Last month I brought you news of a brand-new pair of over-the-ear, noise-canceling headphones from fashionable Swedish brand Urbanista. I promised I’d review them as soon as I got my hands on a pair of these affordable ANC headphones aimed at the youth market, but without compromising on audio quality. Well, that day has arrived. I spent the weekend hole up with a pair of Urbanista Miami and now I’m here to tell all.
I’m a big fan of Urbanista even though it’s not a brand aimed at me. Urbanista makes earphones and headphones that are for a fashion-conscious and younger consumer and are available in a variety of hot colors. They’re a wonderful alternative to Apple’s offerings which don’t always appeal to the youth market.
The Urbanista Miami headphones feel like a high-quality product. They are heavy enough to be reassuring but still light enough to wear for long periods without them becoming uncomfortable. They’re made with a sturdy and tubular aluminum yoke that can be extended to fit even the largest of heads. Most of the yoke is upholstered with sumptuous padding and covered in vegan leather. The earpads are also plump and fairly comfortable. Unlike a lot of fashionable headphones, the Urbanista Miami feel like they can be worn for hours without causing the same discomfort levels as a pair of high-heeled shoes.
The left-hand earcup of the Miami has a single Function button that’s used for cycling through the three noise-canceling modes. There’s regular active noise canceling, ambient mode and off. When everything is turned off, the listener must rely on the passive noise cancelation provided by the earpads. With ANC on, the headphones sample the external sounds and subtract the noise from the audio signal to produce audio that blocks out the background sound. Finally, there’s the ambient noise mode that samples external sounds and mixes some of them with the music. There’s also a 3.5mm jack on the left earcup for plugging in the supplied audio cable so the Miami can be used in wired mode without the need for any battery power.
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On the right-hand earcup, there’s a cluster of three control buttons for playing and pausing tracks, skipping and repeating songs, adjusting volume levels, plus carrying out all the usual functions when handling phone calls. A built-in microphone picks up the wearer’s voice and feeds that into the phone call. The microphone also works in conjunction with any voice assistants that a smartphone supports. The headphones are available in Pearl White and Midnight Black finishes, as well as two Miami-inspired colors of Ruby Red and Teal Green. The red looks especially good.
Getting the headphones set up and ready to play is easy. Just pair them with a smartphone and off you go. The chipset inside the headphones uses the latest version 5.0 of Bluetooth and supports both SBC and AAC audio codecs. There’s also a USB-C charging port on the right earcup and a fully charged pair of Miami headphones can work for up to 50 hours on a single charge. That’s more than enough for a return transatlantic flight as well as a week’s worth of commuting.
The sound from the Miami headphones is luscious. It’s a lovely warm and enveloping sound that brings out the bass lines in most contemporary music. The volume levels of the Miami are pretty impressive, too, although not so high as to cause hearing loss to younger ears. The level of detail coming through from the 40mm custom drivers is sufficiently detailed, certainly not muffled or swamped by that commanding bass response. The midrange is slightly recessed but there’s not much to complain about with the presentation of the musical soundstage. The Urbanista Miami can certainly hold their own with some more expensive ANC headphones.
One nice little feature that Urbanista has brought to the Miami headphones is on-ear detection. As soon as the wearer takes the headphones off, the music or audio pauses. After a certain amount of time, the headphones will go into sleep mode to save battery. It’s a great function that’s normally found on more expensive headphones and is perfect for watching YouTube or listening to an audiobook. You can take the headphones off while speaking to someone, then put them back on and the film or book starts playing again, right from where it left off. How useful is that?
The ANC (active noise cancelation) function on the Miami works well. It’s maybe not in quite the same league as the latest Sony or Base ANC headphones, but there’s remarkably little hiss with the function turned on. More importantly, turning on ANC doesn’t impair the audio quality like some of the cheaper noise-canceling headphones on the market do. There’s also the ambient sound mode which is essential for people who need to be aware of their surroundings, whether that’s because the person wearing them is jogging near traffic or they are waiting at a bus station and need to listen out for an announcement. It’s a handy feature that makes safety fun.
For the asking price, Urbanista has done a fabulous job of bringing good quality ANC to a pair of headphones that are also financially within reach of a younger demographic. Top marks for that. Far too many fashion headphone brands seem to take the attitude that any old audio quality will do as long as the headphones look “funky” enough. Younger music listeners deserve better quality audio and shouldn’t be patronized with headphones that are designed to be seen rather than heard.
Verdict: The Urbanista Miami are some of the best-looking and best-sounding budget ANC wireless headphones on the market. I’d put them in the same category as the excellent SoundCore Q10, although the Urbanista probably have more street cred and are more fashionable. Teenagers often look upon in headphones in the same way that they view a pair of trainers. Buy them the wrong brand or the wrong look and you may as well serve them up a dead cat. Fortunately, Urbanista knows this market and the Miami, with 50 hours of battery life and superior sound, ticks all the fashion boxes and they sound great. Highly recommended.
Pricing and availability: Urbanista Miami are available now and cost $149 / £129/ €149
More info: www.urbanista.com/miami
● Active Noise Cancelling
● Ambient Sound Mode
● 50+ hours of total playtime
● 40 hours operating time with ANC
● On-Ear detection
● USB-C Charging
● Bluetooth 5.0
● Compatible with iOS and Android
● Google Assistant