- 1 JBL Reflect Aware C in-ear Sport Headphones with ANC
- 2 Xiaomi Mi ANC Earphones USB Type-C Headset
- 3 Razer Hammerhead USB-C – Digital Gaming & Music In-Ear Headset with In-line Controls
- 4 Sunwe Type C Earphones with Digital 3D Audio Without Mic
- 5 TriLink USB Type C Earbud Headphones with Mic
- 6 Eamplest USB Type-C Earbuds
- 7 Aceyoon USB C Earphones Ceramic In-Ear Headphones
- 8 Smart&Cool Type-C 3D Surround/Stereo Earbuds
If you have one of those smartphones with USB-C port (without old-school 3.5mm jack), and you are searching for the best USB-C headphones, you’ve come to the right place. The main goal of this article is to present to you this relatively new technology. We are going to talk about the reasons why smartphone manufacturers decided to abandon beloved 3.5mm jack and switch to USB-C port. After a short introduction, we are going to present to you our selection of 8 best USB-C headphones that you can currently find on the market.
Introduction of USB-C connector
The idea of having one cable that could be used for all kinds of things and one port that would be universal for all devices (phones, PCs, laptops, speakers, headphones) has been present for some time. USB-C connector might be the thing that will make this dream come true. USB-C connector was introduced in August 2014, and it’s meant to be the futureproof technology that will be used on all those devices we mentioned. There is a possibility that USB-C will replace micro-USB and 3.5mm port (other charging ports and HDMI ports, too), and 3 years after the introduction this possibility doesn’t seem so crazy, but it is still only a possibility. Devices with USB-C ports are not dominant but there are more of these devices every month, and eventually, USB-C might become the standard connector for all the devices.
First Devices with USB Type-C port
Short after the USB-C connector was introduced, some really big companies implemented this standard into their new products. Google introduced its Chromebook Pixel which featured USB-C charging port in March of 2015, while Apple’s MacBook 2015 had two USB-C charging ports (so you can choose either left or right for charging). These are the first devices with USB Type-C ports. Later that year, the first smartphone with USB-C port was introduced. It was made by not so famous Chinese company called LeTV (they are quite famous in China, but not so popular worldwide). The smartphone Le1 was the first phone that didn’t feature micro-USB port for charging. Instead of this port, there was one smaller USB-C port which can be used for charging and for connecting headphones, but LeTV also left 3.5mm jack because at the time headphones with USB Type-C connectors didn’t exist. During 2015. 2016, and 2017, many companies (like Samsung, LG, Motorola, SONY, ZTE, HTC, NOKIA, HUAWEI) adopted USB-C technology, and at this moment, you can probably find more than 40 different smartphones with USB Type-C connectors (Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8, LG V20 and V30, SONY Xperia XZ Premium, Moto Z and Z2 Play, HTC Ultra, ZTE Axon 7, Lumia 950, HUAWEI P9). Some of the manufacturers decided to abandon old 3.5mm jacks (like Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, HTC U and Bolt, Moto Z) and use only one port for every purpose. Other manufacturers (like Samsung, Nokia, SONY) decided to leave 3.5mm jack (at least for now), but we don’t know what the future brings.
Best USB-C Headphones In 2018 – Comparison Table
|JBL Reflect Aware||3.2||$70 - $140|
|Xiaomi Mi||4.0||$60 - $80|
|Razer Hammerhead||3.0||$70 - $90|
|Sunwe||3.4||$20 - $30|
|TriLink||4.4||$30 - $50|
|Eamplest||3.5||$20 - $30|
|Aceyoon||3.3||$20 - $30|
|Smart&Cool||2.8||$15 - $25|
Why is USB Type-C Connector Better Than All the Others?
All those famous smartphone manufacturers are switching from micro-USB port and 3.5mm jack to one universal port for a reason. And there is not only one, but rather a few of them. The best things about USB-C connector is that it has more than one purpose and offers better performance than all these other ports together.
- USB Type-C connector is smaller
For any smartphone manufacturer, space is everything. They would do anything in order to save some space and the USB-C connector is just what they needed. Thanks to this port, they can now ditch 2 ports and replace them with only one universal port. That way, they can save some space for larger battery, or they can make phones even thinner.
- USB-C Connector is Reversible (Symmetrical)
Apple did make the first reversible connector and all the iPhone (iPad, iPod) users are familiar with Lightning connectors. Most of the Android phones still have micro-USB port, but USB-C port is becoming more popular every day. Unlike micro-USB ports, USB-C is symmetrical and you don’t have to pay attention which side of the charging port goes up. With USB-C, just like with Lightning ports, there is no wrong way of plugging in the charger.
- It Enables Faster charging
Charging your phone (or your laptop) via USB-C charging cable is much faster than via micro-USB cable. Charging some average battery (3000mAh) will take up to 3 hours if you use micro-USB cable or up to 1 hour with USB Type-C.
- It Enables Faster data transfer
USB-C connector and USB 3.1 were developed basically at the same time, so it’s only normal that USB-C connector has USB 3.1 interface. As you know USB 3.1 enables much faster data transfer than any previous USB version, so implementing this interface into USB Type-C connectors made USB-C the best option for data transfer (much better than micro-USB or even Lightning ports).
- It Can be Used as a Display Port
Even if you want to mirror your phone screen on your PC or your TV, USB-C connector can do that. You don’t need mini HDMI port on your phone or anything else.
The First USB-C Headphones
All the people that bought smartphones with USB Type-C connector in 2015 had to wait until the August of 2016 to try the first USB-C headphones. These headphones were made by JBL in collaboration with HTC. HTC wanted USB-C headphones that would come along with its phones, and collaboration with one of the most famous audio companies was the only natural step. The headphones were named JBL Reflect Aware.
You would expect that the number of USB-C headphones increased significantly since the August.2016, but the things have been a little bit slow lately. USB-C headphones didn’t flood the market and there is only a couple dozen models available and not all of them could be considered good (or at least decent). That’s why you should continue reading our reviews and find out which USB-C headphones are the best at the moment.
This is our list of 8 best USB-C headphones in 2018.
JBL Reflect Aware C in-ear Sport Headphones with ANC
There are no many good choices when USB-C headphones are concerned. These are the first ever made USB-C headphones (we’ve talked about this), but they could easily be the best choice since the audio industry leaders don’t seem to care about USB-C headphones yet. JBL Reflect Aware C headphones have their flaws, but these are still our favorite.
The package they come in is nicely designed and it implies that these are made for sports. There are even athletic tracks drawn on the box. The headphones come with a bunch of papers (warranty, instruction manuals, etc.), there are 3 pairs of in-ear hooks and silicone ear tips in different sizes (S, M, and L), and one carrying bag.
The headphones really look stylish and sturdy, and just a little bit bulky (people with small ears might not like them). The cable is 3ft long and it is reflective so you will find them easily in the dark. The cable is not tangle-free (it’s not flat or braided) but it doesn’t tangle that much. There are also in-line controls with built-in microphone. With these in-line controls you can adjust the volume (volume up and volume down buttons), control the playback (one button is used to play, pause, skip, or play the previous track), and turn on active noise canceling. You can even adjust the amount of cancellation (if you want to be aware of your surroundings to some extent, you can choose the amount of cancelation). The headphones are available in two colors – black and white.
The headphones are sweatproof and water resistant – at least that’s what JBL claims. There is no info on IPX rating on the box nor in the specifications list, but a little bit of sweating shouldn’t cause any damage.
Sound quality is decent but it is far from great. In order to get the best performance, you will have to install the proprietary app and even then, the sound won’t be perfectly balanced. Bass doesn’t seem punchy enough (especially when you turn on the ANC), and treble is not perfectly clean, but it is pretty good. The vocals are the best thing about the sound, mids are pretty clean and articulate in general.
ANC is a nice additional function. It works well but there is still room for improvement. Some high-end noise canceling 3.5mm earbuds (like Bose QC20, for example) offer better performance in terms of noise canceling but these are definitely not completely useless, so you can wear them while riding on a plane and they will isolate decent amount of noise.
The first issue we would like to mention is that the sound changes when you turn on the ANC. The bass becomes weaker, and the volume decreases. The other thing we’ve noticed is that using headphones for talking with someone is kind of annoying because of the static noise (or buzzing) that occurs sometimes. You will have to turn off the ANC to talk with someone.
As we have already said, JBL Reflect Aware C are made for HTC smartphones, but they are compatible with bunch of other USB-C smartphones (Pixel, Moto Z, Huawei P9 and P10, LG V20, etc.) We still don’t know if it is compatible with all USB-C devices and we can’t guarantee that, you will have to check the compatibility before buying.
We don’t usually mention this, but JBL Reflect Aware are a little bit too expensive
Advantages and Disadvantages
Sporty and stylish design
Simple in-line controls with mic
Comfortable (unless you have small ears – they are a little bit bulky)
Durable and sweatproof
USB -C connector
Adaptive Active Noise Canceling technology
/ Sound quality is decent for a pair of USB-C headphones but old-school 3.5mm headphones from the same price range sound much better
ANC could be better (there are regular headphones (like BOSE QC25) in the same price range, that offer better performance)
Static noise when making calls with ANC engaged
Sound quality is worse when ANC is on
They might not work with some USB-C devices (check compatibility before buying)
Xiaomi Mi ANC Earphones USB Type-C Headset
As you probably know, Xiaomi is Chinese smartphone manufacturer. When they started making USB-C smartphones, they decided to make a collaboration with an audio company called Ten-Lab just like HTC did with JBL. Xiaomi Mi ANC Type-C earphones are the product of that collaboration. You might think that because JBL is more reputable company, Xiaomi Mi earphones have no chance against JBL Reflect Aware C, but you might be surprised. Xiaomi Mi earphones offer impressive audio performance and cost much less than Reflect Aware C earbuds. The only problem might be compatibility because they are designed for Xiaomi phones. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t work with your phone or some other USB-C device, but you should still check that before buying them. Keep reading our review and find out all the important things about these earphones.
Xiaomi Mi earphones come in a really nice and stylish packaging along with 4 pairs of silicone ear tips and ear hooks (in XS, S, M, and L sizes – M-size ear tips are already on the earphones), instruction manual (in Chinese and in English), and soft carrying pouch.
Headphones have nice and elegant design. Unlike JBL Reflect Aware these are not made for sports (although, it is debatable whether JBL Reflect Aware are good for sports or not). Xiaomi Mi might be a little bit larger than the average earbuds, but they are not too bulky. The housings of the earpieces are made of titanium (although they look like they are made of ceramics), the cable is 1.25m long, it is braided and tangle-free. There are in-line controls with mic on the cable. You will find three buttons on top of the controller box, and one on the side. Three top buttons are not marked (you will not see those little + and – or play signs on them). The upper button is volume up button, in the middle is play/pause/call answering button, and the last one is volume down button. ANC button is on the side and right next to it, there is blue LED light indicating that the ANC is on. The cable ends with USB-C connector.
The earphones feature Active Noise Canceling technology. They have MEMS mics on the outer sides of both earpieces – these mics pick up the background sound which gets processed by the ANC chip inside the earpieces. This chip then sends the opposite audio wave to your ears and neutralize the noise. The ANC on these earphones works surprisingly well – it isolates up to 70-80% of background noise and it is excellent when it comes to isolating low-frequency noise. To be honest, for this price, we didn’t expect such a good noise canceling. Of course, before you turn on the ANC, you have to find the right pair of ear tips in order to achieve the best possible seal.
Xiaomi Mi Type-C earphones offer surprisingly good sound quality for a pair of USB-C headphones. The sound is well-balanced and clean. It’s not warm and the bass maybe lacks some punchiness (not a great choice for bass heads). They can be pretty loud and the distortion is almost non-existent even at maximum volume.
The built-in mic works well – you can communicate with other people without any problem when you are in your office or at your home, but when you are in some noisy place, the mic and the ANC have some kind of weird interaction, and static noise appears (this doesn’t happen always, but we don’t know what triggers this noise).
In the end, we would like to say something about compatibility. Although Xiaomi Mi earphones are made for Xiaomi phones, they are compatible with wide variety of different phones. We know for sure that they will work with Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S8, Nokia 8, One Plus 5. Some users complained that they don’t work with MacBook Pro. We can’t guarantee that these will be compatible with your phone (although they probably will be), and there is a chance that ANC or the in-line controls won’t work with every USB-C smartphone.
Xiaomi Mi ANC Type-C headphones are probably the best choice for under $70. All the other good choices cost much more and many of those more expensive headphones offer worse sound quality and ANC.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Durable and sturdy (casings made of titanium, braided cable)
Comfortable and lightweight (there is no additional battery for ANC because they are powered by your phone)
Simple and easy-to-use in-line controls
For a pair of earbuds under $70, ANC works great
/ Decent sound quality with clean and well-balanced mids and highs; Bass is not punchy enough
/ Compatible with some of the most popular USB-C smartphones (Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S8, Nokia 8, One Plus 5), but you should still check if it is compatible with your device
Razer Hammerhead USB-C – Digital Gaming & Music In-Ear Headset with In-line Controls
Razer is well-known gaming equipment manufacturer, and it has been very popular among the gamers all over the world. Razer recently decided to make the first Razer phone. This phone featured USB Type-C connector and Razer wanted to make proprietary headphones with an appropriate connector. The product of this effort are Razer Hammerhead USB-C headphones, which is basically the modified version of Razer Hammerhead Pro V2.
Razer Hammerhead USB-C headphones come in a really nice Razer box along with 3 additional pairs of silicone ear tips (in three sizes – S, M, and L), lots of manuals, and sturdy zippered carrying case. We like the packaging very much, it isn’t sporty, stylish, or elegant, but it is authentic.
Just like the box, the earbuds look very nice, like a piece of modern gaming gear. Earpieces are made of sturdy plastic combined with metal. They are maybe a little bit heavier than the average earbuds so they could be a little bit uncomfortable. The weight is not the biggest problem when comfort is concerned. Ear tips on these earbuds are bi-flanged – the idea is to achieve better seal and better noise isolation. The only problem is that they have to go really deep inside your ears to achieve this. If you have sensitive ears, Razer Hammerhead USB-C are not the best choice. The earpieces are magnetic so you can connect them and wear them around your neck when not in use. The outer sides of earpieces have Razer’s logo on them, and these logos light up when the earbuds are plugged in which is really nice detail (especially when listening to music during night). Razer Hammerhead USB-C earbuds have flat, tangle-free cable. The cable looks strong, it’s covered with some kind of rubber but based on the other customers’ reviews, the cable is not durable as it seems. There are in-line controls with built-in mic on the cable. You can use them to adjust the volume, control the playback (play/pause/forward/rewind), and answer phone calls. The cable ends with universal USB-C connector.
These earbuds don’t feature ANC, but they can isolate great amount of background noise (if you can stand something going so deep into your ears).
The sound is definitely bass-oriented. All the bass heads will be very happy with this kind of sound. The bass maybe gets a little bit overwhelming at maximum volume, but it doesn’t get too much distorted. At high volume, the bass overpowers the vocals, but if you turn down the volume the balance between lows, mids, and highs becomes much better. All in all, Razer Hammerhead USB-C earbuds offer bass-heavy sound, with decent mids and highs.
As always, we have to say that these earbuds are made for Razer phone, and Razer only guarantees that they are compatible with this phone. Fortunately, the headphones are also compatible with some other popular USB Type-C headphones (like Pixel 2) and with some other devices (MacBook Pro), but we can’t confirm that they are compatible with every USB-C phone and you should test them before making a purchase.
The mic on this thing doesn’t work well and we are not happy with it.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Interesting design (they look like a piece of gaming equipment)
Simple and easy-to-use controls
Bass-heavy sound with small amount of distortion at maximum volume; articulate mids and highs
/ Possible compatibility issues – they are compatible with Razer phone and with some of the most popular USB-C smartphones (Pixel 2, Moto Z, Xiaomi, One Plus 5) and other devices (MacBook Pro)
Not comfortable (a little bit heavy with bi-flanged ear tips)
Cable is not as durable as it seems
Poor mic quality
This was the first part of our list of the best USB-C headphones. All the headphones we’ve reviewed until now were proprietary headphones made by reputable audio companies in collaboration with smartphone manufacturers or made by the smartphone manufacturers themselves (like Razer Hammerhead earbuds). Except for these three pairs of earbuds, there are two more pairs that we haven’t tried yet – Libratone Q Adapt (made for Google devices – Pixel and Pixel 2 XL), and HTC uSonic USB Type-C Earphones (made for HTC phones). These headphones are definitely compatible with the phones they are made for, but they are also compatible with many other popular USB-C smartphones and other devices with USB-C port, but compatibility issues are still possible. There are also LeEco USB Type-C headphones made for Letv smartphones, but they work only with Letv and can’t be used with other phones.
The next part of this list is dedicated to some generic headphones, usually made by unknown companies (probably Chinese). These headphones are much cheaper and you should know that with the lower price comes poorer quality and more issues. If you don’t want to put a dent in your budget or you just want to try this new technology, then you can buy one of these low-cost headphones. Be aware that these headphones might be even more problematic in terms of compatibility and sound quality than previously mentioned headphones.
Sunwe Type C Earphones with Digital 3D Audio Without Mic
The first generic headphones we reviewed are Sunwe, and these are one of the cheapest on the market.
Sunwe USB Type-C earbuds come in a modest cardboard box along with 3 pairs of silicone ear tips in different sizes (S, M, and L), instruction manual, hard carrying case, and 1-year warranty.
The earbuds are very simple and minimalistic without redundant details. They are available in 3 colors – black, blue, and grey. Earpieces are made of aluminum alloy, they are very small and lightweight. Cable is 1.1m long, it’s rubberized and it feels pretty durable. There are in-line controls on the cable, but there is no built-in mic so you can’t use them for making or answering calls. Controls are very simple – you can use the upper button to crank up the volume (long press) or to play the next song (short press), the middle button is also multifunction button and you can use it to play or pause the music (short press) or to turn on the 3D sound (long press), and the last button can be used to turn down the volume (long press) or to play the previous track. Between the upper and the middle button, there is blue LED indicator that flashes when the headphones are plugged in. The cable ends with standard USB-C connector.
Sunwe earbuds don’t have ANC, but they do passively isolate certain amount of background noise. It’s nothing impressive really, but for less than $25 you can’t expect more than that.
We are not amazed by the sound quality even though Sunwe claims that you will get Hi-Res audio quality. The bass is kind of tiny and not punchy enough, highs are present but lack some clarity, mids are articulate and vocals are maybe the best thing about these earbuds. When you turn on 3D sound (which should be some cool feature that improves the listening experience), the situation doesn’t get much better. You can hear the change in sound, but the bass doesn’t get deeper, highs don’t get cleaner, and there is some kind of an echo like you are at some live performance.
We have already said this, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat – Sunwe headphones don’t feature microphone so you can’t use them for handsfree calls.
The most annoying thing about these headphones (based on what other customers say) is the static noise you can hear all the time unless you crank the volume above 70 or 80%.
Sunwe earbuds are compatible with many popular USB-C smartphones (Pixel and Pixel 2 XL, Samsung S8) and other USB-C devices, but we don’t claim they will work with every USB-C phone. The best thing you can do is to test them before buying if you have the opportunity.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Simple and minimalistic design
Lightweight and comfortable
/ Sound quality is probably decent for a pair of $25 headphones, but don’t expect much
/ Decent passive noise isolation
/ Compatible with many popular USB-C smartphones, but probably not with all of them
The juncture between the cable and the earpieces is weak and it tends to break
Constant static noise whenever the headphones are plugged in
TriLink USB Type C Earbud Headphones with Mic
Trilink is another relatively affordable pair of generic earbuds. They are more expensive than Sunwe and don’t work with the most popular smartphones like Pixel, Pixel 2 XL, or Samsung S8, but they offer slightly better sound than Sunwe earbuds.
Earbuds come in a cardboard box with transparent front side and Trilink logo on the front. It’s nothing spectacular, but the earbuds are nicely protected and that’s the most important thing. Along with the earbuds, you will get 3 pairs of silicone ear tips in different sizes (S, M, L), and instruction manual. You won’t get carrying pouch or case, you will have to buy it separately.
The earbuds are very stylish and elegant. They come only in black color which makes them even more elegant. The earpieces are made of aluminum, they are lightweight and look very durable. Ear tips are angled in order to provide better fit. The earbuds are very comfortable and they snug nicely in ears. The cable is rubberized, it’s not tangle-free but it doesn’t tangle that much. On the cable, there is one slider that allows you to adjust the length of the cable. Below the slider, there are in-line controls with built-in mic. The controller has three buttons – two volume control buttons and one multifunction button (you can use it to play/pause/answer calls (single press) it, to play the next track (double click) or to play the previous track (triple click)). The cable has USB Type-C connector in the end. The rubberized part around USB-C connector seems a little bit bulky and there is possibility that you will have to remove your phone case in order to plug in these headphones.
Trilink headphones don’t have ANC, but they isolate decent amount of outside noise. They are probably better than Sunwe headphones.
Trilink USB Type-C headphones offer satisfying, nicely balanced sound. The emphasis is on the bass, but mids and highs don’t suffer too much. Mids are articulate, and highs are pretty clean. There is really small amount of distortion at maximum volume but it’s nothing alarming. They can be pretty loud, too (much louder than Sunwe).
Built-in mic works well, it’s better for indoor than for outdoor use, but it is not completely useless even if you are in a noisy environment (but there will be some difficulties).
The compatibility is the biggest issue. These earbuds are not compatible with Pixel or Pixel 2 XL, Samsung S8, Nexus 5X, or HTC phones. They are compatible with Motorola phones from Z series (Moto Z, Moto Z Force Droid, etc.), with some Huawei phones (Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro), and Xiaomi Mi phones.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Stylish and elegant design
Lightweight and very comfortable
Simple and easy-to-use controls
Satisfying sound quality; the emphasis is on the bass
Very good microphone
/ No ANC but decent passive noise isolation
Compatibility issues – not compatible with Google devices (Pixel and Pixel 2 XL), Samsung, or HTC phones. It is compatible with Motorola, Huawei, and Xiaomi phone.
Rubber protection around USB-C connector is a little bit bulky and you will maybe have to remove phone case in order to plug in the headphones.
Eamplest USB Type-C Earbuds
Eamplest USB-C earphones are definitely one of the cheapest on this list and probably on the market so don’t raise your expectations too high.
They come in a surprisingly nice box. Along with the earphones, you will get 3 pairs of sponge cushions and instruction manual.
The earphones look really nice and stylish. Only silver model is available. The earpieces have nice metallic feel, they are made of aluminum and look very durable. These are old-school flat earpieces – they don’t go inside your ear canal which means that they are much more comfortable than the regular earbuds. The cable is 47 inches long, it is tangle-free and reinforced with some kind of plastic – it looks pretty durable. The in-line controls are on the cable. There are two volume buttons with built-in mic between them on one side of the controller, and one multifunction button on the other side (play/pause/answer/end calls). There are no forward/rewind buttons. The controller is also made of aluminum. The cable ends with USB-C connector.
The manufacturer claims that Eamplest earphones have some kind of digital noise canceling but we don’t even know if that’s a real thing. There is active and passive noise canceling (isolation), this is maybe something in-between. They certainly don’t have ANC since ANC technology is much more expensive (the earphones would have to be more expensive). The confusing claims aside, noise isolation is not perfect – they definitely isolate certain amount of background noise, but they are far from great.
The Eamplest earphones offer more than satisfying sound quality for that price. The bass is strong and punchy, it sometimes overpowers mids, especially at high volume. Mids are nice and clean most of the time, while highs sound a bit muffled. The balance is not great, but you can’t expect more from a cheap product like this one. The loudness is one of the good features – they can really get loud.
The built-in mic is pretty bad. The person you are talking to will be able to hear you only if you are in some quiet place. If there is some background noise mic will pick up that noise, and conversation will be impossible.
Like always, the compatibility is an issue. These earphones will work with Xiaomi Mi phones, HTC phones (U Ultra and U11), Sony XZP, Google devices (Pixel 2, Pixel XL). Eamplest earphones are partially compatible (you can listen to music but can’t use control buttons) with phones like Xiaomi Mi4C and Mi4s, Huawei Mate 9 and 10, and maybe some other phones. They are not compatible with Xiaomi Mi5C, Xiaomi RedMi Pro, and Motorola phones (Moto Z series).
Advantages and Disadvantages
Lightweight and comfortable
They seem durable (earpieces and controller are made of metal, cable is reinforced)
More than satisfying sound quality for the price
/ They do passively isolate certain amount of background noise
Poor quality microphone
Compatibility issues with some Xiaomi, Motorola, and Huawei phones
Aceyoon USB C Earphones Ceramic In-Ear Headphones
These headphones have many different names – Aceyoon, New Bee T1, MagiDeal, Morjava, Viotek (Viotek have a little bit modified adapter, but the rest is the same). All of these headphones look basically the same and the only difference is the name (and price). There is probably some marketing strategy behind this, but we don’t really support it and we think it’s kind of misleading,
They come in a simple white cardboard box along with 2 pairs of silicone ear tips in different sizes, 2 pairs of memory foam ear tips (they are a little bit more comfortable), one carrying pouch, and instruction manual.
The earbuds are very simple and elegant. The earpieces are black and made of ceramics (that’s why they weigh a little bit more than regular plastic earbuds). They are weirdly shaped but still look very interesting. Because of the weight and shape, the earphones are not really comfortable and they don’t stay in ears (this is really annoying issue, you will have to readjust them every now and then). The cable is 1.2m long, it’s made of braided nylon which means it’s tangle-free. There are no in-line controls or built-in mic on the cable. The cable ends with bulky rubberized adapter with USB-C connector in the end. Because of the bulky adapter, you might not be able to plug in the headphones if you don’t remove your phone case.
The headphones are advertised as noise canceling, but they don’t feature ANC (all the headphones with ANC cost significantly more than $20 or $30). They only passively isolate certain amount of background noise, but they are not really good at it.
Aceyoon earphones offer only good sound for the price, nothing more than that. There are many regular headphones in this price range that sound better than these and even some cheap USB-C headphones (those we mentioned earlier) sound better than Aceyoon. The bass is weak and muffled and highs are unimpressive. Only mids (vocals, to be precise) sound decent and articulate. You won’t be impressed by the sound these earphones deliver. They are also very quiet – they have 96dB sensitivity, which makes them one of the quietest earphones on the list. Another annoying thing about the sound is that there is this constant hissing sound when earbuds are plugged in. The sound becomes less noticeable when the music is playing but it is still there,
You can’t use Aceyoon earphones for answering calls since they don’t feature built-in mic. They can be used only for listening to music.
Compatibility is an issue with all the USB-C earphones and Aceyoon earphones are not an exception. They are compatible with some Motorola phones (Moto Z series), Samsung S8, HTC U11, and Nexus phones, but not compatible with Google Pixel and Pixel 2.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Simple and elegant design
/ Good sound quality for the price (but there are much better choices even in the same price range)
/ They passively isolate certain amount of background noise (other USB-C headphones offer much better passive noise isolation)
A little bit bulky and uncomfortable for some people
No in-line controls
Not loud enough (96dB sensitivity)
Constant static noise when earphones are plugged in
Compatibility issues –they don’t work with Google Pixel and Pixel 2
Smart&Cool Type-C 3D Surround/Stereo Earbuds
If your budget is set at $20 for some reason, Smart&Cool USB-C earbuds are pretty good choice (and they are probably the only option in this price range). They are very cheap so don’t expect perfect sound quality and functionality, but they will do the job and they are compatible with bunch of popular smartphones.
They come in a simple packaging along with 3 pairs of different-sized silicone ear tips (S, M, and L), one sturdy carrying case, and instruction manual.
The earphones look stylish and elegant, the earpieces are black-and-red, they are made of aluminum alloy, but honestly, they don’t look strong or durable. They seem a little bit bulky, and one part will definitely stick out of your ears. Ear tips are very soft and comfortable, they practically cause no pain. The cable is 1.2m long, it is made of braided nylon and then reinforced with some kind of plastic, but it still looks kind of cheap. There is in-line controller on the cable. There is only one button on the controller and you can’t use it to adjust the volume or control the playback and answer calls (there is no microphone at all). You can only switch between two modes with this button – 3D surround sound (you can use it for movies, and it is supposed to sound like 5.1 or 7.1 surround system – at least that’s what manufacturer claims), and stereo sound (for listening to music). The cable ends with protective rubberized adapter with USB-C connector.
The earphones passively isolate decent amount of background noise, they are not the best but they’re more than satisfying for the price.
The sound quality is slightly better than we’ve expected. Don’t get the wrong impression – compared to more expensive regular headphones, they sound tiny and they lack bass, but for $20 you can’t get more than that. The mid-tones sound clean and articulate while the highs lack clarity. The earphones are also very quiet. Switching between 3D and stereo mode makes a difference, but it’s not really significant. Still, 3D sound makes watching movies and playing games more interesting. Just like some previously mentioned USB-C headphones, these also make that annoying static noise when they are plugged in.
Just like all the other headphones, these are not compatible with all USB-C headphones, but they are compatible with the most popular ones – Google Pixel and Pixel 2 XL, LG G5 and V20, Samsung Galaxy S8.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Lightweight and comfortable
3D Surround Sound/Stereo switch
Decent sound quality for a pair of $20 earphones
/ Compatible with the most popular USB-C smartphones (Google Pixel and Pixel 2 XL, Samsung S8, etc.), but compatibility issues with other phones are possible
Poorly built earpieces
Not loud enough
Constant static noise when the earphones are plugged in
Are USB-C Headphones Better Than the Regular Headphones?
The short answer would be: at the moment – definitely not, in the future – maybe. We will try to elaborate on this subject. The main difference between 3.5mm jack and USB-C connector is that you can send digital audio signal through USB connection, while 3.5mm jack allows transmission of analog audio signal only. You are probably thinking digital is better than analog, right? Well yeah, but in order for you to hear the sound, the audio has to be analog. There are no computer chips in your brain and since the beginning of time, we’ve perceived sound as a wave (we needed an analog audio signal). In order for you to hear the sound digital audio signal has to be converted to analog.
So, the difference between USB-C headphones and old-school headphones with 3.5mm jacks is the place where this conversion is done. 3.5mm headphones can transmit only analog signal, so the conversion from digital to analog has to be done on your phone (or player, or any other device). Inside every phone, there is a chip called DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter), which converts the audio. When you use your old-school headphones, the conversion is done on your phone, and then the analog signal goes through 3.5mm jack, through the cable, to the headphones, and then to your ears.
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What happens when you have USB-C headphones? Well, digital signal can be transmitted through the connector and through the cable, then it comes to the headphones, and that’s the new place where the conversion is done. So, now you must have DAC built into the headphones in order to hear the sound. Does that change the audio quality? Well, it depends. The quality of DACs and amplifiers inside your headphones will determine the quality of audio and that’s the only truth. The fact that digital audio signal stays digital until it comes to the headphones will maybe neutralize static noise that sometimes occurs when the analog signal is transmitted, but except that, we don’t see (or hear) improvement (at least not with currently available USB-C headphones).
Benefits of Using USB-C Headphones?
- Potentially better sound quality
We’ve already mentioned that they have potential to sound better than the old-school headphones but only with high-quality DACs and amplifiers. In other words, they are currently not better than a pair of regular headphones.
- USB-C connection provides better communication between hardware
Another potential benefit that could come from using USB-C headphones is having more control over your music. This could be achieved by installing new hardware and/or software into the headphones since USB connection improves the communication between headphones and your phone. This isn’t something that you can find on today’s USB-C headphones but more of a potential future benefit. By adding this new software or hardware you could, for example, control equalizer with your headphones.
- They Are Powered by Your Phone
One good thing about all today’s USB-C headphones is that they can be powered by the phone battery even if they have ANC (Active Noise Canceling) built-in. So, you don’t have to charge your ANC USB-C headphones (in fact, they don’t even have the battery), they will be powered by your phone (just like JBL Reflect Aware or Xiaomi Mi).
What Are the Bad Things About USB-C Headphones?
- It is Impossible to Listen to Music While Charging Your Phone
Some smartphone manufacturers decided to completely abandon 3.5mm jacks and implement only one universal USB-C port. That way, they saved some space, they made their phones thinner (maybe), but they also caused some problems. For example, you can’t listen to music and charge your phone at the same time anymore. This is something that could be solved by making some kind of adapter, but you will then have to bring additional equipment with you, and nobody likes that.
- Compatibility Issues
Your old headphones can’t be plugged into the USB-C connector, but fortunately, the USB-C connector is capable of transmitting analog signal so you can buy one more additional adapter or dongle (USB-C to 3.5mm female) and overcome this problem. Of course, that means that you will always have to bring adapter with you. Otherwise, your old headphones will be useless. And you should also know that not all dongles will work with your new USB-C phone. The only that really works well at the moment is Google dongle, and buying any other cheaper dongle is a gamble (they might not work with your phone).
The other thing you should know, and this is also compatibility-related issue, is that not all USB-C headphones on the market will work with your phone. We have tried to emphasize this fact by mentioning it in every single review, but it’s no harm to say that one more time. So, before buying any headphones (especially those generic brands from China), you should test them and see if they are compatible with your device.
USB-C Headphones Cost More
It is only natural that USB-C headphones are more expensive since they have more parts. The fact that these headphones must have built-in DACs and amplifiers inevitably makes these headphones more expensive. So, you will have to pay more for a pair of high-quality USB-C headphones than for a pair of regular headphones.
Do They (Smartphone Manufacturers) Want Us to Go Wireless?
Well, going wireless could be the solution we’ve been searching for, but not necessarily. It’s really too soon to say. We don’t know what is going to happen – will they include one additional USB-C port for headphones, will they bring back 3.5mm jack, or will they stick to the concept of having only one USB-C connector. If they decide to stick to one USB-C connector, then going wireless could be the best solution, especially if the headphone manufacturers stop making USB-C wired headphones (that would be the only choice then). If the headphone manufacturers try to make Hi-Fi USB-C headphones (at the moment, even those JBL or Libratone headphones are far from being great), then some people might go for wired headphones. Wireless headphones (and wireless technology in general) are probably the future of listening to music, but wireless technology will also have to be improved a lot and we will have to wait for that for at least a decade (maybe less, who knows).