Urbanista Los Angeles review: these headphones are powered by light

The Urbanista Los Angeles are solar-powered which means they have almost infinite charge

Urbanista Los Angeles review: woman wearing gold headphones
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

If you're always forgetting to charge your headphones, or if you're looking for a greener alternative to the usual suspects then the Urbanista Los Angeles use solar panels to provide power. Add to that punchy sound quality and effective ANC, and these are well worth considering.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Charge through natural or artificial light

  • +

    Active noise cancellation

  • +

    Sleek, sturdy design

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Very basic smartphone app

  • -

    Felt slightly tight on the ears

  • -

    No equaliser settings

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Are you someone who forgets to charge your headphones? This Urbanista Los Angeles review is exactly where you need to be, these solar-powered cans will always be charged up and ready to go as long as they are exposed to light. 

Urbanista was the first audio brand to bring this technology to over-ear headphones, although the Adidas RPT-02 came not long after, and it’s unlikely they will be the last. Could this green charging technology be a clue as to what’s to come for all the best noise-cancelling headphones going forwards?

This Urbanista Los Angeles review will take you through everything you need to know about these headphones, from the design and fit to their performance and features including more on that unique solar-powered charging. 

Urbanista Los Angeles review: price and availability 

Available to buy right now, the Urbanista Los Angeles will set you back $199 in the US, £169 in the UK and AU$370 in Australia. You can buy a pair at Amazon or take a look at the widgets on this page to see where else you can pick them up. 

Urbanista Los Angeles review: design and fit 

Urbanista Los Angeles review: closeup of headphones ear cups

(Image credit: Future)

You can buy the Urbanista Los Angeles in two colours: Midnight Black and Sand Gold. The colour covers the entire headset with smooth plastic and a discreet Urbanista logo imprinted on the outside. They both look and feel high quality so you do get your money’s worth in that sense. 

The cushions are made up of soft memory foam and sit around the edges of your ears. To find the right fit you just need to pull them out from the headband, the adjustment is firm and the headband won’t move unintentionally.

In terms of comfort, these don’t feel too heavy (they weigh 320g) although they do feel as though they're pushing down on your ears quite a lot which can get annoying after a while, meaning you won’t necessarily want to wear them for hours and hours on end. 

Urbanista Los Angeles review: close up of solar panel headband

(Image credit: Future)

One thing I would say is that the Urbanista Los Angeles are very bulky, or at least they looked it on my head. In some sense, they have to be to fit the ear cups around the outside of your ears but I prefer a slightly smaller pair. Of course, that comes down to personal preference and most likely the size of your head as well.

The Urbanista Los Angeles feel very sturdy, I can’t imagine they would easily break although there’s no official IPX rating so they may not survive any water-based accidents or sudden bursts of heavy rain. To protect them against knocks and bumps when you’re not using them, they come with a hard-shelled case which leaves a gap at the top to allow for solar-panelled charging.

To control the music and volume, you’ll find three small buttons on the right ear cup, and there’s a power button on the left alongside the USB-C port. The rubber topped buttons are very responsive even if they do feel a little flimsier than elsewhere. Unlike other over-ears, these don’t have a 3.5mm audio input so you’ll only be able to use them wirelessly.

Urbanista Los Angeles review: performance and features 

Urbanista Los Angeles review: headphones from the inside

(Image credit: Future)

The sound quality is an important aspect of any pair of headphones, although for some people, it will matter more than for others. Audiophiles won't be impressed by these cans but if you like your music to sound overly punchy and energetic then you can count on these to deliver that. These are loud in every way. 

Despite the emphasis on the bass performance, the Urbanista Los Angeles still manage to cut through with a solid mid-range and a crisp treble. I would say they're not quite as detailed as the top performers like the Bose QuietComfort 45 or the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, and the soundstage isn't as wide either. It would also have been good to get some sort of equaliser settings to adjust the audio depending on what you're listening to, these don't have anything like that. 

To help you concentrate on the music, the Urbanista Los Angeles pack active noise cancellation and I was pretty impressed with its capabilities. I could barely hear anything going on around me with it switched on.

The Ambient Sound mode, on the other hand, didn't perform so well. It's meant to let in more noise from your surroundings but actually, I still couldn't really hear anything, not even someone speaking directly to me. 

Of course, one of the main features here is that they are solar powered which provides almost infinite charge as long as they are exposed to light, be that natural or artificial. If you’ve kept them in the case then you won’t benefit from that but luckily there is a USB-C port to give them a boost using a wire. 

Without the power of light, you can expect these to last about 80 hours of use which places them towards the top end of what’s possible.

To find out how the solar panel charging is doing, you'll need to download the Urbanista Audio app which is available for both iOS and Android. The app doesn't have tonnes of functionality other than that, you can use it to switch between ANC modes and change what a short or long press on the feature button does.

By default, a short press loops through the sound modes on the headphones, and a long press allows you to speak to your smartphone's voice assistant, be that the Google Assistant or Siri.

Another feature worth knowing about is the on-ear detection which pauses the audio when you take them off, so you don’t need to worry about missing out on parts of your podcasts or playlists if you need to remove them in a hurry.

Urbanista Los Angeles review: verdict 

Urbanista Los Angeles review: black headphones on a white background

(Image credit: Urbanista)

While the Urbanista Los Angeles aren’t going to provide best-in-class performance, they do a decent enough job when it comes to sound quality. But what makes them stand out is that they offer something a lot of other headphones can’t with their solar-panelled charging. It means you’ll be very unlikely to ever run out of battery but even if you have had to keep them in the dark, they have plenty of juice stored away as a reserve. Not only is that much greener than regularly hooking them up to power but it’s incredibly practical too. 

From looks alone, they’re every bit as premium as you’d expect for this price even if I had a few issues with comfort. I get the impression that these would last a long time too. Extra features like ANC are also a very welcome addition, and it’s handy that they come with a case as well. All in all, the Urbanista Los Angeles actually have quite a lot going for them.

Urbanista Los Angeles review: also consider  

If you just want top-notch battery life, then look at the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless. They’re a fair amount pricier than the Urbanista Los Angeles but they boast impressive, powerful sound alongside a whopping 60 hours of battery life and adaptive ANC. 

On a bit of a budget? Check out the JBL Tune 660NC. They cost less than £100 and they’re often discounted as well but despite that, they sound really good and they do a great job of cutting out annoying noise around you. What’s more, is that the battery will last about 44 hours with ANC switched which is excellent! 

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.