With the London, Swedish manufacturer Urbanista offers cable-free in-ears with a respectable battery life, which have both active noise suppression and an ambient mode for outdoor listening. The headphones come in a slim, handy charging case, which can be powered either via the USB-C connection or wirelessly via Qi.
This pair of in-ears and their transport case are perfectly crafted and collectively weigh a mere 54 grams. At 4.5 grams per side, these headphones are extremely light, which has a positive effect on their wearing comfort. They also have a discreet appearance, as the in-ears embed well into the ears, which promotes stability and also makes it possible to wear a cap. Another practical feature is that the IPX4-certified workmanship of the London offers protection against weather-related moisture during outdoor activities and at the same time makes them easy to clean.
Despite their low weight, these wireless headphone proved to be quite durable during our battery test. While the runtime with noise suppression is five hours, without ANC the London can run for eight hours. As these in-ears can be fully charged in the transport case twice plus once to 80 per cent, the total battery life with noise cancelling is around 18 hours and over 29 hours in standard use. At the same time, the case is compact enough to be enclosed in one hand and has a (trouser) pocket-friendly format. However, a quick-charging function has been omitted, which somewhat limits the possibilities of spontaneous use. Complete charging of the headphones takes just under 90 minutes, while the battery reserve of the transport case can be recharged in 100 minutes using the USB-C to USB-A charging cable provided.
Coupling the headphones, which support Bluetooth standard 5.0 in combination with various Android and iOS devices, offered stable ranges of eight metres within an urban environment, it is done straight away by opening the case. This turns on the in-ears and automatically puts them into pairing mode while returning them to the charger turns the system off. The use of only one headphone in single mode is not provided for and it is also not possible to switch the London on and off manually, which is something of a shortcoming. On the other hand, the precise and easy to use touch control is well implemented; the touch-sensitive surfaces are located underneath the logos. Here, replay can be controlled by double-tapping the left side, and speech assistants are activated on the right side. Calls can also be answered and ended by double-tapping on both headphones and have good speech intelligibility, even if the representation of the voices is slightly dull. For volume control, a simple tap on the left is all it takes to reduce the level and to increase it you tap on the right. Forward and backward jumping is not supported, so that title selection must be made on your device. What these headphones do offer, however, is a sensor-controlled automatic start/stop function, whereby playback pauses when the in-ears are removed and continues when they are put back in your ears.
The modern tuning of the London has a powerful bass reproduction, which also has sufficient precision in the low bass range to provide powerful listening pleasure for bass orientated productions. At the same time, the low frequencies appear quite rich, but by no means overloaded. Both the mids and the highs are reproduced quite naturally, which means that vocals and lead instruments are not overly pushed forward, but sound clear and appealingly authentic. Since there is no big showmanship and the perception is primarily of discreet, rounded warmth, the sound character is positively straightforward. A feeling of openness and brilliance is missing in the high-frequency range, which drops off a bit. In this respect, classical music not really these headphones’ metier, but otherwise they cover a wide range of applications. The audio codecs supported are Bluetooth standard SBC and the higher-quality AAC format, but not aptX.
In ANC mode, which can be switched on and off by holding the right-hand side of the headphones, the bass range is slightly boosted, giving the sound more fullness without reducing the sound quality. At the same time, low-frequency ambient noise is especially well minimised. However, a reduction is also noticeable in the high-frequency components of complex sources such as road noise. Although the noise suppression has a basic noise level, this does not noticeably impair reproduction. The same applies to the ambient mode, which can also be activated and deactivated by holding the left earpiece, and this amplifies outside noise via the microphones. Despite the existence of background noise, voices and announcements can be heard clearly when playback is paused, so that the in-ears do not need to be removed. In addition, during playback, improved orientation in your surroundings is made possible, which increases personal safety, especially in urban areas.
The noise cancelling and ambient sound mode make the price of these completely wireless in-ears seem attractive. Especially as the lightweight, weatherproof headphones have long-lasting batteries and can easily be transported in your pocket thanks to the compact charging case. If you prefer a modern, powerful tuning and are willing to accept slight weaknesses in the high-frequency range, you should take a closer look at the London by Urbanista.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance± 15% @ 16 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)+/- 3dB @ 1kHz: 107 dB
- Weight without cableIn-ears: 9g; incl. case 54 g
What's in the box
- 4 pairs of ear tips in different sizes
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- Charging case
- available in black, rose gold, blue and white
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC
- BT version: 5.0
- BT profiles: HSP, HFP, A2DP, AVRCP