The most recent wi-fi headphones from Swedish firm Urbanista cover an ingenious answer to battery life issues: photo voltaic charging.
The Los Angeles prices £ 169 ($ 199 / A $ 349) and is not any completely different from common headphones aside from a versatile Powerfoyle photo voltaic cell on high of the headscarf.
Fairly compact with easy, clear traces, they arrive in both black or gold, the primary of which helps the photo voltaic strip mix in finest. They really feel stable and nicely made with a soft-touch end, however are a bit heavier than the market-leading Sony 1000XM4.
The matt black plastic photo voltaic cell might simply be mistaken for a easy design. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
The scarf is nicely padded, however has a powerful clamping power on the edges of the top that must be stretched a little bit when first worn. However no less than they do not transfer whenever you put on them.
Controls, connectivity and battery life
Press and maintain the center of the three playback management buttons to show the headphones on or off. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
The Los Angeles are customary Bluetooth 5.0 headphones that help the common SBC and AAC audio codecs utilized by most units and preserve a stable reference to quite a lot of Apple and Android units.
The fitting auricle has three buttons for controlling playback and quantity. Eradicating the headphones additionally pauses the music. The left ear cup has a button for setting the noise cancellation features and a USB-C port for charging. They lack a 3.5mm headphone jack to make use of with out bluetooth which is irritating for airplane use.
However what the headphones actually stand out is the battery life. With out photo voltaic charging, the headphones final an unbelievable 80 hours on battery energy (50 hours with ANC on), which is way longer than many of the competitors. Nonetheless, because of the photo voltaic cost, they final nearly indefinitely except you solely use them in a darkened room.
The photo voltaic cell generates sufficient electrical energy to cost the headphones throughout use in winter sunshine. You possibly can offset battery consumption by round 50% below shiny LED lights, which you’ll see in actual time with the Urbanista Android or iPhone app. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
If the battery cost falls beneath 90%, the photo voltaic band costs it once more when there may be ample daylight or synthetic mild. Throughout my testing interval, the battery by no means dropped beneath 50% and refilled it by leaving the headscarf in entrance of a window when not in use.
Driver: 40 mm
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C and photo voltaic charging
Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC
Battery life: 50/80 hours ANC on / off
The headphones have a USB-C port for guide charging, which you’ll by no means must do. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
Urbanista estimates that the battery retains over 80% of its authentic capability over 300 full cost cycles, however it’s neither replaceable nor repairable, which in the end makes it a disposable merchandise.
The headphones don’t include any recycled supplies. The corporate doesn’t provide trade-ins, recycling and doesn’t publish any environmental influence assessments.
Sound and noise canceling
The ear cups are plush, however flat in comparison with lots of its opponents. My left ear touched the within of the cup and have become uncomfortable after an hour or so. Your mileage might differ. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
The headphones have energetic noise cancellation that works nicely sufficient to dampen the roar of an airplane engine or avenue noise, however struggles with larger pitched feels like followers or speech. They beat many of the cheaper headphones, however will not hassle among the market leaders, which makes them about proper for the value.
The ambient sound mode is fairly good too, so you’ll be able to take heed to bulletins or the visitors however wrestle with wind noise.
The headphones have a fairly broad and expansive sound that processes tracks with a whole lot of power. However the sound is distorted in the direction of the decrease finish, with numerous well-controlled, punchy bass that creates deeper notes than most headphones can deal with. Treble and excessive notes are fairly good however get squeezed by the bass. Sadly there is no such thing as a equalizer to show it down manually.
Feed them energetic electronica and they’ll sound nice, however much less so with classical music or extra nuanced tracks. By activating the noise cancellation, they sound rather less broad, expansive and energetic.
The case is designed to guard the headphones whereas exposing the photo voltaic cell in order that it may be charged when you find yourself not utilizing it. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
The bulletins when switching on the headphones or altering modes are too loud and may be fairly stunning in case you pay attention quietly.
Name high quality is common, with the tip of the decision sounding a bit robotic even in quiet environment.
The auricles may be turned flat and slide into the case, however can’t be folded up for journey.
The Urbanista Los Angeles prices £ 169 ($ 199 / A $ 349) and is accessible in black or gold.
For comparability: The Urbanista Miami prices 129 euros, Ankers Soundcore Life Q35 130 euros and the Sony WH-1000XM4 249 euros.
The Urbanista Los Angeles is the primary solar-charging headphones available on the market and delivers one factor above all: an nearly limitless battery life.
When you use them in shiny environments, chances are you’ll solely must cost them a few times a 12 months, or by no means if uncovered to sunlight when not in use, which is outstanding. They usually create this photo voltaic feat whereas wanting like regular, tidy headphones.
They sound good, however very bass-heavy with none adjustment choices. The noise canceling is okay, however it can’t hurt the market leaders. The bluetooth connection and controls are good, however it lacks an analog 3.5mm headphone jack they usually squeezed my ears a bit.
Regardless of their photo voltaic eligibility, the headphones are irreparable and the battery isn’t replaceable, which in the end makes them disposable and loses them a star.
Advantages: Photo voltaic charging, nearly infinite battery life, Bluetooth 5.0 with SBC and AAC help, energetic noise cancellation, pumping bass and energetic sound.
Drawback: Bass can drown out different sounds, noise canceling has issues with speech, name high quality isn’t that good, no 3.5 mm analog socket, tight match, battery can’t be changed, headphones can’t be repaired.
The Los Angeles aren’t chunky or flashy and really feel stable, however the soft-touch black end picks up mud simply. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian