Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless full review
Wires are gradually becoming a thing of the past and Sennheiser has made this a reality for its Urbanite XL over-ear headphones that provide great sound and have a few tricks. Here's our Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless review. See also Group test: What are the best headphones?
Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless review: Price and competition
With the Urbanite range of wireless headphones Sennheiser is keen to reach into the cooler street-style audience so far monopolized by Beats by Dre. Hence the name and the solid, fashionable looks of this set of excellent Bluetooth headphones.
As you might be able to work out, the Urbanite XL Wireless headphones are the same as the regular wired model but with added Bluetooth capability. This does mean the price is higher and you'll need to pay an extra £50 for it at £249 which is quite steep but no uncommon.
This places them the same price as wired headphones such as the Kef M500 and Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2. The new wireless P5 headphones are £329 so the Urbanite XL Wireless cans are much more affordable in comparison but aren't quite as premium.
Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless review: Design and build
The Urbanite XL Wireless headphones only come in one colour and that's black so it's a shame that there aren't the usual options such as Sand, Olive, Denim and Nation (red and white).
These headphones are circumaural, more commonly known as over-ear, meaning they completely surround your ear rather than sitting on them. If you're looking for on-ear and wireless look to the Momentum range from Sennheiser.
The Urbanite XL Wireless design features a wide headband which it mostly covered in fabric with white stitching. The underside is a soft rubber which feels slightly odd to the touch but is nevertheless comfortable.
Designed to be durable, most of the Urbanite XL Wireless body is plastic (apart from the stainless steel hinges) and so does make it feel cheaper than the aforementioned rivals. However, this does mean they are more suited to being thrown around a little. The headband bends and twists a long way quite freely.
As with most over-ear headphones, the Urbanite XL Wireless are quite large and but not unreasonably heavy. The soft foam on the cups is comfortable but the common issue here is that there's little air flow so you're ears do get hot after a while. This combination of things means we can't recommended the Urbanite XL Wireless for long listening sessions.
A trick these headphones have up their sleeve – and you wouldn't know it – is that you can control you're music playback easily. The outside of the headband on the right side is touch sensitive so you can adjust volume, pause, play and skip tracks etc. Furthermore, there's a built-in mic so you can have a phone call wirelessly, using the touchpad to answer a call.
Although these headphones are wireless, they also come with a 1.2m cable with in-line controls like the normal model which you can easily plug in if needed – perhaps you want to use them on a flight or the battery runs out meaning Bluetooth is unavailable. A soft carry case is included and the headphones fold so they aren't quite so huge when you want to put them away. iPhone users can check on remaining battery life on their phone.
Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless review: Sound quality
Over the years we've tested many shockingly bad Bluetooth audio products and we slightly expected a pair of headphones called Urbanite to concentrate on style and features rather than sound quality but we're impressed with these headphones, which were less thumpy than the wireless Beats Studio they're up against.
The Bluetooth 4.0 on-board uses aptX which a lot of smartphones support now (although the iPhone doesn't) and there's really little difference compared to using the cable. Furthermore, the Urbanite XL Wireless have NFC built in making it even easier than usual to pair the headphones with a smartphone or other NFC-enabled device. You can connect up to eight devices with up to two simultaneously.
Using the headphones wirelessly will give you up to 25 hours of uses (depending on volume etc) and they charge over Micro USB like the vast majority of devices so you're unlikely to be far from a charger – a cable is included, though.
Overall, the sound of the Urbanite XL Wireless headphones is very good. The drivers are powerful enough yet the tuning is well balanced and we found the experience easy to get on with. We thought headphones called Urbanite might be at the Beats end of the headphone scale with unnecessarily loud bass. Sennheiser does promise 'Massive bass', but it's actually nicely balanced while remaining pretty tight and punchy. If you like your sound bassy these are a good choice. If you really like a super bassy sound then Beats Studio might suit you better, although we prefer the clarity of the Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless.
The mid-range is present and clear and we always found vocals coming across nicely. The top end gets a little swamped at times which is a shame, but is still bright where it manages to burst through. This means the Urbanite XL Wireless headphones are more suited to music genres such as rock and dance than classical.
Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless: Specs
- Over-Ear Headphone
- 16Hz to 20kHz frequency range
- 18 ohms impedance
- 110dB @ 1kHz sensitivity
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Touchpad controls
- 1.2m cable with in-line control
- Soft carry carry
- Compatible with iOS and Android.