Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Urbanears Zinken: Zen to the Ears, Light on the Pocket

If you read my previous article, I made it no secret that I wasn’t a fan of the Urbanears brand until I had a taste of the Tanto. While I can’t say I’m now a big fan of the brand, I'd say it is certainly something to consider for its unique color palette and the sleek, simple designs, as well as good sound quality to boot. 

The size of the headphones really matter to me, especially that I'm a big guy (so I have a big head). Gladly, Urbanears has come up with the Zinken line.

Ahh, the Zinken. Where do I begin? You already know about the many colors that Urbanears offers, so I won’t dwell on that anymore. Let’s focus on the other features this new baby has to present.

The Urbanears Zinken headphones is a first for the Swedish-based company, “developed with professional DJs in mind, with respect to the wallet of the unpaid amateur” – which means they are promising great sound quality without the cost of its bigger name competitors in the market. That certainly sounds like something to get excited about. A promise like that makes me expect nothing but the best from this pair. So let’s get started.


The Zinken is surprisingly durable, yet I still wouldn’t recommend tossing them around. You do NOT want to get a scratch on the surface of these phones, especially if you’re obsessive-compulsive like me. They’re built to last though, as can be seen in the quality of every detail. From the odor- and sweat-resistant ear cushions, to the swivel joints in each ear cup, and even down to the fabric they used to print the logo on – you can really see and feel that you are getting top-of-the-line earphones.

Wearing the pair feels very natural. Describing it as "comfortable" is a perfect word to describe the Urbanears Zinken. Over-all, the headphones take the shape of your head and stay on without the need for fiddling or adjusting them.


Accessories here are pretty straightforward – you get something they call the TurnCable and a neutral stereo plug. So we know the neutral stereo plug is just to make sure your pair fit into whatever sockets the world may throw at you. Okay, but what exactly is this “TurnCable”? It’s basically a cable with two different plugs – one end is a 3.5mm stereo plug, and the other end is a 6.3mm plug for the more sophisticated sound equipment. 

Urbanears is definitely not the first to come up with the idea, but they are certainly the first to have built this feature directly into their headphones. The Zinken features two sockets on either side of the earcups where you can plug in the cable and connect it to your music source. This is particularly useful for DJs who work with professional sound equipment and may need to change between iPod and a turntable in an instant. 

As with the Urbanears Tanto as well, this pair comes with a microphone. Who says you can’t enjoy excellent sound quality while talking to your special other (even if that “special other” is your nagging mother)?

While I’m on the subject, the two sockets on the headphones themselves enable a neat little feature for Urbanears: it’s called ZoundPlug, and plugging another pair into the headphones will let another friend listen to your tunes.

Given this, here’s a challenge to you, dear readers: I’d like to see a group of ten friends all in a circle wearing Zinkens, plugged into each other’s headsets and plugged in to one music player. First group who sends this picture to my twitter account gets 10,000 Internetz.

Sound Quality

We have finally come to the cut of the meat that everyone wants a taste of, and boy did was I hungry to know how this pair would sound like. So I put them on, chose “Like a G6” by Far East Movement and kicked back, anticipating the quality that the pair had promised to deliver.

The Tantos surprised me by delivering superb sound quality from such a flimsy-looking design – I had my expectations set low. I think the opposite happened here. I had set my expectations too high for what the headphones could really do. Not to say that the pair didn’t sound great – they are of the same if not slightly better than the Tantos, but I can’t say it’s at par with the bigger brands out in the market.

The Zinken delivers a clear definition of the full sound spectrum, from the deep bass to the highs, so I got a good distribution there. However, I found that the sound quality was not as whole or as full as I have expected it for professional DJ headphones. I was disappointed at its lack of power. 

Noise isolation was surprisingly good though. Without the music, it filtered out about 70% of ambient noise; with the music, I hear very little of the outside world, so this was something I was happy with.

Over-all Experience

Over-all, I’m going to grade the Urbanears Zinken at 4 stars out of 5. The comfort of wearing them, the sound quality it delivers and its trademark Urbanears design makes it a great pair to own. The TurnCable and the ZoundPlug are also certainly nifty features to have. It just falls short to say that it can run with the big boys such as Sennheiser or Bose in terms of sound quality.

The Zinken is an interesting pair, because it captures a market for those who demand more than the normal headphones but don’t want to go all the way to the expensive professional DJ-level headphones. 

Standard Retail Price: Php7,950

Urbanears Zinken is available at the following:
  • Urbanears Concept Store, Podium
  • Beyond The Box
  • Digital Hub
  • Digital Walker
  • Listening Room – SM MegaMall
  • 8 Telcom - Davao
  • GUI - Davao
  • Banana Telecom - Davao
  • iCenter – Cebu
  • Urban Athletics - Greenbelt 3
  • Complex
  • Toby’s Arena – Shangri-La Plaza Mall
  • Astrovision
  • Egghead – Robinsons Galleria
  • Bratpack
  • Odyssey
  • R.O.X.
  • Technoholics – BF Homes Paranaque
  • PowerMac Center
  • iStudio
  • Mobile 1
  • Gadgets In Style
  • Switch

Editor's Note: This article was written by Arbi Bautista, a special writer and contributor of Glich's Life. Arbi is an IT Consultant and Project Manager in one of the biggest IT companies of the world. He is a music and photography enthusiast, and a great public speaker. Revisions to this article were done by yours truly prior to posting. You can follow Arbi on Twitter (@sowhatifimmaria). - Glenn / Glich


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