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What are the best USB-C headphones?
USB-C headphones never took off as a replacement for 3.5mm headphones, but plenty of people still need them for wired listening. If you’re not a fan of wireless headphones and don’t have a headphone jack, that leaves you with USB-C headphones as your only option. While the category had a slow start and an even quicker death, there are still a few notable options that might be worth your money depending on what you’re looking for. Here are our picks for the very best USB-C headphones you can buy.
Update, May 2022: This best USB-C headphones list was updated include the Razer Hammerhead ANC earbuds and categorize the Shure AONIC 50 as over-ear headphones.
Best USB-C headphones:
- Shure Aonic 50 are great over-ear USB-C headphones that can connect with 3.5mm and Bluetooth as well.
- Samsung AKG earbuds are a cheap and reliable option for anyone who doesn’t want to break the bank.
- Razer Hammerhead ANC are a great noise-cancelling option for gamers, with memory foam tips for extra isolation and comfort.
- 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro is a great versatile wireless option if you don’t always want to use your USB-C port.
- AiAiAi TMA-2 MFG4 are the best on-ear option that are conveniently modular, so you can always upgrade them.
- Get an adapter instead! If you already love your headphones, just get an adapter.
1. Shure Aonic 50 — best over-ear USB-C headphones
The Shure Aonic 50 headphones are our top over-ear pick for the flexibility they offer. You can choose from USB-C, 3.5mm, and Bluetooth connections so you can listen comfortably from just about any device. Lily Katz put the Aonic 50 through their in-depth paces, and you can read all of her thoughts right here. They’ll cost you, but the Aonic 50 boast up to 20 hours of battery life and support for all of the most popular codecs.
2. Samsung AKG earbuds — best bang for your buck
USB-C earbuds don’t have to break the bank to fit the bill — take the Samsung AKG earbuds, for example. You should be able to find a pair for around $15 on sale, and they more than justify the price tag. All of Samsung’s latest Galaxy Buds are tuned by AKG as well, so you know that sound quality should be no issue. The built-in DAC, interchangeable ear tips, and volume controller should make it even easier to perfect your listening experience.
3. Razer Hammerhead ANC earbuds — best USB-C earbuds for gaming
Razer is best known for its gaming peripherals, but Razer also makes a phone that, believe it or not, has no headphone jack. Thankfully, Razer has a solid pair of gaming earbuds for USB-C, the Razer Hammerhead ANC. While the active noise-cancelling isn’t best-in-class like Bose, it’s not bad, especially considering the memory foam ear tips that come with the earbuds that help with isolation. If you’re looking to block out the world on your commute and play a game or two while you’re at it, these are a great option.
4. 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro — best wireless USB-C earbuds
It’s not cheating if headphones can connect via USB-C, but you’d rather use them with Bluetooth, right? These earbuds from 1More take a behind-the-neck approach that keeps the wires completely out of your way. You can choose between two levels of noise-cancelling for the best experience, and an IPX5 rating means that these ‘buds should stand up to your daily life. While USB-C playthrough is possible with the 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro, it’s easier to plug in these USB-C headphones for three hours of playback on 10 minutes of charging.
5. AiAiAi TMA-2 MFG4 – best on-ear USB-C headphones
While these AiAiAi USB-C headphones may be one of the older options on the list, they were designed with Google for enduring quality. Originally launched alongside the Pixel 3, the TMA-2 MFG4 headphones have a timeless minimalist design and modular options for all main components. You can easily upgrade them with the latest parts while keeping a comfortable frame that you know and love.
6. Master & Dynamic adapter — perfect if you already have a favorite pair of headphones
You don’t have to spend money on a new set of headphones to find a perfect USB-C setup. If you already have your perfect match, why not just grab an adapter and keep things simple? That way, you can save the presets and EQ that you may have already tuned without taking much extra time. The braided design feels luxurious, and it ensures that your cable can handle bends and folds for a long time to come.
What should you know about USB-C headphones?
Pay attention to fit
As is the case with all headphones, how they fit your ears is one of the most essential aspects. This is doubly true with earbuds. When you don’t have a proper fit, not only do you have to worry about them constantly falling out, but you’re also going to have a lot of outside noise to contend with. Having earbuds that help isolate outside sounds will make it easier to hear the music you actually want to listen to. Isolation is key, and it’s the reason why people spend extra to get a good pair of ear pads or ear tips for their favorite headphones.
Universal doesn’t mean compatible
We can’t explain why some manufacturers have decided to ignore the fact that USB-C is supposed to be universal. In our full testing, we found that some headphones didn’t play nice with some phones. An example of this is the HTC U-sonic headphones which are incompatible with non-HTC devices.
We’re essentially saying that if the ‘buds didn’t make this list, then it might be a good idea to stay away. There’s nothing worse than buying a new set of USB-C headphones and finding out that they don’t work.
What about the Google USB-C headphones?
In short, don’t bother to buy a pair. While we were looking forward to Google releasing their own inexpensive pair of USB-C earbuds and providing a good option, the ‘buds that come with the Pixel phone are far from perfect. That said, nothing beats the price tag of “free,” but if you were going to go out of your way to purchase these, don’t bother. Just go with the Samsung AKG earbuds instead.
While access to the Google Assistant at the press of a button is pretty nifty, it doesn’t make up for the terrible isolation resulting in you maxing out the volume on your phone to get it to listening levels. They’re also somewhat uncomfortable because of the loop adjustment system that basically wedges them in your ear.
Why should you trust SoundGuys?
SoundGuys is the sibling site to Android Authority, and the team there has made it their goal to bring objective reviews and information to help educate people before they make a purchase they may regret. How you listen to music and enjoy sound is subjective, but the technical aspects of a pair of headphones or a Bluetooth speaker can be measured objectively. That’s where SoundGuys come in. Make sure to check it out if you have any interest in all things audio, and feel free to read their ethics policy.