Back in March, a company called Urbanears reached out to me and asked if I wanted to review its Plattan 2 Bluetooth headphones. I'd never heard of Urbanears before, but I accepted, tried the headphones out, and came away pleasantly surprised.
A few months later, Urbanears has returned with the Pampas — its first over-the-ear headphones that promise to deliver a premium experience for a fraction of what you'd pay for similar headphones from the likes of Sony and Bose.
While do you give up some features to reach that $150 price tag, the Pampas are fantastic headphones that are absolutely worth checking out.
Bottom line: The Pampas are Urbanears' first over-the-ear headphones and some of my new favorites at this price. The sound quality is solid, the unique one-button control knob is a joy to use, and the fabric design is one of my favorites on the market. Add that together with USB-C charging and a relatively low price, and there's a lot to like here.
- Rich, powerful sound
- Unique fabric design
- Control knob works beautifully
- 30+ hours of battery life
- USB-C 👏
- No active noise-canceling
- Lacks aptX
- More colors, please!
Urbanears Pampas What I like
Just like with the Plattan 2, the first thing that caught my attention with the Pampas is its design. It's good — really good.
|Driver Impedance||32 Ohm|
|Wired Connectivity||3.5mm jack|
|Wireless Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0|
Featuring a combination of polycarbonate and fabric, the Pampas don't look like most headphones on the market. These are genuinely stylish, and while style is a highly subjective thing, I think most people would agree that this is a good-looking gadget. The aesthetic is clean, the headband is flexible to help you get just the right fit, and weighing in at 260 grams, aren't too heavy.
As mentioned above, the Pampas are Urbanears' first over-the-ear headphones. While the Plattan 2 technically go over your ears too, the Pampas have a much broader earcup and fully encompass your ears rather than sitting on top of them. One of my complaints with the Plattan 2 was that they could become uncomfortable after longer listening sessions due to the smaller earcups, but that's not an issue at all with the Pampas. Not only are the cups wide, but the cushy leather surrounding them feels terrific.
Another design win for the Pampas is its control knob. Rather than having to mess with multiple buttons or confusing gestures, all of your playback controls are handled through the single button on the right earcup. Here's how it works:
- Press — play/pause whatever you're listening to
- Press and hold — turn the headphones on/off
- Press and hold longer — enter pairing mode
- Move up/down — adjust the volume
- Move left/right — go the previous or next track
That might sound a little confusing on paper, but in real world use, it feels natural and works like a charm. Of all the headphones I've used (which is a lot), it's easily my favorite on-device way of doing things.
The Pampas are some of the best-designed headphones I've ever used.
I suppose I should talk about sound quality and battery life at some point, so let's do that right now. Both are great.
I've never considered myself to be an audiophile, but I've used enough bad headphones to know what sounds good and what doesn't. The Pampas sound good. They tend to favor a more bass-heavy and punchy profile, but you can always customize this with EQ settings in your favorite music app. Personally, though, I think the out-of-the-box setup will be perfectly fine for most people. Bass is strong, but it doesn't overpower the audio. I also didn't hear any distortion when listening at max volume or find any audio sync issues when watching YouTube videos.
Battery life is rated for more than 30 hours on one charge, matching far more expensive headphones such as the Bose QC35 II and Sony WH1000MX3. That means you won't have to charge the Pampas very often, and when you do, you'll do so over USB-C 🥳👏🍾🎉.
Far too many headphones ship with Micro-USB in 2019, and as someone with devices that all primarily use USB-C, not having to dig out an old Micro-USB cable to charge my headphones is a godsend.
Urbanears Pampas What it's missing
I haven't found anything inherently wrong with the Pampas, but there are a handful of things they're missing that I'd love to see in version two.
Perhaps the most significant omission is the lack of active noise-canceling. You do get pretty good passive canceling that's perfectly adequate for blocking out noise at the coffee shop, but I wouldn't recommend these headphones for flying. I understand costs had to be cut somewhere, but if you're willing to spend just a little more, you can get something like the Panasonic RP-HD605N-T that have excellent ANC capabilities.
Something else that's missing is aptX. This is Qualcomm's audio processing standard that allows for higher-quality tunes over wireless headphones, and while the Pampas sound good in their current form, aptX would have made them even better.
And, last but not least, add more colors! I adore the Field Green color I was sent, but along with this, the only other two options are Almond Beige and Charcoal Black. Both of these look great, too, but I'd love to see the Indigo and Red options from the Plattan 2 Bluetooth make their way over to the Pampas.
Urbanears Pampas Should you buy them?
If you're on the fence about the Pampas, don't be. These are excellent headphones all-around and ones I'll gladly recommend to friends and family members that are shopping around for quality, mid-range cans.
You can certainly spend less money and get wireless headphones that offer a similar-ish experience while keeping a few more dollars in your wallet (I've even reviewed a few options that are quite good), but when you upgraded to something like the Pampas, you're benefitting from better audio quality, Bluetooth 5.0, and a design that manages to stand out from everything else on the market.
So long as you don't need active noise-cancelation, I think you'll be quite happy with the Pampas.
A wonderful experience that won't break the bank.
The Pampas are Urbanears' first over-the-ear headphones and some of my new favorites at this price. The sound quality is solid, the unique one-button control knob is a joy to use, and the fabric design is one of my favorites on the market. Add that together with USB-C charging and a relatively low price, and there's a lot to like here.
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