A few months ago my husband managed to snag a free pair of Tanto headphones from the newly launched Urbanears line which I, of course, quickly claimed as my own. I figured it was only fair since he already had a rather fancy pair of headphones and I was still stuck in the ear-bud stone ages.

I assumed I was headed for a big leap forward in both quality and style. After all, Urbanears is the latest offering from ”lifestyle headphone” manufacturer Zound Industries, and their design aesthetic is quintessential Scandinavian design: sleek, sexy and clean. They’re like Lindberg for your ears.

But when I finally got around to opening the box, I was disappointed. My initial thought was that they looked and felt exactly like the free walkman headphones you used to get  in the eighties. You know: a metal headband with two flimsy little foam circles? Not exactly the great leap into the future of headphones that I was anticipating, especially coming from a company that claims to promote ”a deeper connection to color, form and people while providing the freedom to transcend individuality and unify the sound experience.”

Silly me. And I thought headphones were just headphones.

Looks-wise, I have to give Urbanears a thumbs-up since the colors are unique and the fabric cord is an improvement over the usual plastic. There are fourteen luscious colors to choose from (like ”Sallad” and ”Ocean”) and all have a built in microphone with remote, matte fabric cords and universal adaptors. I also found the sound quality surprisingly good, especially considering the junky foam cushions don’t even fully cover my ears. Basically, if you’re the type of person who will go to great lengths to rock a signature color, Urbanears might be for you. Personally, I think it’s a pretty flimsy pair of headphones for forty bucks.

If you can throw in another twenty though, the sixty-dollar Urbanears ”Plattan” model looks a lot more promising. The Plattan has the same color options, cord and mic as the Tanto, but has a wider headband and proper ear cups. It also folds down to fist-size (unlike the lightweight but unwieldy Tanto) and comes with a built-in ”zound plug” on the ear cap where you can plug in a second pair of headphones to share with your friends. Urbanears also has a snazzy in-ear model equipped with a special ”ear click” patent that is supposed to hold the ear-piece comfortably in place.

Overall, I think there are much cheaper options on the market that provide the same user experience as Urbanears. If your ultimate goal is to make a fashion statement, these headphones might be for you. Otherwise, I’d think twice about buying any headphones listed in the ”clothing and accessories” category on Amazon.

About the Author

Sarah Gupta, MD

Sarah Gupta is a recent medical school graduate and the inventor of the Buff Cuff.

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