Beats Studio Pro is the fourth and best version of...

Beats Studio Pro is the fourth and best version of the popular Beats line of headphones. Credit: CBS Interactive

Which are the best over-ear headphones right now? That's a hard question to answer. The number of great models to choose from seems to grow year over year, which makes it tough to name a single model as the best overall. These three models do stand out from the rest of the pack.

WHAT Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

THE COST $429

AVAILABLE FROM bose.com

While Bose's new flagship QuietComfort Ultra Headphones may not be a huge upgrade over the company's Noise Cancelling 700 headphones, they feature a more premium design along with Bose's new Immersive Audio feature, which delivers some sound-quality enhancements. Along with excellent sound and great noise canceling, the QC Ultra Headphones are also superb for making calls, with top-notch background noise reduction. All that adds up to the best new noise-canceling headphones of 2024 and a worthy adversary to Sony's highly rated WH-1000XM5 and Apple's AirPods Max.

WHAT Sony WH-1000XM5

THE COST $349.99

AVAILABLE FROM electronics.sony.com

When you have a product that a lot of people love, change can be risky. Such is the case for Sony's WH-1000XM5, the fifth generation of the 1000X series headphones, which were first released in 2016 as the MDR-1000X Wireless and have become increasingly popular as they've improved with each generation. Over the years, Sony has made some tweaks to the design, but nothing as dramatic as what it's done with the WH-1000XM5. Other than the higher price tag, most of those changes are good, and Sony's made some dramatic improvements with voice-calling performance as well as even better noise canceling and more refined sound.

WHAT Beats Studio Pro

THE COST $349.99

AVAILABLE FROM beatsbydre.com

This is the fourth generation of the popular Beats Studio headphones. They carry the same list price as their predecessor and look similar on the outside but have some big changes on the inside that make them significantly better headphones. While it's tempting to describe them as more affordable plastic versions of the AirPods Max, that's not quite accurate due to a choice in chipsets and one notable missing feature: the lack of ear-detection sensors. Still, that doesn't keep them from being the best Beats over-the-ear headphones yet.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: executive editor David Carnoy and copy editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit cnet.com.

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