Affordable earbuds for a more casual audience, the Urbanista Lisbon offer long battery life and decent comfort – but prove fallible in the audio department.
- Compact design offers comfort
- Good battery life
- Weak bass
- Design is susceptible to outside noise
- Modest volume output
- Harsh tone at higher volumes
- AudioFeatures a 10mm dynamic driver
- DesignUniversal GoFit wing for a more secure fit
After visiting the cold, wet British Isles with its London true wireless earbuds, Urbanista was clearly in need of some sun: sojourning in Miami, stopping off in Los Angeles and for one of its latest true wireless, the company has pitched its tent in Lisbon.
Each pair of headphones that Urbanista makes speaks to a certain place and feel, the various colour options of the Lisbon headphones reflecting the climes of the Portuguese city from which they take their name.
The Lisbon are Urbanista’s smallest headphones to date, and most affordable in its current range, reflected by the number of features they do and don’t have. And performance? They’re okay, but the Lisbon’s failings are baked into their design.
- Compact design
- Detachable wing tip
- No ear tips
The Lisbon are diminutive earbuds that come in a refreshingly compact case that will be ideal for those who are always on the move. What’s immediately noticeable is the lack of any ear tips, a design choice also seen with the AirPods. Unlike Apple’s all-conquering earphones, however, there’s no stem here to prop up the buds; there’s an attachable wing tip (or Universal GoFit wing, as Urbanista calls it) to keep them stabilised instead.
The Lisbon fit is fairly secure, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them for workouts – the IPX3 rating isn’t as robust as other pairs. For those who prefer earbuds that don’t burrow into the ears the Lisbon offer an escape, although it isn’t without consequences, as I’ll get to later.
Like other headphones in Urbanista’s lineup, the Lisbon have a firm interest in colourful finishes. You can choose from Coral Peach (pastel red), Vanilla Cream (beige), Blush Pink (pink), Mint Green (green) and Midnight Black (black) for one that reflects your outlook best.
- Long battery life
- Bluetooth 5.2
- SBC, AAC codec
Not unexpected for such an affordable and compact pair of earphones, the Lisbon aren’t teaming with features. Surprisingly, though, battery life is a substantial 27 hours in total with nine in each earbud – which ought to be enough to get casual users through several days’ worth of action. Fast-charging and wireless charging aren’t supported, though, if you run out of juice and need a quick top-up.
The Bluetooth connection is v5.2, which provides some clues to explaining the battery life (v5.2 focuses on battery management). Bluetooth codec support is SBC and AAC, but you’re likely to default to the latter since it is widely supported on Android, and especially iOS platforms. That’s a good thing since SBC is both long in the tooth and of lesser quality.
There’s no built-in assistant but the Lisbon will call up Siri or Google Assistant (or any other digital butler you have) through its touch controls. And those touch controls, by the way, are nicely intuitive. I like the control scheme Urbanista has gone for, with a tap for volume and two taps for stopping/starting playback (in my mind that’s more convenient). Not much pressure is required to get the earbuds’ attention, either.
And that is your lot. For the more casual listener these earbuds are aimed at, it’s probably all that’s needed.
- Decent clarity and detail
- Sound sibilant at higher volumes
- Lack weight, punchiness and scale
Earphones with this type of ‘open’ design have an uphill struggle because they lack protection from the outside world. Any sort of ruckus has the potential to smother audio, and just as tricky is judging ‘loudness’, since audio is fired into the ear rather than embedded within. With these obstacles in mind, the Urbanista Lisbon struggle to offer a substantive performance.
Volume at normal levels is almost deathly quiet, which isn’t the best foot to start on. Listening to them on a bus and tube proved fruitless, the surrounding noise overwhelming the music. Raising the volume doesn’t offer much protection since the Lisbon’s crisp tone makes them susceptible to sibilance and harshness.
The soundstage is represented without much width, as if it’s been shrunken down – not all that surprising given their size, but disappointing given Urbanista’s marketing suggested something bigger.
The lower reaches of the frequency range suffer with bass that’s neither big, weighty, or punchy when listening to Britney Spears’ Gimme More – the irony of the track’s title not lost during playback.
However, there are aspects to enjoy. The Lisbon are surprisingly lucid when it comes to clarity, with voices sharp, clean, and crisply delivered. Instruments within the (confined) soundstage have decent definition and shape to them in John Wasson’s Caravan, a track that also shows the Lisbon’s decent rhythmic ability, coping with the changes in tempo without becoming unflustered or incoherent.
The mid-range and high-frequency areas are where the Lisbon operate best, although where energy is concerned the Lisbon are more placid than excitable. Overall, the thinness of the presentation, lack of isolation from the outside world and compact sound means these earphones have limited use.
Should you buy it?
If you hate ear tips Not everyone likes ear tips, and if you’re not a fan, you may prefer the Lisbon’s more considerate approach to design.
If you hate being interrupted Noise will leak through and spoil the audio performance, so unless where you live is something akin to the A Quiet Place films, you’re likely to become rather frustrated.
To quote Baron Mordo from Marvel film Doctor Strange, “the bill comes due. Always”. The consequence of that ‘open’ earphone design are laid bare in the Lisbon’s audio performance.
Casual listeners may find the Urbanista Lisbon more their speed: their colourful personality, comfort, affordable price, and long battery life hold appeal. But the lack of isolation from the outside world leaves them susceptible to unwanted intrusions, and the thin presentation and modest volume output ensure they have limited use unless you’re listening to them in a very quiet place.
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We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested for more than a week
Tested with real world use
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No wireless charging support or fast charging, either.