The Sennheiser Urbanite

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The first thing you notice about the Urbanite when you pick it up is the build. The styling of the review unit I received was markedly unique and its execution felt very intentional. The band is wrapped with a cool stitched canvas and the ear cup paint finish matches the color scheme with precision. There is even a white trim at the point where the ear pads connect to the cups. The entire presentation is very well put together.

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One cannot help but draw similarities between the Urbanite and its popular competitor Beats. Similar in size, shape and folding capabilities, the Beats Solo 2 is an easy sample to compare against. The internal coating of the headband feels as if it could be made of nearly the same material, however the rest of the construction feels like a solid step up by comparison. The adjustment sliders on either side of the ear cup move with a nice resistance and suede feel of the pad material is a good touch as well. While I didn’t have the time to road test the hinge 1000+ times, it did seem to be a sturdy and well thought out folding mechanism.

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I also didn’t mind the pseudo-plastic headband padding. It seems to do well for head grease cleanup and the like while still providing enough cushion for comfortable long range listening sessions. Even the internal connecting cables are covered by a rubber-like coating presumably designed to keep out moister and sweat as well. At 260g the headphone isn’t the lightest I’ve ever reviewed, but feels manageable overall and still a quite a bit lighter than many of the magnet-laden planer magnetic audiophile headphones currently on the market (Sennheiser’s HD 650 audiophile headphone is the same weight).

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The clamping pressure is not overdone and feels comfortable for the on-ear design of the headphone. The included accessories involve a nice, short-length, flat-style, tangle-resistant cable with media controls. The package includes a carrying bag, but not a hard shell case like the one that comes standard with the Beats Solo 2.

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As with most of the Beats-style voicing, the Urbanite is bass heavy. Pretty far from neutral, the execution is noticeable but not extremely overbearing. Compared to the Beat Solo 2 the quantity of bass is nearly the same, but the collective delivery is tighter with a little more punch to it. Listening to Dire Straight’s Sultan’s of Swing it was possible to discern just a little more thump to the bass drum from the Urbanite. While the bass guitar was moved to the forefront on both ‘phones, the Sennheiser kept it slightly cleaner and more defined within the elevation. Of the three ranges of frequency response, it seemed clear that bass was the biggest performer for the headphone. Once you got past the mild inflation it was a fun headphone to jam with. The mids did feel a little laid back in the mix, as vocals were not even as forward as the Solo 2. By comparison the Beats felt slightly boosted in the upper mid section. While not quite as far reaching as the audiophile HiFiMAN He-560 headphone, treble extension did feel on par with headphones in this price range. The Urbanite also demonstrated a very natural presentation to the highs, giving cymbals solid impact without too much of an uncomfortable edge.

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Summary

Overall the Sennheiser Urbanite is a very comfortable headphone to wear. Its discrete styling and upscale build make it feel sturdier and more civilized than the Beats Solo 2. Given a choice, I would pick the Urbanite on comfort levels. Bass dominates its frequency construction, something it does very well for those who appreciate a little more at that end of the spectrum. Low-end slam and shove are surprisingly mature for $200, making the headphone extremely fun to listen to for that visceral, heart-pounding kick. Animated music is responsive and entertaining to consume. While the mids don’t stick out as far as the audiophile ruler may benchmark, they don’t appear crowded by the low end. If you are a bass lover, the Urbanite may hit your mark. Its construct and design definitely pay a tribute to its namesake, making it an interesting contender for commuters and other phone-sourced applications. If bass and mobility are important to you, than the Urbanite is worthy of a listen as a Beats headphone alternative.

On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00M3O0L8C/