Sennheiser Ur­ban­ite XL

Head­phones

Australian HIFI - - FRONT PAGE -

Right out of the box I loved the look and the build of Sennheiser’s Ur­ban­ite XLs, with their strong stain­lesssteel hinges and alu­minium slid­ers, their comfy velour earpads, and their colours of olive, black, ‘denim’, ‘sand’ and one whose colour is called ‘Na­tion’ but turned out to be a cu­ri­ous blend of black, red and blue. I ini­tially imag­ined th­ese might be colours rep­re­sent­ing the East Frisian flag, were Sennheiser’s Wede­mark Ger­man head­quar­ters not rather to the South-East of this. De­spite fur­ther en­quiries, it re­mains a mys­tery. The Ur­ban­ite XL is avail­able in two ver­sions—one de­signed for use with iOS de­vices, and the other for use with An­droid de­vices—and the colour choices are dif­fer­ent for each. Given this bi-par­ti­san ap­proach, it was a sur­prise that white is not one of the op­tion­ally avail­able colours for iOS de­vices… iPod, iPhone et al. How­ever, it wasn’t sur­pris­ing that the colour choice is widest for iDevices. An­droid (and other phone flavour) own­ers are only given the choice be­tween olive and black.

I wasn’t so sure that I loved the name of th­ese head­phones. Does Sennheiser equate ‘Ur­ban’ with ‘Street’ and is there­fore pitch­ing th­ese Ur­ban­ites against the now Ap­ple-owned Beats? It cer­tainly leads its mar­ket­ing with a prom­ise of ‘mas­sive bass’… although it then im­me­di­ately fol­lows up with ‘with­out com­pro­mised qual­ity’. So don’t write them off just be­cause you’re not a Beats fan. They’re far bet­ter than that… as you will find.

THE EQUIP­MENT

The ca­ble on the Ur­ban­ite XL model is flat and quiet, with an in­line mi­cro­phone and con­trols that are slightly tricky to come to terms with at first, be­ing black-on-black and not quite ob­vi­ous-enough in tac­tile terms. Also miss­ing out in the area of tac­tile was that un­like ev­ery other pair of Sennheiser head­phones I have had the plea­sure to hear, there were no trade­mark ‘bumps’ so you can eas­ily iden­tify the left ear­piece by touch alone… at least that was what I ini­tially thought (and in fact wrote in a re­view for an­other pub­li­ca­tion) but it turned out that I was look­ing for the guiding bumps in the wrong place. In­stead of be­ing on the out­side of the head­band, the three ‘bumps’ that iden­tify the left ear­piece are on the Ur­ban­ite XL po­si­tioned on the in­side of the head­band. The is­sue with po­si­tion­ing them here is that they’re very dif­fi­cult to find when you’re ac­tu­ally wear­ing the ‘phones, be­cause it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to bend your arms in such a way that your fin­gers can reach in­side the band, and even if you do man­age to do this, you only need to get a few strands of hair in the way be­fore it’s nigh-on im­pos­si­ble to feel the bumps at all through the strands of hair.

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