Fashionable earphones are nothing new; nearly every manufacturer has an eye for design these days. Certain companies come right out and use style as a launching point, and Urbanears is one of these. This relative newcomer offers several lines of portable headphones designed to catch eyes and turn heads. One is the Medis, a unique semi-earbud model that comes in a choice of 12 colors. Unfortunately, like their cousin the UrbanearsPlattan headphones, these earphones don't offer the best audio quality, but they are astonishingly comfortable and also relatively affordable at $50 a pop.
The design of the Urbanears Medis earphones is like nothing we've ever seen. They walk the line between an earbud and an on-ear headphone, with a large disc of an earpiece that rests just inside the outer part of the ear. A curved speaker port fits into the antitragus, and a little rubber nub at the top keeps the earpiece in by attaching it to the interior crux. Yes, it's a bit complex, even when you have it right in front of you, and it makes for sizeable earpieces. However, this unique configuration--combined with the ultralight weight of the earpieces--makes for a surprisingly comfy fit. Urbanears includes four sizes of nubs to choose from, so you should be able to find one that works for you.
Descending from the earpieces of the Medis is a cloth-coated cable that is colored to match. The cord tangles pretty easily, but it seems durable. The plug housing is flexible as well, though its straight shape may cause some stress at the connection. About 4 inches down from the left earbud is an inline mic and remote, which controls music playback (and call answering) on the iPhone and most other music phones. The package also includes a Nokia-specific extension as well as a dual-banded stereo plug for standard MP3 players.
Sadly, the Urbanears Medis don't quite stack up in the sound quality department. Music in general had a hollow, deficient tone throughout testing. The mids come across flat, and detail through the high end is practically nonexistent. Bass is also not as thumpy as we'd like. As a result of all the ranges lacking, we couldn't find a particular genre that shined. It's not all bad, though: the audio space is very open and stereo separation is good, particularly for an ultraportable pair of headphones. Also, there's no distortion, so at least music doesn't sound terrible. Finally, it's worth noting that the earphones run loud; our test Walkman had no problem driving them at our desired volume with the levels set at less than half.