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Philips Citiscape Downtown review – Bass!!! Oh God the Bass!!! Oh look, Mids!!!

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

 

I bought the Citiscape Downtown three weeks ago after A/Bing them, the Citiscape Uptown and the Skullcandy Aviators. They cost me $99.99 plus tax at Best Buy. I’m sure I made the right choice.

 

Packaging:

 

The headphones are packaged too well. Don’t get any ideas about trying these out for 29 days and then attempting to neatly repackage them for a full refund hoping no-one will notice. It will not work. You have to tear some packaging here and there to get them out.

 

Accessories:

 

There are none. No additional cables. No carrying case. No 6.3mm adapter. At least Phillips could have been kind enough to include a soft carrying case and a 6.3mm adapter. Not a deal breaker tough. Just be warned.

 

Aesthetics:

 

I bought the “white” or “grey” ones.  Whichever it is. It’s a pretty color which fits in well with all my electronics which are either black, grey or white. Additionally, they’re not dust magnets like anything black, and are not glossy. Really a prim looking pair of headphones. They don’t look like those tweener headphones like the Skullcandys and the Beats and the Fanny Wangs. Really something you could see adult men and women wear without embarrassment. Additionally, they will not get lost and accidently stepped or sat on if they happen to be on my black sofa or dark hardwood floors. Also, no DJ or folding non-sense. The Unibody design is fantastic.

 

Construction:

 

Two words: “Stupidly Simple” They’re basically earmuffs. A metal frame wrapped with a single cloth and four screws: two to keep the cloth in place and two to keep the headband adjustment mechanism in place. The earpads are thick memory-foam cloth pillows that sit on your ears while the flat, soft fabric headband cloth sits on your head, in practice shielding you from the metal frame. There’s a small “L” and “R” on the corresponding button on the inside which also serves to hold the cloth padding in place. The 4 foot non-tanging flat-cable with android compatible single-button microphone terminates in a 3.5mm L-plug. It doesn’t emit cable noise and it doesn’t rub against your clothes. I prefer this remote over the Citiscape Uptown’s stupid gain switch, which I hated in-store. There is no gain or volume switch here. You can alter the volume on your device of choice. This is a rugged pair of headphones. The headband adjustment mechanism is rugged and doesn’t slip when the headphones are placed on your head. The metal frame is flexible and sturdy. The cloth on the earpads is sewn tightly and is not removable and you may break something if you try, so don’t get any funny ideas about modding these headphones. I’m sure some of you out there on head-fi still will try, though. The L-plug is designed to avoid wear and tear and the cable’s entry into the left earcup is reinforced to help prevent breakage and loosening of the circuits. The most rugged built headphone in this price range I’ve seen outside of Koss, Monoprice and Shure. Again these are unibody phones so no DJ or folding mechanism non-sense.

 

Comfort and Isolation:

 

--F.Y.I. - I have a relatively thin and small head for an adult male with small ears. Most full-sized headphones fall off my head. I also wear thick framed glasses so the clamping force of many headphones drives the frames of my glasses into my skull. Very uncomfortable. To compare the Downtowns to the Uptowns, the Uptowns earcups are too big and I have trouble centering the speaker drivers with my ears. The clamping force of the Uptowns also presses the frames of my glasses in an uncomfortable way. The earcups are just too big and the clamping force too tight. The downtowns are just right. The earpads cover my whole ear with room to spare and the seal they create makes it very easy to center the drivers with my ear canals.—

 

The headband is flat and floats on your head while the earpads rest and seal on your ears. The most comfortable headphones I’ve ever owned. Yes, these are on-ear headphones so the earpads are what are going to be creating the most pressure on your head which is not much. The clamping force is very low and the headphones may fall off if you go jumping around in them. They are secure in non-chaotic environment however. Since they sit on and not around the ears, air circulation keeps ones ears cool. I’ve only tried them in-doors and I don’t sweat a lot, but pleather makes my ears sweat after about a half-hour of use. Not so with the Downtowns. No sweating whatsoever. The seal created by these headphones is fantastic. I can’t hear the phone ringing next to me with them on with my laptop’s system volume set at 25%. If you need to hear people and the environment around you please consider other, perhaps open, headphones. They’re not noise-canceling headphones but the noise-isolation is oftentimes too good.

 

Sound:

 

Test Equipment:

 

1.       Toshiba Laptop unamped through headphone jack.

2.       Sanza MP3 player unamped.

3.       PS3 trough multi-out and the Fiio E6 Amp.

4.       PS3 through Earforce DSS and Optical Cable.

 

These headphones have a fun sound that I enjoy. I don’t have much experience with neutral headphones. The key of sound, in my opinion, is the midrange. Most of what happens to music or movies or games is in the midrange. I enjoy bass but not basshead amounts of bass The ATH-M50 is bassy, but the mids feel recessed and the soundstage is tiny. I enjoy soundstage, but I do not enjoy the cupped sound of headphones like the Citiscape Uptown. I enjoy the closer, more personal sound signature of the Citiscape Downtown. The mids take front and center of the music of the Citiscape Downtown while the Uptown has ever so slightly recessed mids. Vocals and speech come loud and clear whether you are listening to a rap song, a rock song, techno song, jpop song, having commands yelled at me in Battlefield 3, or listening to heart-pounding dialogue in an action movie. I thought for the longest time that I had hearing damage since I was having trouble discerning dialogue using bassy headphones and cheap earbuds and speakers. The Citiscape Downtowns showed me that I just needed a good pair of headphones geared to my listening habits. Unamped, I keep my volume on almost all my devices no more than 25%. These headphones are ridiculously easy to drive.  Amping opens up the soundstage more and makes the bass more textured. The imaging on these for gaming is good enough for me. I can hear people shooting me at angles in Battlefield 3 and I can hear footsteps in Modern Warfare 3 using either the Earforce DSS or the Fiio E6. I don’t know which I like better. The directionality of the Earforce DSS is nice, but the sound quality with the Fiio E6 is just far better. These headphones are great for rock, rap, choir, Gregorian chant, techno, trance and most types of music. Their weak point is in their treble and instrument separation. Complex classical pieces and fast metal pieces can become muddled at times. While the bass sounds good, the treble and instrument separation can become for lack of a better word “dirty.” I would recommended other headphones if you’re really into Classical or Heavy Metal. Don’t get me wrong, most people will enjoy Heavy Metal and Classical Orchestral music on these cans just fine, but the more discerning audiophiles of the bunch may be let down. One more thing, these cans respond well to EQ, the midrange will open up if the Bass is tamed and the cans can be made even more bassy if need be. The highs are rolled off, but they not lost. There’s enough for most songs. For those that enjoy highs, however, I’d probably direct them to some Shure’s or the Citiscape Uptown instead.

 

Burn-in:

 

After about 50 hours, these headphones become louder, the bass becomes fuller and the midrange expands a bit. They become good cans to awesome cans. With these mids, I just can’t listen to my M-50s anymore, even with less bass.

 

Conclusion and closing statements:

 

In short, these are great general purpose cans. They’ll make great gifts due to their sturdiness, comfort and non-fatiguing sound signature with an emphasis on mids followed by bass. I find the sub-$100 price range to be the sweet-spot for gifts. These make great gifts and a great recommendation for most general consumers, although I might suggests the Sony XB-500 as a better alternative for the budget conscious.

 

If your preference lies: Mids à Bass à Treble then these might just be the budget headphones for you. 


Edited by lubczyk - 4/28/12 at 12:26pm
post #2 of 24

Thanks for the thorough review. How do they look on the head--they stick out much? They seem rather full-sized portables.

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainbow Randy View Post

Thanks for the thorough review. How do they look on the head--they stick out much? They seem rather full-sized portables.

 

Around the size of the Bose AE2 and Skullcandy Hesh 2.0. I find full-sized headphones very large. That's why I put the Downtown's in the portable category.

 

They don't fold up either. They're probably survive in a backpack however. Don't hold me to that promise though.

 

They're very stylish headphones. They look more expensive than they really are. Adult, if you will.


Edited by lubczyk - 4/27/12 at 10:24pm
post #4 of 24

I'm more concerned about how much they stick out away from the head than the circumference of the cups. I want to avoid the Stewie/lemon head at all costs. She (he?) makes them look pretty good. They look classy.

 

Philips Updown-Downtown-Shibuya

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainbow Randy View Post

I'm more concerned about how much they stick out away from the head than the circumference of the cups. I want to avoid the Stewie/lemon head at all costs. She (he?) makes them look pretty good. They look classy.

 

Philips Updown-Downtown-Shibuya

 

Can't help you there. I think they look great up and around, personally. Looks like you're almost wearing earmuffs and not headphones.

post #6 of 24

That's not you by chance, is it?

post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainbow Randy View Post

That's not you by chance, is it?

 

I'm a man, but sure why not?

post #8 of 24

I tried them in a store. They are indeed well built and pleasingly small. I didn't look like a goof wearing them.

post #9 of 24

It comes down to the choice of colour really: The purple is rather flashy, the white is (to me) the most boring choice, while the brown/mocca is the most stylish and elegant.

 

I wear my brown Downtowns with pride :)

 

BTW: The sound, oh, the sound! 

post #10 of 24

Is this headphone good for rock?

post #11 of 24

Got a pair of these about a week ago and the bass on them is completely overwhelming to me... just sounds ridiculous, like Dr. Dre headphones.  I had to cut as hard as -6.0 db on the lower end and -2 to -3 db throughout the upper mids to bring them back into balance with the highs (so I could actually hear them), but they do sound pretty good for the money (especially if you can find them at your local Target for $30, as people have been reporting).

 

I wonder how I could mod these to cut some bass away without using so much EQ?  Their construction does not appear mod-friendly in any way.  However, they should make a good pair of beater phones for the office, as they do prevent leakage quite well.  On-ear comfort issues are still there after about an hour, though, and I thought the memory foam might help with that, but it is about the same as all other on-ear phones I've tried.


Edited by discombob - 9/10/12 at 11:51am
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by discombob View Post

Got a pair of these about a week ago and the bass on them is completely overwhelming to me... just sounds ridiculous, like Dr. Dre headphones.  I had to cut as hard as -6.0 db on the lower end and -2 to -3 db throughout the upper mids to bring them back into balance with the highs (so I could actually hear them), but they do sound pretty good for the money (especially if you can find them at your local Target for $30, as people have been reporting).

 

I wonder how I could mod these to cut some bass away without using so much EQ?  Their construction does not appear mod-friendly in any way.  However, they should make a good pair of beater phones for the office, as they do prevent leakage quite well.  On-ear comfort issues are still there after about an hour, though, and I thought the memory foam might help with that, but it is about the same as all other on-ear phones I've tried.

 

WTF?  My Downtowns were very bass light actually.  My W4 had more bass than they did.  Have no clue what happened unless you're not talking about the Downtown XD

post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by discombob View Post

Got a pair of these about a week ago and the bass on them is completely overwhelming to me... just sounds ridiculous, like Dr. Dre headphones.  I had to cut as hard as -6.0 db on the lower end and -2 to -3 db throughout the upper mids to bring them back into balance with the highs (so I could actually hear them), but they do sound pretty good for the money (especially if you can find them at your local Target for $30, as people have been reporting).

 

I wonder how I could mod these to cut some bass away without using so much EQ?  Their construction does not appear mod-friendly in any way.  However, they should make a good pair of beater phones for the office, as they do prevent leakage quite well.  On-ear comfort issues are still there after about an hour, though, and I thought the memory foam might help with that, but it is about the same as all other on-ear phones I've tried.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyman392 View Post

 

WTF?  My Downtowns were very bass light actually.  My W4 had more bass than they did.  Have no clue what happened unless you're not talking about the Downtown XD

 

 

I would never call them bass light, but they're definitely not bass monsters either.

 

I got pair for $30 on clearance at Target, and they sound very decent to me.

post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post

 

 

 

 

 

I would never call them bass light, but they're definitely not bass monsters either.

 

I got pair for $30 on clearance at Target, and they sound very decent to me.

 

IDK why then, I got very light bass out of them.  Yes, there is great depth and texture, but quantity-wise, it was very well even with the midrange.  The higher highs started a roll off for me.  A warm headphone to listen to, but with a midrange focus.  

post #15 of 24

For $30 a no brainer. I would run down to a target right now if it was not on the other side of town and buy them for the heck of it. Nice review,...however,.... non folding, on the ear vs over the ear and its looks, I'll be nice and not talk about how it looks. I sir, will keep listening to the headphone that you can not listen to anymore. The folding, good looking,over the ear, built to last, balanced sound signature,...ATH-M50.

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Philips Citiscape Downtown review – Bass!!! Oh God the Bass!!! Oh look, Mids!!!