Categories
Best Deals Headphones Reviews Tech

8 Best USB-C Headphones

Reading Time: 13 minutes

We discuss the reason for an increasing number of brands removing the 3.5mm jack and provide guidance on selecting the best USB-C headphones based on their specifications.

Tips for Selecting the Perfect USB-C Headphones

Many smartphone manufacturers are now removing the traditional 3.5mm audio jack, leaving consumers with the option of purchasing additional adapters or switching to wireless headphones. However, carrying extra accessories can be inconvenient and wireless headphones may not always provide optimal performance. USB-C headphones are becoming a popular alternative as they offer a balance between compatibility, sound quality, functionality, and comfort.

USB-C Headphones
USB-C Headphones

However, with a wide range of options available in the market, it can be challenging to find the right pair. To assist in making a decision, we have outlined key factors to consider when purchasing USB-C headphones. Before diving into those factors, let’s take a closer look at the reasons for the shift away from the 3.5mm jack and towards USB-C.

Comparison of 3.5mm Audio Jack and USB-C Connections

Comparison

The primary distinction between the 3.5mm audio jack and the USB-C is the method by which audio is transmitted. The 3.5mm jack uses analog signals, meaning the digital-to-analog conversion occurs in the audio source such as a computer or smartphone. The analog signal then travels through wires and reaches the headphones. On the other hand, USB-C transmits digital signals, with the digital-to-analog conversion usually taking place in the headphones. This lessens the distance analog signals have to travel.

Many manufacturers are opting to remove the 3.5mm jack in favor of USB-C due to several reasons, including:

  • Improved design: Removing the 3.5mm jack allows for more space in the device, resulting in thinner, more streamlined designs and room for additional components.
  • Advanced components: USB-C allows for bypassing mediocre DAC chips or sound cards, enabling headphone manufacturers to install better quality DACs and headphone amplifiers to enhance sound quality.
  • Enhanced audio quality: Analog signals tend to deteriorate over long distances, introducing static and noise into audio or making the signal weaker. Digital signals, on the other hand, are more robust and reliable and do not degrade over distance.
  • Additional software features: USB-C can transfer more than just audio data and enables headphone manufacturers to integrate advanced hardware and software features, such as active noise cancellation, EQ customization, playback functions, and companion app functions.

The quality of sound

Sound quality is a crucial consideration when choosing headphones, particularly for music listening. USB-C headphones are typically designed with advanced DACs and amplifiers, which means that there is a higher expectation for superior sound.

When selecting a pair of USB-C headphones for optimal sound quality, it’s essential to consider:

  • Driver type and size: Drivers are small speakers located in ear cups or earbuds. They come in different types and measure anywhere from 20mm-50mm (headphones) to and 8mm-15mm (IEMs). Larger drivers tend to deliver louder sound and cleaner bass response due to larger diaphragms that produce more sound waves. However, the overall sound quality of headphone drivers depends on a balance between driver size, type, and tuning.
  • Frequency response: The frequency response refers to the range of frequencies that your headphones or IEMs can accurately reproduce. The standard range is usually 20-20kHz, which is also the range that human ears can hear. Some headphones, however, go beyond that (10-45kHz) to ensure that no audio clipping occurs in the frequencies you can actually hear, providing better sound quality.

Compatibility with your device

Compatibility is an important aspect to consider when choosing USB-C headphones, aside from ensuring that the connector matches your 3.5mm-free device. The following specifications are crucial to look at for compatibility:

  • Impedance: Impedance is the electrical resistance of the headphones, or how much power is needed for them to function properly. Low-impedance headphones (32-80 ohms) don’t require much power and can work with your phone or PC, while high-impedance headphones (100-600 ohms) require more amplification. By matching the impedance of your device with the audio source, you can ensure that the sound output is not too weak or too strong, which can damage your amplifier.
  • Sensitivity: It tells you how loud a pair of headphones will sound at a given power level. High-sensitivity headphones (110 dB and above) require more voltage to produce a louder sound, while low-sensitivity headphones need less power and work best with portable devices.

The main purpose for which you will use the USB-C headphones

When choosing new USB-C headphones, it’s important to consider the main purpose for which you will be using them. Once you have determined this, it will be easier to identify the specific features you need. For example, if you plan to use your headphones for travel, noise cancellation or a wireless option may be beneficial.

Wireless headphones offer added flexibility, but can be more expensive, harder to repair, and require frequent charging. They also provide greater freedom of movement and better compatibility with modern devices.

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology uses small microphones in the ear cups or earbuds to detect and cancel out ambient noise. This feature can be useful for minimizing distractions and providing hearing protection, making it suitable for students in noisy dorms, frequent flyers, office workers, or those in loud environments.

Having a good microphone is essential if you plan to use your headphones for voice calls or gaming. Boom mics offer clearer voice pick-up as they are closer to the mouth, making them ideal for games or call centers.

Ensure a comfortable fit

Comfort and fit are essential when choosing headphones, particularly if you plan to use them for extended periods. Without these factors, you may find yourself constantly adjusting or removing the headphones, which can be inconvenient.

To ensure a comfortable fit, consider the following elements:

  • Weight: Heavier headphones (0.75 lbs or more) can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods. Look for lighter models that weigh 0.55 lbs or less.
  • Adjustability: Headphones with good adjustability can be tailored to your unique proportions. Look for headphones with flexible, extendable headbands and ear cups that can tilt and rotate.
  • Padding materials: Cheap, thin padding provides little support, while overly thick cushions can be uncomfortable. Opt for memory foam cushions that conform to your ears and breathable materials such as velour for more comfortable listening sessions.

8 Best USB-C Headphones

NameTypeDriverImpedancePrice
Shure AONIC 50Over-ear HeadphonesDynamic39Check on Amazon
Audeze Mobius 3DOver-ear HeadphonesPlanar MagneticCheck on Amazon
Kensington Hi-FiOver-ear HeadphonesDynamic32Check on Amazon
Sennheiser Momentum 3Over-ear HeadphonesDynamic100 w/o ANC;
470 w/ ANC
Check on Amazon
ASUS ROG Delta SOver-ear HeadphonesDynamic32Check on Amazon
HIFIMAN Deva-ProOver-ear HeadphonesPlanar Magnetic18Check on Amazon
Logitech Zone WiredOver-ear HeadphonesDynamic32Check on Amazon
PALOVUE SoundFlowEarbudsDynamic16Check on Amazon

Shure AONIC 50

The Shure AONIC 50 headphones are a top pick for the best USB-C headphones on the market. They feature a premium design, high-resolution audio support, and both wired and wireless modes, as well as active noise cancellation (ANC).

Shure AONIC 50 USB-C Headphones
Shure AONIC 50

With Bluetooth 5 connectivity, these headphones offer wireless mode, but also include a 3.5mm jack and USB-C cable for wired listening. Both modes handle high-resolution audio, with the USB-C option supporting rates up to 32-bit/384 kHz.

The AONIC 50 headphones also feature 50mm dynamic drivers and a frequency response of 20-22kHz, delivering excellent sound quality for music and games. With 6 built-in mics, call clarity and noise cancellation are improved. Using the Shure PlusPlay app, listeners can choose between 2 levels of ANC (Max and Normal) and even turn on an Environment Mode to let in ambient noise at customizable levels, making these headphones perfect for flying or other activities that require focus while still allowing you to tune in to the world as needed.

The Shure PlusPlay app also allows for the playing of uncompressed audio files, EQ adjustments, and firmware updates. With a 20-hour battery life, these headphones are built to last and feature a premium design made from leather and cast metal for durability, security, and comfort.

However, it’s worth noting that these headphones are on the heavier side at 0.74 lbs, which may be an issue for some users during prolonged wearing. And, Shure has designed the ANC function specifically for “a stationary/sedentary user”. So, using the AONIC 50 in scenarios where they may be subject to abrupt movements may affect the sensitive internal components of the headphones and introduce audio artifacts into your music. As such, it’s best to not use them while exercising or commuting.

Audeze Mobius 3D

The Audeze Mobius 3D headphones are a strong runner-up in our list of best USB-C headphones. They offer an immersive 3D sound quality, three optional wired connections, and a wireless option, as well as a detachable boom mic. However, unlike the Shure AONIC 50, they don’t have an active noise cancellation function.

Audeze Mobius 3D USB-C Headphones
Audeze Mobius 3D

The Mobius headphones support 3.5mm, USB-A, and USB-C connections, making them compatible with PCs, mobile devices, and gaming consoles. They also offer Bluetooth connectivity with support for up to 32 bit/96 kHz. In wired mode, you can enjoy movies in 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound, thanks to Waves NX™ Head-Tracking and 3D Audio technology, which is calibrated to your unique anatomy. The 3D button helps manage your 3D sound settings or turns it off completely. Through the Audeze HQ app, you can also customize your audio with different sound profiles, such as “Footsteps”, “Ballistics”, “Music”, “RPG”, etc.

The Mobius headphones boast 100mm planar magnetic drivers with a wide frequency range of 10-50kHz, resulting in cinematic sound quality that makes them ideal for music listening and gaming, whether wired or wireless. The Discord-certified detachable boom mic has built-in noise reduction, making these headphones perfect for gaming with friends or for Zoom and Skype calls. They even come with a dedicated mic mute button and volume wheel for quick adjustments.

The Mobius 3D headphones have a 10-hour battery life with 3D audio enabled, which is decent. They also come with contoured memory foam padding that provides good support and cushioning for the ears, but they are a little on the heavy side at 0.77 lbs. Additionally, the headband’s plastic build is not the strongest and tends to give way at high-stress points.

Kensington Hi-Fi

The Kensington Hi-Fi USB-C headphones are a budget-friendly option for those looking for affordable USB-C headphones. They come with a USB-C cord and are compatible with most portable devices. Although, Kensington also offers the same model in USB-A or 3.5mm configurations.

Kensington Hi-Fi USB-C Headphones
Kensington Hi-Fi

These headphones feature 40mm dynamic drivers with a frequency response of 20-20kHz, which provides decent sound quality for their price point. They also include a built-in boom mic that makes them great for work-from-home professionals and e-learning. The mic uses a foam windshield for clearer conversations and is rotatable up to 270 degrees. Additionally, these headphones have a safe-listening limiter, which keeps audio from going over 94dB.

The Kensington Hi-Fi headphones are built with a standard plastic and metal design, and have an adjustable headband and swiveling ear cups. The ear cushions are made of leatherette and provide a decent amount of comfort. They are also lightweight at only 0.31 lbs, making them easy to wear for long periods.

One downside to these headphones is that they come with a non-detachable 6-foot cord, which can be a bit cumbersome and can get tangled or caught under desk chair wheels and armrests more frequently.

Overall, the Kensington Hi-Fi headphones are a great budget-friendly option for those looking for USB-C headphones, with decent sound quality, a built-in mic, and a comfortable design.

Sennheiser Momentum 3

The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones (M3) offer excellent sound quality, active noise cancellation, and a premium build. They also come with a host of smart, hands-free functions, making them ideal for those always on the go.

Sennheiser Momentum 3 USB-C Headphones
Sennheiser Momentum 3

The M3 headphones come with a 3.5mm jack, USB-C cord, and USB-A adapter, allowing for easy use with desktop PCs, laptops, and mobile devices. They also offer wireless capabilities with Bluetooth 5 connectivity that supports aptX™ and aptX™ Low Latency codecs.

The M3 headphones deliver superior audio with 42mm dynamic drivers and a wide frequency response range of 6-22kHz. They are also included on our list of best bass headphones. They are the newer version of the 2015 Momentum 2.0, which has a lower impedance rating, longer battery life, and a lighter build. But the M3 headphones outperform the older version with better ANC and better sound quality.

The M3 headphones have 4 dedicated mics for noise cancellation and come with 3 levels of ANC, which you can access on the Sennheiser Smart Control app. They also have 2 Transparent Hearing modes, which filter in ambient noise so you can listen for boarding calls, making them perfect for traveling. With Smart Pause, playback automatically pauses or resumes when the headphones are removed or worn, and folding them also shuts them off to avoid draining the battery.

They feature a stylish design with large ear cups and an extendable headband padded with soft foam and sheepskin leather, both of which provide a secure and comfortable fit. However, the 0.7 lbs weight may be an issue for some users during long hours of continuous use.

One of the key features of these headphones is their active noise cancellation (ANC), which helps to block out external noise and allows for more focused listening. However, the headphones have a high impedance rating of 100 ohms, even with the ANC off and it increases to 470 ohms when ANC is on. This can cause a deterioration in sound quality when using them with low-power audio sources, so you may need to invest in a separate amplifier to power the headphones to their optimum quality.

Overall, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 headphones are a stylish, high-quality set of headphones with great sound and noise cancellation features. They may require an additional amplifier for optimal sound quality, but for those who are willing to invest in one, it will be worth it.

ASUS ROG Delta S

The ASUS ROG Delta S headphones are a solid choice for gamers looking for high-quality audio performance. They deliver high-definition audio, multi-device support, excellent noise-canceling mic technology, and a comfortable design.

ASUS ROG Delta S USB-C Headphones
ASUS ROG Delta S

These headphones don’t have a wireless option, but they offer multi-device connectivity with a USB-C cord and USB-A adapter, which makes it easy to switch between your computer and smartphone, and also works with gaming consoles like Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PS5.

The 50mm dynamic drivers and a frequency response of 20-40kHz provide realistic sound quality, while the built-in MQA Renderer allows you to experience the full potential of high-res MQA files on streaming services like Tidal. The real power of these headphones lies in the ESS 9281 QUAD DAC™ technology, which consists of 4 DACs that process low, mid, high, and ultra-high frequencies, resulting in super detailed audio reproduction that is great for games that rely a lot on subtle audio cues.

The detachable boom mic, certified by TeamSpeak and Discord, also has a dedicated processor with AI noise-canceling technology that reduces over 50 million types of background noise, keeping conversations clear at all times.

The headphones are reasonably comfortable for long gaming sessions, with good adjustability and an extendable headband and rotatable ear cups. They also come with ergonomic D-shaped ear cushions that match the shape of our ears for better noise isolation. The headphones come with two types of ear cushions, ROG Hybrid cushions, which are protein leather and breathable fabric mesh, and thinner fast-cooling protein leather cushions for on-the-go use.

A drawback to these headphones is that the mic doesn’t rotate when plugged in. So, grabbing a bite or a drink while wearing these headphones isn’t going to happen, unless you unplug the mic or remove the headphones completely.

Overall, the ASUS ROG Delta S headphones are a great choice for gamers who are looking for high-quality audio performance, multi-device support, and a comfortable design. They’re also foldable and lightweight than the older ASUS ROG Theta 7.1 headphones.

HIFIMAN Deva Pro

The HIFIMAN Deva Pro headphones are the perfect choice for music lovers. With an open-back configuration and large planar magnetic drivers, they offer a wide and detailed soundstage that is perfect for all types of music. Additionally, they come with both wired and wireless options, making them a versatile option for all types of listeners.

HIFIMAN Deva Pro USB-C Headphones
HIFIMAN Deva Pro

The Deva Pro headphones offer several wired options, including a dual 3.5mm to 3.5mm TRS cable, a USB-C cable, and a single 3.5mm TRRS cable. For wireless use, they come with a Bluemini R2R module that improves audio using the built-in HIMALAYA DAC, which supports 24-bit audio formats and sampling rates of up to 768kHz. It also supports hi-res Bluetooth codecs like aptX™ HD and LDAC.

The headphones also feature planar magnetic drivers with Stealth Magnets and NEO “supernano” Diaphragms. The “acoustically transparent” Stealth Magnets allow for less interference and diffraction that can degrade sound quality, while the NEO Diaphragms are 80% thinner than older HIFIMAN diaphragms, making them highly responsive.

The Deva Pro headphones are also comfortable, despite being the heaviest pair on this list. They are crafted from aluminum and plastic and have soft foam and leatherette headbands and ear cushions. However, they are quite bulky, so they can slip off your head if you’re moving around a lot.

One drawback of these headphones is that they only offer 6 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is less than other similarly priced headphones. However, overall, the HIFIMAN Deva Pro headphones are a great choice for music lovers looking for a versatile, high-quality option.

Logitech Zone Wired

The Logitech Zone Wired headphones are a solid choice for professionals looking for a reliable option for work calls. These headphones come with two wired connections, dynamic drivers, a noise-canceling mic, and a robust build. They are compatible with Windows and iOS computers via a USB-C cable and USB-A adapter and also work with popular calling platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams.

Logitech Zone Wired USB-C Headphones
Logitech Zone Wired

The 40mm dynamic drivers deliver full bass and crisp sound quality, with a frequency response of 20-16kHz, making voices sound clear and natural. The noise-canceling dual-mic technology reduces unwanted noises within 60 cm, ensuring that your voice is always intelligible. You can also mute yourself by flipping the mic upwards.

The Logi Tune desktop app allows for further audio customization, with EQ customization and sidetone levels adjustments. The mic volume can also be adjusted for the benefit of those on the other line. The headphones are designed with a stainless steel Teflon-coated headband for better durability, and silicone headband padding and memory foam cushions for a more custom fit. They are also very lightweight at 0.47 lbs, making it easy to keep them on for several hours.

However, the in-line control pad is heavier and larger than expected, and it tends to catch on armrests and table edges more often than not. If this type of thing bothers you, then this may be something to keep in mind. Overall, the Logitech Zone Wired headphones are a great option for professionals looking for a reliable, comfortable, and customizable option for work calls.

PALOVUE SoundFlow

The PALOVUE SoundFlow earbuds are a great choice for those looking for a simple, easy, and affordable wired option. These earbuds offer good sound quality thanks to their 10mm dynamic drivers and a frequency range of 20-20kHz. This provides deep bass and airy mids that are great for music and podcasts. The USB-C cable allows for seamless connectivity with smartphones, tablets, and computers.

PALOVUE SoundFlow USB-C Headphones
PALOVUE SoundFlow

One of the key features of these earbuds is the in-line mic and controls, which allows for easy control of calls and music playback, as well as access to your voice assistant. The earbuds are also very durable, with wires that contain kevlar bulletproof aramid fiber and reinforced TPE skin that can withstand over 30,000 bends. The plug is also secured in shock-damping silicone rubber.

The earbuds themselves have a 45-degree design that mimics the angle of the ear canal, and they come with 3 optional silicone ear tips, ensuring a comfortable but secure seal. However, one downside is that the mic is average and doesn’t have noise cancellation function, making it a bit harder to make yourself heard in noisy environments. Overall, the PALOVUE SoundFlow earbuds are a great choice for those looking for a budget-friendly and reliable wired option.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *