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

“Infinite” is a tricky one, isn’t it? Something’s either infinite or it isn’t. So when Urbanista describes its Los Angeles wireless noise-canceling over-ear headphones as having “virtually infinite” playtime, that’s basically the same as saying the Los Angeles don’t have infinite playtime.

Although, to be fair to Urbanista, the Los Angeles get a lot closer than most.

At a glance, there’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the Urbanista Los Angeles. Like the Miami wireless headphones on which they’re closely based, they’re discreetly good looking and nicely finished. And like every Urbanista product, they’re named after one of the planet’s more evocative places.

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It’s on the outside of the headband, though, that the Los Angeles suddenly become unique. “Unique,” like “infinite,” is an absolute, but currently this is a description the Urbanista deserve. Because integrated into the outside of the headband is a big strip of a material called Powerfoyle that’s supplied by a company called Exeger. It’s a solar cell material, and it can derive energy from any type of light, from sunshine to the lightbulbs in your home. It’s always pulling energy, always charging, whether the headphones are switched on or not. And it means the Urbanista Los Angeles will play for an enormous length of time without ever needing to be charged from the mains. Which, as unique selling points go, is pretty impressive.

Photograph: Urbanista

This piece of engineering brilliance aside, it’s mostly Urbanista business as usual. Which means the Los Angeles are a robust pair of headphones, comfortable at every contact point and not (like so many rival designs) about to swamp the smaller-headed listener. Build quality is unarguable, the choice of materials is judicious, the color options (“midnight” black or “sand” gold) are pleasant, and there’s a degree of tactility about the Los Angeles that is by no means common in headphones below the £200 mark. 

Wireless connectivity is via Bluetooth 5.0, which is adequate but hardly at the cutting edge. Sound is delivered by a couple of the same 40-mm full-range dynamic drivers fitted to the (suddenly slightly low-tech) Urbanista Miami. There’s three-position active noise-cancellation: On, Off, or Ambient Sound, and hair-trigger accelerometers that pause music if you take the Los Angeles off your head (or even shift them slightly on your ears). Happily, the on-ear detection can be defeated in the nice, new Urbanista control app.

As far as headphones control apps go, it’s one of the better-looking but one of the more restricted in what it can actually do for you. There’s a nice, big display that explains whether the battery is being topped up or drained; there’s switching for the three-stage noise-cancellation; and there’s the ability to define the function of the physical Control button on the outside of the left earcup. That’s your lot.

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