Urbanista Los Angeles

MSRP $199.00

“As long as you spend plenty of time in the sun, the Urbanista Los Angeles solar-powered headphones will free you from recharging.”


  • Solar charging actually works
  • Secure match
  • Real-time energy meter in app
  • Huge 80-hour battery


  • Only works beneath optimum situations
  • No EQ changes

Urbanista’s $199 Los Angeles — the very first set of solar-powered wi-fi headphones — are right here. And, sure, they do certainly cost themselves when uncovered to gentle, each pure and electrical. But what’s it like to make use of them and simply how a lot gentle do they want? We tried ’em out to see.

Power meter

Urbanista makes a number of fashions of wi-fi headphones and true wi-fi earbuds, however the firm by no means felt the necessity to create a companion app for iOS or Android. With their easy operation, there was arguably no want for an app. But whenever you determine to promote the world’s first set of solar-powered headphones, you really want a technique to present individuals how that complete photo voltaic factor works. So Urbanista created its first cell app, and it’s, ahem, sensible.

Once you’ve related the Los Angeles to your telephone through Bluetooth, the app allows you to flip to a display that accommodates an enormous energy gauge. On the left facet of the gauge, in yellow, is the quantity of energy the headphones are slurping up from the ambient gentle. On the correct, in purple, is the quantity of energy the cans are consuming.

In a really perfect world, there can be a continuing stability between the yellow (your acquire) and the purple (your drain), in order that if you happen to began your day with a full battery, that’s precisely the way you’d finish the day. You may then, in concept, repeat that balancing act day by day and by no means have to plug the Los Angeles right into a charger.

Mad canine and Englishmen

Urbanista Los Angeles.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Alas, and as you may need guessed, that’s simpler mentioned than completed. Noel Coward famously wrote that solely mad canine and Englishmen exit within the noon solar, and if you happen to subscribe to that conduct, too, not solely will you retain the battery from draining, you may really find yourself harvesting extra energy than you expend. But except that describes a typical day for you, you’re extra prone to break even, or find yourself in an influence deficit. That’s as a result of the Los Angeles’ photo voltaic panel — completely disguised inside a totally normal-looking headband — wants a whole lot of direct gentle.

As I kind this in my dwelling workplace, I’m sitting about three ft immediately beneath a light-weight fixture powered by a single 100-watt-equivalent LED bulb. And whereas the frosted glass of the lightshade diffuses the sunshine sideways, the underside of the shade is definitely a transparent lens, which if something, concentrates the quantity of sunshine being aimed immediately at my head. Still, the Urbanista app reveals that the Los Angeles is barely capable of syphon 0.1 mA of energy, whereas the headphone’s energy necessities sit at 2.3 mA. In different phrases, I’m consuming 23 instances extra energy than I’m absorbing.

Urbanista Los Angeles being held under a light fixture.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

It might be worse. Right now, I’m not utilizing the Los Angeles’ lively noise cancellation (ANC) or ambient sound modes, and I’m not listening to any music. If I have been to activate these options, the drain would bounce as much as 7.5 mA, or as a lot as 10 mA, relying on my chosen quantity stage, and so forth. At that price, the headphones’ impressively massive 80-hour battery capability would final precisely 80 hours and no extra.

To considerably improve the quantity of energy being absorbed, I needed to maintain the headphones immediately beneath the sunshine, and even then, the ability meter indicated I used to be barely working on a break-even foundation.

None of this can be a critique of the Los Angeles or its Powerfoyle photo voltaic expertise — I don’t know of any photo voltaic panel that might present considerably extra energy from the identical quantity of floor space. But it’s a reminder that Urbanista’s promise of “virtually infinite playtime” ought to be seen as extra aspirational than absolutely achievable. Still, it’s price noting that on a vibrant October day in Toronto, I used to be capable of go for a 45-minute stroll with ANC on and tunes enjoying at 50% quantity, and after I returned (after making a little bit of an effort to remain on the sunny facet of the streets), I had precisely the identical quantity of battery time remaining as after I set out.

Sunny sounds

Urbanista Los Angeles seen next to Urbanista Miami.Urbanista Los Angeles (left) and Urbanista Miami. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Urbanista primarily based the Los Angeles on its Miami wi-fi headphones, and the 2 fashions share extra than simply seems to be. Their sound signature may be very shut, with excellent readability throughout frequencies and with a barely bass-forward strategy that lends itself properly to beat-heavy tracks.

I actually like that Urbanista has discovered a technique to preserve this stability all through the quantity vary. There’s no distortion as you close to the highest of the dial and. so long as you’re in a quiet location, even the decrease quantity ranges provide good total sound high quality.

Of course, if you happen to don’t like the best way the Los Angeles have been tuned, there’s not a lot you are able to do. Despite creating the app for these cans, Urbanista hasn’t included any EQ changes.

But one large change from the Miami to the Los Angeles is Urbanista’s resolution to take away the three.5mm analog enter jack from the correct earcup. Perhaps extra room was wanted for the Los Angeles’ larger battery, or possibly it was a cost-saving measure. Regardless of the rationale, it’s a wierd selection for a set of cans which might be meant to maintain you free from the fear of working out of energy. Should you in some way find yourself depleting the 80-hour battery, the dearth of a an analog enter means no extra tunes till you discover some solar, or an influence outlet.

Stays put

Man wearing Urbanista Los Angeles.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

One of my favourite facets of the Los Angeles is how securely they keep in place. I’ve obtained a fairly small head, and I discover that some headphones merely don’t clamp strongly sufficient to maintain them from shifting round. But the Los Angeles are impressively secure and didn’t budge all the time I used to be sporting them. I don’t suggest figuring out with full-size headphones, but when that’s your factor, the Los Angeles will fortunately hold you firm.

The solely factor lacking within the consolation division is extra room to your ears. The ear cushions are deceiving: They wrap round a giant part of the the earcups, making them look plush and deep. But they’re really extremely shallow, with only some millimeters to your ears. Over time, I discovered this created stress factors.

The controls are straightforward to entry, with buttons set on on the facet of every earcup the place your thumbs can discover them rapidly. However, the play/pause, quantity up/down, and observe skip controls on the correct earcup are very small, very shut collectively, and fairly tough to tell apart by really feel. I don’t know the way you’d use them with gloves on.

Decent ANC

Urbanista Los Angeles.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The finest noise-canceling headphones can all however eradicate exterior sounds, however don’t anticipate this stage of efficiency from the Los Angeles. Think of it as a substitute as noise discount. When engaged, ANC takes the sting off of these annoying background seems like site visitors or the regular drone of a fan or airplane engine. But it’s solely a reprieve from the very lowest frequencies — the upper pitches will nonetheless get via.

Transparency mode (or ambient sound as Urbanista refers to it) is equally efficient — it undoubtedly brings within the outdoors world, however can’t fairly kill the feeling that you simply’re nonetheless sporting headphones.

My largest critique right here is that the Urbanista app allows you to determine if the ANC button will cycle ANC on and off, ambient sound on and off, or cycle via ANC on > ambient on > each off. But you possibly can’t set it to easily bounce forwards and backwards between ANC on and ambient on, that are arguably the 2 most necessary settings.

Fine for calls

Urbanista Los Angeles.

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Urbanista Los Angeles.

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Urbanista Los Angeles.

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Urbanista Los Angeles.

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

As with most full-size headphones, name high quality is fairly good. It’s not stellar, however completely satisfactory for speaking, even in reasonably noisy environments. At instances, the environmental noise cancellation circuits can drop your voice’s quantity because it makes an attempt to hush the opposite sounds, however this may solely be an issue if you happen to insist on taking calls at busy intersections.

Who are they for?

The Los Angeles are primarily a great set of wi-fi headphones that occur to have a photo voltaic panel constructed into the headscarf. If you spend most of your listening time outside, in sunny and even partially overcast situations, you’ll reap the promised advantages of limitless energy. But for many of us, that profit might be fleeting at finest: We might not should plug the headphones in fairly as usually (particularly given the spectacular 80-hour battery), however we’ll nonetheless have to plug them in. Is that well worth the $50 premium that Urbanista fees over the same $149 Miami? Sun-seekers would most likely say sure.

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