You might not be familiar with the name Urbanista. The Swedish brand was founded in 2010 in Stockholm and has geared its products around the influence of urban city life, hence the name Urbanista.
Their products are sold by over 10,000 retailers so the chances are that you’ll be seeing them around a lot more after this.
The Seattle model of headphones are a Bluetooth 4.0 enabled on-ear design and are quite understated when it comes to looks; no big logo on the earpieces, just a matte plastic finish. The faux leather earpieces are supported with memory foam underneath to ease the fit on your ears and there’s soft rubber padding for the headband. On the left earpiece, you’ll find a switch for Bluetooth and a mini USB port for charging the battery. The right earpiece has a 3.5mm jack connection for when you need a cable (which is provided and comes with an inline mic) and also has a touch sensitive panel for issuing commands to your player such as volume, skipping tracks and pausing. Their practical nature means you can fold them in on themselves for easier transportation but it’s worth noting that they don’t come with a pouch or case to protect them.
Connecting up to Seattles is the usual simple affair of scanning for devices on your phone and selecting the Urbanistas. In the shop, this can sometimes be a pain due to the interference of having so many Bluetooth devices around but we got connected without too much fuss. Subsequent pairing was quicker after that so don’t be too concerned if it takes a while the first time you try it. They sat on my head quite comfortably and were snug enough to provide a reasonable amount of protection from external noises but not to the point that it caused discomfort. Only the most obnoxious bike or car engine noise from Whiteladies Rd penetrated through so despite there being no noise cancelling feature you won’t have to turn them up too much.
Starting off with a selection of 80’s classics such as Steve Winwood’s “Valerie” and the Seattles start brilliantly with a nice balanced sound showcasing enough bass to be well bodied but still focussed with the treble not too bright and the mid range not too fuzzy. The synth stabs of the intro come through in a punchy but smooth way that soon had my foot tapping. It’s an energetic performance that shows the Urbanistas aren’t just a fashion statement but a well-tuned set of cans. There’s attack when you need it for drums but a smooth rich tone that keeps bass and melodies from being bland and flat.
In comparison to the similarly priced Lindy BNX-60, it’s a clearer and more spacious presentation instead of the warmer and less dynamic sound of the Lindys (although the BNX-60 are a bit lighter on the ears for long periods of listening). Moving on to the next decade with “Jimmy Olson’s Blues” by Spin Doctors and the more open soundstage of the Seattles makes the most of the better, more modern recording meaning you get that “room sound” of the recording studio loud and clear. Even on more technical songs such as “Feather” by X-Ambassadors shows that there’s poise and control when needed. The staccato and processed looping rhythm along with the layers of synths and backing vocals are taken all in the stride of a normal days work and the Seattles never seem to be overly struggling. It’s a very busy track but they still manage to present a focused and spacious sound.
It’s not all going in Urbanista’s favour though; there’s no support for NFC or AptX Bluetooth unlike the AKG Y45BT or the Lindys. However, the proof is in the pudding and the Seattles sound great to our ears. All in all, it seems like the Urbanistas are a serious piece of kit and hold their own against much more recognised competition so come and see what the fuss is all about at your local store.
Author: Steve, Bristol Store