Urbanista 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
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.