Urbanista Los Angeles: solar-powered headphones review

The solar-powered Ingenious Urbanista Los Angeles headphones provide decent battery life and have good sound.


The Urbanista Los Angeles full-size wireless headphones are the latest model from the Swedish audio brand. With the same beautiful design as its more affordable counterpart – Miami, more expensive Los Angeles has one of the most useful features we’ve ever seen in headphones – solar charging. Yes, these minimalist headphone have a solar panel built into the headband to self-charge in sunlight as well as indoor artificial lighting. How cool is that?

What’s more, the claimed battery life says the headphones can last up to 80 hours on a full solar charge, which is the highest of any self-powered model we’ve seen. The sound quality is impressive, and the Los Angeles also has active noise cancellation (ANC) with transparency modes.

Urbanista Los Angeles case

The solar charging feature is really to be commended as it works well, but these model have some trade-offs that really need to be considered before buying. Some of you won’t mind the lack of advanced mobile app functionality, but the ultra-tight fit and high levels of discomfort when the headphones press against both sides of the head can be significant for many people. Read our full Urbanista Los Angeles review to find out more.

Design and comfort

The Urbanista Los Angeles have the same look and feel as the more affordable Miami, but with fewer color options. However, there is something fancier on the headband of these headphones: a Powerfoyle solar cell layer that uses light and converts it into energy to power the headphones. We will cover this in more detail later in this review.

The earcups are crafted from brushed aluminum, while the padded ear cups and headband are wrapped in vegan leather. The build quality looks and feels fantastic. Like the Bose 700, the earcups don’t fold inward, but rotate 90 degrees so they can be neatly stored in a super-sleek carrying case that deserves special recognition. This is Urbanista’s attempt at a more attractive version of Apple’s AirPods Max smart case, minus the low power mode feature.

We warn you ahead of time to time your listening times with breaks, because Los Angeles is extremely skull-tiring. The clamping force of the headband holding the headphones to the ears is too high, almost to the point that it feels like the head is being clamped in a vise. Weighing in at 312g, it’s also not the lightest pair of wireless headphones, and it’s uncomfortable to carry around your neck.

Management and digital assistant

Urbanista Los Angeles

The control scheme consists of physical buttons, on-ear detection for auto pause/play functions, and digital assistance. While you wish the touch controls were integrated into the silky-smooth outer planes of the cups, it works well for a simple user interface.

On the right earcup, there is a module with volume rockers and a center button, each with multiple functions (such as answer/end call, playback, volume, power on/off), and on the left earcup, there is an action button to switch between different listening modes. Holding down the action button will also activate your connected device’s built-in assistant.

The controls work flawlessly, with each one-tap or multi-tap command responding according to its assigned function. Motion detection works well, automatically pausing music when you take the headphones off and resuming when you put them back on your head. Siri, Google Assistant, and Bixby (by Samsung) are compatible and reliable for hands-free voice commands. Urbanista Los Angeles microphones are powerful and pick up the voice of AI bots to register requests and respond quickly.


Urbanista Los Angeles

The Urbanista Los Angeles sound is bold and warm. The soundstage mostly favors modern music genres, hitting the ears with deep, accentuated bass from live listening, although this can be overly aggressive and detract from clarity on some tracks.

The monstrous 808 drums on Busta Rhymes “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” is an adrenaline rush. The same vibes are heightened when you hear the iconic bass line on Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”, while Freddie Mercury’s soaring vocals and tight electric guitar rhythm shine.

On other tracks, the lows were not as pleasant. While it hit underground hip-hop hits like Boot Camp Click’s “1,2,3” hard, we noticed the vocals get washed out during the hook. The instrumental version of Oddisee’s “Fight Delays” didn’t sound as clear as we heard on the Sony WH-1000XM4 or AirPods Max – wind instruments distorted the sound picture and confused improvisation.

But Urbanista Los Angeles is not only bass. There were times when the headphones showed a wide frequency range. Turn on a song like “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” by Roy Ayers to hear what we’re talking about. Everything from crisp drum beats to bright synths and transparent double harmonics sounded amazing.

Listening with ANC turned on does not degrade the overall sound quality.

Active Noise Cancellation

You will need music at a high volume to drown out common noises such as kitchen appliances, chatty colleagues, or the roar of an engine. This technology doesn’t handle average noises well, and we could still hear our neighbor talking on the phone from a few feet away, with the music volume at about 80 percent. Hearing the loud laughter of a nearby person, you understand that the headphones are also not able to tame the high frequencies. Our theory was confirmed when we went outside and heard sirens and emergency whistles very loudly.

Surprisingly, the transparency mode worked much better and came in handy in many cases. It was fun to eavesdrop on Zoom calls from co-workers, as well as having clear conversations without having to pause the music or take off the headphones. The technology was most useful outside, informing you of oncoming traffic such as cars and cyclists crossing your path. You can even hear the chirping of birds, as well as what was happening around at that time.


Urbanista Los Angeles Features

The Urbanista management app is more like a form than a content, although its visual presentation makes it easier to use. For example, you get a battery level indicator and basic switches that are easy to activate and find thanks to large attractive icons at the bottom of the home page. In the top right corner is a settings icon for controls and enable/disable in-ear detection. In addition, there is another main function of the headphones outside of ANC: solar charging. The solar power status is shown on the next page with a circular indicator that shows how much power the headphones have received or lost.

As far as how well the technology works, it’s efficient and intuitive. Urbanista Los Angeles will waste energy whether you’re listening to music while wearing them under a bright indoor light, or leaving them outside to catch the sun’s rays. Even cooler, the technology automatically turns off when it detects a 90 percent battery charge, helping to extend battery life.

Battery Life

A full charge gives you 50 hours of playback with ANC and 80 hours with ANC off, which is very nice. The only other noise canceling headphones that come close are the Cleer Enduro ANC, which lasted around 50 hours in our tests. With such a good battery life, you can listen to them for a couple of hours every day for more than three weeks before the battery runs out.

Remember also that you can charge these headphones on the go by simply wearing them outside on a sunny day. Keep that in mind because without fast charging technology, you’ll either have to bake them in the sun or wait 3 hours via USB-C charging to get full power.

Call quality

Calls sound quite clear, that is, voices are heard, and you can make out what the callers are saying. The microphone picks up the voice well. However, many complained that the voice sounded distant.

Urbanista Los Angeles is powered by Bluetooth 5.0 and provides the longest range that headphones can provide today. Pairing and auto-connect also work flawlessly.

There is no technology for multi-point connection of headphones to two devices at the same time. Also, there is no additional 3.5mm jack on these headphones so you can keep listening when the battery runs out.


Urbanista Los Angeles Features

Urbanista Los Angeles are some of the most impressive wireless headphones ever made. The integration of the solar panel into the headband is ingenious, and the fact that the technology works well should excite you even more. Nearly 80 hours of battery life is a huge plus. Sound is also breathtaking, thanks to punchy bass and crisp mids delivered by 40mm full-range drivers. If it wasn’t for the incredibly uncomfortable fit or poor noise cancellation, these headphones would be on a par with category leaders like the Bose 700 and Sony WH-1000XM4. However, if you value ingenuity, endless playtime, and warm sound, Los Angeles is the one for you.

Urbanista Los Angeles Specifications

  • Drivers: 40 mm dynamic, moving coil
  • Microphone: electret condenser
  • Echo canceling: built-in DSP
  • Battery capacity: 750 mAh
  • Bluetooth version: 5.0
  • Bluetooth class: 2
  • Profiles: A2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.5, HFP 1.6
  • Codecs: SBC and AAC
  • Range: ≤10 m
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 107±3dB @ 1 kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm ±15 %