Since the rumours of Apple removing the headphone jack were just rumours, we’ve had rumours of Android OEMs doing the same. One of the earliest companies to do it (far before Apple) was LeEco with the Le 2 series of phones. They launched their CDLA (Continual digital lossless audio) earbuds and on ear headphones. Motorola then dropped the headphone jack on the Z and Z Force, but instead of supplying a pair of cheap USB-C buds, they just included a Type-C to 3.5mm adaptor. Lastly, HTC dropped the headphone jack with the Bolt, a Sprint exclusive late last year, and they included a set of adaptive audio USB-C earbuds in the box as well as an adaptor. Let’s take a look at the Zinsoko Z-C01 USB-C headphones that just might cure the problem of no 3.5mm audio jack going forward.
Disclaimer: Zinsoko did not send these to us, I (Dom) as well as Craig both bought a pair of these earbuds when they were on sale for £11.
So where does Zinsoko come in? Well, they’re a company that have 2 sets of earbuds based on USB-C, the Z-C01 and the Z-C02, we have the Z-C01’s here, and after a recommendation from Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) these looked to be the first, inexpensive pair of USB-C earbuds, and I just had to check them out.
There are three ways I can describe the Z-C01’s, heavy, finicky and flat. The Z-C01’s have a flat cable, and flatter than most, but it is a translucent cable, wherein the centre on the cables innards are visible, but the edges are a translucent rubber material. My gripe with this cable is that it is tackier than most, and I don’t mean in a stylistic way, the cable grips on to other things much more than you would expect. Clothes and pockets, these cables are going to snag and be a bit of a pain to get out.
Next up, these earbuds are heavy, and I don’t know whether or not to attribute this to the ceramic casings or what, but these are noticeably more massive than other earbuds in my collection, but the trade off for that extra mass is that they feel premium and hefty, they feel worth their price and that I wouldn’t want to drop them. There isn’t a control box or microphone here, and that is fine to an extent, and what I mean by that is that I paid £11 for these, they are currently at £27, but both of these prices are below their £40 MSRP and while no remote or microphone is excusable on an £11 pair of earbuds, omitting one or the other is okay on £27, but omitting both from a £40 pair is just a no no, and that’s what these are if you don’t get them on sale.
Lastly on the hardware side I want to talk about the USB-C jack right at the tip. Because there isn’t a control box, all the smarts are in this part here, which makes this jack huge, even bigger than the Type-C port already is. I would have prefered that Zinsoko did was Zorloo did with the Z:eros, but a control box further up the cable, so the jack can be as small as it can, Type-C is a small connector for everything it can do, but it is still bigger than MicroUSB and 3.5mm.
So how do they sound? Well, actually surprisingly good. I tested on my Huawei P9 and Honor 8 (which, for all intents and purposes are the same phone), While Craig had tested them on his OnePlus 3, Lumia 950 and his LeTV Le 1s.
On my side, my one real gripe was about the volume, that Zinsoko just wasn’t pulling enough juice from the phone (in order to not drastically affect the battery of the phone) and on Craig’s end, he said that they were a little bit flatter than he’d like, but jumping into an EQ fixed that for him
I Think my problem is that I was somewhat spoilt by my Zorloo Z:eros, those had a real punch, had some serious power behind them, and sounded great. These don’t sound terrible, far from it, but they didn’t blow me away either, Which is what I was expecting from my first set of usable USB-C earbuds.
This is where things tend to get a bit dicey. There is no compatibility list on Zinsoko’s website, nor the Amazon listing for the Z-C01’s, so I took a risk ordering them not knowing whether or not they worked with any of my devices.
I was about 50/50. Whilst the Z-C01’s worked on my P9 and Honor 8, They Didn’t work on my Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus and Swift 2 X. Craig had success with all his Type-C devices, and sadly we don’t yet have any Type-C laptops to test this with, but as it is just USB Audio, windows should handle it just fine, as should MacOS.
So should you buy them? I mean maybe? Should you buy them for sound quality, probably not, especially if they go above £27. Well what about looks and build quality? Sure, they’re very well built and look really nice, but It all comes down to whether or not you want to use USB-C earbuds, and if you do, whether just because or because your OEM removed the jack, sure. The Zinsoko Z-C01’s aren’t terrible earbuds, and I bought them at £11 so as I consumer I’m not too mad, but if I had bought them at £40, or even £27 I don’t know if I would keep them for all that long.