smaller brands.

More Discreet Headphones

As you move into more discreet options that nearby people will be less aware of, you start to find more expensive headphones as well. However, if making a good fashion statement is important to you, ensuring you find a more discreet and high-quality set can be vital when it comes to using headphones in public.

Certain headphone brands can be more stylish and discreet than others. For making a positive fashion statement, consider brands such as Bose and Beats. Both of these options are stylish, look great, offer excellent sound, can be comfortable over your ears for a few hours, and are a great option for people wearing headphones in public in a busy city.

You can also find headphones that are somewhat less discreet, but more generally accepted in certain areas. Headphones with cat ears, bows, and other accessories attached to them can work more as a fashion accessory with your outfit.

There are also a variety of different clothing options that can help make even large cans more discreet. For example, wearing a hoodie on a cool spring day can be a great way to cover up your accessories.

Additionally, in the winter, people wear a wide range of earmuffs and hats. When it’s cold outside, having large cans on your head won’t look out of the ordinary at all. In fact, most people might not even realize it’s not earmuffs. Just don’t expose them too much since headphones might break in cold weather .

Almost Invisible Earbuds

Bluetooth earbuds (like the Enacfire E18) are the most discreet option as they can be extremely hard to see, but they can also be uncomfortable for some users. Most earphones will come with multiple foams or rubber tips for the part that rests in your ear canal.

If sized and fitted properly, wearing headphones of this style can be extremely comfortable and will not cause cartilage fatigue or pain even when worn over several hours. However, for anyone that may have an ear injury or ear infection, wearing even properly fitted earphones for your ears can be uncomfortable.

If you are able to wear these invisible earbuds for your ears comfortably and are concerned with how you look while you are enjoying your favorite songs, they can be your best option. Resting just inside the ear, these tiny speakers are almost invisible to anyone that passes you by on the street.

If you have long hair that falls over your ears, or you wear a hat or hoodie,

earphones will be impossible to see. The biggest concern is sound leakage depending on the volume you play your tunes. If you are sitting next to someone in a library, they may very easily be able to hear your music.

If you are on a bus or walking along a busy street, chances are good no one will be able to hear your favorite tunes – but, depending on the style of in-ear speakers or earbuds, you may also have trouble hearing your own music too. Unlike larger cans, buds do not have the same power needed to really blast your audio loudly to overcome disruptive ambient noises and sounds.

One of the biggest benefits of going with an earbud over a full-sized set of cans is that you can get much more enjoyment of your music on a full charge of the battery. Most large cans will need a separate battery pack or will only have short battery life.

Small bud-style headphones such as those from Sony or Shure can provide an hour range of 6, 12, or even 20 when it comes to the usable life you can get out of them. As you can imagine, this makes them a much better option when going on long commutes, traveling to a far away destination, or when studying in a quiet location.

Technology in our life. Close up portrait of young relaxed woman on sofa enjoying of music via wireless earbuds at home

What Are The Best Alternatives to Headphones


If you simply can’t stand the look of larger cans or the potential discomfort when you wear earbuds, there are very few other options for enjoying your tunes while outside of your home. In fact, the only other way, you will be able to listen to your music while on the go is with normal speakers.

This, unfortunately, means others around you can hear your chosen songs as well. Depending on your music choices, this may lead to more disgusted, shocked, or amused looks than simply using oversized cans would have gotten you.

Phone Speaker

Additionally, if you happen to walk to and from work at a late hour, having your favorite song blasting on your phone’s speaker may not be the best idea at one in the morning, for example. In this case, using some form of headphones that keep the sound restricted to your personal space may be extremely desirable.


It’s difficult to say if just having your tunes playing on a speaker may be a nuisance to others around you. If you are traveling on a bike, having music playing on a Bluetooth speaker may be fine since you won’t be in one spot for more than a few seconds as you cruise down the road or sidewalk.

If you are walking at a slower pace or sitting on a bus with numerous stops, there will be plenty of people around you having to listen to your audio choices. For some, this might not be an issue, but for others, this can be a nuisance or annoyance that puts you as a target for their anger.

Why People Wear Headphones In Public

We all know that people love to listen to music. It’s a great way to relax, wind down after a long day, or get psyched up for an event. No matter what you are doing, there is always a song that can help set the perfect mood.

Over-Ear Headphones Sound Quality

The sound you get from a set of over-ear cans will be noticeably better than what you would experience with either earphones or small on-ear cans.

This is due to the larger drivers (the part that produces the sound) in each ear cup as well as the closed-back design of most models which does an excellent job


It’s really up to you and how you feel about over-ear headphones. If you are self-conscious about your appearance, or simply don’t like the way they look at you, there are other options available on the market such as earbuds.

If you are more concerned about the kind of sound you’ll be getting, or simply don’t care how they look on you, over-ear cans will give you the best listening experience.