Urbanears Pampas review
If you don’t care about active noise cancellation, Urbanears’ Pampas over-ear headphones may just be the best bang-for-your-buck. They’re subjectively the best-looking headphones to complement your head and they offer premium audio, extreme comfort, fantastic battery life with USB-C charging, and even a way to share Bluetooth audio with a friend.
- Beautifully designed and looks fabulous on any head
- Serious comfort with well-cushioned ear cups
- Fantastic audio quality with clear mids and good natural bass
- 30-hour battery with USB-C charging
- Can share music with the built-in headphone jack
- Bluetooth 5.0
- No headphone cable included
- Microphone is just okay and easily picks up background noise
- Had trouble accessing Siri with the control knob
Urbanears is known for stylish headphones and their new Pampas over-ears are probably the most complementary pair of headphones for your head. Just because headphones look beautiful doesn’t mean they look great on your head, fortunately, rather than looking like a cold piece of technology, Pampas has a warm and natural look to them that make them seem more like a lifestyle accessory and less like a piece of tech strapped to your head. And while they’re not noise-canceling, they do feature everything else you’d want from a pair of over-ear headphones: superb sound quality, extreme comfort, solid portability, a long battery life, and even some nice features.
Design, comfort and controls
The Pampas are covered in a beautiful mix of matching high quality colored fabric and faux leather. There is some exposed matte plastic that blends in perfectly on the outside of the large oval ear cups. The ear cups are low profile and sport large and comfortable memory foam cushions. They’re comfortable enough to wear for hours-on-end. The ear cups fold into the headband for great portability. The earcups don’t swivel but pivot just enough for perfect comfort. The whole headset only weighs 260 grams, which adds to the comfort. You can tell they have a plastic backbone due to their flexible nature, but they don’t feel nearly as delicate as most plastic over-ears out there.
We weren’t so thrilled to just see one control button but then realized it’s a knob that’s pretty capable and intuitive. This was definitely a design decision to emphasize simplicity. The button is actually more of a knob or joystick; it can be pressed and moved in four directions. A long press will turn the device on and off, and toggles pairing mode. A single tap pauses and plays music. Push the button up or down for volume and side to side for track changes. It’s actually easier than most multi-button headphone controls. The only challenge we had was getting the double-tap to active Siri working. We’re also not so fond of long press-and-hold power-off controls, but it could be worse.
There’s a standard 3.5mm audio port on Pampas, but they do more than you think! As expected, it allows you to plug a standard headphone cable in there to turn them into wired headphones. But, a little more unexpectedly, it also allows you to share your Bluetooth audio with any other pair of wired headphones. Someone can plug their headphones right into your headphones to listen to the same music or movie. Unfortunately, there’s no audio cable included.
The battery life is amazing with over 30 hours of playback. It charges with USB-C and includes a USB-C to USB-A cable. We’re pretty happy about this as USB-C is about to be the most universal charging cable. The 30-hour playback only applies to the wireless Bluetooth 5.0 audio; you don’t need any battery to use them as wired headphones.
The audio quality is fantastic! There’s a wide sound stage, clear mid-range audio, and natural and warm bass. They’re pretty well balanced but with a hint of extra bass. They’re still natural enough to sound kind to any genre. There’s a lot of vibrancy and life and these are a really enjoyable pair of headphones to listen to. The only catch is that the noise isolation is just pretty good. They don’t have active noise cancellation and the lightweight fit prefers comfort over noise isolation. They’re still perfectly fine on airplanes or trains, but you may have to turn them up a little to fully appreciate your audio. There’s a built-in microphone that’s adequate for phone calls, but we weren’t so impressed. It picks up background noise pretty easily, though voices are still loud enough for your caller to hear and not complain.
We absolutely love the Urbanears Pampas for sticking to the essentials: comfort, sound quality, and battery. Subjectively, we do think they’re the best looking over-ear headphones on the market, even if they’re not our favorites. Right now, our favorites are Sony’s premium noise-canceling WH-1000XM3 over-ears, but we’ll admit that the Urbanears are a much better value and we strongly recommend them for their $150 price tag, and they are often priced even less on Amazon.
We’re in love with the matte “field green” finish and only wish they had even more colors to choose from. The other options currently available are almond beige and charcoal black.