Forget AirPods Max — these solar-powered headphones promise 'infinite' playtime for $350 less

Urbanista Los Angeles
(Image credit: Urbanista)

Swedish audio specialist Urbanista just unveiled its first set of solar-powered headphones: the Urbanista Los Angeles. It can apparently enable “virtually unlimited listening” by recharging the over-ear cans as you wear them, even indoors.

The Los Angeles’ release date wasn’t revealed but it will cost $199, which doesn’t sound like very much considering it will also feature active noise cancellation (ANC). Many of the best noise-cancelling headphones cost over $250, especially the $549 Apple AirPods Max.

The Los Angeles uses Powerfoyle solar cell material, a flexible cell design made by Swedish company Exeger. Urbanista says that on a sunny day, it can suck up enough sunlight in 1 hour to power 3 hours’ worth of playback time. In cloudy weather, you can expect the same 1 hour of exposure to produce 2 hours' worth of charge.

Powerfoyle can also work with ambient light, so as long as the room you’re in isn’t particularly dark you could still recharge the Los Angeles indoors. Charge time will vary, though — Urbanista suggests putting the headphones next to a window for the best results.

In addition to ANC, the Los Angeles’ other features include all the other trappings you’d expect from modern headphones, like a built-in mic for voice calls, a carry case and a USB-C charging port. That’s likely going to be a useful backup if you’re stuck somewhere you can’t recharge from the sun, like on an overnight flight.

The Los Angeles also adopts a very similar styling to the recent Urbanista Miami. That pair of ANC headphones was pleasantly minimalist but a bit tight around the head, so hopefully the Lose Angeles aims for a more comfortable fit.

It’s worth noting that while the Los Angeles could be the first pair of solar-powered headphones to make it to market, it’s not the first to exist. The JBL Reflect Eternal, which would also use Exeger’s Powerfoyle tech, appeared last year but has since been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even without an official release date, it looks like the Los Angeles could beat the Reflect Eternal to the eco-friendly punch.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.