Tom's Guide Verdict
Urbanista's Los Angeles self-charging headphones deliver great sound and useful run time, but comfort for long-term wear isn't the best.
Category-leading battery life
Gorgeous, innovative design
Strong Transparency mode
Can be charged via wire or light source
Poor comfort levels
Companion app lacks extra features
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Colors: Black and Sand Gold
Battery life (rated): 50 hours (ANC on), 80 hours (ANC off)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Size: 7.5 x 6.2 inches
Weight: 11 ounces
The Urbanista Los Angeles over-ear wireless headphones are the latest model from the Swedish audio specialist. With the same handsome design as its more affordable sibling, the Miami, the higher priced Los Angeles has one of the most useful features I've seen on a headphone: solar-powered charging. Yes, these minimalist-looking cans have a solar panel integrated into the headband to self-charge the headphones in sunlight and also artificial light indoors. How awesome is that?
What's more, the battery life claims the headphones are able to deliver up to 80 hours from a full solar charge, which is the highest of any self-powered model I've seen. Sound quality is impressive and the Los Angeles includes active noise cancellation (ANC) with transparency modes too.
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The solar-powered charging function really is worth celebrating as it works so well, but these Urbanista's have a some feature compromises that really need to be taken into consideration before you buy.
Some of you won’t mind the mobile app’s lack of extended functionality, but the super-tight fit and high levels of discomfort as the headphones are clamped either side of my head, could be too much for many people.
Read our full Urbanista Los Angeles review to find out more.
Urbanista Los Angeles review: Price and availability
You can purchase the Urbanista Los Angeles for $199 (£169) directly from Urbanista. Black and sand gold finishes are available and you get a carrying case, USB-C charging cable and a quick start guide bundled.
They cost less than many of our best performing over-ear ANC models like the Sony WH-1000XM4 ($349), Bose 700 ($399) and Apple AirPods Max ($549), but if the Los Angeles price seems too high, then the $149 Cleer Enduro ANC, which received an Editor’s Choice award, comes with excellent noise cancellation and battery life for several dollars less.
For all of the latest headphones deals, be sure to bookmark our best headphones deals.
Urbanista Los Angeles review: Design and comfort
The Los Angeles headphones have the same physical appearance as the more affordable Miami, but with fewer color options. However, these headphones don something fancier on the headband: a layer of Powerfoyle solar cells that harnesses light and converts it to energy to power the headphones. I’ll discuss this in more detail later in my review.
These headphones are constructed from plush, matte-finish aluminum, with vegan leather wrapped around the padded earcups and headband. The build quality looks and feels fantastic. Like the Bose 700, the earcups don’t collapse inward, but they do rotate 90 degrees to store neatly in the super-sleek carrying case, which deserves its own recognition. It is Urbanista’s attempt at creating a more attractive version of Apple’s AirPods Max Smart Case, minus the low-power mode functionality.
I’m warning you in advance to space out your listening times because the Los Angeles is extremely fatiguing on the skull. The headband's clamp force pushing the earcups onto my ears is too high, almost to the point that it feels like my head is caught in a vise-like grip. Weighing in at 11 ounces, these are also not the lightest pair of cordless cans out there and can feel cumbersome to carry or wear around the neck.
Urbanista Los Angeles review: Controls and digital assistant
The control scheme consists of physical buttons, on-ear detection for auto-pause/play functionality, and digital assistance. While I do wish touch controls were integrated on the silky-smooth earcups, everything works well for a simple user experience.
The right cup houses a module with volume rockers and a center button, all of which serve multifunctional duties (e.g., answer/end call, playback, volume, power on/off), while the left earcup has an action button to cycle through the different listening modes. Holding down the action button will also enable your connected device's native assistant.
Operation is flawless with every single-/multi-press command responding accordingly to its assigned function. Motion detection works well, automatically pausing music when removing the headphones and resuming playback when placed back on the head. Siri, Google Assistant, and Bixby (Samsung) are compatible and reliable for hands-free voice commands. Urbanista’s mics are strong and pick up vocals precisely for the AI bots to register inquiries and respond quickly.
Urbanista Los Angeles review: Sound quality
Sound is bold and warm on the Los Angeles. The soundstage mostly favors contemporary music genres, pummeling your ears with deep, emphasized bass for a lively listening experience, although this can be a little too aggressive and diminish clarity on certain tracks.
The monstrous 808 drums on Busta Rhymes “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” stimulated an adrenaline rush when burning the midnight oil. Those same exact vibes intensified when hearing the iconic thumping bassline on Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” while the dense electric guitar rhythm and Freddie Mercury’s soaring vocals also shined.
The low end wasn’t so pleasant on other tracks. While it knocked hard on underground hip-hop bangers like Boot Camp Click’s “1, 2, 3,” I noticed vocals fuzzed up during the hook. An instrumental version of Oddisee’s “Fight Delays” didn’t sound as clear as I’ve heard on Sony's WH-1000XM4 or AirPods Max; the brass instruments distorted the soundscape and muddied the ad-libs.
But the Los Angeles isn’t just all about bass. There were moments where the Los Angeles demonstrated an expansive frequency range. Give a song like Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” a spin to hear what I’m talking about. Everything from the clear drum tumbles to the striking synths to the transparent dual harmonies sounded amazing.
Listening with ANC enabled doesn’t compromise the overall sound quality.
Urbanista Los Angeles review: Active noise cancellation
ANC is decent on the Los Angeles. You’ll need to have music at a high volume to block out common noises like kitchen appliances, talkative co-workers, or engine rumble. The technology doesn’t hold up well against midrange noises, and I could still hear my wife chatting on the phone from a few feet away, all while blasting music at about 80 percent volume. Hearing my crying infant from across the house demonstrated to me that the headphones weren’t capable of taming high frequencies either. My theory proved right when walking outside and hearing police sirens and whistles very loudly.
Surprisingly, the Transparency Mode performed much better and came in handy for numerous occasions. It was fun eavesdropping on my wife’s Zoom calls with her friends, while also engaging in clear-sounding conversations without having to pause music or remove the headphones. The technology was most useful outside, keeping me aware of oncoming traffic like cars and bicyclists crossing the bridge. I could even hear birds chirping from one house over, along with whatever landscaping was taking place at the time.
Urbanista Los Angeles review: Special features
The Urbanista control app is more flash than substance, though its visual presentation simplifies usability. For instance, you get a battery level indicator and basic toggle controls that are easy to activate and locate, thanks to big, eye-catching icons at the bottom of the home page. On the top right is a settings icon to customize the controls and enable/disable on-ear detection. Then there’s the headphones’ other main feature outside of ANC: solar charging. Solar power status is shown on the next page via a circular gauge that indicates how much power the headphones have gained or lost.
As far as how well the technology works, it’s both effective and intuitive. The Los Angeles will charge whether you’re listening to music while wearing them underneath a strong light source indoors or leaving them outside to catch some sun rays. Even cooler is that the technology will automatically turn off when detecting battery charge at 90 percent, which helps to improve battery lifespan.
Urbanista Los Angeles review: Battery life and charging case
A full charge nets you 50 hours of ANC playback and 80 hours with ANC turned off, which is absurdly good. The only other noise-cancelling headphone that comes close is the Cleer Enduro ANC, managing around 50 hours in our tests. With battery life this good, you can listen for a couple of hours each day for more than three weeks before the battery is depleted.
Remember too that you can recharge these headphones on the go simply by wearing them outside when it’s sunny.
Keep that in mind because without quick-charging technology, you’ll either have to bake out in the sun or wait 3 hours via USB-C charging to get full power.
Urbanista Los Angeles review: Call quality and connectivity
Calls sound fairly clear on these headphones, meaning voices are audible and you’ll be able to make out what callers are saying. The mics pick up vocals well. Some muffling was reported by my wife and mother-in-law, which they both noticed whenever I walked and talked. They also complained about my voice sounding distant, as well as ambient noises coming through, though my voice remained prominent over these distractions.
The Los Angeles runs on Bluetooth 5.0 and delivers the longest range I’ve tested on a pair of wireless headphones. Leaving my smartphone to charge near the back of the house, I stepped onto the front porch and was able to go across the street (about 80 to 100 feet from my smartphone) with the headphones blasting away without any dropouts, which is phenomenal. Pairing and auto-connect also operated smoothly.
Multipoint technology to pair the headphones to two devices simultaneously didn’t make the cut. Also, there's no 3.5mm aux jack on these headphones to enable you to keep listening when the battery runs out.
Urbanista Los Angeles review: Verdict
The Los Angeles is one of the most impressive wireless headphones ever created. Integrating a solar panel into the headband is ingenious, and the fact that the technology works well should pique your interest even more. Having nearly 80 hours of battery life is a huge selling point. Sound is also exciting with impactful bass and crisp mids coming out the 40mm full-range drivers.
Nonetheless, if you value ingenuity, endless playtime, and warm sound, then the Los Angeles speak your language.
A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.