Apple AirPods have changed how many manufacturers approach truly wireless earphone design. Whether that's a good thing or not depends on your ear size.
That's certainly the case with the Urbanista Stockholm true wireless earphones, a pair of earphones that require your ears to be 'just so' to be comfortable, but they're a decent set of wireless earbuds if you're keen for the AirPod-style look for less.
- Our pick of the best wireless headphones of 2019
Price and availability
The Urbanista Stockholm true wireless earphones have a recommended retail price of $99 (£89) on the Urbanista site, as well as Amazon.
A choice of colors are available, including olive green, pale pink, black, and white. So far, expect all varieties to cost the same amount. We wouldn't be surprised if the white variety drops in price over time though.
- AirPod inspired
- Choice of color scheme
- Attractive charging case
There's no doubt that the Urbanista Stockholm true wireless earphones have taken inspiration from Apple's AirPods. They sport the classic elongated earbud stems that Apple's earphones provide, along with the solid bud piece that actually fits into your ear. Of course, that means there's no room for adjustment. With no silicone earbuds to swap in and out of, you need your ears to be a fairly standard size. We didn't find that an issue but that's going to be a problem for those with larger or smaller ears than average.
Either way, the Urbanista Stockholm true wireless earphones look lovely. A little longer than the AirPods, they're no more bulky than them, and they look quite gorgeous. A simple design, they simply have one small place for a LED light and the Urbanista symbol, which also doubles as the touch-sensitive area for controls.
The charging case that comes with them is similarly low profile yet stylish. It opens up via a simple hinge with the two earbuds slotting in neatly. The case is a bit lightweight but it doesn't feel cheap, and it can withstand being thrown around without the earbuds falling out thanks to its magnetic charging mechanism that keeps the buds firmly in place.
On the side is where you can slot in the micro-USB charging cable. The cable is tiny and you're probably going to end up swapping it out for something longer and more practical. Also, lack of USB-C support is an unfortunate omission.
- Easy to set up
- Great control system
- Decent battery life
It's reassuring how easy it is to pair the Urbanista Stockholm true wireless earphones. Take them out of the case for the first time and they immediately enter pairing mode. It takes seconds to set them up with your phone. Similarly, once paired, take them out of the case and they connect to your phone in lightning fast speed.
The only weird thing here is that you can use the earbuds independently by putting the left one back in the case, but you can't put the right one away on its own without disconnecting entirely. It's a strange anomaly although not exactly the end of the world.
Touch-sensitive controls are frequently awkward to get accustomed to, but in the case of the Urbanista Stockholm true wireless earphones, we were actually quite impressed. Controls are solely dictated by you touching the Urbanista logo. One touch on the right turns the volume up while the same action on the left turns it down. A double tap on the left plays or pauses music, while skipping a track is a matter of touching the logo for two seconds on one or the other side.
The only tricky part here is remembering which side dictates which action. Generally, left controls off or negative style actions, while right moves things forward. It's fairly simple to remember after a little while of using it. You can also activate Google Assistant or Siri, as well as take calls via the earbuds. This works well enough, assuming your surroundings aren't too loud.
The advantage to the long stems is you can easily pull the earbuds from your ears without worrying about accidentally hitting a button. It's particularly useful when on the move.
The charging case has a built-in 300mAh battery which is good for about 14 hours of charging before you need to find a power source. The earphones themselves promise about 3 and a half hours of battery life and we found that to be mostly true in reality. It's a decent enough length of time. Expect a few hours to fully recharge the case though because, as mentioned, this is micro-USB based rather than USB-C.
- Crisp sounds
- Weak high notes
- Weak bass
Understandably for these kind of earphones at this price, there's no Active Noise Cancellation or even any passive noise cancellation. Instead, there's a fair amount of noise bleed afoot, especially when you're anywhere vaguely noisy. Often, we found the best solution to this was to either avoid noisy locations (far from practical) or to whack the volume up higher, which isn't exactly ideal for the safety of one's hearing. So, these aren't exactly designed for noisy public transport.
Sound quality-wise, it's a similarly mixed bag. Playing Under Pressure by Queen brought with it crisp sounds that felt like they were coming from all around, but high notes from David Bowie demonstrated that the Urbanista Stockholm true wireless earphones just can't handle it without sounding over the top and shrill.
A more genteel track, like John Legend's All of Me, brought with it smoother sounds, even when it came to the mids. But then a switch over to Kanye West's Stronger highlighted that the bass is pretty weak. Pun intended, it really could have sounded stronger with a real lack of oomph to the bass line here.
Interestingly, a quick test of some classical pieces, like Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, showed that piano music sounded delightfully crisp, but anything a bit more aggressive, like Mahler, and that weak bass shows up how tinny these earphones can sound sometimes. There's just no punch here.
For the price though? Well, it makes sense. Just don't expect a revelation in sound quality here.
For the price, the Urbanista Stockholm true wireless earphones look lovely. They're truly a matter of style over substance. It's not so much that they do a bad job (although, we'd have preferred stronger bass), it's just that they don't do anything remarkably well.
Having said that, for half the price of AirPods, they do look as stylish, and they're very easy to use. They just lack the sound quality.
As is typical of mid-range priced earphones, it all comes down to what you want from your earphones. If sound quality is less important than how they look (or how simple they are to use) then the Urbanista Stockholm true wireless earphones are a decent pair of buds.
Want something that sounds as good as they look? Well, you're probably going to have to spend a bit extra on a pair like the Jabra Elite 65t.
- If you need a new pair of headphones, check out our list of the best headphones of 2019, which is your definitive guide to the latest and greatest audio