Eco-conscious and on a budget? This Urbanears Boo review is exactly where you should be.
These are the best cheap headphones for anyone who wants to be a bit more careful about the environmental impact of the products they buy, these are made almost entirely from recycled plastics like old water bottles and disused air conditioning units.
Naturally, to keep the price so low, Urbanears have had to sacrifice some features but overall these true wireless earbuds are still excellent value for money.
After having tried them out for myself, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about them in this Urbanears Boo review. You can find out more about the design and fit as well as how I got on with the sound quality.
Urbanears Boo review: price and availability
You can buy the Urbanears Boo earbuds right now for about £70 in the UK - they aren’t available yet in the US or in Australia. Take a look at the widgets on this page to see the best deals on them from across the web.
Urbanears Boo review: design and fit
The first thing to say about the Urbanears Boo is that they are made from 91% recycled plastics - that in itself is a big selling point, especially for those who are trying to make more eco-conscious buying decisions. When they arrive at your door, they come in cardboard and paper packaging with no USB-C charging cable included. Other than on the product itself, there’s no plastic in sight!
You can buy them in five colours so one is sure to take your fancy. The choices are green, black, orange, white and lilac. Made mainly from a gritty matte plastic, they don’t look or feel as robust as a pair that cost twice or three times the price, but they don’t really need to either.
With a stem-type design, these are trying to be cheap AirPods, and they come in a matching charging case with a large ‘U’ across the front. The case is small enough to fit into even a tight jeans pocket so you’ll be able to keep it with you all the time if you want to.
To find the right fit for the earbuds, 3 sizes of silicone ear tips are included in the box. Each earbud weighs 4.1g so they feel very light to wear although the shape of the bud itself means you can feel them sitting in your ear as you wear them. Ultimately that means they’re not secure enough and I did feel them slipping out at times, especially during workouts. While they had a decent level of comfort, I did grow tired of having them in after a couple of hours as well.
You can wear these in all sorts of situations without worrying about damaging them because these are IPX4 water resistant so will survive everything from raindrops to sea spray, although they may not cope so well if you were to drop them in a body of water.
To control the music, you don’t always need to reach for your phone thanks to the touch controls on the outside of each earbud. They’re pretty self-explanatory, you tap once to pause or play the music, twice to skip to the next track and three times to start the song over. I was pleased with the touch pads because they were very responsive and did exactly what I wanted them to do each and every time. The only thing I would add is a gesture to control the volume.
You get a total of 30 hours of playtime from the Urbanears Boo and 4.5 of those hours can be non-stop listening to music. Then when you go to charge them back up again, the earbuds will take 1.5 hours to go from flat to full, you can expect to be waiting 2 hours before the case is completely charged.
Urbanears Boo review: sound and features
Considering how cheap they are, the Urbanears Boo actually sound pretty good. They’re remarkably well-balanced and quite realistic in their delivery.
Vocals, in particular, came through very clearly, I could hear every lyric in tunes like Loving Is Easy by Rex Orange County which only makes for a more enjoyable listen.
These earbuds value precision over power so you feel as though you’re getting close to the full width of the song. Those who play a lot of upbeat dance music might be after more emphasis on the lower frequencies, I thought that the bass could have more punch to it in tracks like Gold Dust by Shy FX which didn't come across as lively it did through other headphones. Although that’s not to say the sound isn’t sufficiently energetic for most people, because it definitely it.
When it comes to features, the Urbanears Boo are very basic. There’s no adjoining smartphone app and so no manual equaliser settings either. You don't get noise cancelling either which means you'll have to rely entirely on the fit to cut the outside world out.
Each earbud does have a dual microphone which means you can take your calls through these. Don’t expect too much with that though, when I gave it a go, the person on the other end described how my voice was pretty muffled and there were some strange feedback noises coming through as well.
Using the latest Bluetooth 5.2, you can rely on them to stay connected, even when you wander away from your phone. I was perfectly happy with the time it took to get them set up and how reliable that connection was.
Urbanears Boo review: verdict
A well-rounded and inexpensive pair of true wireless earbuds, the Urbanears Boo pleasantly surprised me. Taking things back to basics, they don’t try to overcomplicate anything with extra features that they can’t afford, instead focusing on what matters the most, the music.
Admittedly, there are a few things I would change, like the fit. And I would have liked to have seen more effective microphones. But on the flip side, knowing that these are made from recycled plastic is something that would sway me into buying them because not many manufacturers are offering that just yet`.
Urbanears Boo review: also consider
Another wallet-friendly and eco-conscious pair of true wireless earbuds to take a look at are the House of Marley Rebels. They’re slightly more upmarket than these but not by much, and they’re pretty similar in a lot of ways, although I do think House of Marley’s buds look a bit nicer because they’re partly made from bamboo and not just plastic.
If you’re only really concerned about budget, then the best budget wireless earbuds are the Sony WF-C500. Despite being so cheap, they still manage to pack in fantastic sound quality and manual equaliser settings, but you will still miss out on noise cancellation and the battery life isn’t so good.