Circumaural means something that covers the outer/external part of the ear (known as the pinna; plural pinnae).
Circumaural headphones are designed so that their cups (the parts containing the speakers) completely enclose the ears.
Although intraural devices (fitted into the ear) can be positioned more accurately, circumaural headphones have other advantages such as:
- Excellent sound quality
- Very comfortable to wear
- Good external noise rejection
- Easier to incorporate additional features
Being large and cumbersome, circumaural headphones are not usually the preferred option for casual music listeners. They are more commonly used by audio enthusiasts and professionals.
The example pictured right shows the Sennheiser PXC-450 model, a fairly high-end set of headphones that include active noise cancellation and a talk-through mode (allows the listener to hear people talking to them).