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Sennheiser Urbanite XL Black Over-Ear Headphones

Rating:
3.63636/5,
  1. Tomtattoo
    What an awful thing... Maybe the worst ever Sennheiser?
    Written by Tomtattoo
    Published Nov 1, 2015
    1.5/5,
    Pros - Looks, comfort, lightweight, clever construction.
    Cons - Horrible SQ, low sensitivity, bulky.
    I bought these headphones based on positive reviews, mainly here, on head-fi. I own a few good ones, (Sennheiser PX-200 II, JVC Victor HA-S500-B, Sennheiser HD 415, Klipsch Image One, a House of Marley Destiny TTR, and some more), as source i use an Fiio X3 filled up with FLAC, and i still have my iPod Touch also, but since i have the X3, i don´t really use that. The reason i bought these was the arrival of my X3. For the iPod my Klipsch Image One was absolutely perfect, a bit bass heavy, but really sensitive, so without an external amp ithey provided insane loud and heavy sound, without distortion, which i like. (My House of Marley cans were perfect too, of course those are different league, cost 3x more as the Image Ones, but as they are heavy, big, i use them at home, not really on the go). But, after i bought my X3 (i paid 120 euro for it, brand new, what a deal), and started using it with high quality lossless audio, i noticed the drawbacks of my Image One. The recessed highs, a bit overwhelming bass. Listening to Bowers and Wilkins Audiophile Recordings in FLAC, i noticed that the guitar doesn´t sound natural, i cannot hear the strings as i should, becuse of the recessed highs. On my TTR´s Allan Taylor´s "Colour to the Moon" sounds just fantastic. So, i looked for something with more open treble, with the same dynamics, and also portable ones. I´ve read mainly positive reviews about the Urbanite XL´s, and as i had positive experiences with Sennheisers, i bought a pair. Was a huge mistake. Although all of my other cans i kept sounded pretty well straight of the box, i didn´t have too high expectations, as i knew that they need some time to break in. But, what i got, was a lot less than i expected. Since then, i gave them agood 30-40 hours to break in, maybe isn´t enough, but i don´t have more patience. I just don´t think it is worthy to waste more time. The sound is still unbearable. The lower section of the bass is just not there at all, (i visited hundreds of concerts, live music events from death metal to acoustic blues, jazz, classical, and i´m still visiting at least one event a week), and what´s left, is really annoying. The treble is too sharp, sounds kinda "metallic", on higher volumes starts to pierce my ears. The snare drums sound like someone threw a bunch of bamboo chopsticks on a plastic table. The foot drum has no bottom at all. Listening to Sara K´s "Would you beak my heart", poor lady has a sooo bad metallic coloration on her voice, the song sounds like it´s been sung by C3PO of Star Wars. :D On top of that, i cannot listen to my music too loud, as these bad cans cannot stand high volumes, they start to distort the sound, and rattle really badly, on a level where my Image Ones still sound perfectly. I thought maybe my cans are fake of faulty, but i bought them from a very reliable retailer, and since then i compared them to a n another pair, and they sounded similar. I didn´t pay too much for them,119 euros, but i honestly say, that my 35 euro JVC HA-S500 cans sound a LOT better. I mean a LOT: And, on top of that, i tried these with my iPod touch. I had to laugh. Despite these were made for iPods, because of their low sensitivity, the music wasn´t loud enough even on max volume, and sounded dull, with no dynamics at all. So, better to look for an alternative, there are hundreds of better ones outside, even lot cheaper ones, than these patethic ones from Sennheiser.
      Hawaiibadboy, altrunox and HiFiChris like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. AG2001
      It's alright, I've noticed you only give out bad reviews and are constantly dissapointed, even though your opinion represents the minority. Maybe you need to spend 2000 dollars on a pair of headphones to be satisfied, because this peasant's crap is not for you:)))
      AG2001, Sep 23, 2016
    3. Tomtattoo
      And u have to read my reviews more carefully, cuz apparently u haven´t got a faintest clue what are u talking about. But, funilly enough, u seem upset like a 5 year old kid, cuz i said something wrong about your beloved Sennheisers. Sorry i didn´t know that it hurts sooo much... Anyway, i don´t care. I hated these cans, and even if all the others say they are good, ´no one can convince me. I quit.
      Tomtattoo, Sep 23, 2016
    4. Rafique Adzam
      Well, you cannot harass this poor guy for simply having a different sound taste then you.
      Rafique Adzam, Dec 12, 2016
  2. Brooko
    Sennheiser Urbanite XL – Rich Sound / Street Style (and strength)
    Written by Brooko
    Published Mar 7, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Balance, mid-range and bass SQ, clarity through mid-range, build, pad options
    Cons - Ear pads are small - affecting overall comfort, lacks “perfect” sparkle with some tracks, accessory package is sparse, RRP in Australasia is pricey
    urbanite36.jpg
    For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images

    INTRODUCTION

    In my Head-Fi journey to date the one headphone category that remains unfulfilled for me at the moment continues to be the ideal portable headphone. For me personally, that means a mix of SQ, comfort, size, build and isolation. In my journey so far, I’ve tried a lot of different portable headphones, and owned (at one stage or another) the Momentum on ear, UE6000, and Beyer T51p. All of them are good headphones in their own right, but all of them have also had shortcomings which ultimately have led to me either selling them or giving them away.

    So when Sennheiser suggested an Australasian tour, and Noisy Motel and our own White Lotus arranged for the Urbanite XL to be available, I was lucky enough to be included in the review tour. I’d like to take this moment to thank Sennheiser, Noisy Motel, and White Lotus for organising everything. It is this type of community interaction which makes Head-Fi such a wonderful community.

    I received the courier pack with the Urbanite XL last week – and have already spent as much time as I could with the Urbanite XL. This has included using them at work, walking outside, and just generally playing around at home.

    I’ve listed price at USD $190.00 (approx. current Amazon price at time of writing) – however as stated earlier, the pair I have is part of a demo tour, and will be returned to Noisy Motel at its completion. Australian RRP is listed at AUD 399 and NZ at NZD 449.

    ABOUT SENNHEISER

    The Sennheiser Group based in Wedemark near Hanover, Germany, was founded in 1945 and has gone on to become a leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Sales in 2013 totaled 590.4 million euros. Sennheiser employs more than 2,500 staff worldwide and operates plants in Germany, Ireland and the USA. The company has a worldwide network of subsidiaries in France, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Germany, Denmark (Nordic), Russia, Hongkong, India, Singapore, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, and the USA. It also has long-established trading partners in other countries. Georg Neumann GmbH, Berlin, a maker of studio microphones and monitor speakers, and Sennheiser Communications A/S, a joint venture making headsets for PCs, offices and call centers, are also part of the Sennheiser Group.

    SENNHEISER’S QUOTES (from the Urbanite marketing campaign)

    DISCLAIMER

    I was provided the Sennheiser Urbanite XL as a tour review unit (loaner) from Sennheiser. I am in no way affiliated with Sennheiser - and this review is my subjective opinion of the Urbanite XL.

    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'. (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)

    I'm a 47 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last few years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portable (Fiio X5, X1, X3ii and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP). I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5/X1 > HP, or PC > Beyer A200p > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1 and Sennheiser HD600. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs - and up till now it has mainly been with the Fidue A83, Dunu Titan and Altone200. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880.

    I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher completely transparent. I do use exclusively redbook 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 47, my hearing is less than perfect.

    For the purposes of this review - I used the Urbanite XL straight from the headphone-out socket of my iPhone 5S, X5, X3 gen 2, and also from the X3ii + E11K amplifier. In the time I have spent with the Urbanite CL, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (break-in), but am aware that I am becoming more used to the signature of the Urbanite XL as I use them more often (brain burn-in). This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

    THE REVIEW

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES

    urbanite01.jpg urbanite02.jpg

    Front of retail box

    Rear of retail box


    The Urbanite arrived in a very “Sennheiser-like” retail box (if you’ve owned any higher end Sennheisers in the past, you’ll know what I mean. It is very well built, attractive, and just a little conservative in the darker black with “Sennheiser-blue” accenting. On the front is a picture of the Urbanites, while the rear and sides give you information on the specifications and accessories.

    urbanite03.jpg urbanite05.jpg

    Side of retail box

    Inside the retail box - Urbanites nestled in their foam



    The retail box consists of a box and lid (both really well built). Taking the top off the box reveals a foam padded interior designed to perfectly house and protect the Urbanites, and a compartment for the cable and the cloth carry bag.

    Bundled along with this tour unit was also a press release from Sennheiser, and small fold-out feature / specification booklets.

    urbanite06.jpg urbanite07.jpg

    Collapsed Urbanite - ideal footprint for travel

    Travel bag and cable



    For accessories, they include a cloth drawstring carry bag …. and that pretty much is it. For a headphone in this price range, I’d have preferred to also see a 3.5-6.3mm adaptor, spare pads, and perhaps a slightly longer spare cable – maybe without the i-device controls.

    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

    (From Sennheiser)
    Type
    Sealed circumaural portable headphone
    Driver
    Dynamic full sized
    Frequency Range
    16 Hz – 22 Khz
    Impedance
    18 ohm
    Sensitivity
    110 dB at 1 kHz & 1 Vrms
    THD
    < 0.5% (1 kHz, 100 dB)
    Plug
    3.5mm gold plated 4 pole, low profile right angle jack
    Cable
    1.2m flat with smartphone controls on cable
    Weight
    312g (including cable)


    FREQUENCY GRAPH

    urbanitexlgraph.png

    I’ve included the graph from Innerfidelity (thanks Tyll) - and this is the graph for the XL (thanks @depleted)

    BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN

    From the first time I saw them, the Urbanite XL physically “looked” like they were extremely well designed, and very robust. Closer inspection simply confirms what my eyes were already telling me.

    urbanite13.jpg urbanite14.jpg

    Stellar designa nd build quality

    Adjustment mechanism for earpieces



    The Urbanite’s headband seems to be made of a sprung steel inner headband with denim exterior, and rubberised interior padding. It is very wide and extremely flexible. The padding itself doesn’t appear to have any foam internal – instead there seems to be a pocket of air. Anyway – despite its thin nature, I personally find it really comfortable, and have no problems wearing it for hours (no hot or hard spots). The band is also really robust and can be twisted and stretched with no signs of stress. The band is connected to a metal hinge structure which looks incredibly strong, is definitely metal, and has a smooth action. Both cups fold inward so that the Urbanite can be collapsed to save space while on the move.

    urbanite19.jpg urbanite18.jpg

    The headband - denim outer

    Flat inner section - air pocket rather than foam



    The adjusting mechanism is metal, has a really smooth action, and manages to hold its position despite not having the usual clicky extenders. This is helped by the rubber suspension arms which recess into the actual cups (I understand these are connected to a robust spring mechanism). For more information on the internals, be sure to check out Tyll’s article over at Innerfidelity.

    urbanite16.jpg urbanite17.jpg

    Extremely robust hinge

    Build quality on the adjustment slider



    The cups themselves are round, made of moulded plastic, and have removable circular pads (more on them in the next section). The cable is detachable, 2.5mm, has a proprietary locking mechanism (so finding after-market cables won’t be easy), and is standard 1.2m in length. It is a flat cable, rubbery but appears reasonably well built, and so far for me hasn’t tangled. The cable is attached single sided to the bottom of the left earpiece. The cable includes smartphone controls – including a central button (pause/play – single push, next track – two pushes & previous track – three pushes), and also volume up and down controls. It also includes a microphone for taking calls. The controls work really well with my iPhone 5S – and the quality of the microphone for making calls was brilliant. When I used this with Fiio’s X3 gen 2 (due to be released soon), the push button also worked extremely well with this device (play/pause, next, previous).

    urbanite08.jpg urbanite09.jpg

    2.5 mm locking plug for the cup

    i-device / smart phone control unit and mic



    The jack is 4 pole, right angled and very low profile. For my X3ii and iPhone 5S – the fit was perfect (even with cases intact). But it is very low profile, so some owners of thicker cases may want to check for compatibility first.

    urbanite10.jpg urbanite11.jpg

    3.5mm 4 pole low profile jack

    Jack inserted into my 5S (fits perfectly - no issues with case)



    Overall, the build quality is absolutely excellent – very robust, and I can now see why they only felt the need to include a cloth carry bag rather than a harder case. They come with a 2 year warranty – but really, you’d have to be abusing these pretty badly to break them IMO.

    urbanite20.jpg urbanite22.jpg

    Amazingly good build quality is evident when stretching the headband

    And twisting it!



    FIT / COMFORT / STYLE / ISOLATION

    Style is always going to be a personal thing – but what I do like about the Urbanite XL’s is the range of colour styles in the series (sand, olive, two-tone navy/red, denim, and black). On me (I’m bald by choice) the headband does looks lightly goofy, but on both my wife and daughter I have to admit they look pretty stylish, and modern. And to be honest, once I’m wearing them I couldn’t really give a toss how I look.

    urbanite24.jpg urbanite25.jpg

    May daughter Emma modelling the Urbanites

    She definitely looked better than I did wearing them



    For comfort, I have absolutely no issue with the headband – but I do find the Urbanite XL earpads just a little too small. They are very soft (the material seems to be the same sort of alcantara used on the HD800), and have good memory foam.

    urbanite30.jpg urbanite28.jpg

    Alcantera covered low profile round pads

    Rear of pads



    The issue for me is simply the internal size. They measure around 4.5 cm in diameter (circular) and approx. 1.6 cm deep. Compare this to the extremely comfortable UE6000 – with oval ear cups just over 5.5 cm long and only 3.5 cm wide and 1.8 cm deep. The difference is the length of all of our ears. Quite simply – no-one I know has round ears. Yes my ears do fit inside the cup, but to fit they have to conform to the round shape of the Urbanite XL – and this does cause contact points, heat spots, and for longer listening – minor discomfort. I think I’d get used to it over time – but I shouldn’t have to. It’s a pity really. They are not too bad on the comfort stakes – but they could have been perfect with a slightly different (oval) design.

    urbanite29.jpg urbanite31.jpg

    Completely round pads - not a perfect fit to our ear shape

    Brainwavz pads (top) are a much better shape for our anatomy



    For isolation, they are pretty good. In an open plan office environment, whilst I could still hear those around me with music off, it didn’t take much volume to isolate myself. More importantly, there is not a lot of leakage.

    SOUND QUALITY

    The following is what I hear from the Urbanite XL. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my Fiio X3 gen 2 and Fiio X5.

    urbanite37.jpg

    Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.

    Thoughts on General Signature

    If I was to describe the signature in a few words – I’d choose the words “clear”, “full bodied”, and “slightly warm”.

    I have to admit, the first time I tried the Urbanite XL, the thing I expected was normal consumer type robust bass with an ample bottom end, and darkish boomy signature – which seems to be so prevalent with headphones for today’s younger generation. What I wasn’t prepared for was the really nice overall balance, quality of the bass, and clarity of the mid-range. For me personally, the only thing missing was just an occasional touch of upper end sparkle. The treble is present, but it is very smooth, unobtrusive, and laid back.

    Overall Detail / Clarity

    For this I always use both Steely Dan’s “Gaucho” and Dire Strait’s “Sultans of Swing” as there is a lot of micro detail in both tracks, and the recording quality for both is excellent.

    Gaucho was quite simply stunning. The sax intro was smooth, yet not overly dark. Bass is really nicely matched with the mid-range (no apparent bleed), and it is surprising how detailed the Urbanites are with cymbals, little hits of snare – everything is there, I’d personally just like a tiny bit more sparkle.

    Switching to Sultans of Swing, and once again, detail is all there. Knopfler’s vocals are forward and nicely balanced with the guitar crunch. Not too much to complain about really – this is brilliant. One nice thing is the quality of the bass – not boomy at all. Some really nice detail coming through too – cymbal hits are there – nothing seems to be missing.

    Sound-stage & Imaging

    For this I use Amber Rubarth’s binaural recording “Tundra”. I use this because it’s a pretty simple way to get comparative data on sound-stage.

    It’s usually difficult to get a reasonable stage size from a closed can. The stage is often quite small / close – with an average impression of space. The Urbanite has an intimate stage with this track compared to open cans like the HD600 and T1, but it does give some impression of space – just not hugely out of your head. More importantly directional imaging and instrument separation is very good. This is aided by the absolute clarity of the overall presentation.

    I also used Loreena McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer” and the Urbanite was once again very good with this track – it was intimate, but once again the overall imaging was really good. The vocals are quite close, very clear, and portrayal of the cello in particular is wonderful. The applause at the end of the track is immersive with my open headphones, and unfortunately the Urbanites can’t quite replicate that sense of actually being there – but it isn’t surprising (and too much to expect), few closed headphone cans. Overall a great presentation of the track though.

    Lastly I switched to Amada Marshall’s “Let It Rain”. This track is recorded with a natural sense of space and separation (almost holographic in nature) – and I’ve even had IEMs convey space when playing it. The Urbanites are very good – still quite intimate, but once again the overall imaging continues to shine through.

    Bass Quality and Quantity

    Sennheiser openly advertises the Urbanite as “bass done right”, and so far I’ve been liking what I’ve heard.

    First test track is always Bleeding Muddy Water by Mark Lanegan. This blues rock track is dark and brooding – and the Urbanites were brilliant with it. There was some visceral slam, yet Mark’s vocals were extremely clear, and although the track was dark (as it is supposed to be), it was eminently enjoyable.

    Time to see how low the bass would go – so switched to Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good” – and the Urbanites delivered – and actually knocked it out of the park really. Usually I find this track too boomy on many headphones (the T1 is an exception), but the bass is both effortless and fast on the Urbanite and once again Amy’s vocals come through crystal clear – no bleed. Next up was Lorde’s “Royals” (my sub-bass test) – and again I’m impressed by how much quality bass the Urbanites deliver – yet how clear the mid-range is. The bass guitar in this track is low, and extends well into the sub bass. The Urbanites handle it easily, and serve up the rumble I know is naturally there. Great job.

    Female Vocals

    Around 60-65% of my music revolves around female vocals – be it jazz, pop, rock, electronic, or even opera. I’m an unabashed fan. For me the sign of a successful headphone is how successfully it conveys emotion and timbre with my female vocalists. Other headphones I’ve owned in the past had sometimes struggled with some of the artists I like – and this can be a deal breaker for me.

    My early litmus test is usually queuing Agnes Obel – as some of her recordings can become quite strident or shouty if the mids aren’t quite right. With the Urbanite, her vocals have almost a perfect tone, I’d just like a tiny bit of upper mid-range emphasis – but the overall magic is definitely there. The also cello has great timbre and tone.

    Next up is my usual medley of other tracks from artists including Christina Perri, Gabriella Cilmi, Florence and the Machine, and Norah Jones. The Urbanite handles vocals brilliantly – and every track I threw at them was impressively rendered. Ayla Nereo’s “Dawn to Flight” was incredible (breath-taking) and once again it is stunning just how well Sennheiser has tuned the mid-range on the Urbanites.

    Male Vocals

    At the other end of the scale sits a lot of my rock tracks – generally male vocal based.

    Kicking off with 3 Doors Down “Away from the Sun”, and the vocal presentation is very natural – intimate, clear and very pleasant to listen to. Moving to Seether, and once again the vocal quality is very good – guitar crunch is excellent, as is the cymbal presentation. The bass quality is incredible for rock – impact and extension without the boom or bloom. I wouldn’t change anything for the rock music I’ve tested so far – everything just gels so well.
    Time for my litmus test – Pearl Jam. Vedder’s voice is perfect with the Urbanites - plenty of clarity and emotion. And the overall balance in the track is magic. Once again, sonically I wouldn’t change anything with this track.

    Genre Specific Notes

    Again for tracks, albums, artists – please refer to this list: http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks

    Rock – covered above. The Urbanites are a natural match for the rock I listen to.

    Alt Rock – First up (in my usual test rotation) is Pink Floyd’s “Money”, and the Urbanite continues to shine. It delivers the needed contrast beautifully. Beautiful balance between bass guitar and other instruments, and the vocals are again stunningly clear. Porcupine Tree’s “Trains” is similar – Wilson’s vocals are fantastic. Surprisingly though, this is one of those tracks where I’d like just a tiny bit more sparkle (it’s almost too smooth). Bass is dynamic, clean, brilliant.

    Jazz / Blues / Bluegrass – Portico Quartet’s “Ruins” was dynamic, clean, detailed – maybe missing just a little top end crispness, but enjoyable all the same. Switching to some Miles Davis - “So What” and (once again) more magic. Mile’s trumpet is smooth, the double bass has good timbre and presence, and the cymbals are showing nice touches of detail.

    Onto Blues – and the combination of Bonamassa’s vocals and guitar work is magical. I’ve said this review that with the occasional track that I’d like a bit more sparkle – so I next tried Beth Hart’s “Live at Paradiso” album – which is mastered very hot (bright). For my personal tastes the combination of this mastering and the Urbanite’s natural tonality was really good – and it does reinforce that for me, just a little more upper end sparkle would be the cream on the cake for me. Funny thing is that for a lot of tracks I didn’t really notice it was missing – until it is introduced again.

    Rap / EDM / Pop – Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” is my go to track for testing contrast, clarity and bass impact for the Rap genre, and the Urbanite is perfect with this track. Again I’m stunned by the clarity of the bass and the lack of bleed. Bass done right Sennheiser? Absolutely! Switching to Pop, and it doesn’t matter what I throw at the Urbanites – it all sounds good. Jessie Ware, Lana Del Ray, London Grammar, Coldplay – the Urbanite XL seems to take it all in its stride.

    Switching next to some Electronic / EDM – and Lindsay Stirling’s “Electric Daisy Violin” = dynamic magic. There is fantastic bass response, and crystal clarity and vibrancy with her violin. Next up is Little Dragon and also The Flashbulb, and even some Trance with Van Buuren. The Urbanites excel with anything bass heavy – but the magic isn’t just the bass quality, but the rest of the music contrasting with it.

    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

    The Urbanite is easily powered straight out of the portable devices I have, and although I tested it with both the X3ii – both unamped and amped with the E11K, I haven’t noticed any difference in dynamics. The Urbanite were designed to be efficiently run straight from a DAP or smart phone – and they shine without the need for extra power.

    RESPONSE TO EQ?

    This was an interesting one because as I’ve listened critically through the review, the more time I’ve spent, the more I’ve become accustomed to the Urbanite’s “polite” (slightly subdued) treble. The X3ii comes with a 10 band equaliser, so time to have a play. I lifted the 4K and 8K bands by around 3-4 dB and replayed both Gaucho and Aventine. It was a definite improvement for my personal tastes – and one I’d probably stick with for most tracks. Anyway – the Urbanites respond well to EQ – another plus.

    WHAT ABOUT PADS?

    urbanite33.jpg urbanite34.jpg

    Brainwavz pad fitted

    Brainwavz pads fitted - much more comfortable fit for my ears



    After the 3-4 hours critical listening tonight, and the sessions last week, I’ve noticed that there continues to be some discomfort – not outright pain, but enough physical pressure to notice that I’m wearing headphones.
    So once I made sure the earpads were able to be removed, I set about looking for options. The first port of call was the HM5 pads from Brainwavz. The ones sent by Audrey for a previous review slipped straight over the outer cups, and fit snugly. Best of all – instant cure for the comfort issues. Added bonus – because my ears are now further away from the drivers, there is a little added sense of space, and due to the bass being reduced slightly, an added sense of sparkle.

    urbanite35.jpg urbanite32.jpg

    Brainwavz pads fitted over rear of cup

    Different height of the pads - drivers further away from your ears.



    It does highlight (especially the comfort) what could be achieved with another pad option. I’m not sure if these are the absolute answer though – as I find myself missing some of the bass that has been taken away ….. but at least I can EQ that again if I need to.

    QUICK COMPARISON – OTHER PORTABLES

    urbanite26.jpg

    This is simply going to be a very rough comparison with the portables I have on hand – the UE6000 and Momentum On Ears.


    1. Urbanite vs UE6000
      1. Comfort – no question UE600 trumps here
      2. Build quality / strength – Urbanite by a large margin
      3. SQ – comparatively both have very clear vocal range, slightly emphasised bass, but really nice balance. Urbanite has more quantity and better definition in the bass, and slightly more sparkle up top. UE6000 is just slightly less clear, and also slightly boomier.
      4. Overall – I’d take the Urbanite on everything except comfort.
    2. Urbanite vs Momentum OE
      1. Comfort – long term I find the MOE painful whereas I just find the Urbanites slightly annoying – so Urbanites definitely the preference
      2. Build quality / strength – tied on actual strength as the MOE are built really well.
      3. But the Urbanites are collapsible and better for travel, so once again – Urbanites
      4. SQ – this one is a lot easier. The MOE tend to be a little boomy downstairs, and a little thin and hazy up top (unlike their circumaural model). They are still a good listen once you adjust to their tonality, but for my tastes, I find the Urbanites, fuller, richer and more natural sounding.
      5. Overall – for me the Urbanite wins on all counts

    URBANITE - SUMMARY

    The Sennheiser Urbanite XL is one of those headphones that comes very close to ticking all of my boxes when it comes to portable listening.

    For starters, it is wonderfully built, and I would have no issues carting it around the World (during my global travels). Add in the absolutely stellar SQ, and very natural sound, and you have a headphone that has almost all of my bases covered. Their bass quality in particular is among the best I’ve heard in a portable headphone – and the magic is that it never encroaches on the quality of the mid-range. Vocals shine with the Urbanite XL – it is the thing I love most about it.

    My issue with the Urbanite though is mainly around long-term comfort, and unfortunately I think this is the one area Sennheiser’s designers may have picked form/looks over actual function/comfort. Unfortunately for me – despite everything else being almost perfect – I’d have to pass because it really is a deal breaker.

    If you’re already used to wearing on-ears, this isn’t probably going to bother you – and the Urbanites are likely to be exceedingly comfortable to the likes of MOE, T51p and Grado wearers. But I was expecting circumaural – and unfortunately they aren’t quite there.

    But the Urbanites deliver in almost every other area – and for that I would give a definite recommendation. My kids - with their smaller ears – love them!

    On the question of value – Amazon’s price of ~ 190 USD is actually a brilliant asking price for these, and they are well worth picking up at that level. I also see “used like new” on Amazon at the moment for USD 143 – and for this price they are a steal. If I was in the States, I’d pick up a pair right now. Unfortunately for us in Australia and NZ, we end up getting gouged at $300 and $400 respectively. For that price locally – I’d have to pass, as the value proposition simply isn’t there.

    Finally – my thanks once again to Sennheiser, Noisy Motel and White Lotus. I’ve really enjoyed my time with these, and hopefully someday I can repay the favour. I’m going to miss these next week after I send them back.


    urbanite15.jpg

    RECOMMENDATIONS TO SENNHEISER

    My recommendations are pretty simple – and hopefully they may be addressed in future models:

    • Don’t change the SQ – unless you can very slightly lift the lower treble / upper mid-range without overly affecting the rest of the signature. Otherwise I’m fine with EQ, and I think you’ve probably hit your target markets’ preferences admirably.
    • Fix the earcups (comfort). Take a look at the UE6000 – small earpieces shaped to fit the ear. For a portable headphone, ultimate comfort is one of the things most people will not compromise on. It is the one area you fall short on.
    • At the current RRP, the accessory package is too sparse. For that I would expect an adaptor, spare cable and spare pads. Maybe reconsider the RRP (especially Down Under), or look at what you are offering compared to the competition.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Agito
      Can you tell if the cable from the MOE fits the Urbanite? 
      Agito, May 7, 2016
    3. Brooko
      Hi Agito - good question and one I can't answer. The Urbanites were part of a loaner tour - ie they were returned. And my sons MOE have been "retired" because he broke the cable (he is quite hard on headphones).  Maybe try asking the Sennheiser rep on the forums:
      http://www.head-fi.org/u/146072/rosmadi-mahmood
      Brooko, May 7, 2016
    4. Agito
      Thank you, Brooko. I'll try asking him.
      Agito, May 7, 2016
  3. Dogmatrix
    Street Wise
    Written by Dogmatrix
    Published Feb 27, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - High quality rugged design with strong sound
    Cons - Fit
    The Start
    This review is part of the Official Sennheiser URBANITE Australian review tour organized by White Lotus and made possible by Sennheiser Australia .
    Many thanks to White Lotus for his efforts and Sennheiser Australia for their trust and generosity .
    I have no connection to either party and received no reward or inducement for this review
     
    Cast and crew
    For the week the Urbanite was with me it alternated between the following
    Ipod nano gen2
    FIIO X1
    Ipod Classic + Denon DA10
    Dell Inspiron 17r
    Woo Wa7+Tp
     
    Venue
    In order to test the Urbanites suitability to the urban environment we went for a ride on the train , a walk in the park with my dog Pea and hung out at home listening to music and watching TV
     
    Players
    I listen mostly to Indie/Alternative music last weeks play list comprised random selections from the following albums
    Gary Clark Jr Live  : Gary Clark Jr
    Planet Blue Eyes  : The Preatures
    .5: The Grey Chapter  : Slipknot
    Goin' Boogaloo  : C.W. Stoneking
    Neutral Ground  : Maggie Koerner
    Seeds  : TV On The Radio
    Echo Of Miles  : Soundgarden
    Roll The Bones  : Shakey Graves
     
    The Good
    First thing that struck me was build quality
    No throw away blister pack here instead you get a keep forever thick card slip box with form fitting foam lining
    Sennheiser make plastic feel classy it never looks like the cheap option always the best considered material for the job
    From the hard plastic cups and slider through the silicone liner on the headband with fabric top cover to the metal hinge plates and cable guides , everything feels like the right tool for the job
    On to design
    Sennheiser have clearly dropped some big time and money on some serious industrial design in the Urbanite
    Everything here is new , innovative slider and cup gimbal , flat cable which slides in and out of the headband and solid hinges which allow the Urbanite to curl up into a little ball for transport
    Sennheisers design brief appears to have been one of quiet strength there is nothing flashy or eye catching but I get a sense of solid dependability about the Urbanite
    In Use
    While on my train journey to the big city I cranked up the volume while looking for expressions of disapproval from my fellow travelers there were no awkward glances , near journeys end I inquired politely to the elderly couple sitting opposite if they had been disturbed by my loud music to which they replied "Didn't hear a thing dear" 
    With the volume set low I listened for the rumble of the diesel and the clunk of the track both were subdued to unobtrusive levels
    During my walk with Pea who can be quite demanding the Urbanite never felt cumbersome and were easy to manage single handed
    Sound quality is in the high end of the spectrum I would say neutral to dark
    Bass
    Bass is a little distant particularly with my lower powered devices but fills in nicely with more power
    Overall bass is good for this price point and the flaws are apparent only when compared to more expensive headphones
    Midrange
    All is good in the midrange very pleasant timbre and good detail regardless of device
    Voice tone was particularly noticeable when watching TV streamed on the laptop great depth and realism
    Treble
    Treble is never harsh or sibilant , much like bass a little rolled of on the low power gear but full of detail and sparkle with more juice
    Stage
    Stage is tight as I would expect of a headphone with small closed cups but image is good with clear separation
     
    The Bad
    For me the only major downside with the Urbanite was fit while the ear pads are beautifully made from a material similar to the HD800 they are just too small for my ears
    While it was possible to achieve a good seal by performing some origami on my ears this caused some discomfort over a long session and when combined with the arms of my glasses it became painful
    Headband padding is minimal and although the Urbanite is quite light they still became uncomfortable within an hour
    There were also minor quibbles with sound quality on the low power devices , merging bass lines and confused treble but a small amp fixed that
     
    The Ugly
    P2240025.jpg   P2240047.jpg   P2240060.jpg

      P2240073.jpg   P2240147.jpg   P2240238.jpg
     
    The End
    I enjoyed my time with the Urbanite despite my fit issues which are largely due to my large sticky out ears and wearing glasses
    While the Urbanite is not spectacular in any respect it never really offends or disappoints
    I think they would make a great gift for someone (with average to small ears) new to quality headphones as they have a pleasing sound and are built to last
      DJScope and trellus like this.
    1. White Lotus
      Great review mate, awesome photos too!
      White Lotus, Feb 27, 2015
    2. DJScope
      Good stuff mate!
      DJScope, Feb 28, 2015
  4. n05ey
    Perfection... except for the sound
    Written by n05ey
    Published Feb 13, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Beautiful headphones; solid construction; great packaging
    Cons - The sound is pleasant but lacks a something great; maybe could do with a hard case; not too sure about the choice of the springy rubber cable

    Sennheiser URBANITE XL Review
     
    The lead-up and my story
     
    When these came up on tour thanks to Sennheiser and White Lotus I was busting out of my skin and I must take this moment to say a huge thanks to all involved for this opportunity. See, last year I bought the NAD Hp50’s out of the crowd of closed back mid-fi priced headphones as they had ‘the sound’ from all the reviews I read. I really really enjoyed them; however I always had no small lust for the momentums as they apparently had a good portion of the sound and didn’t make their owners look like Frankenstein as an added bonus.
     
    Now I am the owner of a pair of Q701’s which are just about my perfect sig for the moment (unfair for this review I know) and have had my eyes on the Senn 650’s as a counterpoint with a nice relaxed sound sig. All that to say that Sennheiser has and continues to be the brand I skirt around on this journey but have secretly desired all along. The opportunity to sample their new product is almost too good to be true. I had a lot of expectation although I do realise where this product appears to be positioned in the market and thus began this journey.
     
    The package
     
    IMG_20150213_080806.JPG.jpg
     
     
    To me they have really nailed the box and packaging. The box is a heavy cardboard that feels premium and weighty then when the seal is broken and sliding the inner box through has just the right amount of suction to build anticipation of a quality product inside. I was greeted with the phones themselves settled in a precision cut foam inlay, the cable, the soft carry bag and a very small amount of paperwork. I do love the simplicity of the arrangement once again subtly stating the premium nature of the product. I am a sucker for minimalism.
     
    IMG_20150213_080722.JPG.jpg
     
     
    It would have been nice to see the addition of some sort of hard case as folded these have a nice, though not too compact footprint, however that is minor and at least it does have a cloth bag (looking at you q701’s!!!). The ‘phones themselves are confidence inspiringly solid though so I can imagine they would be happy out and about just in their soft bag with few issues.
     
    IMG_20150213_080732.JPG.jpg
     
    TL/DR – The experience makes me feel special, like it should be accompanied with a fine whisky and cigar (note: this author does not endorse these actions when reviewing)
     
    The headphones
     
    The headphones themselves sit in their dense foam inlay just begging to be handled. Pulling them out leaves you with a feeling of weight and solid construction I wish the NAD’s had at least a 10th of. They feel premium all over.
     
    The tri-tone headband has a nice stitched cloth outer layer bonded to a two coloured rubbery inner material meaning it should wash away all those young-un’s wax, mud, gel or other generally greasy hair product the hipsters use these days staying relatively pristine longer term. The colour scheme is subtle and really classy in my opinion.
     
    IMG_20150213_080614.JPG.jpg
     
     
    The folding mechanism means it doesn’t become overly compact but it is wonderfully executed with a lovely thuddy click into place at full extension. This level of design makes me think of the research car makers put into the sound their doors make when they close.
     
    The cups and sliders are really solid and beautifully finished. The whole thing just makes you want to admire and handle them. The pads are plush and pretty comfortable for longer stints and the openings are sufficient for my ears with only a minor amount of origami required to get my largish ears inside. Once in my ears have enough space inside  due to the pads sloping back under the outer opening. The clamping force is reasonable and enough to give me a good seal without getting a headache in the short to medium term.
     
    IMG_20150213_080651.JPG.jpg
     
     
    TL/DR – Yup, I love the design. A lot.
     
    The sound
     
    Here is where the rubber hits the road.
     
    You can read my ‘phones in my profile but suffice to say that I have come from being a bass head trying to feel the music in the car to a bit of a treble head over the last couple of years. I have been pretty happy with my iems so have been slowly enjoying the entry into closed and open overears with takstar pro80’s, NAD Hp50’s and AKG Q701’s as my experience in the arena. My experience isn’t too broad in the can world so feel free to dismiss whatever you don’t like (I won’t take it personally).
     
    My source at the moment is a Sony NWZ-A15 out to a Topping NX1
     
    First impressions
    Nice, smooth sound on first listen. Nothing too offensive hear at all. Hanging out the washing to get a picture of the sound I would say that there was nothing missing from the sound but also nothing particularly engaging about the sound. So on we will progress to a bit more detail.
     
    More detailed listening
    For my detailed listen, I had a variety of genre’s (apologies for my abuse of the broad genre catagorisations) from mainstream (Brooke Fraser – Brutal Romantic, Lorde – Pure Heroine) rock/metal/alt (Alterbridge – all their collection, Dream Theatre – Black Clouds and Silver Linings, Muse – All their collection) to some elec (Rufus – Atlas, Justice – Audio, Video, Disco, Hillsong United – The White Album) on my regular rotation.
     
    First I will start with a breakdown of the sound though it needs a brief preamble. If you want the technics of it all please read another review as I am only going to give the feel of the sound to me, trying to be a bit more touchy feely descriptive.
     
    Bass – Not overwhelming or offensive to me. Relatively balanced within the spectrum and not rolling off too hard or being too loose. It did feel like it lacks a little bit of impact or slam to me which meant that the bass feels more like a part of the warmth of the whole sound rather than giving a real kick to the sound. Like there is more of the ring of the bass note rather than the impact but at the same time not feeling like the bass is slow (sorry if this feels like a contradiction).
     
    Mids – WARM. The mids make me feel all cozy and comfortable. I could listen to it all day at whatever volume with no issue as there is no upper mid peakiness to me. The downside of this is that the warmth and inoffensiveness of it all means that nothing really stands out. Don’t get me wrong, there is good stage and separation to instruments and the like; it just all feels a little lukewarm to me in the end.
     
    Highs – To me a little recessed behind the bass and mids which means that once again the non-fatiguing nature of the sound is reinforced. As I said I am a bit of a treble head these days but I did enjoy the presentation of the highs as it was all present and able to be picked out clearly in the mix just not emphasised.
     
    Stage – I thought the stage was reasonable. It is no open back but it does have a nice round stage where you can put everything in its right place.
     
    Separation – Good clear separation of instruments. No real muddiness or mush in here. Pretty solid again
     
    Overall presentation – I can understand this sound. It sits there comfortably at any volume and can just be a part of your day without getting in your way. MY issue with that is that in doing that some of the sparkle is taken out of the sound. To me it feels like the sound has polished aspect and in doing so has lost a little of the reality of it all.
     
    TL/DR – It reminds me of daytime soap operas and the fuzzy focus picture; everything appears glamorous but in doing so it loses a bit of connection with reality.
     
    Conclusion
     
    I feel like mainstream is where this set sits most comfortably. It takes any ‘edginess’ off the sound (I use edginess not in a treble sense, but to refer to any overly defined feature, whatever part of the sound spectrum) so it never grates which means that it loses some of its impact in other genres where a bit of ‘edginess’ can really bring out something special. It really is the sort of headphone that you put on and off throughout a day, letting the music wash over you without really listening to the music...
     
    It is a great package, the box, the experience, beautiful headphones... just a bit missing when it comes to the sound to my ears.
     

      EkehMayu likes this.
  5. Xtralglactic
    SENNHEISER URBANITES XL - FOR THOSE THAT WANT TO LOOK COOL WITHOUT TOO MUCH COMPROMISES
    Written by Xtralglactic
    Published Feb 8, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Looks,Quality,Build,Overall enjoyable sound that the masses can appreciate.
    Cons - Price,Overall sound could be better.
    AN AUDITION WITH THE SENNHEISER URBANITE XL
     
    DSCF1015.jpg   DSCF1017.jpg
     
     
     
    Firstly, I'd like to thank White Lotus for letting me be part of the Australian Urbanite XL tour group as well as Brooko for endorsing me and DJScope.
     
     
     
    INTRODUCTION: Im just a guy in my thirties who likes collecting headphones and general audio stuff. I'd like to think I know what sounds good but then again these will be my opinions and thoughts. Your mileage may vary. I believe in the concept of "bang per buck" and im not scared of trawling gumtree for second hand items (especially headphones as they have been burnt in...yes I believe in burn in but that is a separate discussion I guess :) I also believe price-aesthetics ratio. If $400 product looks $4...well... ahem.... 
     
    Lets face it. Who doesn't cringe when we see someone wearing BEATS headphones. I always think..hmmm...I'd have only pay $100 for that thing on your noggin...but hey we all seem to be caught up in some new fad so I guess Sennheiser noticed a market for stylish upmarket headphones that the GEN Y'rs will clamour for or so they hope. Now knowing that Sennheiser has got a reputation to keep, my expectations for this headphone is quite high. They promised clarity, balance and QUALITY BASSSS.......SSS! 3 things I love! (I know balance and BASS may be at odds with each other but its what I look for in headphones) therefore I love my HE 400.....but I digress...
     
    NOW THE URBANITES
     
    PACKAGING: The Urbanites come in a box, not overly ostentatious but none the less I found it to be a box that you can actually keep because of the pre perforated cut out foam on both the insides of the box to cradle and cosset your new toy. Inside the box you will find the Urbanites with a flat cable connector, proprietary of course but none the less adds to the bespoke nature of the thing but may be a nightmare when trying to replace. Not sure about the replacement costs but it aint gonna be cheap. Also the modders or the upgraders of head fi will not be able to use their more esoteric silver cables on these, not unlike if they were just 3.5mm to 3.5mm standard, but the cables themselves seem to be made well and durable with a 3 button pod close to left earcup. The 3.5mm end is right angled while the 2.5mm end which plugs into the left earcup is a 2.5mm straight jack with a location notch. The Urbanites also come with a stretchy fabric drawstring bag in which to store them in for
    portability.
     
    DSCF1002.jpg   DSCF1018.jpg   DSCF1003.jpg
     
     
     
     
    HEADPHONES: I must say..IM DIGGING THE LOOK OF  THESE!! The use of fabric (but I think its polyester fabric from sport bags, especially my black camera DSLR bag seems to have the same look and feel of the Urbanites headband top layer). The headband also consists of what seems like silicone rubber on the underside of the headband glued together with the top layer. Its nice to touch and play with actually. Im liking it to a stress ball. You want to keep touching it and squeezing it.
     
    DSCF1011.jpg       DSCF1004.jpg   DSCF1006.jpg
     
     
    The style continues with the connection to the earcups swivels which are made of metal lightweight of course. The top bit is silver with the SENNHEISER logo on it, and the lower bits which the earcups slide up and down is metal again but a different colour this time a really dark metallic purple. The earcups themselves are plastic but then again there are 3 different colours on the earcups. The shell is half metallic purple and half black with a white stripe near where the earpads join to the body. I actually think this is some sort homage to racing stripes on sports cars. Maybe the focus group decided on this particular visual embellishment but it does tie in with the white underside squishy rubber thingy on the headband so its actually very nicely done!
     
    DSCF1010.jpg   DSCF1005.jpg   DSCF1007.jpg
     
     
    Again I must congratulate Sennheiser on the way they have hidden the headphone wires in a black rubber hollow sleeve that slide in and out of the earcups on the top. These holes are also bordered  by metal. The earcup connections to the slide up down mechanism is some sort of ball joint covered in durable thin foam. Nothing creaks or looks low rent.
     
    DSCF1009.jpg   DSCF1012.jpg   DSCF1013.jpg
     
     
    The ear pads are removable which is a good thing. The fabric used is some sort of suede? Im liking it to the suede fabric found on seats but not quite. It’s the first time Ive seen this fabric used in an earcup. I like it. The only thing I believe that lets its down is the size of the opening/circumference of the earpads. I think they could be 10mm larger to actually not touch your ears. Also the foam used is abit hard. As DJ scope found, when he turned his head, he would lose sealing and the sound would degrade. I have experienced the same problem. Perhaps they could have used softer memory foam.
     
    DSCF1008.jpg   DSCF1016.jpg   DSCF1014.jpg
     
    Overall, as I said, the URBANITES are stylishly built and the design and stylistic elements come together in a cohesive fashion to form one handsome looking cans with materials that are quality and pleasant to look at and touch. Certainly $399 worth I believe. (then again there are the Bowers and Wilkins and the Bang and Olufsen headphones but I believe they cater to a different demographic but nonetheless offer their own interpretation of style and quality)
     
    IMPRESSIONS WITH MY HTC ONE M7 PLUGGED IN DIRECTLY.
     
    DSCF1023.jpg
     
     

    Now the first hurdle is to either use the native android music app or the POWERAMP APP which I downloaded. I listened to this Samsung music file on my phone, 320 kbps only mind you which has this nice bit where a racing car, with differing engine notes seem to cross left to right and right to left one after the other and its meant to be behind the listener. The POWERAMP offered an audibly better sound so it won and that’s what I ended up using. Also I chose to review the Urbanites in this mobile context only as this will be its most likely use. 

     

    Now my files on my phone are like 320kbps max as it’s really not meant to be a portable audiophile listening station. On Poweramp, I've left the tone controls on it standard position on the bass dial, but I feel the Urbanites needed a treble boost..all the way up in fact. It just made it more clearer in my ears. The equaliser has been left to flat. Right now, Im listening to the Hed Kandi Mixed CD, which is house music, plenty of vocals, beats, percussion instruments etc and I find that I need the volume to be one notch down from full to get to my desired listening level. This surprised me because I had read it’s meant to be 18 Ohm impedance and that it should be easy to drive......or my ears are shot....or I just like my music really loud. In which case then I can say my phone drives the urbanites with as much gusto as it can muster and still sound good. The bass is definitely felt as well as heard on many tracks. It has that nice bass slam to my ears, reaches quite low but has that slow decay that hangs around abut longer than usual but with the type of music the Hed Kandi CD has, It’s quite complimentary. Bottom line: YEP BASS CHECK ALL GOOD!

     

    Here Without You: Three doors down: This is a guitar driven pop music and its only 160 Kbps. Hmmm.... i can definitely hear the compression artefacts here, it’s just sounds metallic and grating but I guess this just shows the pedigree of the drivers, its Sennheiser after all and it just forces you to upgrade the quality of music you listen to. But in general, I found the sound to be balanced. The bass is kept in check and not overpowering anything..well there isn’t much bass on this track anyway but it’s nice to know that the Urbanites can be polite in the bass department when needed. Vocals are just right to my ears, not too close or far away, not veiled at all. Treble, maybe just because I have had the treble dial to max may have exacerbated the low quality of the file but I liked it still turned all the way up otherwise it just lost that treble sparkle. Bottom Line: Bass can behave itself on less demanding tracks while vocals and the mids are not drowned out at all.

     

    Mariah Carey: Angels Cry: A nice track with a nice simple bass line, sparse instrumentals and mostly concentrating on Mariah's Vocal Talent (if it indeed does still exist, she apparently sounds horrible live now if the leaked audio tapes are to be believed). This is a 176kbps file but for some reason this sounds quite good actually. Makes me think the 160 KBPS Here without you track above was like recorded on radio and just up sampled...but these Urbanites portray Mariah's vocals as I remember them to be in hey heyday, her slightly nasally voice and occasional gravelly undertones are like what I remember them to be. The simple bass line that pervades the track is there and actually provides the ear shake I like to hear as it indeed goes very low. The cymbals, pianos and the other instruments all just seem to be in one spot tho. Where is the soundstage? But then again this might be the recording itself or the low quality file. Nothing piercing in the highs as well. Well controlled and just as I like it. Bottom Line: Highs provide enough clarity and detail for me and I think this will satisfy the majority of  buyers.

     

    COMPARED to the BW P5 series 1. have chosen to compare these as they are both aesthetically pleasing to look at, price wise they seem to be in the same ballpark when new and they are meant to be for portable use with low impedance. BW P5's actually note that you should plug them in to your device without any external amps.

     

    DSCF1019.jpg   DSCF1021.jpg   DSCF1020.jpg

     
    Now the BW P5 has the one of the best build quality of headphones even by today's standards. If the Urbanites are and Audi, modern clean and sleek, the BW P5's are like the bespoke Rolls Royce. The BW P5's had an original retail price of $449 I believe in the Apple stores but can be had now for lower as a new version had come out a couple of years ago. Comfort wise, I’d give the nod to the P5's due to it being lighter and the way it just rests on top of your ears where all the pressure is shared on all the surfaces of your ears, unlike the urbanites, while called over ear, I do not find it large enough as the corners of my ear are somewhat forced in the opening and pinched. There are some really nice design touches too, such as the leather ear pads that are held onto the ear cups with magnets for easy replacement and the cable tunnel on the left ear cup presumable to counteract the sudden jerking of wires and can disconnect leaving you with an intact headphone most of the time.

     

    Now let’s get to Mariah's Angels Cry: First thing I noticed is the bass seemed fuller and more controlled and again goes lower and deeper. The soundstage seems to be wider on these as Im hearing echoes like she’s in a hall. The instruments are more spatially separate specially the piano which now seems to come from the right hand side and back abit. It’s just a more refined sound to me. Her voice gains another level of smoothness and lushness that the urbanites don’t seem to portray. The highs on the P5 certainly seem more smooth and resolving. The high hats and cymbals seems to have that extra air and sparkle about them.

     

    Here Without You: Three doors down: The metallic edge that I noticed in the Urbanites don’t seem to be as pronounced here on this track. It’s more smoother, which leads me to believe there could be a spike somewhere in the frequency graph of the Urbanites which could explain its metallic sounding overtones. Also I noticed another instrument that I couldn't quite hear on the urbanites, a tambourine or a maracas, not quite sure as it’s still pretty hard to make out due to the low quality file. Also the soundstage also appears to be wider to me overall. The lead vocals voice again has this extra level of smoothness and lushness that the Urbanites don’t have. Bass is more noticeable on the P5's on this track even more than the Urbanites but it’s the kind of bass I like.

     

    HED KANDI MIXED CD: Just general observations that the BW P5's just seem to be more smoother, resolving, vocals are more natural sounding and it’s just an overall bassier headphone. Soundstage I believe is generally wider on those tracks that have multiple instruments and vocals. That bass tho. Just more fun and controlled for me.

     

    OK: Now the pointy end of the stick. Would I buy one myself? YES but when the prices have come down as I think they have to recoup their research and development on these first. They are fine looking headphones, and the target market exists for these. And since the demographic is cashed up Gen Y'ers then yes I believe this product fills the brief. I don't think they're for more discerning ears but they are not that bad. There is room for improvement in the sound department but we move in a fast paced world and who knows? A second version may be around in  a year. 

      H20Fidelity, martybm5 and DJScope like this.
  6. d marc0
    Sennheiser's Got A New Beat!
    Written by d marc0
    Published Jan 30, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Well balanced sound and impressive looking pair of headphones for the young at heart!
    Cons - Lacks clamping force for smaller heads, can be a bit too heavy for everyday use, slightly unrefined treble.
    SENNHEISER URBANITE XL REVIEW
     
    Full sized headphones haven't been part of my usage options for quite some time now. I used to own a Sony MDR-1R but despite the excellent comfort and decent sound my interest wavered because I found IEMs to be more practical for my listening habits. Since then I have auditioned a number of headphones from different brands including Sennheiser, Audeze, Soundmagic, Hifiman, V-moda, Philips, Monster, Beats, etc... but none of them motivated me to desire owning one. 
     

     
    Sennheiser released their new Urbanite line-up which according to them delivers a unique style and an intense club sound by serving up massive bass. It’s also said to retain Sennheiser’s uncompromising audio expertise ensuring excellent clarity across all frequencies. This is quite a departure from the sound that Sennheiser is quite known for. Having heard a few HDxxx headphones, none them sounded close to the description of the Urbanite sound. The Momentum full sized headphones may have been closer to the sound preference of the mass market but it's still far off from being a "club sounding" headphone. This makes me wonder if they can pull-off a strong competitor in the Beats dominated headphone segment. Fortunately, Sennheiser is kind enough to lend a review unit giving me the opportunity to review the Urbanite XL as part for the Australian Tour. I’m not sure if this will rekindle my long lost interest in headphones but either way, it’ll be interesting to hear this new Sennheiser “club” sound.
     
    SETUP:  FiiO X1 > JDS Labs C5D
                   iMac 2011 > JDS Labs C5D
                   16/44 FLAC
     
    TEST TRACKS:
                  Dr. Chesky’s Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc
                  Tool - Lateralus
                  Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
                  Avicii - True
                  Pantera - The Best of
                  Sia - 1000 Forms of Fear
                  Lorde - Pure Heroine
     

     
    The Urbanite series of headphones have various colour schemes and come in two separate categories: the Urbanite is an on-ear portable headphone, while the XL is an over-the-ear headphone. The Urbanite XL is the bigger headphone but retains a striking similarity to the build and construction of the smaller Urbanite. I quite like how these headphones turned out despite the materials not looking as premium as the Momentum models. The headband is covered by a textured denim cloth with premium stitching and a subtle looking cushioning underneath which can be a concern for some because from the looks - it doesn't encourage the ideal comfort. Surprisingly I find the cushioning sufficient enough to relieve pressure from the top of my head. The hinge between the headband and ear cups is a folding mechanism and are made of metal that are very well constructed. The sliding adjustment system is well thought of providing ease in attaining the ideal fit unto one's head. The ear cushions are nice and smooth providing excellent comfort which is very important for long listening sessions. I really think that the Urbanite XL is quite stylish, very robust, and overall an impressive headphone for all-around use.
     

     
    In terms of comfort, the Urbanite XL is surprisingly comfortable despite the hefty weight. The design manages to distribute the weight around my head without putting too much pressure on certain areas. I was initially concerned about the padded rubber underneath the headband being too thin but it proved me wrong. I can listen to these headphones for hours at a time without any issues. The ear cups fit my ear really well although there's a possibility that elongated large ears can have issues due to the circular shape for the cups. 
     

     
    As for fit, it didn't really sit securely on my head because of the low clamping force. In addition to that, the left ear cup doesn't seem to seal that well on my ear whereas the right cup works perfectly. This could just be an isolated issue due to the contour of my jaw line but I reckon that a slight increase in clamping force could've fixed the issue. I could've tried bending the headband inwards but since this is not my personal pair, I didn't risk damaging the headphone.
     

     
    The included cable is a bit of a mixed bag for my personal use. I find it quite short especially for desktop usage and really didn’t like the tough rubbery plastic material despite the light-weight advantage. I did find the build to be quite robust especially the twist-to-lock mechanism at the headphone end of the cable. It’s also good for answering a call when paired with a cellphone, thanks to the remote which also contains a microphone, volume rocker, and play/pause button compatible to IOS devices.
     
     

     
     
    SOUND
    Putting the Urbanites XL on I anticipated a bombardment of massive bass slams. To my delight the overall sound signature is quite neutral with a hint of warmth. I didn't expect this after reading Sennheiser's promotional quotes for the new product. The Urbanite XL is still quite predisposed towards delivering bass to satisfy my EDM sessions, but they do it adequately without messing up the balance and dynamics in sound. Unlike most popular "BASS" headphones, the Urbanite XL produces good clarity from end to end of the frequency range and adds texture to the bass making it sound sound fuller at the same time.
     
    BASS has solid slam and impact with a bit of emphasis in the mid-bass. The mild boost in bass is done with subtlety resulting in good bass texture that is quite detailed and doesn’t bleed into the mids. The sub-bass extension is quite good and easily audible even down to 20hz. Unfortunately, the quality is not all that perfect because the decay/speed can be a little bit too slow for complex tracks such as the songs in Tool’s Lateralus album. Please don’t get me wrong, the bass is quite tight and punchy but sometimes the decay just hovers a bit too long for complex tracks. However, when playing the right tracks like the ones from Avicii and Sia the Urbanite XL’s bass performs really well. 
     
    MIDRANGE is lush, clear, and detailed which is really not a surprise if you’re familiar with the Sennheiser house sound. Vocals sound smoothened to my ears especially male voices giving an illusion that they’re singing quite far back in relation to the rest of the instruments. This is a good thing when playing modern music because it reduces the harsh edgy texture that is very common nowadays. Guitars sound really pleasant with natural timbre that is quite ideal for rock music. Overall, the midrange is sitting right in the neutral zone… nothing spectacular but no faults to find either.
     
    HIGHS can be an issue for some who are after a natural timbre. There’s an audible graininess in texture when listening to aggressive sounding genres like metal (Pantera) and poorly mastered tracks. Despite this limitation, the added sparkle and treble extension are tuned well, keeping a good balance with the rest of the frequency. Listening to well mastered albums such as Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, the Urbanite XL performs really well. The excellent clarity and detail are greatly appreciated as they provide a good sense of dynamics.
     
    IMAGING AND SOUNDSTAGE: Soundstage is surprisingly wide and expansive projecting an immersive musical presentation. What makes the Urbanite XL more special is the imaging capability; instruments are placed accurately within the soundstage negating any sign of congestion.
     

     
     
    COMPARISON: The Urbanite XL can be closely compared to the Sony MDR-1R. A
    lthough styled very differently, I find both headphones to be equally great looking. They both utilise materials that work to their advantage may it be for aesthetics or function. Both are built to last although I feel the XL has a slight advantage when taking a beating due to the materials used. Fit and comfort can be equal to some people but in my experience I find the Sony to fit more securely and comfortably. I reckon, it may have been a tie if the Urbanite XL was a bit lighter and had a bit more clamping force. In terms of sound, the Urbanite XL is more mature sounding than the MDR-1R. Bass is bit tighter and faster on the Sennheiser while the Sony has a bit of a roll-off in the sub-bass. Both have equally good mid-range but I seem to prefer the MDR-1R because of its vocal emphasis. Moving up the treble region, the Urbanite XL has a slight edge due to the neutral tuning whereas the Sony can be a bit sibilant at times. Soundstage and imaging are remarkably similar between the two.
     

     
     
    CONCLUSION: Sennheiser’s new take on sound with their Urbanite line-up is looking pretty good from my point of view. They have successfully ticked all the boxes that make up a great headphone for the young segment. Beats and Monster paved the way to this niche and it’s only natural for pioneers such as Sennheiser to follow suit. Personally, this new Sennheiser sound is still not what I’m looking for in a headphone but I do believe that the Urbanite XL will impress a lot of people. It can be a perfect companion to those who listen to various genres as long as they stick to well recorded albums.
     
    Special thanks to Sennheiser and @White Lotus for making this review possible.
      bigjim, Brooko, djvkool and 5 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. d marc0
      @agito isolation is better on the Sony in my experience. Contributing factors are the earpad material and clamping force.
      d marc0, May 9, 2016
    3. Agito
      Many thanks, d marc0.
      Agito, May 9, 2016
    4. Rafique Adzam
      How come the soundstage is not as good as how you described to be?
      Rafique Adzam, Dec 12, 2016
  7. DJScope
    A good competitor for the mainstream!
    Written by DJScope
    Published Jan 19, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Materials, aesthetics, feel, smooth listening.
    Cons - Comfort, cable, bass bloat.
    Before I start I want to thank @White Lotus for including me on this Australian product tour for the Sennheiser Urbanite XL.
     
     
    IMG_4111.jpg
    "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
    Impedance  ​
    18 Ω
    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")
    Transducer  ​
    Dynamic Driver

     
     

    Packaging

    IMG_4104.jpg     IMG_4115.jpg     IMG_4116.jpg
     
    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.
     

    Accessories

    IMG_4118.jpg
     
    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!

     
    IMG_4119.jpg     IMG_4122.jpg     IMG_4120.jpg
     
    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. 
     

    Design

    IMG_4123.jpg     IMG_4124.jpg     IMG_4127.jpg     IMG_4128.jpg
     
    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

    IMG_4125.jpg    IMG_4126.jpg
     
    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.
     

    Sound

     
    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.
     

    Bass

    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.
     

    Mids

    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.
     

    Treble

    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.
     
     

    Conclusion

    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.
     
    Cheers! [​IMG] 
    1. View previous replies...
    2. White Lotus
      Great review mate!
      White Lotus, Jan 19, 2015
    3. DJScope
      Cheers mate!
      DJScope, Jan 20, 2015
    4. Eguardos
      Do these deliver on massive bass? I would get these if they had some sub bass impact but it doesnt look like it.
      Eguardos, Mar 7, 2016
  8. gikigill
    The Antichr oops the Anti-Beats.
    Written by gikigill
    Published Jan 4, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sound,build quality, mids and treble.
    Cons - Need just a bit more sub-bass, better accessories for the price.
     
    Firstly Thanks to Sennheiser Australia and White Lotus for being kind enough to organize a tour for the Urbanite Xls in Australia. I already own the HD-25ii,CX685 and in the line for Momentum In-Ears to give a frame of reference. No, I am not a fan of the HD800, prefer the HE-6/TH900.
     
     
    Packaging: As always Senn gives a big box which is necessary to fit these. Its very high quality and reflects the pedigree and the price. The headphones come with a nylon bag to carry these around and that's about it. While a bit lacking for the price, the overall quality is a face-saver as I would have preferred a hard case, 3.5mm to 6.5mm adapt or and a second wire.
     
     
    DSC05817.jpg
     
     
    Build quality: The build quality of the Sennheiser is great with no creaks or loose ends. Nice finishing over all the surfaces and good quality pads to boot. The headphone overall exudes a very silent, a very confident feel and is sure to get attention. Being collapsible they can fit in tight spaces and the mechanism for the hinges is well damped and doesn't have any drama or sounds showing attention to detail. I expect these to last a loooong time if my HD-25 is anything to go by. The cable also feels well weighted and is detachable/flat which is always a plus if you lose it or want to upgrade a higher quality cable. The headband is well made and padded while the overall fit is very secure, well isolated and highly comfortable for hours of listening even on the move.
     
     
    DSC05825.jpg
     
     
    DSC05832.jpg
     
     
     
    DSC05833.jpg
     
     
     
    DSC05842.jpg
     
     
     
    Sound: The Urbanite is Sennheisers (high quality) version of Beats and as the headline says, its the Anti-Beats and here,s why.
     
    The overall sound signature is on the warmer sound of things and tuned for mainstream pop/hip-hop/EDM which means a V curve and strong bass. The bass while being a few db more than the rest of the spectrum is nicely controlled and has plenty of punch. Read on for a more detailed description of the sound spectrum.
     
    Bass: The Urbanite were definitely designed for a more consumer friendly and warm sound and they certainly wont be challenging the HD800 anytime soon. The bass is reasonably good and has plenty of definition and attack from a Phone/DAP but adding an amp/powerful DAP changes the equation completely and the Urbanites revel in the extra power. The punches hit harder, the attack gets quicker and the decay is snappier. The best part is that the bass always follows the music without interfering in it or becoming too boomy. There was just a slight hint of bass leaking in the mids but it would be tolerable at this level. One shortcoming of the bass were the very low end frequencies which the Urbanite simply refused to play no matter how much EQ or amping was provided. Maybe its a driver limitation or a limitation of the earcups is hard to say but it just seems to miss that very last octave. Listening to Trance with sub-bass information will reveal this characteristic as other cans I use handle those frequencies very well.
     
    Mids: The mids are typical of Sennheiser and very smooth and relaxing to listen to and here the Urbanite seems to be borrowing from its elder brothers, the HD650/800. They are very smooth and vocals sound just right without being shouty or harsh, a trait noticed in the above mentioned cans and a huge positive for the Urbanite and shows the family resemblance. Female vocals are very buttery and male vocals are well handled too. Looks like Sennheiser just couldn't avoid its habit and injected superb sounding mid range in whats supposed to be a semi-bass head cans. No complaints here.
     
    Treble: The treble on the Urbanites again is very well controlled with not a hint of sibilance and seems to follow Sennheisers tradition of providing just the right amount of sparkle and clarity to ensure the overall experience doesn't sound muddy while avoiding the sibilance pitfalls. The treble stays well isolated and has a little bit of sparkle and fast decay leading to a smooth sound overall. Its probably the main reason why the headphone is stopped from wandering into dark-sounding/veiled territory a la V-Moda M100.
     
    The test rig:
     
    DSC05851.jpg
     
    DSC05852.jpg
     
     
     
    Doesn't get much more portable than this.
     
    DSC05859.jpg
     
     
    To sum up the sound and the headphone overall its the Anti-Beats because Sennheiser actually made a product for its target audience that's well built and will go the distance, looks great but not garish, sounds fantastic for its intended audience and is a product for mature/fashionable adults. Reverse these attributes and what do you get? Poor build, garish looks, so-so sound, teenage (or mentally teenage) audience i.e Beats.(Come at me Bro[​IMG])
     
    Not having a go at the Beats but the Sennheiser is simply more refined,more mature overall and reflects its Teutonic parentage. Sennheiser set out to make a Beats but ended up in exactly the opposite direction and that's not a bad thing at all. Chuck in a few more accessories worth maybe $10, a bit more sub-bass and the Urbanite could be close to portable nirvana for most of us.
      trellus likes this.
    1. wahsmoh
      I almost bought a pair of these but I have an outstanding pair of closed cans already so I bit the bullet and bought myself a Bose QC25 cause I wanted the noise cancelling ability. It would be neat if Sennheiser made an Urbanite XL ANC
      wahsmoh, Jan 4, 2015
  9. Loquah
    Sennheiser Urbanite XL - Sexy, Rugged and Punchy
    Written by Loquah
    Published Dec 8, 2014
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Enjoyable sound, excellent imaging, good sized soundstage for a closed headphone, brilliant looking, feels high quality
    Cons - A bit bulky, sound can be a bit artificial, mid-bass boost can sound a bit loose, cable seems cheap

    Overview

     
    The Urbanite XL is a new addition to the Sennheiser range and was offered to me for review by Head-Fi user, White Lotus, as part of an Australian review tour made possible by Sennheiser so thank you to ‘Lotus’ and Sennheiser for making this possible.
     
    I’m not sure what the plans are for the Urbanite (on ear) and Urbanite XL (over ear) models – they may be intended to replace the existing Momentum range or they may be intended to offer an alternate style of headphone and therefore be a completely separate line so I’ll review them without any direct comparison to the Momentum range.
     
    Throughout this review I’ve been lazy and just typed “Urbanite” each time, but please know that I am always referring to the XL (over ear) model. I haven’t tried the on-ear model.
     

    Specifications

    1. Driver:  Dynamic
    2. Cable:  2.5mm to 3.5mm with locking system on headphone and inline mic / controls
    3. Frequency response:  16 – 22,000 Hz
    4. Impedance: 18 ohms
     
    The Urbanite XL comes in 6 colour variants (I had the Olive ones to review and photograph) and retails for between $300-400 here in Australia.
     

    Design & Comfort

     
    [​IMG]The Urbanites are meant to be a portable, rugged, urban headphone and their design hits this brief in almost every way – they are built like a tank, but wrapped in luxurious feeling (and looking) materials and the end result is both stylish and robust.
     
    The cups are made from quality plastics and have nice accents to provide a sense of style. The tour models are the olive colour scheme and they look fantastic thanks to a slightly pearlescent finish that throws different tones of the green-brown variety depending on the light and angle.
     
    The hinged sections of the headband / cup mounts are solid metal which is painted to suit the colour scheme and the headband is wrapped in denim on the outside and a nice, soft, padded rubber material on the underside.
     
     
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]Little touches and flourishes abound on the Urbanites in areas like the beautifully finished inside of the hinges, the entry points for the signal cable where it runs from the headband into the cups, and the connection between the cups and the headbands. Everything has been meticulously styled to perfection, but without pretension. The Urbanites don’t look showy, they just look quality.
     
    All of this would mean nothing if the Urbanites weren’t comfortable to wear, but the good news is that they’re super comfy. The earpads are firm, but forgiving and strike a good balance of keeping the cups away from the ears while still being soft and plush on the side of the head. The headband is also very comfortable for reasonably long sessions so the Urbanite designers definitely struck the perfect balance of form and function here.
     

    Cable

     
    [​IMG]Unlike the headphone itself, the Urbanites cable is strikingly ordinary. It’s a flat cable with decent connectors (2.5mm 4-pole), a simple locking system at the headphone end, and an iDevice compatible volume control / microphone. What stands out is how plastic and lightweight (in a not so good way) it feels. Sure, it does an adequate job, but seems in contrast with the quality and precision level that’s gone into the rest of the headphones.
     

    Folding & Portability

     
    [​IMG]This is the other area that I’m not sold on with the design of the Urbanites. They come with a high quality, soft carry pouch and they do fold, but the folded size of them is still huge for a portable device. You’ll have trouble fitting these into a messenger bag unless they’re all you’re carrying with maybe just a wallet and phone to go with them.
     
    I don’t know that there’s any other way the folding could have been accomplished (and I’m guessing that Sennheiser’s designers would be more than capable of finding the best possible solution), but the end result is a bumpy, bulky bag full of headphones so I’m not sure how portable these really are.
     

    Compatibility

     
    The Urbanites have low enough impedance and high enough sensitivity to easily produce good volume levels from almost any device. The impedance is getting into troubling territories for some poorly designed sources, but as a headphone designed primarily for use with iPhones and the like, the Urbanites are right on the money and also pair beautifully with quality DAPs and portable amps, but are also quite comfortable on a desktop rig (as long as the output impedance isn’t crazily high)
     

    Sound

     
    On first listen, the sound from the Urbanites shows a bell-like clarity and image that’s quite beguiling. As the listening session continues though, some subtleties of the sound begin to become more obvious with varying impacts on the musical experience.
     

    Bass

     
    The bass from the Urb[​IMG]anites is really solid with excellent extension. There’s good sub-bass rumble, but it’s not lifted at all so it’ll only show up in tracks that really command it – I’d describe it as neutral sub-bass, but fully extended. Further up into the bass range it sounds to me like there’s a bit of a mid-bass bump – nothing to extreme, but enough to bring some extra fun and engagement to the music. Unfortunately though, the extra fun comes at a cost with the Urbanites. On some tracks where tight, controlled bass is needed the sound can get just a tiny bit flabby. Now, I need to emphasise that it is a small amount of bass flab – like the results of a week of bad eating – not excessive flab – like a lifelong obsession with McDonalds burgers.
     
    What this means for the Urbanites is that on some tracks they sound tight, punchy and awesome, but on some other tracks (or certain sections of the same track) they can become just a little bit unnatural in the bass. For example, on “All These People” from Harry Connick, Jr.’s album, My New Orleans, the Urbanites start off sounding sublime with the tight, authoritative punches from the kick bass, but as the other instruments join the fun the bass becomes a little incoherent and muddy to the point that individual bass sounds become hard to differentiate. I wonder if this is a sign of some reflections or interference in the bass frequencies within the cups.
     

    Mid-Range

     
    The Urbanites have a really clear and clean mid-range that I love, but it can sound a bit recessed which is both a benefit and a handicap. The sense of distance between the listener and the mids means that the Urbanites have a very open sound for a closed headphone, in fact they excel in this regard, but the overall sound can be a little hollow and disengaging at times because the mids are too far away.
     
    Other than the mids feeling a little recessed they are very smooth and clean with good speed and texture. The mid-bass lift makes the sound seem like it is slightly emphasised towards the upper mids and that creates a slight dryness to the sound of vocals and mid-range instruments, but not in a bad way – it just makes them sound very clean and neutral with lots of breath and texture at the upper ends of the mid-range register as we cross over into the territory of the treble.
     

    Treble

     
    The treble on the Urbanites is emphasised towards the lower treble and it creates that sense of dryness and clarity where it meets up with the mids as discussed above, but it also creates a slightly artificial character to the sound which is intriguing and enjoyable for its own sake, but prevents the Urbanites from being completely engaging at all times because they’re not quite natural.
     
    Treble extension is good, but sounds like it rolls off towards the top to prevent fatigue and the balance between extension and sharpness is balanced well with no fatigue, but also no sense of veil to my ears.
     

    Staging & Imaging

     
    [​IMG]The staging and imaging of the Urbanites is exceptional. They create an amazing sense of space around the listener’s head and place instruments incredibly well around that spacious stage. As I mentioned earlier, there is definitely a bell-like clarity to the Urbanites and it comes from the way they place sounds in the stage and keep everything clearly defined and separated. This leads to an excellent sense of detail retrieval and accuracy across all instruments placed in and around your head.
     
    The stage extends well in all directions going slightly beyond the ears and slightly forward. Interestingly, it sounds to me like the soundstage sits higher in the centre than on the sides. For example vocalists seem to be up in my forehead area while instruments to the left and right are more in line with my ear canals. It’s not off-putting because it all runs together coherently, but made for an interesting observation while I was listening.
     

    Quick and Dirty Comparison

     
    While trying to come to grips with the Urbanite XL’s sound I decided to compare them to a couple of other “competitors” in my stable. My fiancée also got in on the act as a bias-free test subject – thanks Lisa!
     
    The two other contenders were the budget classic Alessandro MS-1 and the small, but surprising Thinksound On1. The MS-1s are way cheaper than the Urbanites, are open and therefore offer no isolation of outside noise, and they’re super basic, less comfortable, and look pretty average. The On1s sport some sexy wooden cups, but are slightly let down by their plastic headband parts and hinges. They’re also an on-ear which is inherently less comfortable for longer sessions.
     

    Comparison Conclusions

     
    Moving from the Urbanites to the On1s is like going from a great recording to a live performance. The extra warmth and body from the On1s makes for a more enveloping and relaxing listening experience whereas the Urbanites are a more exciting, but potentially artificial experience. Some people may find the On1s too smooth compared to the Urbanites though, so it’s important to factor personal taste into this equation and while my personal tastes are for the On1, yours may be different.
     
    Next up were the MS-1s which are less refined than either of the other headphones, but bring an up-front, lifelike feel with a more forward sound than either the On1s or Urbanites. They can’t compete on bass with either headphone and are an open, non-isolating design so they’re not very good for noisy environments. Despite being a cheaper, simpler headphone they sound great with the style of sound they present. I would probably err towards the Urbanites here because they’re closed, have great bass and are incredibly well designed and styled, but Lisa preferred the sound of the MS-1s over both the On1s and Urbanites which goes to show that this is a very personal decision. In the end you wouldn’t go wrong with any of these headphones in general terms, but some may find that there are preferable alternatives to the Urbanites for the same cost or less.
     
    What really stood out to me in this comparison is that the Urbanite XL has a very specific sound that some will love and some may find a bit artificial. There’s no question that the overall quality of the sound is excellent, but the presentation may or may not be your cup of tea.
     

    Summary

     
    [​IMG]As I was writing this, “Pá Lante” by Ozomatli came on and showcased every aspect of the Urbanites in one track. It started with amazing, accurate sub-bass performance leading to some clear and accurate instrumentals and vocals offset against some slightly over-emphasised percussion and some slightly over-blown mid-bass. As the track died away towards the end I heard crazy-good imaging as the bass receded and I was left with the achingly sweet mid-range and perfect imaging of acoustic instruments and ambient sounds of the crowd.
     
    The Urbanites bring a mixed bag that’s at times exceedingly enjoyable and flat out awesome while at other times reminding you that you’re listening to a recording and not necessarily fully engaged in the experience of the music. Even at their worst, the Urbanites are very, very good, but a little bit of balance in the form of less upper-mid / lower-treble lift and some tighter control over the mid-bass would have created an epically good headphone. Do check these out if your in the market for a semi-portable, closed, over-ear headphone and you like an energetic, but non-fatiguing sound.
      Brooko, djvkool, d marc0 and 3 others like this.
    1. Eguardos
      I thought they were gonna go a little further overboard after the bass. Im looking for something bass heavy for my first pair of full size cans. Would i be satisfied by the bass coming from a bassy ~50 USD sennheiser iem? Or should i look elsewhere
      Eguardos, Mar 7, 2016
  10. Rackhour
    Comfortable and aurally pleasing!
    Written by Rackhour
    Published Nov 17, 2014
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sturdy, decently priced, subtle but pleasant aesthetics, great listening experience
    Cons - Accessories are basic, questionable parts availability, may not have a strong grip
    A notice before I begin my review:
    Unlike a fair number of members on this forum, I'm comparatively very ignorant when it comes to fidelity audio, so unless I come around and modify my review, my explanations may be highly subjective or somewhat lacking. Please keep that in mind as you read through.
     
    Change log:
    Nov. 17, 2014 - Initial review
     
    Review and reviewer background:
    As mentioned earlier, I am not very knowledgeable in terms of audio fidelity. The Urbanite XL is not my first pair of headphones; my first-ever pair of cans was the Shure SRH440, and while I liked the sound, I noticed that it wasn't very comfortable. A fair bit of this review may hold some kind of comparison with those headphones indirectly. 
     
    I originally wanted to get the V-Moda M-100, but when I went to a reseller here in Korea, I noticed the Urbanite XL and tried it. I was motivated to get it partially because I liked what I heard, and also partially because the shop had a promotion where anyone who bought the Urbanite XL would get a Sennheiser MM55i for free with it. It so happened that I also wanted a new pair of IEMs, so I felt this was a good deal. Simply put, I don't regret the purchase one bit.

     
    Packaging:
     
    2014-11-16.jpg
     
    The box is nothing out of the ordinary; the headphones are prominently featured with the trademark blue bar on the bottom with the Sennheiser logo. 
     
    2014-11-16.jpg  


    Once you unbox the package, you see the headphones proper and a soft carrying case. Underneath the case is the detachable cable. You have the option of buying the XL with a three-button inline mic for iOS devices, or a one-button inline mic for Android devices. To my knowledge, these headphones are not sold with a non-mic cable. 
     
    Here, I was a little downed personally because after seeing what the V-Moda offers in terms of accessories (hard case, three-button mic, one-button mic, non-mic), this seemed like an afterthought on Sennheiser's part. Then again, the Urbanite XL is $250 retail while the M-100 is $300. 
     
    (I wrote that my purchase price is $310. That is the retail price of these headphones in Korea, so unless you're reading this in Korea, disregard the price.)
     
    Aesthetics and construction:
     
    71YrYNBEVHL._SL1426_.jpg
    (picture from Amazon's page)
     
    IMG_0010.jpg
    (raw picture of the headphones in subpar lighting taken with an iPhone 4S)
     
    unnamed.jpg
    (picture with effects added to reflect what I feel are the true colors.)
     
    Here is where things get extremely subjective. I feel that despite the stigma of the Beats headphones and earphones, I feel at the very least, they deserve credit for triggering competitors to give headphones a visual makeover. I was personally tired of all-black headphones, and I wanted a pair that could do double duty of giving me a pleasant listening experience as well as looking nice with my clothes. Note, I'm no fashionista who follows trends very closely, but I like to take a little bit of time to make myself look presentable. To that note, I was attracted to the mix of the red border and the navy blue top, and the beige denim-like band. I felt this was a very nice color combination that doesn't make the Urbanite XL stand out like the Beats does. 
     
    Construction-wise, these are some very sturdy headphones. Some kind of hard plastic makes up most of the headphones, but there is evidence of metal being used for the band. I also noticed (and you can spot it on the Amazon stock photo) that the cabling that connects the speaker parts is covered up with a thick layer of rubber. Aspects like this give me confidence that unless I start chucking the XL at the hard on purpose or act clumsy, these headphones will stand wear and tear much longer than others. 
     
    The detachable cable plugs into the hole seen above, and as a nice touch, you need to twist it a little to fasten it. Once it's fastened, short of damaging your headphones, there's no way to detach it. 
     
    The pads are very soft to the touch, but they do warm up after a bit. How much they warm up, I cannot exactly say as winter is coming. What I can say for sure is that in weather between 3-10 degrees Celsius, my ears feel just warm enough - not hot and sweaty and not cold. I wore these headphones in a bus that had minimal heating for about an hour, and I didn't feel stifled or bothered in the least.
     
    Fit:
     
    2014-11-16.jpg
    (self-censored selfie of me wearing the headphones)
     
    For an Asian, I have a pretty big head. I have trouble buying hats here, and those that fit me say that they are sized to fit heads with up to a 62cm circumference. That said, I can easily put these headphones on after fully extending the cans. 
     
    As for extended listening, these headphones do not bother me in the slightest. According to Amazon, these headphones weight 1.6 pounds, and while my old Shure weighed 1.5 pounds, I experienced pain on the top of my head after extended listening, forcing me to take them off for a break. With the Urbanite XL, however, I have worn them for stretches of 3 to 4 hours, and I have felt ZERO discomfort or pain. Ever. And I have no idea why, maybe the Amazon numbers are wrong, but these headphones feel like they weigh so much less than the Shures. 
     
    Listening experience:
     
    When there's no music on, and you're just wearing the headphones, there's some degree of noise isolation, which I found pleasantly surprising. Once you turn on music, even at moderate volumes, you are easily able to block out the world outside of you. This is great when you're sitting still, but I strongly recommend you watch yourself if you walk on the streets. 
     
    Sound quality:
     
    [​IMG]
    (X Japan - Art of Life - one song I used to base my comments regarding sound quality. Genre: symphonic metal, J-rock, visual kei)
     
    I went with this massive-length song for the review because the song has numerous loud and quiet moments, as well as a wide array of instruments from electric guitars and rock drums to pianos and strings. That way, I could also observe more closely how the instruments changed from one part to another in a gapless manner.
     
    Having said that, let's review Sennheiser's market-speak for these headphones, straight from its product page: "an intense club sound on the move" and "massive bass but with Sennheiser’s uncompromising audio expertise ensuring excellent clarity across all frequencies"
     
    In my uninformed opinion, at least for this song, while the intense club sound part didn't apply, I felt that the second tagline definitely did apply. In this song's portions where the metal doesn't kick in (0:00 to 2:58, and 15:23 to 24:00ish), there definitely was no indication that the bass was overwhelming the strings and piano rendition respectively. The strings and piano sounded beautiful and lulling to my ears. During the rock portions (other areas besides those mentioned), I could clearly pick up on the different individual instruments and I could take the time to marvel each instrument. However, what I felt was that regarding that tag line, Sennheiser may have been a little too uncompromising because while the drums were still easily audible, the bass drum thumps were still subtle. Noticeable, audible, but subtle. It's definitely nothing like Sony's XB series in that regard.
     
    So for something a little more "clubby"...
     
    [​IMG]
    (Skrillex - Bangarang. Genre: Moombathon - according to Wiki at least...)
     
    Compared to Art of Life, this song has much more bass to begin with, and I realized that the Urbanite XL really shined. Here, I felt that both taglines applied in spades. It seemed that the Urbanite XL "amplified" the song, in a manner of speaking. The bass was more noticeable, and it felt like my ears were "thumping" for lack of a better term. However, despite that, the other instruments were still very much audible, and not muffled much. 
     
    [​IMG]
    (BeForU - I am... Genre: Pop-rock fusion)
     
    This song is somewhat similar to Art of Life in which there are non-rock portions interspersed with rock elements. Where it differs is that the rock parts are more emphasized with wider ranges. Here, I felt the Urbanite XL shined as well. The bassy parts like the drums pounded, but the trebles and mids like the vocals, guitars and other instruments were still very much audible, though it seemed at certain parts, they felt a tad bit overwhelmed. 
     
    Miscellaneous details:
     
    One thing I was somewhat unhappy about was that there (at least for now) doesn't seem to be any way to buy spare detachable cables. On top of that, even though the plugs are all standard size (2.5mm for the headphone, 3.5mm for the audio source), the plugs are narrow enough that I may have to rely solely on Sennheiser for replacement cables. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, but if someone helpfully points me to the right direction, or if I stumble on something, I will gladly update this part. 
     
    Conclusion:
     
    The impression I got with the Urbanite XL is that they almost seem like two headphones in one. When I play non-bassy songs, the trebles and mids resonate well without sounding tinny, and when bass is thrown in, the bass alter ego emerges, but at the same time, not overwhelmingly. I feel like I bought two headphones for the price of one. 
     
    To sum up my experience with the Urbanite XL, firstly, I'm not returning these. I'm very happy with my purchase despite any kind of misgiving I may have implied by accident. Sure, these may not be the holy grail of headphones, but for the price point, they are worth the mettle. 
    1. Jeff Y
      Where did you buy this? Just curious because I'm living in Seoul atm and you also said they retail M-100.
      Jeff Y, Nov 18, 2014
    2. Rackhour
      I should have mentioned that the V-Moda retail price is based on their website, which is based in the US. 
       
      As for where I bought my Urbanite XL, I picked them up at a-shop in Times Square, Yeongdeungpo. The shop set up both the on-ear Urbanite and the over-ear XL models, so you can give them a shot if you wish.
      Rackhour, Nov 19, 2014