Sennheiser Urbanite XL review: Great sound and superb battery life

Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless review: Great sound and super-long battery life

Sennheiser claims an estimated 25 hours of playback or talk time, and they seem to be right on the money. During our testing, one run totaled roughly 23 hours of battery life, while another yielded 24.5.

If you happen to run out of battery life, it’s nice to know that the Urbanite XLs will continue to work in passive mode if you plug them in using the 3.5 mm cable. The volume is considerably lower than when using them in powered mode, and they don’t sound as nice, but it’s nice to know that you’re not completely out of luck when you’re out of juice.

At $300, Sennheiser’s Urbanite XL Wireless headphones are a little pricey considering they lack a few of the premium features (such as active noise cancelation) that some of their lower-priced competitors have. But these wireless over-the-ear headphones arguably earn their high price point in other areas, particularly their well-balanced sound profile and impressively long battery life.

Design-wise, the Urbanite XL Wireless headphones are pretty but not spectacularly eye-catching, with a plastic and metal frame, a rubber-padded headband covered in black stitched canvas, and large circumaural ear cups with velvet-covered muffs. The hinged frame allows these cups to fold inward for a slightly smaller (but no less bulky) traveling size.

The XL Wireless is on the heavier side, weighing slightly less than 11 ounces (the similarly priced Beats Solo2 Wireless, in comparison, weigh just 7.6 ounces). This is problematic if you happen to be moving around while listening, because the rubbery material on the headband is slick and the headphones’ mass will cause them to slide around on your hair.

Sennheiser Urbanite XL WirelessSarah Jacobsson Purewal

Sennheiser’s Urbanite XL Wireless don’t travel light, but they deliver a superb audio performance. 

These headphones are a little large for my liking, though the cushioned ear cups are very comfortable—and they’re excellent at blocking outside noise (in part because they’re so big). Sennheiser does offer a smaller version (the Urbanite), but these are not yet available with Bluetooth.

The right ear cup houses the XL Wireless’ controls, including some surprisingly clunky and unrefined touch controls. A square piece of plastic on the right ear cup acts as a touch sensor for Play/Pause (tap) and volume control (slide up or down), but it’s overly sensitive and often mistakes taps for slides and vice-versa. There’s a power switch, audio-in jack, and micro USB port for charging underneath the right ear cup. The headphones come with an audio cable (with a built-in remote), USB charging cable, and a thin nylon carrying case that will do little for actual protection.

Sennheiser describes the Urbanite XL Wireless headphones as delivering “massive bass for a club sound wherever you go.” As you may know, I love bass-heavy club beats, and these headphones deliver solid and deep bass, but it’s not what I would call “massive.” In fact, I found the XL Wireless’ audio profile extremely balanced and detailed—no one tone outshines the others, and vocals are crisp and clear. Even with my bass bias, these headphones offer the best, most layered audio in this roundup. If you are looking for deep, club-tastic bass, you’ll be happier with Beats by Dre.

Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless

Sennheiser delivers these phones with an audio cable, a micro-USB cable for charging the battery, and a carrying case.

Excellent audio is just one (big) reason to consider the Urbanite XL Wireless as your next pair of Bluetooth headphones. The XL Wireless also sports 25-hour long battery life, according to the company (I got around 21 hours of straight music played at a medium level). That was about twice as much battery life as I got from other Bluetooth headsets, which usually top out about 14 hours (except for Plantronics’ BackBeat Pro, which gets a solid 24 hours of straight music).

If you can get past the bulk and you’re not interested in active noise cancelation, the Urbanite XL Wireless headphones are definitely worth a look. They’re the best-sounding headphones in their price range.

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Build {amp}amp; Design

Unlike the other headphones in this line, the Urbanite and Urbanite XL, the Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless are only available in black. This doesn’t seem to be a temporary thing, nor can we think of any good reason for limiting the color choices, other than relatively limited stock of the wireless models when compared to the other two.

No matter what the reason for that lack of choice in color variety, these are fairly stylish, and the black is certainly classier-looking than the over the top red, white and blue color scheme of the smaller Urbanite model we reviewed.

The ear cups are fairly adjustable, and this made for a comfortable fit, though they started to feel less comfortable over time. I don’t have large ears, but the ear cups felt slightly to small to go around my ear. For those with larger ears, these are essentially on-ears.

Despite looking bulky and seeming – on paper, at least – relatively heavy, the XLs don’t feel it. Build is solid, the chunky hinges and slick slider mechanisms giving the impression of quality and suggesting an ability to withstand bumps and bruises.

The ‘denim’ finish on our review pair won’t appeal to all tastes, but other colours are available. A flat cable helps to fight tangles while the angled jack at the smartphone end keeps things discreet.

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