“The new color in sound.” That is what Urbanears was pleased to announced. Urbanears as a name doesn’t exactly sound like it hails from Scandanevia, but that is where the designs come from. In case one doesn’t know “color” in “sound” is not exactly the greatest of concepts, as “sound coloring” is one of the measures of how clean the sound is. Today we got to review the Plattan from Urbanears. While we would like to be able to tell you the cool meaning of “Plattan” – our Finnish is lacking, so we shall just tell you about the headphones.
That is apparently “out of the box” in Finnish, in case you were wondering. The headphones come out of their compact boxes fairly easily. All Urbanears products come with three plugs: the standard plug, compatible with most devices include iPhones, iPods and notebooks, the Nokia plug and a neutral stereo plug for older devices. That’s about it.
We are going to stop with the Finnish titles and get to the headphones. The headphones are on-the-ear headphones that fit a 40mm driver. Urbanears implements the common style of running a single cord through the left cup to deliver signal to the headphone. The cord features an interesting fabric cord with iPhone controls six inches below the cup. The headpiece is a signle fabric type and literally could pass for a girls headband. Matte plastic is used for the cups and hinges. On the right cup is a “zound plug” that allows another user to plug in another 1/8″ device to use.
Even after five hours of use it can still take a couple of minutes to get the earphones to fit us comfortably. This is largely due to the on-ear design that almost ensures a perfect fit is unattainable. For most headphones, we seem to be use about half of the avaiable room for adjustment, on the Plattans we are over four fifths. For us this was not a problem, but given that we seem to be near the average on most models, this could prevent a problem for fitting a lot of users. For on-ear headphones, the Plattans do a fairly nice job in terms of fitting to our rear. That is largely due to their lightweight design as well as the hinges built on to the cups. However, trying to get these to stay on for long periods of time seems out of the question. Even subtly moving our head would usually move the headphones off-blanace leading to them eventually falling off. With our essential lab testing of these headphones, putting them under conditions of moving arond in any intense manner (i.e. jogging) seems far out of the question.
To get to the point real quick: these are real bass-heavy and when we mean real bass-heavy, we don’t necessiarly mean that the bass is the greatest we have ever heard. A large part of the reason why the sound isn’t phenomenal has to do with the fit, or more the lack of it. The on ear design means that the chance of isolation/creating a decent seal is non existent. That added with the lack luster performance of the drivers creates a sound that is not superb.
Problem number one is the bass. It’s a nice novelty for hip-hop songs, but the fact that even when we are listening to acoustic songs the bass sounds like a Lil Wayne song is a problem. While it’s quite impressive what the 40mm drivers are able to push given the weight and power, it’s not for the better 95% of the time. Then problem number two kicks in and the lack of isolation once again creates problems. When we pressed down on the cups to create a better seal, a more accurate bass filled our ears and we were suddenly reminded just how many things we would change about the Plattan.
The Rest of the Spectrums of Sound
So while the bass is the largest problem, the highs and mids are not something to rave about. Urbanears reinvented the word “muddy” and “muddled’ as far as we are concerned with their Plattans. When Mr Hudson’s voice suddenly sounded like Dylan – we knew that we were in for a real treat. The overwhelming bass line and the awful mids and highs create a scenario in which it becomes hard to listen to any musical genre with the Plattans. No matter what song we played, the Plattans spit it out in a disgusting manner that was just unbearable.
There is a reason why when you try to find the Urbanears Plattan on Amazon, they show up as both an electronic and clothing item. These are a fashion statement, not a commitment to accurate listening. If you chose to use these, you are making that pledge and it’s up to you. Outside of the on-ear nature, we liked the design of the Plattans: the cord, the iPhone compatibility, the lightweight nature. But we judge products on sound, not looks and by our standards the Plattans fall… well they don’t meet the standards. In all honesty, never before have we heard a headphone (above $50) that butchers sound clarity as well as the Urbanears. What is shocking is that when talking to people via the Plattans, the noise just sounds like your normal cellphone and that leads us to our conclusion about the Plattans: attach a subwoofer to your cellphone and imagine using that to play music. You can purchase Urbanears Plattans from Amazon or Turntable Lab for $60.