Urbanista Los Angeles Review: Solar-Powered Headphones That Actually Work

‘Infinity’ is one difficult one, right? Something is either ‘infinite’ or it is not. So when Urbanista describes its Los Angeles wireless noise-canceling over-earphones as “almost infinite” playing time, it’s pretty much the same as saying that Los Angeles does not have infinite playing time.

Although Los Angeles comes much closer than most to be fair to Urbanista.

In an instant, there is nothing particularly remarkable about Urbanista Los Angeles. Like the Miami wireless headphones on which they are closely based, they are discreetly beautiful and nicely finished. And like all Urbanista products, they are named after one of the planet’s more atmospheric locations.

However, it is on the outside of the headband that Los Angeles suddenly becomes unique. ‘Unique’, like ‘infinity’, is an absolute, but at the moment this is a description Urbanista deserves. Because integrated into the outside of the headband, there is a large strip of a material called ‘Powerfoyle’ supplied by a company called Exeger. It is a solar cell material and it can extract energy from anyone type of light, from sunshine to the light bulbs in your home. It always draws energy, always charges, whether the headphones themselves are turned on or not. And that means Urbanista Los Angeles will be playing for an enormous amount of time without ever having to be charged from the mains. Which, as far as unique selling points go, is quite impressive.

Photo: Urbanista

This piece of engineering brilliance aside, it’s mostly Urbanista business as usual. Which means Los Angeles is a rugged pair of headphones, comfortable at every point of contact and not (like so many rival designs) is about to flood the listener with smaller headphones. The build quality is undeniable, the choice of materials is sensible, the color options (‘midnight’ black or ‘true’ gold) are pleasant, and there is a certain tactility around Los Angeles that is by no means common in headphones under the £ 200 mark.

Wireless connection is via Bluetooth 5.0, which is sufficient, but hardly top notch. Sound is provided by a pair of the same 40mm dynamic drivers with full range mounted on the (suddenly a bit lo-tech) Urbanista Miami. There is active noise reduction in three positions: ‘on’, ‘off’ or ‘ambient sound’ and hair trigger accelerometers that pause the music if you take Los Angeles by the head (or even push them a little on the ears). Fortunately, ‘on-ear detection’ can be defeated in the great new Urbanista control app.

As for headphone management apps, it is one of the nicer and one of the more limited in what it can actually do for you. There is a nice large display that explains whether the battery is being charged or discharged, switched to noise reduction in three steps, and there is an option to define the function of the physical ‘control’ button on the outside of the left ear cup. It’s your lot.

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