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Urbanista Seoul Earbuds Review: Not Just For Gaming

Premium low-latency earbuds at a budget price

Open blue case of Urbanista Seoul earbuds


    • Superb sound quality
    • Sleek, comfortable design
    • Low-latency gaming mode
    • Appealing price
    • Fantastic battery life
    • Wireless charging
    • IPX4 water resistance

  • Forced manual disconnecting before connecting to another device
  • Finicky touch controls
  • No ANC

I’ve had my hands on Urbanista’s new budget friendly Seoul earbuds for a few weeks now, and I must admit my expectations have been completely exceeded. I figured that since Urbanista is using the Seoul’s ultra-low latency gaming mode as its major selling point, there would be some sacrifice of sound quality, build quality, battery life, something. I was wrong.

Sound Quality

Let’s start with any audiophile’s priority number one: sound quality. While these earbuds may not elevate the richness of the highs, mids, and lows as much as a $2,000 set of studio cans, for their $90 price tag, the Seoul completely shatters expectations. I’ve been using the Seoul as my only pair of headphones for the last several weeks and have put them through the aural ringer- podcasts, hip hop, rock, heavy metal, lo-fi, classical, you name it, and have not once been dissatisfied.

I’ve been through more than my share of headphones, from $10 drug store cheapies to high-dollar major brand true wireless earbuds, and the sound quality that the Urbanist Seoul deliver is more than impressive for its price tag. If the out-of-the-box EQ isn’t to your liking, the Urbanista app (more on the app later) lets you choose from four additional options: Speech, Bass boost, Treble boost, and Energize.

Notably absent from the Seoul is any active noise canceling (ANC), which is certainly a mark against it. However, in my usage, from noisy coffee shops to walking next to busy roads, the Seoul’s passive noise canceling never struggled to give me an enjoyable listening experience, nor did I find myself cursing the lack of ANC. The microphone has proved superb as well, as I’ve had many a phone call while walking next to a noisy street. Are you sure you can hear me okay? You don’t hear that busy street or anything? Nope. Never an issue.

Urbanista Seoul case next to Airpods Pro case

Build and Design

When it comes to the build of the Seoul, Urbanista has continued their trend of sleek, minimalist design. The charging case is comparable in size to the Airpods Pro case, and just as unobtrusive. At first I was worried the case felt potentially flimsy, but this concern has proved unfounded as my careless handling hasn’t damaged it in any way. The case features four small LEDs in the front to display the current charge of the case, a feature I really appreciate.

For the earbuds themselves, they are quite similar in size to the Airpods Pro, but I personally find them more comfortable. The Seoul comes with two additional silicone tips in different sizes, but I’ve found the ones that come stock on the buds to be perfect for me. I haven’t felt a concern that the buds would fall out, even when jogging on the treadmill, and the fit is comfortable and doesn’t feel foreign to my ear in any way.

Speaking of the treadmill, I was more than thrilled when I discovered the Seoul is rated IPX4 water resistant. In the past I’ve spent more for earbuds only to realize that taking them to the gym was a no-no, so tack versatility to the Seoul’s scoreboard. Don’t fret if these things get exposed to some rain or sweat.

Gaming Mode

As I mentioned before, Urbanista’s main selling point for these earbuds are its gaming mode. For any serious gamer, audio lag can be soul-crushing. Mistiming your actions due to laggy audio cues can be a death sentence, and most earbuds aren’t designed with that in mind. With the Seoul, simply hold your finger to the right earbud for five seconds to toggle on gaming mode. In this mode, latency is reduced to a paltry 70 ms, allowing you to game on your phone worry-free. Or, use your Seoul with the Nintendo Switch, which has opened up support for wireless headphones.

Despite what you may think, gaming mode isn’t just for gaming. If you find yourself shaking your fist while watching a movie because audio isn’t lined up as perfectly as you’d like, gaming mode can be a fix for that. For transparency, I personally haven’t had that issue, but it is a nifty trick to have in your back pocket.

Battery Life

We’ve talked about sound quality, the build, the flagship feature, but what has impressed me the most about the Seoul is easily the battery life. In the weeks that I’ve had these earbuds, I think I’ve charged them maybe twice. Twice. As I’ve said before, these have been my daily drivers, both for work and for play. I use them constantly. Not once have I found myself cursing that they lost charge unexpectedly, or that I needed to plug them in for a bit to use them again. Urbanista advertises the buds as holding an 8 hour charge, and a fully-charged case pushing that total all the way to 32 hours. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s even more.

The Cons

Okay, okay, so what do I not like about the Urbanista Seoul? My main gripe is minor, but one that’s come up multiple times in my usage. The Seoul can remember up to 6 paired devices, but to connect to a device, you must manually disconnect from the previous device. What this means for me is that I would find myself comfortable in bed, about to drift to sleep to a podcast, only to realize that I must stand up, go to the living room, take my work laptop out of my work bag, and disconnect the headphones before I could connect them to my phone. Admittedly, this may not be a big deal to some people, but if you plan on using your headphones across multiple devices, this may be an issue.

The touch controls work perfectly fine, and feature what you would expect- double tap an earbud to pause or play, pick up a call or hang up. Triple tap to rewind or skip ahead. Long press for gaming mode. However, the sensors on the earbuds are pretty small, and don’t have any tactile difference than the rest of the earbud, which means I’ve found myself having to fiddle with them a little longer than I’d like to get the touch controls to respond. I’d love an improvement on that in the future.

Lastly, the Urbanista app is perfectly serviceable, but nothing to write home about. It’s easy to use, displays percentage charge for each earbud, has a quick gaming mode toggle, allows for some basic settings changes, and access to the aforementioned EQ presets. Again, the app is perfectly fine, but I could see a lot of audiophiles wanting for more EQ presets, if not a manual EQ mode.

Final Thoughts

The Urbanista Seoul are fantastic headphones that honestly could probably be sold above their price point. If low-latency is something you value in an affordable pair of earbuds, then you should probably just get a set of these. The sound quality is superb, the battery life is unbelievable. The touch controls could use a little work, the app is fairly bare bones, and no ANC is a point against it, but truthfully, the pros vastly outweigh the cons. Take the price into consideration, and I think these are a no-brainer. If you’re in the need for a pair of wireless earbuds, I strongly recommend you consider a trip to Seoul.

The Urbanista Seoul is available now from Urbanista for $89.90.

See also: EAR Micro And Klipsch Audio Launch T10 Bespoke Ear Computers