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Big, accentuated bass with a funky, durable design — these aren't your average Sennheisers. The Urbanite XL Wireless headphones ($299) are targeting fans of Beats by Dr. Dre products, offering the signature Sennheiser sound with a hot-bass injection. The company has also ditched the cord and outfitted the over-ear headphones with a Lithium-ion battery for up to 25 hours of uninterrupted thump.
Targeting a younger audience, the Urbanite XL headphones are both durable and attractive. Instead of leather and stainless steel, the majority of the XL's headband serves up black canvas and white matte polyurethane. The remainder is made of black-and-silver stainless steel. The band is rather thick, measuring 1.25-inches across, and can bend backwards and snap right back into shape.
The ear caps are rather large and made of matte black plastic with a slim white band, while the ear pads are made of black velvet and memory foam. You'll see a slider button pulling double duty as the power/Bluetooth button with ports for the audio cable and a microUSB port, leaving the left side virtually bare. Both ear cups bend upward, thanks to the sturdy stainless steel hinges.
Sennheiser also ships a 47.2-inch audio cord, microUSB cable and black travel bag with the headphones. I'm particularly a fan of the inline remote on the audio cable. The remote is large and easy to operate and works with iOS and Android devices alike.
Unlike the wired XLs, which comes in five color palettes, the wireless version is only available in black.
Weighing 11 ounces, the over-ear Urbanite XLs are slightly heavier than the Sony MDR-XB950BTs (10 ounces) and a bit lighter than the 11.6-ounce Plantronics BackBeat Pros. The velvet cover paired with the memory foam made for a soft, comfortable fit. Although, I'm not sure I'd want to encase my ears in black velvet during the summer months.
A touch panel hides in the rectangular panel holding the right ear cup in place. Similar to the Parrot Zik 2.0 headphones, the Urbanite XLs use a series of taps and swipes to input commands.
For example, adjusting the volume is a simple as a quick swipe up or down. A quick tap of the panel can play or pause a track, accept or end a call or cancel redialing depending on the situation. Tapping twice can place calls on hold, skip tracks and redial your most recently called number, while three taps plays the previous track.
The panel can also perform certain commands when it's pressed for a second or more.
The touch panel delivered swift responses to my fervent taps and swipes — when it could pick them up. There were instances where I experienced problems trying to skip tracks or ignore phone calls. The multifunction button on the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphones is a more elegant and intuitive solution.
Bluetooth and NFC Pairing
Just like the Momentum Wireless headphones, the XLs use Bluetooth 4.0 and can be paired with a device via Bluetooth search or NFC. The trendy-looking cans have the ability to pair with eight devices at a time and save up to eight device profiles. Once paired, the headphones will immediately attempt to connect with the last two devices they were connected to when turned on.
If you connect any more than eight devices, the headphones will overwrite the least-used profile. As far as range, Sennheiser claims the cans will work within 33 feet of the connected device as long as there's a line of sight. However, I was able to walk 45 feet away before the music began cutting out.
Equipped with 32 mm dynamic neodymium drivers, the Sennheiser Urbanite XL delivered crisp, detailed audio that's become synonymous with the brand -- for the most part. There were times when it fell short of the mark, largely due to the extra bass being pumped in.
I started my testing with Kanye West's "Power." The Urbanite XL massaged my ears with full, rich mids, accentuated by sharp hand claps. The bass line is more pronounced than the usual Sennheiser headphone sound signature, but there's still enough headspace for all the instruments and vocals to breathe.
The XLs hit a bit of a road block during Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2; Chopin, performed by Santiago Rodriguez. The track lacked a certain joie de vivre that was most evident in the lack of timbre in the piano. The strings also came up short on the detail front. However, it still performed better than the Sony MDR-XB950BTs, which sounded congested and distant.
Overall, the Urbanites XL are designed to give listeners more bounce to the ounce. I put the cans to the test on Soul Coughing's "Blame." The lows came across aggressive yet lush on the XL, but caused the MDR-XB950BT's to bottom out, creating a hollowness.
Sennheiser claims that the wireless Urbanite XL's Lithium-ion battery can last up to 25 hours on a charge. That's more than the Sony MDR-XB950BT's 20 hours, but a drop in the bucket compared with the Plantronics BackBeat Pro's 60 hours. I used the Urbanites over the course of a week for two hours at time with 60 percent battery life remaining after the seven-day period.
You can still listen to your jams even after the battery dies, thanks to the audio cable. If the cord is plugged in while the headphones still have power, the Bluetooth will automatically deactivate.
When I called my mother and brother on the XLs, they both reported loud, clear audio and couldn't tell that I was using a headset. On my end, volume was loud enough that I didn't have to strain to hear. However, on each call I made, it sounded like they were underwater.
In an effort to appeal to a younger audience, Sennheiser's Urbanite XL Wireless headphones ($299) offer a heaping helping of bass, which should please thump-junkies everywhere. To match the new sound, the over-ear cans have a playful but durable design that's sure to turn heads.
However, the additional bass doesn't lend itself to genres outside of hip-hop and dance music. You'll also find yourself losing definition in favor of the thump. However, the XLs sound noticeably better than the $199 Sony MDR-XB950BTs and offer longer battery life. Overall, the Urbanite XLs are a great choice for music lovers looking for a fun and dirty take on the Sennheiser pedigree.
Sherri L. Smith is a Senior Writer at Tom's Guide. When she's not reviewing the latest headphones and speakers, you'll find her gaming on her Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or PC. Follow Sherri at @misssmith11. Follow us @TomsGuide and on Facebook.
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.