Published on April 26th, 2015 | by Igor Rebenko0
Review: Sennheiser Urbanite XL Black Over-Ear Headphones
Pros: Materials, aesthetics, feel, smooth listening.
Cons: Comfort, cable, bass bloat.
Disclaimer: I did not purchase these earphones and do not own them. I’ve had 1 week with them and the Philips Fidelio L2. So please take what I have to say with a grain of salt, or two.
“Let your ears be loved: Sennheiser’s new over-ear headphones URBANITE XL delivers unique style and an intense club sound on the move – serving up massive bass but with Sennheiser’s uncompromising audio expertise ensuring excellent clarity across all frequencies.” – Sennheiser
As far as I can gather, or what might be the consensus on the Sennheiser Urbanites, is that they are supposed to be the competition for Beats headphones or something down those line. I could agree with that statement, but at the same time I’m inclined to disagree. The Urbanite XL is a great addition to the market as they have their own attributes they make them special. But of course, nothing is without it’s flaws.
A Little About the Ubanite XL
|Colours||Black, Denim, Sand, Olive, Nation|
|Device Compatibility||iPhone & Android|
|Connector||3.5mm (1/8″) 90° Angled|
|FR Microphone||100–10000 Hz|
|FR Headphone||16–22000 Hz|
|SPL||110 dB @ 1 kHz & 1 Vrms|
|THD||< 0.5 % (1 kHz, 100 dB)|
|Type||Circum-aural / Closed|
|Cable Length||1.2 m (47″)|
The headphone comes in a cardboard box, nothing out of the ordinary. Inside the box is lined with soft yet dense black foam with a cut out that holds the Urbanites nice and snug in their smallest form. Unfortunately, the box doesn’t have a handle or anything to allow you to use it for travel.
Here it is! The only accessory is this very nice soft touch polyester carry bag. Some would say the the cable is also an accessory, but it’s kind of a key component of the headphone.
The cable is a flat tangle-free rubber cable with a three button mic/remote which is 1.2m long. It has a 90 degree 3.5mm 4 pole jack on the source end, and a 2.5mm 4 pole lock-in jack for the headphone end. The 2.5mm jack seems to be a proprietary design and might be quite difficult to find after market cables for it.
The cable seems to be very good in terms of memory as the folds seem to straighten out after some time. Though it is forever deformed from being folded in the box for however long it stayed in there. The cable feels a bit cheap and doesn’t give much confidence in terms of durability. But only time can tell if it is as cheap as it looks. It does feel quite nice in the hand, though. The soft rubber is themed to match the colour of the your Urbanites.
Remote works as intended on Android, though the plus and minus buttons do not work on my Motorola Moto G (XT1033), but neither do any of the other three button remotes I’ve tried.
This headphone is definitely a looker! Everything about this headphone screams quality when you look at it. I personally love the denim on the top of the headband, it’s something I’ve not seen before and I think it is a wonderful touch. The inner headband is a rubber moulding with what seems to be an air gap cushion inside. It’s super soft but in my experience is not very effective (more on this in comfort). The aluminium sliding mechanism is superb! It is a super smooth mechanism, and it is super “German” because it’s different, somewhat complicated, unnecessary and it works. I love it!
Comfort is an important aspect for any headphone, and this is probably my least favourite thing about the Urbanite XL. The bottom on the headband, whilst it is very soft to touch with your hands, it actually creates a pressure point right on top on you head. More of this, the ear pads aren’t actually large enough to be considered as a “over the ear” design. The pads press up against the top of my ears and the my ear lobes, which after some time gets very irritating and for me is a big deal breaker. Normally I’d be listening to the headphone while reviewing it but I had to put it down to give my ears a break as I’ve been listening to them for over 90 minutes non-stop.
Clamping force is very small. For comfort this is a plus but it also means that it is not very stable on the head. This maybe a problem if you’re jogging.
The sound signature is pretty mainstream, if that means anything to you. It’s warm and smooth, without any sibilance. It’s more inclined towards the bass. While some people would compare them to the Beats, I wouldn’t. They do have the bass but it’s not too overbearing on the rest of the spectrum. Clarity is good on tracks that are not bass heavy, but it does get very dark on those bassy tracks and everything kind of steps back to give that bass its front row.
Soundstage is quite intimate and isn’t as wide as I’d like it to be. (I guess I’m just spoilt by the Takstar Pro 80.) The imaging is pretty good in terms of placement. Every instrument and element has a precise and somewhat exact location of the stage. It could be a bit better in width and depth but you really can’t ask for more with such small cups and hear pads.
The bass is good. It’s articulate most of the time. It extends well into the sub bass and gives a good punch and rumble. The mid bass is where it lacks control. There is a hump maybe around the 200Hz mark where everything goes loose and starts to take over the rest of the spectrum. Some tracks will sound absolutely wonderful, rich, warm, inviting and exciting, but others will sound like you listening through a pillow. But most of the time it’s OK. These Urbanites are a big picky when it comes to bass.
The mids are recessed. No surprises here really. It’s warmed up from the bass but mostly it sits in the back. Vocals aren’t terrible but aren’t engaging. Instruments in this range don’t sound too bad, though.
The treble is what surprised me the most. I was expecting no treble at all. But it’s actually pretty good. It doesn’t extend very far and seems to be more aimed at the lower treble. This gives it a sense of clarity and makes the sound crisp yet dry. The lack of mid to upper treble means that there isn’t any sibilance in the sound but at the same time it takes away some of the edge of some notes, because of this, some of the finer details are lost. But of course there is method in the madness. Less treble means a more comfortable listen.
In conclusion I would say “No”. No the Urbanites are not here to compete with Beats. They’re here to show us that the commercial/mainstream sound can be done properly and without compromising too much of the clarity. It’s a welcome addition to the market and I hope Sennheiser can create their own market with such a great new line up.