review

Urbanears Luma Review True Wireless With Lanyard Qi Charging Case

Monday, October 05, 2020

While not close yet to the same sound quality level as wired, a lot more of us will be switching to wireless in an effort to accommodate the work-from-home lifestyle and to avoid cords getting pulled, which small children and pets are especially fond of!
If you, too, are switching to wireless audio and want something middle-of-the-road, you may want to check out the pocket size Urbanears Luma. Unlike most true wireless earbuds, which are in-ear earphones that insert inside the ear canal, the Luma earbuds have a "true" earbud design, resting outside the ear canal. 
That said, the Luma earbuds don't have the classic speaker grill opening most true wireless earbuds have. Instead, the speaker mesh on the Luma earbuds has a small teardrop oval shape, which channels the sound into the ear canal similarly to in-ear monitors but without shutting you out of the world; hence no passive noise cancellation.
 the elongated holes are bass reflex ports designed for airflow
The Luma charging case opens up easily via a chrome accent plastic hinge, revealing a raised docking area and cutouts for the earbuds that force the earbuds to sit snugly inside the charging case. This is actually a good thing since some charging cases don't have these cutouts on the underside of the lid, which prevent earbuds from accidentally dislodging and stopping the charge. The Luma charging case docking area has a clean design with a single green battery led, as well as left (L)/right (R) markings. 
Differentiating the earbuds isn't actually that difficult because of the large tear shape and nozzle-less design. The Urbanears Luma earbuds have the same textured finish as the charging case, integrating a large Urbanears engraving on the front side of the right earbud stem. The Luma earbuds stem is long with a wide squarish shape, measuring 35mm long, 7mm wide and 5mm thick. The stem integrates the touch sensitive area, charging contacts, status led (blue/white) and two microphone pinholes, one mic located at the top and one mic located at the bottom of the stem. The call quality is very good, clear and natural sounding. A decent amount of background noise gets suppressed, thanks to the built-in low-pass filter.
The Luma charging case USB-C port can accept a maximum of 5V/500mA input charge, recharging the earbuds at a rate of 180mA, while the charging case, itself, recharges at a rate of 320mA. The charging process is decently fast, taking just 15 minutes for the earbuds to charge to 50% and roughly 60 minutes (1 hour) to 100% full charge. The charging time for the Luma charging case is 90 minutes (1.5 hours) via cable and 3 hours via a 5W wireless charger. 
Bear in mind though, just like most true wireless earbuds, the Luma charging case will require a charger that can output 5V/500mA or more. A charger is not included but, if you already own a smartphone or tablet you can use the charger that is supplied with it. Most phones' charger can output anything between 5V/1A and 5V/2A, which is plenty of power. The Urbanears Luma charging case can also be charged via the USB port of a computer, although the maximum power that can be drawn from a USB port is just 0.9mA; hence the charging process is slower.
The Urbanears Luma charging case also integrates a non-detachable, thick elastic lanyard loop that you can can use to safely carry the charging case while looped through the thumb. The Luma charging case has a square design with curved edges and a pronounced narrow cut that runs around the mid-section, making opening the case easy. The Luma charging case is branded with a large Urbanears text carved on top of the charging case.
The base of the Luma charging case is smooth without any branding, lettering or rubber feet to prevent anything from interfering with the wireless charging. There is a small wireless charging coil that enables the Luma charging case to receive a maximum wireless charging input of 7.5 watts via a Qi wireless charger (not included).
The Luma wireless charging function works well, although on a large wireless charging coaster there were issues finding the "sweet spot" for charging the Luma charging case. This could be due to the small size of wireless coil in the Luma charging case or, (more likely) the wireless charging coaster itself since a lot of wireless charging pads are designed to have a "sweet spot".

Bluetooth pairing is initiated when the Luma earbuds are taken out of the charging case. You can pair just the master earbud (right earbud) but, you cannot pair the left earbud independently; hence you can not use the Luma left earbud individually, which could be a deal breaker for some people since lot of true wireless earbuds come with this feature. Being able to use earbuds separately is very convenient because it allows you to conserve battery while having one earbud charging in the case.
Aside from the master/slave function, the Luma earbuds have a 2-second re-connection delay when trying to re-connect. The audio will also pause when putting one earbud back in the charging case, making the transition from stereo to mono (and viceversa) not as seamless. Because of this, you cannot seamlessly switch between the Luma earbuds like you can with some true wireless which have instant re-connection, allowing you to alternate between earbuds without any interruptions and delay. The Luma earbud status led does light up during audio playback but it isn't bothersome since the earbud status led is located on the hidden side of the stem.
Speaking of bluetooth, the Urbanears Luma earbuds do feature the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology, although there is no aptX or AAC support. SBC is the only codec supported but does work well, although it has higher latency; hence you will notice lag when watching videos on an android and iOS device. SBC is less power hungry than AAC and aptX though, which helps with battery life. The Luma earbuds have a 5 hour runtime (at 50% volume) from a single charge with an additional 20 hours from the charging case.
The audio quality is good with crisp midrange, clean treble and well rounded bass, although not as present or loud as with in-ear monitors. The touch control area is located where you would expect it at the top of the stem and works well, requiring soft taps to control the functions. You can control everything aside from volume control, which is another potential deal breaker since the vast majority of true wireless earbuds support volume control. That said, the Luma earbuds do have an extra feature most don't have and that is "automatic ear detection", which automatically play/pauses the audio when removing the earbud. 
The automatic ear detection function works but it isn't as responsive as you may want it to be and, it may sometimes get triggered when you don't want to like when tilting the head at a weird angle. Automatic ear detection cannot be disabled since there is no companion app. However, if you're using the Luma earbuds for non-sport related activities, the automatic ear detection should not be an annoyance. If you plan to run with them, be aware that the Luma earbuds only have an IPX4 water resistance, which is obviously not as high as dedicated sport earbuds, which typically carry an IPX6 or IPX7 sweat proof rating.
Since the Luma earbuds don't use eartips, there is no eartips included other than a short, unbranded USB-C cable. You can buy the Luma earbuds from Urbanears or amazon
Gadget Explained disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

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