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Active Noise Cancellation on a Budget

Illustration for article titled These Headphones Offer Solid Active Noise Cancellation for Those on a Budget

Photo: John Biggs/Gizmodo

Urbanista isn’t a household name. Founded in Sweden, the company makes low-cost, high-design headphones for folks who don’t want to spend a few hundred dollars on options from Apple, Bose, or Beats. Their latest product, the Miami, is a pair of active noise-canceling headphones with 50-hour battery life and a tempting price tag.

These are not premium headphones. They are nicely designed and the monochrome hues—on the review unit I tested, a glossy glowing green/blue that really pops—are quite fashionable. The audio quality is fine and they fit great even on bigger heads. I used them exercising for a few weeks and then on a six-hour flight and I was impressed in both cases. They stayed on my head while I was shadowboxing and running, and on the flight, they destroyed enough plane noise to make things very pleasant.

The headphones also have on-ear sensors so they’ll stop playing when you take them off. Couple that with a 50-hour battery and you’ve got an interesting set of noise-canceling cans.

You can connect the Urbanista Miami wirelessly via Bluetooth or to a regular audio jack with the included cable. The box also includes an international adaptor for plane seats with dual audio inputs. All of that works well, and you can turn off the ANC with a button on the side. You can even listen to the headphones when the battery is dead, although the sound quality is very muddy.

If you need audiophile quality, however, a pair of $149 headphones is decidedly not it. The attractive design notwithstanding, you definitely don’t get much range with these guys. They’re bass-heavy, a fairly common problem with cheaper, mass-market headphones like these. That’s great for kids and teens or maybe if you’re looking for something that you’ll wear for a few years at the gym or on the road, these will work fine. I can’t attest to the long-term build quality, but the entire set is made of plastic and I saw a bit of wear and tear even in the few weeks I’ve used them. As you can see, the rubber ear pads are already wrinkling with a bit of use and could easily crack and split with extreme use.


Photo: John Biggs/Gizmodo

But the active noise cancellation works, and that’s the real draw of the Miami’s real draw. Finding quality ANC in a $149 set of headphones is rare, and these definitely work. They’re an acceptable alternative to lower-cost powered headphones like Sony WH-CH510 or the slightly more expensive $179 AKG N60NC noise-cancelling headphones.

That said, if you’re looking for a pair of headphones for a picky teenager or a traveler on a budget, you could do worse than these—a pair of fashion-focused headphones with a little bit of high tech thrown in. Folks who have used headphones like the Bose Noise Canceling Headphone 700, Sony WH-1000XM3, or the AirPods Pro Max will definitely be disappointed with the Urbanista Miami, but if you’re looking for a quick and affordable fix for your noise-canceling needs, they’re priced right and work well.

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