Are you someone that uses Bluetooth earbuds to do more than just listen to music or podcasts? Are you an avid gamer, or someone who’s super sensitive to lip-sync issues when watching videos, the slight delay inherent in the wireless transmission that drives you nuts? Well, with the model they’ve named after the Korean capital Seoul, the mad geniuses at Sweden design firm Urbanista have created comfortable Urbanista Seoul earphones.

They are coming soon for those on the go that want to obviate any of that nasty lag. Do they work for everyday use as well? Let’s find out!

Specifications of the Urbanista Seoul earphones

  • 70ms low latency mode for gaming/video watching
  • 8hrs run time (32 hours total from the charging case)
  • Noise cancelling microphones when used for calls
  • IPX4 water resistance
  • 10mm drivers with 20hz-20,000hz response
  • SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs
  • Available in black, white, blue or purple

Testing out the Urbanista Seoul earphones

Sleek, satiny, and with a bud-and-stick form factor familiar to many earbud manufacturers, the Seoul continues Urbanista’s tradition of crafting attractive devices that prove to be highly functional. The sides of the headphones are touch-sensitive, allowing you to control volume, connect to a voice assistant, or most critically for this model, switch between gaming mode and regular listening mode.

My review pair showed up in “vivid purple”, and I admitted it made them easier to spot in my bag or on a counter than the usual dark models I’ve got around the house. The charging box is sleek, and you can even skip the USB-C and recharge via a QI pad, making these even more wireless!

Diving into “Game Mode” on the Urbanista Seoul earphones

There are inevitably trade-offs when doing wireless transmission of audio, especially on Bluetooth where considerations such as battery life and device compatibility take precedence over sonic considerations. Qualcomm, who dominates much of the Bluetooth space, has a gaming mode with their AptX codec that drops the connection latency down to 40ms, but you have to have both your headphones and your device match to make this work.

While that’s not available on this product, what’s terrific about the Urbanista solutions is that with a 70ms lag you’re getting close, but it works with just about any wireless device. Not to be a curmudgeon, but I’ll note that when there’s an option to go wired the issues of latency become essentially redundant. That being said, the benefits of having a true wireless solution with the ability to switch between lower latency mode and a more pleasing one for music listening is a welcome one, allowing the user the flexibility to tune their earbuds to their specific need.

Sound quality of the Urbanista Seoul earphones

Every manufacturer tends to have a “house” sound, and having had the pleasure of listening to my share of both headphones and in-ear models I can tell that the designers at Urbanista really do love their bass. Thanks to 10mm drivers you get plenty of oomph from these light and comfortable buds, and for those that enjoy the sensation of the lowest-lows being highlighted will love this model.

While there’s no noise cancelling (something I would personally disable anyway), the comfortable fit with the ear pads meant that the majority of distracting outside sounds was blocked, even on transport. The built-in amplification was fairly robust compared to similar models, and while certainly tuned to emphasize bass there was still plenty of mid-range and high-treble response without any obvious distortion. Wxhile the low-end in even acoustic music had a bit of a bump in emphasis, they’re nonetheless quite musical and satisfying for a wide range of selections.

Tuning the Urbanista Seoul earphones

Using the Urbanista App (available for both iOS and Android) you’re able to reprogram the touch selections on the earbuds, as well as turning the low-latency mode on and off. Testing via Youtube sync tests there was a noticeable difference when switching back and forth, even if the regular audio mode wasn’t particularly egregious. It’s fair to say that even at low mode 70ms isn’t a blistering fast lag, and for those like musicians who truly require as low a delay as possible will be looking towards other solutions. Again, it’s the flexibility and near ubiquity of compatibility that helps Seoul shine on this front. While dedicated solutions may be superior, that’s still to be commended.

There’s a noticeable increase in sound quality when game mode is switched off, but even here you’re not getting the same calibre as some of the other, more niche models that can provide superior lossless sound processing. Still, given the calibre of the drivers and the comfort of their use, these still provide quite an exceptional sound from such a relatively small package.

Final thoughts on the Urbanista Seoul earphones

Dedicated gamers may still want to seek out a solution with even lower lag, but for the majority of us, that occasionally need to sync up a bit better while still being able to connect with a more audio-attuned connection may well find the unique flexibility of the Urbanista Seoul hits their sweet spot.

With a well-designed and light case, sleek construction, and sound with quite a deep impact, the Urbanista Seoul wireless headphones (coming soon) prove to be another fine, city-named model by this Scandinavian outfit that is pushing out a wide range of exceptional products.

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.