Link: Urbanears — Price: $99.90/€99.90/£89.90
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.