Urbanista Los Angeles HeadphonesUrbanista may not be a brand you’re familiar with, but this Sweden-founded company has crafted stylish and well-performing headphones and speakers since 2010. Mixing great industrial design with promises of good performance, they’ve carved out a good niche in the market. Their model names evoke cities of the world—Miami, Stockholm, Seoul, Paris—and their Los Angeles set continues this trend. The Urbanista Los Angeles solar-powered headphones are their top-of-the-line over-the-ear headphones, and they have a feature that may well change the way you think about Bluetooth headphones entirely.

Specifications of Urbanista Los Angeles headphones

  • Over-ear solar-powered headphones deliver a comfortable fit, perfect for long-wearing comfort while you listen
  • Solar-powered design uses Exeger Powerfoyle solar cell material so your headphones are charging whenever they’re exposed to light both indoors or out
  • Bluetooth 5.0 technology connects wirelessly to your Android or iOS device for complete freedom of movement
  • Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) and Ambient Sound Mode allow you to tune out the world around you or stay aware of your surroundings, all with the touch of a button
  • 40mm drivers deliver an incredibly rich sound so all your music comes through the way it was intended
  • Built-in microphone enables hands-free calling and provides access to Siri or Google Assistant
  • On-ear detection pauses your music when you take off the headphones and resumes it when you put them back on

For an idea of how on-ear headphones with active noise cancelling work, you can take a look at the headphone buying guide and the true wireless headphone buying guide.

Unboxing Urbanista Los Angeles headphones

The Urbanista Los Angeles model comes in a solid cardboard box. Within a dense, rubbery carrying case are the headphones, weighing in at a not-insignificant 420g. With beefy 40mm drivers, the smooth exterior and relatively thick headband means they’re a bit heavier than some of their competition, though that allows much more punch than wimpier models.

Solar-powered unlimited listening

With old-school wired headphones, one never had to worry about a charge dissipating mid-flight or just when you were in the middle of a long listening session as you do with most wireless headsets. The unique functionality of the Urbanista Los Angeles puts that to rest. Borrowing from the company Exeger’s “Powerflyte” technology, the Urbanista Los Angeles has a photovoltaic strip that runs on the outside of the headband. Essentially, it’s a solar panel to charge your battery; and, it works with just about any light source—not just outdoors in the sun.

While a conventional USB-C charging port is there to fully juice the unit, over several weeks of listening I didn’t have to refill up the headphones even once. There’s something truly liberating gained from freeing the worry about having a low charge on your headphones when you head out, and I expect this kind of hybrid power solution to become a must-have addition to similar models from competing companies.

Even without the charging, you get 50 hours or so with noise cancellation on, and some 80 hours with it off—without ever seeing light. Essentially, you could very easily go years without ever plugging these things in if you leave them out in light between listening sessions.

Sound quality of Urbanista Los Angeles

An evolution of sorts from Urbanista’s Miami model of headphones, the Los Angeles has a distinct musical signature, emphasizing bass and high treble more so than other, more “neutral” headphones might. This is a conscious decision, of course, and those who listen to hip-hop, EDM or any other thumping music where low bass is too often anemic during personal playback will be extremely pleased. The bass is pumped up but rarely distorted or bloated, even at higher volume, making it simply a preferred equalization that caters to bassheads.

Obviously when one frequency is amplified, others become more muted, and it’s here that the mid-range suffers a bit. If you primarily listen to acoustic music, or full-range productions like classical, there may be different options to consider. Still, for regular listening, the sound was sculpted yet not exhausting, and certainly was at times fun to hear frequencies usually buried in the mix allowed to thump out and bring attention to themselves.

Noise cancellation, app settings, and more

While the right earcup on the Urbanista Los Angeles has the usual buttons for play/pause and track up/down, the left cup has both the USB-charger (the loneliest port on any wireless headphones in history, I bet), as well as a function button that can be tweaked with the Urbanista app available for iOs and Android. The app doesn’t really do much—you can’t, for example, tune the EQ to taste to tame some of that bottom heaviness—but it does present a large graphic that shows the charging status and weather patterns, almost gamifying how they work for gleaning power even while listening.

You can set the button to control noise cancellation or switch to voice assistant for your mobile device, depending on preference. As someone who likes to be able to quickly and easily disable cancellation options that’s my usual preference, and I’m pleased to see that’s the default.

The noise cancellation, as per usual, does tweak the sound even further, though it does do the job it’s meant to do and cuts out most extraneous outside sounds. That said, the beefy earpads and built-in noise insulation on the headphones themselves do a decent enough job of at least attenuating what’s taking place outside your head, diminishing the need to activate it save for some pretty extreme situations. It’s not the best noise cancelling solution I’ve heard, but it’s certainly good enough.

A few quirks of Urbanista Los Angeles

There’s so much to love about these headphones that it seems picky to point out its quirks, but there are some things keeping them from being perfect. First, there’s the absence of a minijack input. Yes, I’m a broken record here, but the fact remains that in order to truly get the most out of these fine drivers, a wired solution would do wonders. Secondly, there are still plenty of places where wired is necessary (in-flight entertainment sessions, for one). Having a wired option would immediately bump these to the top of any list to consider, and they’re already pretty far up that selection.

While the earpads are thick and comfortable, after a while the weight does get a bit fatiguing, perhaps due in part to the added circuitry for charging via the band. I went several hours at a time without issue, but there are certainly more svelte options that still deliver on the audio front.

Final thoughts on Urbanista Los Angeles solar-powered headphones

It’s so rare when you have a product that comes along and helps redefine the entire segment of on-ear headphones, and in many ways the Urbanista Los Angeles solar-powered headphones speaks to a future where our electronic devices won’t be tethered to charging stations nearly as often as they are now.

With big sound, an innovative construction and great looks, the Urbanista Los Angeles are a pretty sweet set of headphones. While my losing battle to demand all high-end models include a wireless option continues unabated, this is (nearly) trumped by the near-infinite charge capabilities of this model.

For those wanting a bit of cutting edge tech, especially if you’re craving some more bass in your life, the Urbanista Los Angeles are absolutely worth picking up as your main set of headphones. You can find them right now on Best Buy.

Jason Gorber
Jason Gorber, M.A., is a film, technology, and media journalist and member of the Toronto Film Critics Association. He is the managing editor and chief film critic at That Shelf and a regular contributor to POV Magazine, SlashFilm, and CBC Radio. Jason has been a Tomatometer-approved critic for over 20 years, is an avid collector of music, movies, LEGO and many other aesthetic and technical treats.


  1. Owning a pair of self-charging headphones would improve my listening experience by being able to travel without an extra cord. I love listening to music in the plane/bus/train.

  2. Owning a pair of self-charging headphones would improve my listening experience because they are cordless, I don’t have to worry about recharging them, therefore I would spend more time outdoors with them.

  3. Right now I have headphones with a cord AND take a battery so having solar powered ones? That would be crazy!

  4. Headphones with the self-charging feature means I would never have to worry about cables, chargers, plug adapters for different voltage (foreign countries)!

  5. Self-charging could mean I can listen fo r a long time, which improves my listening experience.

  6. It’s about time we harness the power of the sun! ⛅️ First solar-bowered headphones, then solar-powered cars! (I can dream) These headphones keep that dream alive 🙂

  7. Self charging headphones would take the stress of always having to charge headphones away. I would love it

  8. No more battery dying suddenly when you are in the middle of an activity that you really wanted your headphones for.

  9. These headphones would self charge so either if I am in the backyard working in my garden or cutting the grass I could listen to my tunes with no interruptions. Thanks

  10. As a dog-owner and nature-lover, it would be so great to have the power to charge on the go.

  11. Owning a pair of self-charging headphones would improve my listening experience by untethering me without the fear of loosing power. Also the noise cancelling feature would come in handy in less than ideal listening environments

  12. My listening experience would be improved by the noise cancelling and being able to self charge to keep up with my audio books while chilling out in the back yard.

  13. I am all about renewable energy so with these headphones being solar powered they are perfect for me!

  14. Solar Powered/Self Charging would be epic. There’s nothing worse than going on a walk and your headphones dying after walking out the door.

  15. My house is busy and noisy and my kids hate the music I listen too . These would be perfect for me !

  16. I would exercise more in and outdoors because the headphones would encourage me to workout longer and faster.

  17. I travel a lot by air and I need a set of headphones that are comfortable enough to wear during long flights. These headphones look perfect.

  18. Solar powered headphones would be excellent since I forget to charge my headphones before my walks on a regular basis

  19. Owning these headphones would improve my listening experience because I wouldn’t have to worry about the battery draining and I could take them anywhere plus they have noise cancellation

  20. The fact these can be charged just by the sun would make sure I always have headphones to use any time of the day. It would also make going outside for a walk easier as I won’t have to check if my headphones are charged up yet. Very cool they included a carrying case. The noise canceling sounds good too so I can keep the volume level down to not damage my hearing.

  21. These headphones will improve my listening experience by being able to self charge to keep up with my marathon listening sections such as when I’m at the beach. Noise cancellation for when I’m commuting will seriously improved my listening experience as well.

  22. So much better for the environment without all the used batteries. Plus, the noise cancelling would be great for long walks.

  23. Would not have to worry about charging the headphones and be able to go for long walks with them.

  24. Self Charging feature will enable music continuity whatever the situation is, hence providing excellent listening exp

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