Swedish audio brand Urbanista has been making a name for itself over the past few years, releasing a number of true wireless earbuds and Bluetooth speakers designed for fashion-conscious music lovers on a budget.
Now the brand turns its attention to the world of over-ear headphones, with the Urbanista Miami. These noise-cancelling headphones are a cheaper alternative to models such as the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Apple AirPods Max, and while they don’t boast the same refined audio quality or class-leasing ANC, we think they’re a great choice for those with not much money to spend.
Urbanista has flexed its design capabilities once more, launching the slick wireless headphones in a range of stylish colors, while also including a handy case for easy portability.
Control buttons are integrated into the generously padded earcups, and they mostly work well, allowing you to control your music playback and phone calls, and to toggle between active noise cancellation and the ambient sound mode.
Noise cancellation isn’t the best we’ve experienced, but will suffice if you’re not bothered about blocking out every single piece of environmental sound. The ambient mode lets you tap into your surroundings via a press of a button.
Sound quality is generally well balanced, with an extended bass response that lends itself to pop and RnB. However, audiophiles looking for top-most accuracy and detail will likely want to spend a little more money on a pair of reference headphones.
Battery life and connectivity is decent for the price, too. You'll get up to 50 hours of playback from a single charge, and support for Bluetooth 5 means you won’t have to worry about annoying connectivity dropouts or long pairing times.
Overall, Urbanista has exceeded expectations with its first pair of noise-cancelling over-ear headphones, and they’re easy to recommend to anyone on a budget who doesn’t want to sacrifice style, sound, or substance.
Urbanista Miami price and release date
- Released January 5, 2021
- $149 / £129 / AU$269
The Urbanista Miami were launched on January 5, 2021, and cost $149 / £129 / AU$269. That puts them firmly at the lower end of the noise-cancelling headphones spectrum on price, undercutting the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Apple AirPods Max by a significant margin.
There are cheaper noise-cancelling headphones available, such as the Plantronics BackBeat Go 880, but few can boast the long battery life and specs of the Urbanista Miami.
- Available in four colors
- Comfortable headband and earcups
- Control buttons on earcups
Like Urbanista’s previous wireless earbuds and Bluetooth speakers, the Miami headphones are available in a range of fashion-forward colors, including Pearl White, Midnight Black, Ruby Red and Real Green.
We reviewed the Ruby Red version of the headphones, falling in love with the hue at first sight – although it's bright, so won’t be to everyone’s taste.
The earcups and headband are generously padded, making them comfortable to use for long listening sessions. A hard zip-up case is provided, so you can pop them away in your bag without a worry.
The overall look of the Urbanista Miami is super-sleek, with brushed aluminum housings that give off a subtle sheen, and the earcups can be folded flat for easy portability.
On the bottom of the left earcup you’ll find a USB-C charging port, a battery status indicator light, and a feature button, which allows you to toggle between active noise cancellation and the ambient sound mode.
The right earcup is home to the 3.5mm audio port, volume and skip-track buttons. The control button sits on this side, too, and can be used to power the headphones on and off, play and pause tracks, and answer and end phone calls.
The inclusion of a 3.5mm audio port is welcome, especially since the Apple AirPods Max burst onto the scene with no such convenience, in spite of their far higher price. Here, an audio cable is included in the box; it’s a shame that the cable doesn’t match the color of the headphones – ours was black – but this certainly isn't a deal-breaker.
Using the buttons to control your music playback proved simple enough, although we did notice a some lag when using the volume buttons at first. This issue quickly rectified itself on using the headphones over a longer period of time.
Also handy is the auto-pause function, which, thanks to built-in sensors, stops your music from playing when you take the headphones off your head.
- Bassy sound
- Spacious soundstage
- Mids could be richer
Considering the Urbanista Miami's price, audio quality impresses. The 40mm drivers power a bass-heavy presentation that will appeal to casual listeners.
Listening to Wild Beasts’ A Simple Beautiful Truth, the headphones handled the staccato guitar, synth and percussion with aplomb, displaying tightly controlled yet powerful bass to propel the track along.
Imaging was pretty good, too, with panned effects and instruments coming through with clarity, while the vocal took center-stage with smooth, clear tones.
As we moved onto Wanderlust, we were impressed by how the headphones handled complex rhythmic changes – although a pair of audiophile reference headphones will lend a higher degree of accuracy to mutating meters.
In Catatonia’s Mulder and Scully, the soundstage felt fairly spacious, with good separation between the different frequencies. Driving guitars and drums had plenty of power behind them, but never overpowered Cerys Matthews’ distinctive vocal.
Moving onto something a little more soulful, we found that complex bass lines in Lou Rawls’ You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine sounded well-controlled, while sweeping strings and piano stabs cushioned Rawls’ dulcet vocal runs. There’s a touch of harshness in the highest treble frequencies at high volumes, but it isn't noticeable enough to seriously detract from the experience.
In general, we’d have welcomed more detail in the trebles and a richer mid-frequency presentation. You may find yourself craving more from keys, synths and harmonized vocals, although we’re hesitant to criticize the Urbanista Miami too harshly at this price.
Still, hardcore audiophiles will likely want to consider models such as the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Apple AirPods Max for a more detailed, well-balanced listening experience.
- Noise cancellation could be better
- Ambient mode
The Urbanista Miami's noise cancellation certainly isn’t class-leading, and won’t block out all environmental sound. Nevertheless, it can at least lessen the impact of surrounding noise, which is what we’d expect at this price.
Toggling between active noise cancellation and the ambient sound mode proved easy using the control button on the left earcup. The ambient sound mode allows some environmental sound to pass through the earcups, without pausing your music. It’s a handy feature when you’re crossing busy roads and want to be able to hear cars approaching, for example, but with your music on, you won’t be able to hear well enough to have conversations.
Battery life and connectivity
- Up to 50 hours' playback
- Bluetooth 5
- SBC and AAC codec support
The battery life of the Urbanista Miami comes in at 40 hours with ANC turned on, rising to 50 hours with the feature turned off. We found this rather impressive battery life to be accurate during our tests, which makes these headphones ideal for commuters who don’t want to be constantly tethered to a charger.
Setting up and pairing the headphones with our laptop and smartphone was a breeze, with Bluetooth 5 ensuring a stable connection and quick pairing times.
Codec support includes SBC and AAC. It’s a shame there’s no aptX or aptX HD for Hi-Res Wireless Audio – although we wouldn’t necessarily expect that from a pair of headphones at this price.
Should I buy the Urbanista Miami?
Buy them if...
You want a cheaper alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM4
Noise-cancelling headphones rarely come cheap, but the Urbanista Miami’s competitive price and decent performance means they’re a great choice if you’re on a budget.
You want your headphones to stand out
These headphones won’t be lost in the sea of black Sony lookalikes out there, coming in a range of cool colors to suit every style.
You like your music bassy
An extended bass response means that the Urbanista Miami are particularly well suited for pop and RnB.
Don't buy them if...
You’re looking for the best audio quality
The Urbanista Miami sound good, but the headphones lack the detail and accuracy that audiophiles crave.
You want the best noise cancellation
Again, noise cancellation isn’t the best on the market – for that, you’ll want to look to the Sony WH-1000XM4, Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, or the Apple AirPods Max.
You need Hi-Res Audio support
Without aptX or aptX HD support, you won’t be able to get Hi-Res Audio over a wireless connection. Check out the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 instead.
- Looking for more? Check out the best noise-cancelling headphones of 2021