Urbanista has carved a solid niche in the Bluetooth speaker and headphones market, courtesy of its simple Scandinavian designs coupled with decent sound quality and affordable prices.
That trend has continued with the Urbanista Brisbane. Named after the third-largest city in Australia (continuing Urbanista's trend of naming products after major cities), this Bluetooth speaker might not look particularly exceptional, but it packs an audio punch that you wouldn't expect judging from its compact size.
We ran the powerful portable speaker through its paces, to see just how well it performs – and we're impressed. Spoiler alert: you can count on seeing the Urbanista Brisbane on our round up of the best Bluetooth speakers of 2020.
Price and availability
The Urbanista Brisbane has a recommended retail price of £99/$99 but keep an eye out for discounts. It's the kind of speaker that's likely to drop in price a little at retailers like Amazon (opens in new tab), while Urbanista (opens in new tab) itself often offers sales on its products. choice of two colours are available – white or black.
Despite the name, it's not currently available in Australia, but that price works out at around AU$140 based on current conversion rates.
That's pretty cheap compared to our current top Bluetooth speaker, the Sonos Move, which comes in at $399 / £399 / AU$649. It's even cheaper than the UE Boom 3, which we think offers excellent value for money at $129.99 / £129.99 / AU$199.95.
The Urbanista Brisbane isn't the most eye-catching of speakers – and that's both a problem and an advantage, depending on how you look at it. It's subtle and ideal for placing on a bookcase or cabinet so it doesn't distract from your style or decor, but it's design is a little boring.
It weighs a little under 1kg / 2.2lbs and measures just over the length of an iPhone XS (about six inches) – just right to give you a sense of sturdiness without being bulky for the sake of it. You can easily hold it with one hand to move it between rooms, but you probably wouldn't pack it in our carry-on luggage when traveling (unless you're willing to sacrifice some clothes for your music) .
That's fine though. While the Urbanista Brisbane is touted as a portable speaker with Bluetooth connectivity, we'd likely use it mainly as a speaker for the home. With no real protective bumpers, we wouldn't fancy its chances on any kind of rugged trip, although the inclusion of IPX5 water-resistance does mean you could easily take it into the garden to soundtrack your next barbecue and be safe in the knowledge that a little rain won't break it.
On top of the speaker are the controls. They're pretty typical – a Bluetooth pairing button, a power button, and volume keys that also double up as rewind and fast forward buttons. You're able to feel them with your fingers and the gaps between each button are wide enough that it's unlikely you'll press the wrong button any time. The lack of lit-up buttons is a bit of a shame though – especially if you want to use it in a party setting where the lights are low.
On the back of the device is a micro-USB port for charging, along with an AUX input if you want to listen in a wired capacity instead of use Bluetooth. Both are hidden behind a rubber cover to aid with the splash-proofing.
Battery life is solidly dependable thanks to the Urbanista Brisbane's 8000mAh capacity. Urbanista reckons it'll last for up to 10 hours of constant playback with a 90-day stand-by time.
We didn't quite have the time to check if that 90 day figure was accurate, but the battery certainly lasts as long in use as Urbanista declared. It only takes a couple of hours to recharge too, which is certainly convenient.
As always, your mileage will vary when it comes to battery life, and we'd recommend keeping the volume relatively low to get the longest battery life out of it. As you'll find out though, the lowest volume is still pretty powerful indeed.
There's no doubt about it – the Urbanista Brisbane packs a series punch, despite its compact size. It offers two 10W drivers on either side of the device – this contributes to a well-balanced soundstage that feels wider than you might expect.
You don't get the 360-degree sound of cylindrical models like the UE Boom 3, but you could increase that soundstage further, by pairing it with a second Brisbane speaker for true stereo sound. Ultimately though, the Urbanista Brisbane has plenty of oomph on its own.
At the lowest volumes, it fills the room with strong yet smooth bass. Another One Bites The Dust is our traditional favorite to put a speaker through its low frequency-paces, and it sounded powerful without overwhelming the other frequencies. The overall tone is well balanced with deep, punchy bass and mids that still sound even and smooth at all times. Trebles are similarly well pronounced as our journey through the Queen catalogue takes use to Under Pressure, which sounds crisp and detailed.
Ultimately, it's the volume that impresses us most with the Urbanista Brisbane. It's pretty small, yet fills the room in a way that makes it ideal for soundtracking gatherings with some great background music. During a family meal, John Legend's All of Me played in the background smoothly, demonstrating that the Urbanista Brisbane isn't just all about the bass.
Even when we tried it out with music from a local artist – meaning it's not been professionally tweaked – it maintained a crisp sound that didn't once crackle or sound distorted, even at higher volumes.
There may not be an accompanying app for the Urbanista Brisbane, but with its default settings, it sounds good – even if some users may be keen to have the psychologically reassuring touch of an equalizer app, it's not necessary to get a enjoyable listen from this punchy portable speaker.
Looking fairly unexceptional and liable to blend in pays off for the Urbanista Brisbane. It'll immediately surprise and impress you with its crisp sounds and great volume levels, while also blending in perfectly to your living room setup.
Don't expect to want to take this speaker on a rugged outdoor trip, and certainly don't expect anyone to rave about its looks, but do enjoy the quietly confident level of sound quality going on here – it may not sound quite as expansive as the UE Boom 3, but the Brisbane still performs admirably.
For the price, the Urbanista Brisbane is ultimately a bit of a bargain. You'll find better sound quality out there, but it'll cost you a lot more. All in all, this mid-range speaker could be a great choice for anyone who wants the freedom of wireless listening without sacrificing volume levels – and that's why you'll find the Brisbane on our round up of the best Bluetooth speakers of 2020.
- Looking for something more personal? Check out our Urbanista Stockholm true wireless headphones review