Review: Urbanears Stadion Bluetooth Sport Headphones | iLounge

Review

Review: Urbanears Stadion Bluetooth Sport Headphones

B-
Limited Recommendation

Company: Urbanears

Model: Stadion

Price: $99

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Guido Gabriele

Early last year, we had our first experience with Urbanears’ unique and innovative Hellas, a Bluetooth workout headphone with a unique design — all the soft parts were easily detached and machine-washable. Urbanears is back with another very interesting Bluetooth headphone, the Stadion. Though far from an audiophile listening experience, the Stadion’s unconventional form factor might be just what some users need.

Early last year, we had our first experience with Urbanears’ unique and innovative Hellas, a Bluetooth workout headphone with a unique design — all the soft parts were easily detached and machine-washable. Urbanears is back with another very interesting Bluetooth headphone, the Stadion. Though far from an audiophile listening experience, the Stadion’s unconventional form factor might be just what some users need.

The Stadion is not an in-ear — it uses an earbud form factor with “EarClick” silicone tips. These unique tips feature a port that focuses sound towards your ear canal on one end, and flexible U-shaped springs on the other end to hold them in place. Controls, battery, and a charging port are all in a curved module on the back of the Stadion. Everything is connected by a sturdy, attractive translucent cable with interwoven reflective threads — a nice feature for a sport headphone. Included in the box is a charging cable, vented soft storage bag, and three sizes of the EarClick silicone tips.

Unlike most sport headphones that come with manual cable shorteners, the standout feature of the Stadion is its coiled cables. They adjust quickly and effortlessly to your head with a just-right amount of tension to keep the battery/control pod nestled snugly at the base of the skull. With this unusual design, the Stadion achieves something remarkable: it provides almost all the benefits of truly wireless headphones like the Bragi Dash with none of the downsides. By adding a coil to the cables, the Stadion provides “barely there” comfort (37 grams!) and eliminates dangling wires while avoiding the short battery life and connection problems that we experienced with the Dash. We usually groan at the thought of coiled cables, but we are happy to see how well they work on a sport headphone. The Stadion fits comfortably and securely, avoiding any interference with the user’s activity.

Beyond comfort, using the Stadion is a mostly positive experience. The Stadion plays well with the iPhone — it paired easily enough, battery level is shown in the notification shade (but not in the status bar). Its controls are satisfyingly clicky and easy to operate without looking but, unlike MFi devices, a long-press is required to change tracks. The Stadion survived several sweaty workouts, with its battery lasting about the advertised seven hours on a single charge, and recharging in just over two hours. Despite the Stadion’s great comfort and sound-focusing silicone tips, they are earbuds, so there’s barely any isolation provided by this headphone. That may be a good thing for a sport headphone, but it became problematic for us with the short height of the Stadion’s over-ear guides pulling the buds upwards, and sweat making things slippery enough to cause the drivers to sit further away from the ear canal than than Urbanears might have intended.

We listened to the Stadion in both noisy and quiet environments and, unfortunately, its sound is far less exciting than its physical design. We found the sound to be distant and unnatural in general, with a rolled-off treble that made it sound dull and unresolving. They’re not unlistenable, but a sound signature like this isn’t something we would reach for unless we were heading for a workout. Normally we’d be willing to give a headphone like this a bit of a pass due to the lack of isolation — the Stadion might fit some users’ ears more cleanly — but we found that this headphone’s lackluster sound quality persisted even when we manually forced the buds to seal. If there’s a bright side here, the Stadion was able to deliver beats to our eardrums, which is probably the most important thing that a workout headphone has to do.

The Urbanears Stadion is comfortable and attractive (of the four colors, we have come to really like the blue and green “Trail” colorway). It wouldn’t be our daily-driver headphone, but we can see how it will meet the needs of some. Its unique form factor and easily-discernable controls make it an excellent choice for sports, and we think some might find the lack of isolation more of a feature than a downside. Once again Urbanears has shown that it can stand out from a saturated market with quirky and innovative design. Still, we think the Stadion needs some tweaks to be ready for broad appeal.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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