So, I have bought a pair of new cans, the Sennheiser Urbanite XL for Android. For those of you who don’t know it – there are two main versions – the over ear: the Urbanite XL and the on ear simply: Urbanite.
Then you have a wide selection of colour-schemes, but if you go with iOS compatible, you have vastly more to choose from. Why Sennheiser – why? I of course went with the Android version. I would have gladly went with a none-specific version since I hardly use these types of cans with my smartphone anyway. Well, I also chose the Denim look. Partly cause I already have owned a plethora of black headphones and the other version weren’t in store yet. Great selection. Does this mean you guys at Sennheiser believe only iPhone users care about the outside? Or was it too troublesome to make a selection of two cords with either Android/WIN based controller on and one for Apple users? Still, I would have been happy had you thrown in a tagliatelle-styled cord without controller.
I had a listen to the on-ear at a store some weeks ago and found them not to my liking. They felt for the size a bit clunky, had low volume with my phone and well – they were on-ear. The sound however were typical that of Sennheiser in my opinion. A bit dark, but well-defined and the bass was not so much in focus even though these headphones are marketed to meet the “street” or “club” generation. Well, whatever – why not simply say people who like thumping bass instead? This age obsession and “cool” is simply bothersome and well… I might think so because I’, simply just out of the age-criteria that these marketeers are aiming for. Which in my opinion is a tad sad, and stupid. Why – simply put – these are really nice headphones and shouldn’t be overlooked simply cause someone feel too old or not. These are not your “Beats” headphones.
So, even though I felt that I had some closed headphones with bass and were portable enough, I bought these ones and compared them with the two I had that were close enough: the Sennheiser Momentum (sometimes referred to as the grown-up version of street-fashion headphones) and the V-Moda M100 ( a pair of DJ liked cans). So I thought that we should take a quick look comparing not only sound, but portability, smartphone integration, additional in package stuff and comfort.
Going into sound is always tricky. It is very personal when you don’t measure them on a moulded head to make sure you get things like adjustment, sealing etc. I don’t have that equipment so I will just give some thoughts of mine regarding the three.
I used a list of songs mainly rock, club and sing-song writing stuff to get the most out of different settings. I added some Slipknot to really get a feel for thumping bass and detail of bass. I used my SONY Z2 with mp3’s, my iBasso DX90 and also played songs via FOOBAR on my NAD D1050 – both used FLAC’s both CD rips and HD downloads.
These parameters fall into the same category. Being portable is also largely depending on accessories that makes it easy to enjoy your music your way and how to store them and carry them along.
Well, simply put, do they work with a smart phone? Tablet? How well?
One of the most important aspects when you are out and about, do they stay on your head when you have to jog to the bus, when you sit on the bus and listen to Norah Jones – can you hear her at all? When you shove them down your bag and interacts with other people or simply put them around your neck.
Simply put, are they well made, do you get your moneys worth from them?
SOUND: Overall, I would say that these sound the best. They are not as engaging in some genres but they are the most refined and most levelled sounding cans of this test. They are by no means bass-monsters, but the bass is there, it is clear and well refined. You can make out the bass-guitar from the drums and it goes smoothly over to mids and up in the highs. They are good for listening to all genres. For electronica and really bass-thumping club-music perhaps they will fall a bit flat – but well, that is totally up to the listener. The headphone seal off noise pretty well, having them on gives a good seal and you won’t disturb your surroundings and also, you will get to hear things over the bus engine. Still, they are not noise-cancelling so crank the volume up. These headphones can sound a bit on the un-engaging side on the iBasso DX90 and the smart phone, but with the right DAC/AMP they instantly live up and performs excellent. I really preferred them on the NAD and cheated and checked them on the ADL Stride. For smartphones, they will be unmerciful and show flaws in your music directly. Loudness wars and bad mixing will be obvious.
The Momentum comes with a hard carry-case, one cord with iOS styled metal controller/mic and a flippable 3.5 mm jack. It also has a cord without any controller/mic. It also comes with a 6.3 mm plug. The Momentum isn’t what you would call for the smallest carry-along phones. They don’t fold, they don’t get a small footprint they are simply small by design and that makes them take some considerable place. Being lighter and smallest in the extended position, they are also the largest to carry around in a bag. These headphones are more the audiophile on the go headphones than the small to the school.
SMARTPHONE INTEGRATION: Gee, I wish I could tell you how swell they work with your iTunes monsters out there but no, I don’t do APPLE so sorry, you have to get confirmation from someone else. On your ANDROID device however, the mic works, the play/pause talk button work as a multiple press android button. The volume controls don’t work however.
COMFORT: These headphones have a small ear-cup, making them annoying to wear unless you can fit your ears inside the small cup. As you see on the photo they are oval-shaped and the inner dimension measures somewhere around 50mm. So, if these comes up as interesting, make sure they fit. Plenty of people don’t like them due to the fit. For me they sit tight, but comfortably so they give me a good sound and while I’m a bit hesitant to keep them on more than 2 hours straight without a breather (to tell you the truth, I don’t like any headphones enough to not have a breather) but they are OK. If you have large ears, or well, not large – just not small, you may have some trouble. Having to cram your ears into the cups won’t make for an ideal listening environment either. Hanging them leisurely around your neck is no problem. Nor is the small headband a problem or any clamping force. They sit nicely on the head and they are light so you won’t have much of a problem here. The clamping force is OK, they won’t fly off for you taking off after the bus, but not hard enough to make us with glasses feel like in a torture chamber.
QUALITY: The Momentum are well made, have nice details, feels solid and while the sliding cups could lead to one thinking they will lose their fit, I haven’t still found that to be the case. The removable cables sit securely in their housing and having separate cable is a good thing. Having no real folding in structure or so makes them pretty sturdy. The cables are a bit sensitive to grinding against clothes or bouncing around. They transfer some noise back into the cups. Which is a bit annoying.
SENNHEISER URBANITE XL
SOUND: These sound a bit muddier than the MOMENTUM’s but still they have a good coverage over the full spectrum. The bass is more thumpier and in focus. Depending on the songs mixing, you can hear the bass clearly and been a bit thick and rich at the same time. In some songs I had a pleasant oh-yeah moment when the bass-guitar came out really thick and nice. Cramming up the PowerAMP on bass showed that these cans can take a high output of bass without too much distortion – if any. These cans clearly shines on portable media. They sounded rich with a nice lustre on the iBasso and on the Z2 smart phone. With the NVidia Shield Tablet they sounding really well. They would come in as more fun than audiophile grade, but regardless, I really liked the sound. It takes a few minutes to get into but then you are in the safe hands. Most things simply sounds nice and better than OK. They can’t really reach the detail or accuracy that the Momentum delivers, but takes vengeance with that bass. They did sound nice with the NAD 1050 but didn’t climb an extra step. The Urbanites seal off pretty decent, not as well as the Momentum, but close. Not much sound escapes to be unsettling. It fends off noise from the outside fairly well, but as with the Momentum, might need a volume boost while on the bus.
The Urbanite XL have really no extras. The carry case is more like string bag that feels like someones comfy-shorts rather than something you would use to protect your expansive cans in while you shove them down a bag. No 6.3 extension and only one cable. Feels cheap, but if they have simply focused on the headphones to make the price-point OK – the sound is clearly all that matters in this regard. The urbanites folds inward, and it kinda makes them portable. They are the largest cans of the three, but portable they get smaller than the Momentum.
SMARTPHONE INTEGRATION: Simply put – with ANDROID it works, the volume, the button the mic. Straight performance, no problems. With my NVidia Shield tablet – they don’t work. Guess that the tablet is different.
COMFORT: These headphones are slightly heavier than the rest, they have also velour pads instead of pleather making them slightly softer on the skin, but warmer. They have a deeper set of cans than the M100’s making the room for the ear slightly better in-depth aspect. While the image with the ruler states that the cup size should be roughly 52mm or so, they feel a bit small and I think that this is a mistake. The Momentum came under heavy fire for being not big enough, and while larger due to the round design, the Urbanite XL is in the risk of being under same critique. The Urbanite being heavier doesn’t pose that much of a problem while you sit down. They have a rather small but comfortable headband and the cups closes fine around your ear. Having them around your neck becomes less nice than the MOMENTUM but it’s OK. They do require some refitting and readjustments to fit if you are up and moves about the place a lot. If you run, you will most likely have a hand on these since the weight and lack of clamping force makes them feel more prone to not stay on your head.
QUALITY: The URBANITE XL’s are well crafted. Mostly in plastic material, but don’t strike you as cheap. Hinges etc are metal and the housing for the cable feels sturdy. The tagliatelle cable feels more secure than the MOMENTUM’s thin cables. The design with denim and cloth details will most likely make them sensitive towards grease and spots. Being the only ones with a tagliatelle shaped cord, these do excellent when walking around. They hardly transfer any noise from grinding clothes or jumping around. Tangle free is a bonus and the controller feels very solid.
SOUND: The V-MODA have a different sound than the both SENNHEISER cans, more direct, a bit more closed in and changing from the MOMENTUM directly makes it feel like a bit more tinnier sound. The bass is more aggressive and direct making them slightly more engaging in some genres. They however lack the clear and detailed mids and highs that the MOMENTUM has. While more aggressive and thumping than the URBANITE XL, the bass isn’t as rich and detailed with the M100. The quickness and directness makes electronica stand out a bit though. In its defence – these are fun headphones and far from ill-sounding! None of the headphones are bad – they are actually in my opinion really good headphones and comes down to personal flavour. The M100 plays well with all mediums however. They transfer from the NAD1050 to the iBasso DX90 and to the SONY Z2 without loosing a beat ;). They perform well regardless of source really. They sound really well with the NVidia Tablet, might be because the Shield Tablet really does sound well. They do leak a bit, despite sitting firmly in place. You can listen without a problem on the bus or on the go.
The V-Modas come with two cords, an Android and an iOS version cable a very good carry case and a 6.3 mm connector. They fold inwards making them the smallest and tightest of this test. The profile on the head is also leaner than the other two, fitting snugly. The carry case feels very sturdy and putting pressure on it doesn’t make it flinch or bend. The entire headphone is made to be carried. Show them down a bag in or out the carry case – no worries. They are hands down the most portable of the test, and for their size that I know of. The V-Moda I ordered came with an extra pair of shields, the side of the cups are removable and you can order with different colours and also your own motif.
COMFORT: The V-Moda are sort of oval formed headphones. Even though not as big, they don’t feel like they sit tight or leave your ears without room – unless of course you count for the shallow space in-depth. I and many others do not like the fact that your outer ear will most likely come to rest against the inner headphone. I guess that I’m in the category of people who have a rather easy time though, cause I only notice this when my ears are sensitive. But if your ears are slightly larger than mine, you may have a problem here as well. Now I do believe that you can order XL pads for extra comfort for these headphones, but really – I should have hoped for them to simply ship with extra cushion pads. They stay on you head nicely, fits snugly to your head, and running jumping etc – they feel secure.Having them around your neck is a tight story though and while the others hang around there, these fit securely, but not too comfortable.
QUALITY: The V-MODA feels like they are built to last a war. You can bend them, drag them, drop them etc. They feel like they won’t mind that much. The shields however are of a metal and dropping them will be noticed I guess. The cables feel less good however. Walking around these transfer noise from the cable grinding your jacket or bouncing around things. Even though the cables are braided it feels like one of the few shortcomings on these cans. The mic and controller are separate and does the job I guess, but I really would like to try them out with a straight no-nonsense cord without controller or mic.