Eliciting the Fresh Prince's Carlton Dance from every wearer, these headphones are so good I ought to get a pair to Alfonso Ribeiro.
Early 90s sitcom references aside, the Philips CitiScape Uptown headphones are some of the best I've encountered within the mid-range price point ($200-500).
Before I even put a pair of headphones on, I'm interested in two things. Will they look like silly earmuffs, too obtrusive to wear in public, and, will the mic work with my phone so I can take calls in between music listening?
The CitiScape Uptown's lustrous design, inspired by New York street architecture, makes my first worry of vanity redundant. A combination of chocolate brown and grey quilted leather and brushed aluminium, these headphones fit on the head like couture. The anti- tangle spaghetti- strap cable (1.2 metres) keeps listening knot and kink free, and the memory foam over-ear cushioning, while comfortably large, remains sleek. And yes, the in-line microphone takes care of my other query. So now down to the listening.
The Uptown model is designed for active noise cancelling. That is, it doesn't use specific noise- cancelling technology; the cups are designed to keep out external sounds. I used them on a plane and never heard the engine, and soon after, listened on a bus without my music being interrupted by signal bings and door exhales.
The finely tuned 40mm premium drivers produce a sound precision ideal for female vocalists and mid-range bass. I listened to Robyn's Body Talk start to finish with these headphones, yielding vocal warmth and a very smooth mid- section with heavy bass use - tunes such as Don't F*****g Tell Me What To Do prove incredibly powerful and deep. Robyn's Time Machine, too, was excellent. The lower bass notes were intense, while treble streamed like audible light - akin to the feeling of being in a superclub.
It was then my Carlton Dance first emerged. Something about the high fidelity power of these headphones makes you want to shuffle your feet and bop your head. They truly give an absorbing listening experience.
They're not perfect, though. While the cushioning is extremely comfortable and features MusicSeal to prevent sound leakage, they clamp tighter than most headphones, meaning your ears are left a little sweaty after extended use. And while the single-click controller for song play is useful, the volume slider is too sensitive, making control finicky to the point where you rely on the device's volume instead - a disadvantage when using a source with a low volume range.
Fully enveloping and providing an immersive musical experience, the Philips CitiScape Uptown is well worth its $299.95 price tag.
They're not quite in the league of the Beats by Dr Dre Studio headphones, but even at almost half the price, they're still encroaching a comparison.
Available from Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming, Smiths City and other leading retailers.
- © Fairfax NZ News