While manufacturers are making sure to cut off all cords as part of their increased focus on the best wireless earbuds, it doesn’t mean wired connections aren’t an option. Bluetooth headphones are great, but if you’d rather do without the latency and charging process, some of the best USB-C headphones are a great alternative to both. Just plug and play — and that’s it.
PALOVUE SoundFlow USB Type C Headphones
These earbuds already stand out with the all-white finish, but they also have booming sound that may come as a big surprise for earbuds coming at this price. They also come with different ear tip sizes to get the comfy fit you’d want while wearing them for longer periods.
$22 at Amazon
Wireless first with USB-C audio
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones
While the Momentum 3 Wireless are Bluetooth first, they work just like a pair of USB-C wired headphones. Even better, you can charge them at the same time you’re listening to music. A premium design and solid sound with ANC means you get a great package.
$248 at Amazon $270 at Best Buy $270 at B&H
Samsung AKG USB Type-C Earphones
Samsung won’t throw these in a box with a phone or tablet anymore, but these AKG-tuned earbuds are more than capable of delivering good sound for what you’re paying. There are no extra bells and whistles here. They just sound better than you’d expect.
From $17 at Amazon
CKLYYL USB Type C Earphones
These USB-C earbuds from CKLYYL won’t take much out of your pocket, and they keep things simple by just focusing on the basics. You get in-line microphone and media controls, along with a few ear tip sizes in the box to find the best fit.
$14 at Amazon
Go to the movies
Creative SXFI Trio
Creative’s Super X-Fi (SXFI) technology is built into these impressive USB-C earbuds, putting 7.1-style surround sound between your ears while watching movies, listening to music, or playing games. They sound great even without that, and the SXFI app includes an EQ to customize the audio profile.
$140 at Creative
Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds
Google stopped including earbuds with the Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL, but the Pixel USB-C Earbuds are still readily available and sound great. They’ll fit right with the adjustable loop, and activating Google Assistant is only a button press away. The price is right, too.
$30 at Google
TriLink USB Type C Earbud Headphones
TriLink put some thought into making these earphones, focusing on great sound through their certification for Hi-Res audio. It doesn’t hurt that they also use a flat cable to avoid tangling, and if you can get them to fit right, they’ll offer great passive noise isolation.
$20 at Amazon
Wireless and wired at once
1More Dual Driver ANC Pro
Neckbands aren’t as common as other earbuds, but 1More does a good job with these by making them sound great and including effective ANC performance. Of course, Hi-res codec support through AAC and LDAC doesn’t hurt, either. Battery life also goes up to 20 hours of charge.
$150 at Amazon
Creative SXFI Gamer USB-C Gaming Headset
There’s a combination at work here that puts together Creative’s SXFI tech for virtual surround sound, excellent audio performance, and an effective mic, which all creates a great set of gaming headphones. Use them on a console, computer, or try them out on a phone or tablet.
From $80 at Amazon
If you have to, get in on USB-C
USB-C audio isn’t as prevalent in 2021 as you might think, despite the headphone jack having already become increasingly harder to find on mobile devices. There are still a few that stick to the 3.5mm jack, but wireless headphones are the ongoing trend. It’s just that Bluetooth can introduce latency, which may be fine if your phone can fill the gap on YouTube videos and streaming music, but not for gaming or live TV. That’s where you can’t compensate for latency unless you plug in.
So, the selection may be somewhat limited, but you can find a great set of headphones using the new connector.
The Palovue SoundFlow are at the top of the list because they offer sound that totally belies their budget price, making them easy to recommend. However, if you’re OK with spending more on over-ear headphones, give the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless a shot for their excellent sound, ANC, and premium design.