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Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless review: A dynamic Bluetooth headphone

What you get in the box. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance

This is one of the better-sounding wireless headphones and may sound even better than the more expensive Momentum Wireless, depending on your audio tastes and the material you like to listen to.

This is a dynamic, exciting headphone with clean sound for Bluetooth and good, tight bass. This bass isn't as huge as Sennheiser says and this is actually a fairly well-balanced headphone with a pretty warm midrange and only a touch of sibilance in the treble.

That said, we found that the headphone's strong performance wasn't entirely consistent. It had a tendency to make songs that had a grittier edge sound harsher. So, this isn't as forgiving headphone as the Beats Studio Wireless, Sennheiser's own Momentum Wireless or Sony's MDR-1ABT, all of which sound a bit smoother and do a better job masking flaws in poorly recorded tracks.

With some material the Urbanite XL sounded great. The Punch Brothers' "The Phosphorescent Blues" album is well articulated through the headphones (you can distinctly hear each instrument) and I found the sound pretty open for a closed-back headphone. It also sounded good with hip-hop, techno, R&B and acoustical material.

The headphones fold into a more compact form factor. Sarah Tew/CNET

But when we moved on to harder driving material like Fall Out Boy's "Immortals," "Wild Heart " by Bleachers, and Arcade Fire's "Reflektor" album, that brasher side of the headphone's sound emerged while the Beats Studio Wireless took some of the edge off.

As noted, you can use the Urbanite Wireless as a wired headphone with the included cord, which has an inline remote/microphone with volume controls. Wired performance is perhaps a touch better than Bluetooth performance (the touch controls do not work in wired mode). But the difference isn't significant and I only think you'd listen to this as a wired headphone if the battery dies or a flight attendant made you plug the cord in on a plane ride.

Conclusion

While the Urbanite XL Wireless isn't cheap at $300, it's cheaper than other premium Bluetooth headphones and overall I think it's a reasonable value when you factor in its good build-quality, comfort level and strong performance. Its only downside is that it's a revealing headphone that will make grittier music sound brash. But if you don't mind that, it's an excellent Bluetooth headphone.

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