We are living in a world where audio just keeps getting better and more affordable for the average consumer. The rise in the popularity of wireless headphones is also something hard to ignore. However, we can all agree on one thing, the headphone jack is slowly dying away in most phones. In fact, it’s seen as a surprise these days when a major flagship incorporates a headphones jack.
Many manufacturers have made bold claims that audio is better with the USB-C port rather than the headphone jack. This is certainly up for debate, and the average person won’t be likely to notice this. Still, USB-C headphones are more convenient than getting a 3.5mm dongle. As the name implies, they can plug right into the Type-C port on your phone.
Many people would just go wireless at this point, but if you’re the type of person who hates charging multiple things, you don’t have many options. Whatever the case may be, we’re looking at 5 of the best USB-C headphones in 2021.
1. Shure Aonic 50 Noise Cancelling Headphones
A Luxurious Experience
- Exceptional build quality
- Sophistacted design
- Refined audio performance
- Works wirelessly as well
- Noise Cancellation could be better
Style: Over Ear | Frequeuncy Response: 20Hz to 22KHz | Weight: 355g | Active Noise Cancellation: Yes
We decided to start off this roundup of USB-C headphones with something premium, and these headphones certainly scream of quality. If you’re not familiar with Shure, they are one of the most prominent brands when it comes to audio equipment. The Shure Aonic 50 certainly lives up to our expectations, and then some.
The fit and finish of these headphones immediately jump out. These are of very high quality and constructed with premium materials. The metal headband, the strong hinges, and the stitched leather headband give it a unique look compared to all the other headphones out there. Portability isn’t exactly easy, as they don’t fold in.
In terms of comfort, these feel great on the head. They might feel a bit heavy at first, but you quickly get used to it and fatigue is never an issue. There are no fancy touch controls or dials, just simple on-board buttons.
They are mainly marketed as wireless headphones, but they can be used with a USB-C cable, which technically makes these the best sounding pair out there. As for sound quality, I would describe it as clean and sophisticated. A lot of attention went into this aspect, and the outcome is a pleasant and soulful listening experience.
Everything is well balanced, and the passive noise cancellation works well. Unfortunately, competitors like Sony and Bose have done active noise cancellation much better. Apart from that, nothing is holding this pair back from being the best USB-C headphones.
If we’re getting rid of the headphone jack on phones for good, we better have a good replacement. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of competition in the USB-C Headphones department. This means that you’ll either get a great pair or a terrible one. However, OnePlus may have just perfected the balance of price, features, and sound quality to give you the best bang for your buck.
At first glance, these headphones appear to be quite simple, but that’s what they are all about. No fancy gimmicks here, these are just a solid and well-rounded pair. The housing for the earbuds is constructed out of robust metal, and it won’t be falling apart any time soon.
The in-line control module is well built and has clicky buttons. The USB-C end also feels solid. I wish the cable wasn’t as flimsy as it is, but not too much of an issue for the price. As for comfort, they feel like regular earphones but they never fall out nor do they cause fatigue.
Connection strength is solid overall, and it works seamlessly with any device that has a USB-C port. Sound quality is much better than anything else in this price bracket. The bass has some emphasis on it, the mids push the vocals well, and the highs are decent. Maybe the treble could have used some sparkle to it, but most people won’t notice that in such a cheap pair.
3. Google Pixel Buds USB-C Headphones
Best For Google Devices
- Google Assistant support
- Lots of Features for Pixel phones
- Sleek and minimal design
- Comfort won't be for everyone
- Disappointing sonic performance
Style: In-ear | Frequeuncy Response: 20Hz to 20KHz | Weight: 15g | Active Noise Cancellation: No
If you are someone who cares about having a great ecosystem, then Google’s own devices are the way to go. It’s apparent that all of their devices work with each other seamlessly. That is exactly why the Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds are a perfect fit for Pixel owners.
These were launched alongside the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they work well together. As far as USB-C earbuds go, these are the “smartest” ones out there. Before we touch on that, we need to appreciate the lightweight design.
They are constructed entirely out of plastic, but they never feel cheap. For the most part, they sit well enough in the ear, thanks to the loop. The loop is actually adjustable, so you can find the perfect fit without issues. However, they won’t be for those who don’t like the shape of something like the Apple Earpods. The plastic can dig into the ears, so comfort can be hit or miss.
The in-line control module has a multifunction button built-in. You can use this to skip, pause, and play tracks. Google Assistant can also be accessed, which allows you to ask questions on the fly. If you download Google Translate, you can also hold down the button for real-time translation. They even read your important notifications.
Unfortunately, corners were cut in the audio performance. They lack depth and dynamic range, and the bass can be muddled at times. Decent enough for casual listening, but for the finely tuned ear, this can be a bit disappointing.
When Apple killed of the headphone jack, third party manufacturers immediately jumped on the opportunity to make headphones with lightning cables. As for Android, there weren’t a lot of USB-C Headphones at the start. However, Libratone partnered up with Google to make the Libratone Q Adapt.
These headphones have the “Made For Google” branding associated with them. That is why they work with Google Assistant seamlessly, and even the translate feature works. The four-button module is made out of plastic but feels solid enough. The braided cable is a nice touch and should be expected at this price.
Thanks to USB-C, Libratone managed to incorporate active noise cancellation with these headphones. It isn’t at the level of Bose or Sony but blocks out the noise if you’re in an office or coffee shop. Sound quality good enough as they are very pleasant to listen to. Well, balanced audio goes a long way, and Libratone has done a decent job. I say decent because the treble leaves something to be desired.
Overall, they feel comfortable, and the fit and finish are quite excellent. Unfortunately, when used with non-Google devices, there are some issues. Sometimes the active noise cancellation won’t work, other times the control module won’t respond.
And while the sound is quite good, even that is a bit hard to justify the price tag. However, if you need a premium pair to match your Pixel phone, it is a decent option.
Last but definitely not least, we have the Razer Hammerhead USB-C headphones. These are by far the most prominent and flashiest headphones on this list. That shouldn’t be a surprise coming from Razer. However, they do get a few things right, especially in terms of design and feel.
These headphones can either be bought in a stealthy matte black color or Razer’s iconic green. These headphones use 10mm drivers, an aluminum housing, and a DAC which is incorporated with the USB-C connector. Fit and finish are excellent, as you’d expect from them. The back of both ear tips are magnetic, so you can connect them together to avoid a tangled wire.
A prominent Razer logo can be found at the back of both ear tips, and the logo actually lights up when plugged in. If you’re not listening to any music, they turn off after some time. The in-line remote feels a bit cheap but doesn’t quite feel like a weak point. It does have a microphone that works well.
Unfortunately, Razer didn’t pay much attention to comfort. The ear tips don’t sit well, and the metal edge can dig into your ears causing fatigue. They are very difficult to wear for an hour or two. Sound quality isn’t much to write home about, but if you are used to the bass-heavy Razer-like sound, these will be very familiar. The bass can overshadow other details, which is a downside to most people.