Headphones built for London Life
These headphones get me excited about music again and I don’t feel like a dick or drab wearing them. To me that’s important. Style and substance… Yes please.
My love affair with Urbanista started with their excellent London range, true wireless ANC in-ear earphones that simply excelled for the price. So when Urbanista Miami over-ear headphones landed, I just had to get my hands on a pair.
This review comes later than planned, partly because my son hid them in a super safe place that took me over a week to find and partly because of well life. However, in that week or so when I had to ‘make’ do with my old pair of Bose QC35ii, and for the most part I missed my new funky headphones. Whilst the Bose have their strengths and can be found cheaper than ever these days, they are the ultimate boring ‘dad cans’ and though I’d never say that I’m super cool, I’m still way cooler than the ‘dad cans’ that I gladly took as part of a deal for a new phone a few years ago. Things have moved on and Urbanista Miami is proof of that.
The first thing to say about the Miami’s is their size, nothing prepared me for the moment I put them on for the first time as they hugged me like an over-eager auntie at Christmas. Much like those hugs, after a few seconds, I quite liked the feeling, like they were happy to meet me and because of their size, they are already were already fairly good at noise reducing. So, unsurprisingly because of their keen price point you perhaps won’t be surprised to hear that the ANC isn’t the most powerful or the best. However, what I wanted to know is if they would stand up to a pair of ANC headphones that were released back in late 2017 to critical acclaim.
As you have probably already demised these are two vastly different beasts and they have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Urbanista Miami’s are built like a tank and look and feel very premium. With the Miami’s on sale for around £129, the moment you open the box and feel them for the first time you will almost wonder if you’ve accidentally cheated Amazon and start looking over your shoulder. Also, considering their size, and my Bose muscle memory, I would have preferred slightly bigger buttons. The ANC option button is perfectly fine, but it takes a bit of getting used to with the placement of the control the other three buttons given their size, but after a while, it felt second nature and was helped by the raised areas, a thoughtful touch.
One sweet relief is USB-C charging, thank the lord. My one remaining Micro USB lead is now in a very safe place in case I should hopefully never need it again. Yeah, I no longer have irrational cable finding anxiety. Better yet with up to an insane 50 hours of playback I have only charged these headphone 2 or 3 times. One annoyance is the battery is low notification. If you hit 9% (which is very rare) you get a reminder that the battery is low every 30 seconds or so, basically making the last 9% of battery useless and frustrating. A percentage countdown for 10% to 0% would have felt a hell of a lot more useful. Turning ANC off would help eek out enough extra battery life. Plus, I can see the battery level on my phone.
The microphones are also good quality, something that matters more than ever with Zoom calls etc. I did some tests between the Bose and the Miami’s and no one could tell the difference in quality. I did get a few mentions of my headphones on Zoom calls too, but not surprisingly no one commented on the Bose.
I’ve heard that an Urbanista mobile app is in the works so I’m hoping for some customisations and updates. With that might come OK Google and Alexa support, as Siri is already mentioned in the instructions. Actually, I just double pressed the play button and I got OK Google support. SWEET!
Are they loud enough? In short yes. With 40mm drivers and decent ANC you should have no issues with the volume. The Bose are a bit louder but struggle and it’s not an enjoyable experience, there’s no distortion at full volume with the Miami’s and the bass is on the heavy side but when you’re listening to Blinding Lights by The Weeknd the bass is right in the sweet spot for me. Like a skull massage rather than crushing. However, it is Blinded by the Lights by The Streets where the excel for me. This is a track of my youth that is timeless in my opinion (aside from that it’s about being in a club) and it is my go to track for new headphones. It’s a track that deserves the bass to be direct and punchy and the Miami’s are the best headphones I’ve ever tested. HANDS DOWN. High praise indeed. It’s spiritual successor IMHO, End Credits by Chase & Status also nails the brief for me. Crawling Blacksnake by The Black Keys also YES, even Functions On the Low by Ruff Sqwad with its mad panpipes is an absolute delight on the ears.
These headphones get me excited about music again and I don’t feel like a dick or drab wearing them. To me that’s important. Style and substance… Yes please. These cans handle the lows, mids and highs surprisingly well for the money.
The biggest problem with these headphones is not the few niggles mentioned above. It is genuinely how they only cost £129. Every time I put them on or compare them to my ‘dad cans’ I’m just blown away by the quality. If you want a pair of trendy headphones to look the part whilst keeping the normally noisy London life at bay as life unlocks then you cannot go wrong with these. Bonus, they also come with the worlds happiest looking hard case.
Update: The other problem is that Urbanista have just announced their new Los Angeles model which offer near limitless battery with their inbuilt solar panels for only £169. You’d need to be a vampire or oil barren to hate that idea. No battery anxiety, better for the environment over the long term and if they are built the way the Miami’s are, then they might even outlive you, not to mention the slight reduction in your electric bills and that fluffy feeling of being more eco. Hopefully, I can get my hands on a pair to compare.
I’ve become an Urbanista fan because of the quality of the Miami and London range and as a result I’ve also started to appreciate how they are doing things differently. I can only directly recommend the London and Miami ranges, but if you’re interested but your budget can’t stretch or your requirements are different, I’d recommend looking at what else is in their headphone range, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.