The Swedish company Urbanears has literally burst into the audio industry with its minimalism in design, ergonomics and functionality. When it comes to portable audio, it’s no exaggeration to say that the brand is one of the trendsetters in Swedish style. The names of the devices in Swedish, rather than in the usual English, give them charm and uniqueness. Suffice it to recall the world-famous IKEA chain of stores, which has become a household name. By the way, the Luma and Alby headphones are named after specific places in the Swedish capital.
Before moving on to an overview of the first two wireless earbuds in the history of the company, let’s briefly tell you the history of the brand.
Urbanears entered the market in 2008 and is based in Stockholm. A team of Scandinavian enthusiastic engineers decided to bring the idea of their own audio brand to life. According to the manufacturer, the devices they create are primarily designed for a young audience. It is very important for a brand to strike a balance between price, appearance and sound quality. Urbanears is now working with the Marshall brand, which certainly affects its approach to sound.
Design and form factor
Two pairs of new TWS received a miniature and stylish design, which fully meets the user’s desires about how modern headphones should look. From our perspective, minimalist aesthetics in portable audio is the golden ratio to stick to. Urbanears literally add bright colors to your look, why limit yourself in the choice of color schemes? We are offered five colors to choose from: Charcoal Black, Ultra Violet, Dusty White, Teal Green, True Maroon. Matching the color of the headphones to the skin color types, seasons or wardrobe is a good idea that will emphasize the integrity of the image.
The headphone case is made of matte plastic, which is pleasant to the touch and has an ergonomic design. For convenience, the case was equipped with a small loop to make it easier to get out of a pocket or bag.
When we look inside the case, we can see a pair of earpieces on the cradle, which adjoin the case with magnets. If you look at the body of the charging case from the back, you will notice the opening chrome hinge, which gives the overall completeness to the external appearance of the device. Under the hinge there is a USB Type C charging socket. On the front panel of the charging case and the case of the right earpiece, we see an embossed lettering brand logo.
The fit of the in-ear headphones may not be suitable for everyone, but the Luma has no questions about the fit. Headphones do not tend to slip out of your ears, as it happens with other models. Passive sound insulation is not the strongest aspect of this model, but the other advantages override this small drawback. But we’ll talk about sound a little later.
The earbuds have received a laconic design consistent with the Luma concept. The cases of the charging case and headphones have exactly the same features as the above model. Alby has a lightweight body that almost immediately disappears in the ears. Their fit is more versatile than the Luma, and three pairs of attachments are enough to find the one that’s right for you.
A few more words about the case. The headphones stay in it very securely and will not fall out even if you decide to turn the open case over. The USB Tube C jack is on the side, unlike the Luma. Note that this solution does not affect convenience.
Functionality and features
The Urbanears Luma is powered by a 13mm dynamic driver. If we talk about battery life, then it is influenced by several factors, such as listening volume or the intensity of conversations through them.
Autonomy Urbanears Luma
The manufacturer claims that the headphones will work on one battery charge for up to 5 hours, add 4 more full charges from the case to this figure and get a total of 25 hours of autonomous listening. We can safely say that even with the maximum cranking of the volume, they are capable of 4 hours of continuous work. 10 minutes from the charging case adds another 1 hour of listening. When using headphones as a headset, their autonomy will be about 3.5 hours! For communication in two pairs of headphones, 4 built-in microphones are responsible (2 in each).
Autonomy Urbanears Alby
One battery charge lasts for 5 hours of listening, regardless of the volume level. The charging case adds 3 more full charges, and that is 15 hours of battery life. According to this indicator, Alby is slightly inferior to Luma, which gives out 25 hours without a network connection.
Of course, in this price segment, there is no need to talk about the Qi charging mat. The manufacturer managed with a proven solution. On average, it will take about 1 hour to charge the headphones and 2 hours to fully charge in the case.
Charge indicator lights are located on the inside of the headphone cases. A similar indicator is located inside the charging cases.
Urbanears Luma and Alby are IPX4 rated so they can be worn during intense workouts or running in the rain. All of these reasons will fail to disable TWS.
Headphones are controlled using sensors. Both TWS pairs have similar controls, for example, you need to click on the sensor three times to switch to the next song. Press twice to pause playback. In Urbanears Luma, playback is paused when you remove the headphones, Urbanears Alby is not equipped with this function. The only thing missing is the volume control directly on the headphones themselves. To adjust, the user must take the smartphone out of his pocket.
Fresh Bluetooth 5.0 is responsible for connecting to a smartphone in Luma and Alby. A connection with two devices is not available at the same time, which is quite expected for this price segment. Knowing about the brand’s desire to create a relevant product, we are sure that this feature will appear soon. One SBC is available as codecs for the listener – a proven solution that can most often be found in the vastness of the offer.
These two pairs of headphones do not have their own application in which you could set individual parameters, everything is linear and simple. Similar 13-mm drivers were also installed in the model, but the sound of Luma and Alby has some differences, since some headphones are in-ear, and the second are in-ear.
Earbuds are often criticized for their sound “flowing” out of the headphones due to poor sound insulation. Such accusations arise from the design of the headphones. In Urbanears Luma, sound is grouped and held in a familiar soundscape.
What features of the sound can be distinguished? First, it is the actual “presence” of sound. In many competing headphones, it is the sound that suffers. Secondly, in this model, the approach to sound for the majority of listeners is as digestible as possible, since there is a “smiling” equalizer. True, the top and bottom are “bullied”, there is no talk of linearity. This approach allows you to cope with most modern genres. By the way, for all the expressiveness of the sound, it is devoid of sharp corners.
You need to understand that if you want to experience all the richness of jazz or classical music, then this headphone form factor is not entirely appropriate for you. Make a reasonable expectation of the sound of the headphones.
The emphasis on low frequencies gives the sound a liveliness and full-bodiedness that many listeners will like. A moderately rounded and tangible low-frequency range will be able to sway a wide range of electronic music and hard rock, from which the listener expects drive and rhythm, and not accuracy of elaboration.
Alby’s passive noise cancellation does its job very confidently. In a sales area full of people, it is possible to listen to music without being distracted by extraneous noises.
Let’s say right away that such “musical” TWS for their money, like these, still need to look. Of course, their sound design is designed to please and create vivid sensations, smooth out all the inaccuracies of the phonogram. Even the weak SBC codec reveals itself very well. Do they like to “play” on the volume? Probably not, since the tops can “collapse” in the pitch. However, at a comfortable volume level, there are no problems with dynamics and recoil.
It is important to remember that headphones still have their own genre preferences, they are ready to “digest” different music, wrapping it in their own sound canvas. As we wrote above, complex classical music and jazz are not a priority for these TWS.
The two wireless earbuds Urbanears Luma and Urbanears Alby combine a sleek and austere design with decent sound quality.
Competition in this form factor is high, but, in our opinion, the Swedes will still be able to find their admirers among people who value simple, ergonomic and intuitive solutions.
If you want to switch to TWS headphones, but don’t want to “ruin” the budget, then two models from Urbanears will give you decent sound, quality of performance and variability in the choice of colors.