Review: Sennheiser Urbanite On-ear headphones

    Sennheiser Urbanite (Photo by Sennheiser)

    The Sennheiser Urbanite is the latest headphone offering from the German audio specialists following the massive success of their Momentum series.

    Great design seems to be part of Sennheiser’s recent releases, and fit in perfectly with that philosophy. At first glance, it seems Sennheiser is injecting a younger, funkier design into their cans, a la Beats. And as many can attest, the sound quality from Beats headphones doesn’t quite match up to their illustrious design.

    We managed to get hold of a pair of Urbanites in ‘Sand’, so let’s see how it stands up to the hype.

    Design

    The Sennheiser Urbanite on-ear headphones appear incredibly stylish at first sight. While the equally exceptional Sennheiser Momentum headphones have a vintage twist in its design, the Urbanites scream “modern”. With its bold lines and sharp finish this latest offering by Sennheiser scores high in all things sexy.

    The accompanying audio cable is flat, which makes it tangle-resistant. In our experience, such cables are typically fragile , but these have a certain measure of sturdiness to it. The locking mechanism when connected to the headphones is also a nice touch.

    The headband comes in a unique, textured nylon material, which is a good breath of fresh air from the synthetic leather that tends to flake after a while. However, we’re not hot about the underside of the headband, which lacks padding and feels a little too “slippery”, giving a poor grip on the head. The headphones will slip off if you’re a head banger (and trust us, audio is so good you can’t help but move to the groove).

    We like how Sennheiser has made the Urbanites foldable, with both ear cups able to be folded in and making it extra portable for travel or commuting. The Momentums were a little difficult to keep and bring around, given their inability to fold up.

    The ear cups are also adjusted via a non-traditional system. There are no metal bands that click on these headphones; the ear cups are instead attached to a flat rubber cable (a little like the audio cable) that runs inside the headband. The cups are then able to move along this rubber cable like a track.

    Sound

    The Sennheiser Urbanite delivers a warmish sound signature, with sweet, detailed mids and treble, accompanied by a powerful bass that doesn’t come across as adequate.

    Compared to the Momentums, these have a slightly less prominent bass, while the midrange and treble are arguably richer and offer greater clarity. One concern about bassier headphones is how the sound can come across as ‘muddy’, but this isn’t a concern with the Urbanites.

    If we could change one thing about the sound – and this is purely a personal preference – we’d make it a little brighter. As it stands, the thick layers of sound offers a more natural-sounding set of cans, albeit a little less ‘exciting’.

    The Urbanites were made to appeal to a wider audience, and we fully expected it to perform well on most genres of music. And as expected, we weren’t disappointed in this aspect. Jazz, rock, pop, folk, trance, house and country  music all sounded great with the Urbanites.

    While sound isolation wasn’t particularly great with the Momentums, the Urbanites proved to do a much better job. Don’t worry about sound leakage as well as the Urbanites don’t reveal much of your music tastes to your fellow commuters.

    Comfort

    These are very comfortable. The velour ear pads add a nice cushioning to the ears, while the pressure from the headphones isn’t too strong. But as with most on-ear headphones, they do get a little painful on the ears after a continuous, extended usage.

    Our benchmark for a comfortable pair of cans are the Sony MDR-1RMK2 – those are absolutely the most comfortable pair of headphones we’ve owned. How do the Urbanites compare to the 1Rs? Well to be honest, it’s really hard to beat the comfort of the Sonys. These would count as the second most comfortable pair of headphones we’ve tried – and that’s certainly no slouch.

    Verdict: 4.5/5

    These headphones are amazing, and it’s not entirely surprising considering the success Sennheiser had with their Momentums. We would definitely buy these for the comfort, good isolation and impressive sound signature.

    While we found the bass levels adequate for our taste, bass heads may find it slightly lacking. The main reason why this pair shines, though, is its good balance of sound between bass, mids and treble, with the latter two being particularly impressive.

    What we’d like to change is the material underside of the headband, and having a slightly brighter sound wouldn’t hurt as well.

    Do you own a pair of Sennheiser Urbanite On-ear headphones? Let us know what you think of them.

    The Sennheiser Urbanite On-ear headphones retail for s$269.

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