REVIEW: Urbanears Zinken DJ Headphones


Link: Urbanears — Price: $99.90/€99.90/£89.90

Introduction

Urbanears zinken DJ headphones Review (5)

Scandinavia is the spiritual home of great industrial design, a philosophy that “lifestyle headphones” company Urbanears take to heart. Having recently taken a trip to Norway, I can say that the likes of IKEA are de rigueur for that beautiful corner of the world, and Urbanears is no exception.

The Zinken DJ headphones are Urbanears’ first foray into the pro DJ market. For a small company known for their media player headphones, this is a brave move. As soon as I saw them, I looked forward to putting them through their paces.

In A Nutshell

Reasonably priced, functional headphones for DJs, available in a rainbow of colour options.

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In The Box

Urbanears have clearly thought hard about the presentation and practicality of their headphones. I always think it’s worth noting when a company cares about presentation, and as you can imagine, the box for these is as bright and bold as the headphones themselves. Everything is packaged up nicely.

As for accessories, the headphones simply come with the reversible cable and a 3.5mm TRS adapter to use with hardware that gets confused by the mic/remote functionality of the TRRS connectors.

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Looks

I have to say, the design is undeniably Scandinavian. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into producing these, and the minimalist look lets the functionality do the talking. There’s no in-your-face branding (Lookin’ at you, Beats), with the only hint at who made them being a small fabric label on the headband. The ten colour choices for these headphones help you stand out as an individual (or blend in with black or grey if you wish).

The headphones I was given to review are the Pumpkin Zinkens, which, although not the official DJWORX brand colour, fit in nicely with the many, many other orange things littering the studio. All the colours are tasteful (though not to everyone’s taste), and even after about a month of daily use, they still look fresh.

There’s so many clever little features on these headphones, one of which pretty much justifies the purchase… the reversible “TurnCable” cable features a 3.5mm mini jack on one end to plug into your phone or other favourite media player, and a full-blown, grownup 6.3mm jack to stick in your mixer or controller. On top of that, the cable also has a mic/remote and a coiled section that provides some extra give without making you trip over yourself. Each of the speaker housings has a plug for you to reverse the cable.

Away from the DJ side of things, the remote is basically just a single button for ending calls and fast forwarding or pausing music. Some volume controls wouldn’t have gone amiss, but aren’t the end of the world. The two plugs also allow for something called “ZoundPlug”, which effectively lets you daisy-chain your headphones with a willing partner to share audio sources. Something the younguns will probably enjoy (and I’d actually encourage on the bus, rather than blaring out tinny sound from phone speakers).

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Build Quality

Even just a casual play with these gives you confidence. The build finish is solid, with no creak or give. The hinges use metal and hard plastic where they need to and the cans have a gentle suede finish to them.


As I said earlier, the reversible cable is genius. It’s a very practical solution to the problem of differing connector sizes. No more losing those little adapters. And in a world where Sennheiser are charging between £20 and £40 for replacements, you can pick up a spare TurnCable for £13. The only tiny disadvantage is that when using the Zinken for DJing, the cable will be dangling from the right cup, not the left.

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Sound Quality

Overall, these headphones are pleasant sounding. There’s no aspect of the audio that could be considered jarring. The speakers provide a decent amount of bass and treble, meaning they work well as DJ monitors. If there were any sort of criticism of the sound, I feel they may be a little lacking in the middle of the spectrum. But only slightly… too little to think it might just be my 34 year old ears!

Volume wise, these aren’t the loudest headphones I’ve used. With a mixer or controller, this shouldn’t be an issue. The large drivers do mean you’ll find yourself maxing out the volume output quite often, but coupled with the isolation, this just means your ears get an escape from day-to-day urban life.

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Isolation

The Zinken’s tight fit means really great isolation. Passing them round to a few friends, everyone remarked on how well they blocked out the environment. Seriously, these are like ear defenders. As mentioned before, the isolation means you don’t have to turn them up as loud as many other headphones while still hearing the sound.

Comfort

This is quite often the make-or-break feature for DJs looking for a new pair of headphones. We need to be able to wear them all day without getting sore or sweaty. I’ve been using the Zinken as my daily listening headphones (much like I did with the GermanMAESTROs) to get a good feel of the comfort with long-term use.

In all the time I used them, I only ever took them off when not actively listening with them. I never felt like I needed a rest from using them, which is always a good sign. Coupled with the isolation, I got this weird sense of disconnect from the world around me, which was quite Zen.

The cups are really soft and fit nicely around your ear. Even with my glasses on, the softness meant there was no extra pressure on my temples. The cups appear to be made from artificial pleather, though they still feel soft and are gentle on your ears. The headband padding is of very similar quality and comfort.

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Summary

Although I can’t speak for long-term durability, there’s nothing major to fault with these headphones. Injected with a bit (a lot) of Scandinavian ingenuity, the minimalist styling and rainbow of colour options means something for everyone.

Even with the minor niggles with sound (which is always subjective) and far-too-simple remote, I am genuinely in awe of what Urbanears have done with the Zinken for around 90 quid. I’d probably pick these over the bigger, heavier cans from Pioneer or Sennheiser. Maybe not in Pumpkin Orange, though…

Ratings

Quality: Good already sound, with maybe some lacking in the mid/high. Sturdy build that’ll take some knocks.

Features: I love that reversible cable. Scandinavian genius.

Value: You can’t really go wrong for sub-£100.

Gallery

Big thanks to Eitan from Westend DJ for supplying the headphones. If you need a pair, you should visit Westend DJ directly and order a pair without delay.

 

  • https://www.facebook.com/dopedjmore Simon Petrow

    possible to do an ultrasone dj1 /pro rewiew? they really worth it

  • khaiyin

    Curious as to why they didn’t just reverse the L/R channels in the 6.3mm socket. Would fix the reversed-cable-side dilemma, no? Or are there certain other asymmetries which I haven’t thought of?

    Looks real nice tho. Simple, yet pops out from the crowd.
    Is the hard plastic on the cups rubberized or just plastic? Would be nice to paint some designs on there.

    • happydan

      Rubberised

  • https://www.facebook.com/dopedjmore Simon Petrow

    how could I dare …

  • https://www.facebook.com/dopedjmore Simon Petrow

    how could I dare …

  • Brent Randolph

    Maybe I missed something. You mentioned that the cable dangles from the right ear, not the left, yet every picture shows otherwise.

    • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

      It’s just the way they’re plugged in.

      • Brent Randolph

        Ah, I understand now. Plugged for DJing, the cable is on the right. Plugged for MP3 playeror cell phone use, the cable is on the left. Interesting. And very frustrating.
        The unwritten rule in the DJ world is that the headphone cable goes on the right. This is not only evident in the vast majority of DJ-centric headphones but in mixers and most midi controllers as well. However, you still have companies that release headphones with the opposite (see: incorrect) configuration. The Sennheiser HD 25’s are one of most famous examples. However, the 25’s are an amazing and well-established headphone so Sennheiser can get away with it (much to my chagrin). But a company like Urbanears, who is just now dipping into an already over-saturated market, can’t afford to do that. It’s negligence at best and outright laziness at worst. A real shame too, as these look top notch.
        A side note to Sennheiser: Fix your damn headphones.

        • happydan

          It’s not that big of a deal. I showed these to a friend who said he preferred the cable on the right…

          • Brent Randolph

            Maybe I’m being a complainy-pants. I just shudder at the idea of a headphone cable draping across my body from my right ear into a mixer with the jack on the left.

          • Brent Randolph

            Maybe I’m being a complainy-pants. I just shudder at the idea of a headphone cable draping across my body from my right ear into a mixer with the jack on the left.

  • BRNK

    Can you compare them soundwise with the Sennheiser HD-25s?

    • happydan

      You can’t really compare these to the 25s. These are half the price.

      • joao

        Actualy you can, they feel quite like the sens, the sound quality isnt exactly the same but its not that different after all..one of my fav djs is using this cans over the sens in all of his giga that sums it all

  • http://twitter.com/JetPackBags JetPack

    REVIEW: Urbanears Zinken DJ Headphones – via http://t.co/FY00igeNa6 http://t.co/yfMCSgvblq

  • https://www.facebook.com/joe.fisher.982 Joe Fisher

    These look spectacular! I’ve just got to resist the temptation until my current cans cark it…

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  • Javier Bastardo

    Hello! I found your coverage on this cans to be really helpful and I was wondering if you could let some advice. I’m starting up my steps as a DJ and I’m in need of a pair of headphones of my own, so far all the gigs I played have been with a couple of borrowed ones.

    I see you also covered the AIAIAI TMA-1 X (http://djworx.com/aiaia-tma-1-x-still-cool-wallet-friendly/), altough it was not a real review like with the Zinken. I love the minimalistic looks on both the TMA-1 X and the Zinken and would like to know out of the two which one would you recommend for newcomer like me.

    • happydan

      I haven’t tried the AIAIAIs, but they have good pedigree. I’d imagine there wouldn’t be much difference between them. The Urbanears do look like they are a bit bulkier, which might make them sturdier.

      Again… I haven’t played with the AIAIAIs so that’s only speculative.

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  • Winston

    I own these. I actually had the smaller ones prior to purchasing these last year. These work great and the sound is decent. By decent, I mean you won’t be disappointed. They give very good (not the deepest or greatest) bass. Meaning, they ever so slightly vibrate when bass heavy songs hit. It’s far from background or fading bass, so you’ll definitely get your bass. And your bass won’t override your tracks at all. It’s somewhere in the neutral to just slightly above neutral zone. I’m not an audiophile, but love (hearing) music just the same so please excuse my lack of terminology. My only complaint is that after about an hour or two, my ears get incredibly soar, and I don’t have big ears at all. But then again, I have a head size of about 7-3/8. I looked up FAQ on their page and it says to slightly bend the arch that connects the ear cups (they are not liable for broken headsets), but we will see. Otherwise, they are veRy decent headphones both visually and performance-wise. Decent sound in a low-key, minimal, matte colored design.

  • dave

    horrible sound. but the microphone and button is good. and the curly cord and reverse cord is also nice. But doesnt really matter much when the sound quality sucks balls.

  • VLF

    I’m on my second pair of Zinkens. The first developed a major case of dandruff… The fuzzy plastic finish started peeling off after a couple of month of studio use.
    Urbanears hurried me a new pair in the mail and guess what? Now I have two pairs of peeling headphones.
    Not a major drama as a bit of scratching while watching a boring movies cleans them once for all, but obviously material choice is something urbanears must address soon.
    The whole rant about left and right ear… Just reverse the cans. The pa is mono anyway, so what’s the drama?

    Overall, I really like the Zinken. The mids could be clearer, but the comfort is brilliant and I do have a decent size head.

    • Nick

      how do you get a second pair?