What's hot: Awesome noise blocking, great audio quality.
What's not: Some range lost playing certain tracks.
Reviewed December 30, 2010 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
Fashion conscious headphones became all the rage in the past couple of years; brands like Skull Candy have made their way into music lovers' hands and even recording studios. Urbanears, a collective of talents from Scandinavia, have joined in to create aesthetically pleasing headphones. Their contribution to this movement is adding bold colors to headphones. Urbanears currently offers three models in their headphone line, all of which come in 14 colors and look like paint catalog samples when you line them up together. The Plattan model is the high-end one and sells for $60. The headphones have extremely effective noise blocking and the audio quality is very good for a headphone in this price range. The Plattan Plus we reviewed here sells for the same price and has the same design and technology as the Plattan model, but adds “Made for Apple” volume controls and comes in 4 colors currently: Red, White, Aubergine and Dark Grey.
The Plattan and Plattan Plus have the traditional headphone design with a little twist. The hinges for the headphone’s earmuffs allow the headphone to collapse inward, making the headphone into a fraction of the full size and easier to store and carry. The Plattan has a solid build and fits tight enough that it feels very secure when jogging and biking. The tight fit also produces another benefit: blocking all surrounding noise on the road or trail, so you should be careful wearing it outside as you will not hear traffic and other hazards. Thanks to the soft and thick padding, the Plattan’s earmuffs don’t pinch your ears even though they have a tight fit. Like many headphones, the Urbanears has an adjustable length headband, so it should fit most people. Like to share your music with a friend? The right earpiece on the Plattan has a built-in 3.5mm audio jack so two headsets can listen to the same music.
In addition to music, the Urbanears Plattan is designed to take care of phone calls too. The 47” long fabric audio cord has a built-in mic and remote audio control which positions right next to your mouth when you are wearing the headphones.
For $60 headphones, the Urbanears Plattan Plus has very good audio with clear sound and good bass. The tight fit of the headphones improves audio quality: treble sounds louder and bass feels more powerful. You will likely turn the volume down a notch on the Plattan compared to other headphones, and if you want secluded sound, the Plattan has the best noise blocking we’ve heard on a non-noise canceling headphone. Audio sounds very balanced and natural via the Urbanears, and for some music styles and tracks, the Urbanears can sound as good as even higher end headphones like the Denon AH-D510R ($99.99). The only thing we’ve noticed that’s lacking when compared to the Denon was the range on some tracks where high trebles seem stretched wider and the bass had a deeper bottom on the Denon. Here are some specific aspects of the sound we observed on the Urbanears:
Treble: The Plattan did well in producing natural and clear voices and instruments in music genres such as rock, hip-pop, techno/exercise and rap. Overall audio quality was consistently clear and balanced, and the volume is very high. Track separation was clear in most tunes. Certain genres didn’t have full reproduction of the tracks, such as some orchestral tracks and vocal chanting tracks, missing some range on the high and low, but only to very keen ears.
Deals and Shopping:
Bass: The Urbanears has plenty of bass for most tracks in all genres, and you can feel it pumping against your ears in tracks that accentuate the bass. We tested many tracks in different genres, and the Plattan had strong bass power in almost all of them. Again, if you compare it with high end headphones, you will find some tracks that had deeper bass you won’t hear on the Plattan. But for most tracks, you won’t notice it.
Volume: Volume is super loud. We had to turn the volume way down when we switched to the Urbanears from the stock iPhone 4 headset. The volume is louder than many headphones we tested including the Denon AH-D510R.
Call Quality and Microphone
The Urbanears Plattan has clear and loud incoming call voice. Audio quality translates from your phone’s voice quality through the headphones, i.e. if your phone has good voice quality it will come through on the headphone, or vice versa. Volume is very loud on the Plattan when working with most phones we tested.
The Plattan Plus has a built-in mic and the outgoing voice via the mic is good but not exceptional. It can catch your voice but it has better sound when you hold the mic directly in front of your mouth. Along with the mic, the Plattan Plus also has a volume rocker and a call pick up/end/music play/pause button. These on-headset controls work with most phones (iPhone 4, Samsung phones, HTC phones, BlackBerry, etc.), but Urbanears offers a Nokia adapter that’s guaranteed to work with all Nokia phones. They also offer a neutral stereo plug for computers, AV equipment and media players if you want to bypass the mic.
Looking good wearing headphones nowadays seems as important as the music sounding good for a large segment of fashion-conscious buyers. Urbanears Plattan and Plattan Plus certainly catch your eyes with bright and luscious colors. The headphones have a very nice design and sturdy build. Audio quality is excellent and exceeds the price of the headphones, and noise blocking is exceptional. Sure you will find a bit less range compared to $100 or over headphones like the Denon, but for the price, the Urbanears Plattan offers great value for your money. And if you want headphones that match your favorite outfit, bag or gadgets, you will likely find the right color.
Pro: Awesome noise blocking, great audio quality.
Con: Some classical tracks lack the clear, well separated trebles.
Package contains the Urbanears headphone and a printed catalog.