Now, I do have a slight confession to make, considering I am never further than arms reach away from some form of mp3-playing device – such is my need for an accompanying soundtrack to anything i do – I have never been one to invest in a pair of headphones. Shoot me, I know. It’s a cardinal sin, really. I’ve always made do with the ones that come with my phone or cheap pair I can get – usually because I then use the same pair for the gym, too. It’s just getting worse, isn’t it? So, in light of this, I was super excited to get the chance to try out Sennheriser’s new Urbanite XL over-ear headphones.

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The Urbanite XL’s are the big brother of the on-ear Urbanbites, but look identical. Getting to try these couldn’t have come at a better time. I had been thinking it was time to invest n some decent over-ear headphone, especially seeing tha I was about to embark on a 24hour long-haul flight to Australia. But I just didn’t know which way to go. I’ve always been an in-ear kinda guy (that sounds really dodgy, doesn’t it?), but the problem with that is a sever case of ear fatigue are having them in for a few hours. So I was super excited when my new Urbanite XL’s arrived at the door.

Style vs. Substance

Along side their predecessor, the Momentum series, the Urbanite sees Sennheiser’s continuing journey into the ‘lifestyle headphone’ market – an up-and-coming market that’s hungry for quality in design as well as quality in sound that will appease the harshest of audiophiles. It’s an area that’s lately been lead by the behemoth that is Beats, but it’s strongest competitors in the superior audio sector are starting to take a piece of the pie.

Aesthetically, the Urbanite headphones are a handsome bit of kit – robust and mature while still being slick and modern – there’s a real functionality to the design with a utilitarian feel throughout. The Urbanite’s are available in a range of colours, and I obviously went for black!

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The Urbanite XL, like its little brother, are made mainly of plastic, but that doesn’t compromise on the quality of build. With metal hinges, they feel sturdy, as well as being super flexible!  The head strap has a rubberized under panel with a fabric top – that’s the fashion-led design coming in. The replaceable ear pads are made from a soft velour and are really comfortable – as a circumaural design, you’d expect them to be pretty loaded but the Urbanite is surprisingly un-heavy. The Urbanite XL are so comfortable, I can’t stress it enough – I used them for my entire flight to Australia, for movies and music and it was just brilliant, everything I had hoped for.

There’s then a long, flat auxiliary cable with a twist-lock fastening. It also has a three-button remote with in-built microphone, making the Urbanites great for use with phones – it works with both iOS and Android. The remote is oddly large, but isn’t a hinderance.

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As for sound quality – I’m obviously not basing this on masses of comparisons as, like I said, I haven’t been known for using quality headphones – but I honestly felt like I was hearing my music again for the first time. The audio performance of the Urbanite XL is dynamic – the bass is proportionedmto a well-balanced, crisp mid-range – it’s strong enough to get the heart thumping on heavy dance tracks, but doesn’t compromise on the lyrics for ballad lovers. My music tastes range of classical composers to contemporary RnB, Dubstep, pop, and alternative and I found that the Urbanite XL held it’s own every time.

Another thing that’s great about the XL is that the over-ear design offers amazing isolation against passive noise. I use them everyday on the morning commute – and the London Underground is LOUD. But with these on I am in my own little world. I used them again heading to Mexico with equal success. Travelling can be stressful, but having something like this to cut you off from the world a little really helps calm you down, it helped drown out the plane’s humming.

The Urbanite XL folds up nice and neat for easy storage when travelling – the only thing is that it just comes with a skimpy travel bag, which I can’t see protecting them much.

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I’ve had the Urbanites for near 6 months now, and I can only pin point a couple of issues – a rather awkward oversight in design means, when unfolding the Urbanite XL, it’s very easy to trap fingers in the hinge and it really hurts. Like, there will be tears. I have also found that the height adjuster on one side is sticking a little, but it doesn’t interfere with my experience.

Overall the Sennheiser Urbanite XL is a superior piece of kit, and they come in a a competitive price as well at around £200 (£150 for the on-ear Urbanites).

Totally recommended.

Get your Urbanite headphones at Sennheiser.com

 

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Written by Neil Thornton
London-based coffee drinker. Editor by day, blogger by whatever time he finds spare.