review

Urbanista London Review True Wireless With ANC And Wireless Charging

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Unless you are seriously into brand names, it is hard to justify spending a lot of money on flagship earbuds when you can get the same bells and whistles at lower price!
Two of the most attractive features you can currently get with earphones it's Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Qi Wireless charging, both of which are found on the Urbanista London - an elegant pair of true wireless with a trendy stem style design.
The Urbanista London charging case has a silicon-like coating with four battery leds embedded within the slit opening of the case. This silicone rubber finish is found on both the charging case and the earbuds, making it extremely grippy and also pleasant to hold in the hand, although it is prone to oily finger smudges especially in a warm environment.
The rectangular box shape of the charging case has been polished with rounded corners and a flat base that allows the charging to remain securely upright on a desk or wireless charging pad. The Urbanista London charging case integrates a 400mAh battery and a wireless charging coil that allows you to recharge the charging case via a Qi wireless charger within 2 hours. The total weight of the charging case is 44 grams (without the earbuds).
The charging time for the Urbanista London earphones is 90 minutes with quick charge support so, you can get 60 minutes worth of playtime from a 10 minute recharge. The 45mAh battery inside the earbuds can hold charge for up to 5 days in standby.
When the London earbuds battery runs low, you will hear a low battery voice prompt, which is triggered when there is 30 minutes left of battery life. When charging the earbuds, the battery leds on the charging case will flash every few seconds until the earbuds are fully charged. When charging the case, the battery leds will also flash until the charging case is fully charged (within 60 minutes).
The Urbanista London charging case lid is easy to flip open and the earphones can be easily taken out of the charging dock without any fiddling around, thanks to the raised dock design. The charging dock area has a smooth hard plastic finish, while the underside of the lid is rubberized, preventing any possible scratching when closing the lid.
The London charging case also features a button designed for clearing the earbuds pairing list. A lot of true wireless earbuds don't integrate this "Bluetooth clearing" feature, which is essentially a reset button that is useful to have on earbuds to fix shortcomings like bluetooth pairing issues. It's also convenient that the reset function is performed via a pressable button in the charging case rather than via a pinhole button on the earbuds that would require using a SIM card tool.
Speaking of Bluetooth, the Urbanista London earphones integrate a Bluetooth 5.0 chip that supports AAC and SBC but not aptX, which helps lower the latency when watching content via an Android device. Without aptX support, Android devices automatically default to SBC, which still delivers good audio and longer battery life up to 2.5 hours per earbud with ANC enabled (3 hours with ANC turned off). You get similar playtime with an iOS device and lower latency, thanks to iOS supporting both AAC and SBC. Being iOS though, you won't be able to select the codec like you can with Android.
Bluetooth pairing is automatically initiated when opening the charging case so, you can pair them before taking them out of the charging case. There is no delay when switching between earbuds; hence you can alternate between earbuds without hesitation. Some true wireless earbuds experience a re-connection delay when are taken out of the charging case, which is not ideal especially when wanting to quickly accept an incoming call or going from mono listening to stereo listening.
While switching works well with the London earbuds, it is not entirely seamless because of the auto play/pause function activating every time you put an earbud down. This isn't really a deal breaker but more of a trade off. What is potentially a deal breaker though, it's the fact that the Urbanista London earbuds cannot be used individually like the Athens true wireless earbuds, which work independently of each other.
The Urbanista London earphones have touch sensitive controls that support full audio playback, including volume up and volume down. When maxing out the volume though, there is no voice prompt or audible beep to alert you. Some true wireless earbuds do have this feature so, you can tell when you have reached max volume.
The Urbanista London earphones stem design measures 25mm long and 5mm wide and, they have a large body, integrating a 45mAh battery, a single 10mm dynamic driver (with 107dB sensitivity) and six microphones (three per earphone). The microphones are located throughout the outer shell of the earbud and are contained inside recessed openings.
Each London earbud has a feedforward ANC microphone and two noise cancelling microphones (located at the top and bottom of the stem), which provide crisp and clear sound during calls. Active noise cancellation works well too, for drowning office-type environments.
Via a series of taps you can control audio playback, as well as incoming calls, voice assistant and ANC. The user control functions are arranged slightly different than most earbuds so, there is some getting used to. For instance, play and pause functions are controlled separately; hence you cannot play and pause with the same earbud.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Ambient Voice Mode (AVM) are controlled separately too so, ANC is enabled/disabled via the right earbud, while Ambient Voice Mode is enabled/disabled via the left earbud by holding down the touch control area (logo area) for a couple of seconds. Ambient Voice Mode works just like Ambient Sound/ Transparency Mode, using the microphones to let you hear some sounds (not all) from your immediate surroundings. Ambient Sound works better when playing audio with moderate volume.
Aside from ANC microphones, the Urbanista London earphones integrate a proximity sensor for controlling the "auto play/pause" function, which automatically pauses and resumes play when taking one of the earbuds in and out of the ear. The auto play/pause function gets disabled automatically during calls.
The Urbanista London earphones fit comfortably and stay in the ears relatively well, thanks to the grippy rubber coating. The London earbuds are also light weight (4.5 grams per earbud), providing a comfortable fit when walking about. You could even wear the London earphones for jogging, although they only have an IPX4 water rating; hence you will have to mindful of extreme sweat and rain.
The Urbanista London have minimal branding with a white laser printed etching on the front sides of the stem and the word Urbanista engraved on top of the charging case. There aren't any R/L markings to differentiate the earbuds, but luckily placement is intuitive (the right earbud fits on the right side of the charging case and the left earbud on the left side). This is worth pointing out because with some true wireless earbuds, the earbud placement in the charging case is the complete opposite!
The Urbanista London earbuds have a warm sound signature, which means the bass is more prominent than the vocals and treble, making the Urbanista London earbuds more suited for pop and electronic type music. There is currently no companion app but, if your phone has a built-in equalizer, you will be able to tweak the default sound to your liking. If your phone doesn't have an equalizer, enabling the ANC will slightly balanced out the sound.
Accessories included are an Urbanista-branded short USB-A to USB-C charging cable, as well as three additional pairs of different size silicone ear tips with a cardboard holder. The Urbanista London are available in four colorways: Midnight Black, Pearl White, Rose Gold and Dark Sapphire. You can buy the Urbanista London on amazon.

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