Philips CitiScape Collection Downtown headphones review: Philips CitiScape Collection Downtown headphones
The Downtown on-ear headphones from Philips combine an expansive sound profile with colorful styles and a relatively affordable price. The $100 Downtowns are the midprice model in Philips' CitiScape line, and I recommend them for their robust sound and noise-isolating design.
Design and features
The CitiScape Downtown series are handsome on-ear, closed-back headphones available in three colors: brown, gray, and a rather intense purple. The build integrity feels robust thanks to a padded cloth wrapper covering the metal headband, and thickly padded cushions line the swiveling earcups. The memory foam conforms to the shape of your ears to hush external noise, and it performs well.
The form-fitting pads also limit the amount of sound leaking out of the headphones that may annoy neighbors in close proximity--that's great, but the tight seal also made my ears damp with sweat after just a half an hour of use. Regardless, a gentle bend of the metal headband goes a long way in reducing the pressure.
The CitiScape Downtowns use very little plastic in their design (mostly in the earcups) and therefore avoid the plastic creaks of competing headphones that sometimes cost three times as much.
The headphones are powered by 40-millimeter Mylar drivers and neodymium magnets with a 32-ohm design. The flat, 48-inch-long tangle-free cable attaches to the left earcup in a fixed position, so you can't replace the cord if something happens down the line. It terminates in a right-angle 3.5mm plug with an in-line microphone and one-button remote toward the top that controls track navigation and volume on Android phones and various iDevices.
The headphones don't fold flat and Philips doesn't provide a travel pouch in the package, so their long-term durability may be a concern if you intend to regularly cram them into a travel bag.
The CitiScape Downtown headphones sound comparable to other over-$100 headphones. The bass, midrange, and treble balance blends smoothly and accurately to complement all types of music. Even harsh-sounding recordings like Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" album are easily palatable via the CitiScape Downtowns, and they project detail while avoiding harsh tones.
To put the CitiScape Downtown headphones' strengths in perspective, I compared them with a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-WS55 over-ear headphones, also $100. Using Bob Marley's albums for reference tracks, the WS55s gave more of a canned, hollow quality next to the CitiScape Downtowns' fuller bass. The WS55s are more lively and dynamic in contrast with the Downtowns' mellower sound; I'd call it a draw, and I like both models for different reasons.
The Philips CitiScape Collection Downtown headphones aptly demonstrate the company's new commitment to providing outstanding sound in a competitive price range. The design, fit, and finish are above average in this price class and you won't be disappointed if you purchase these cans.