Price: $99 (MSRP $99)
Wear style: On-ear (Closed back)
Key features: In-line microphone, MusicSeal passive noise isolation
In Short: A comfortable high-isolating headphone with a minimalist feel and good sound to match.
The Philips CitiScape Downtown should be a one-and-done headphone for the average consumer. It is comfortable enough for long listening sessions, isolating enough for use in libraries or airports, and versatile enough sound-wise to pair well with all types of music. The cloth wrap around the headband gives the Downtown a somewhat feminine feel, so I would recommend them especially (but not exclusively) for women.
The standout feature of the Downtown is its MusicSeal technology. The loose-fitting ear cups are padded with memory foam, making the Downtown one of the most comfortable on-ear headphones apart from the featherweights. “MusicSeal” is just marketing jargon to consumers because Philips does not explain how it works, but thankfully that is not necessary to know. You only need to know that MusicSeal does work, and it works very well. The Downtown’s ability to reduce outside noise and prevent sound leakage is top notch which is not common for on-ear headphones.
The unibody design is sturdy and the headphone has a surprisingly rugged feel despite its simplicity. The flat tangle-free cable adds to the Downtown’s user-friendliness and it looks great. A downside is that the headphones do not fold or collapse for travel, but this should not be a deal breaker.
In terms of sound, the Downtown pairs well with all types of music. The presentation is rather intimate but the soundstage and imaging are decent – definitely good enough for movies and gaming. The focus is on the forward midrange, followed by the bass (which equalizes well if you find it lacking impact). The Downtown does have a few weaknesses but they do not hold it back from being a fantastic headphone. The instrument separation is below average and the treble does not have a lot of sparkle to it, making classical and metal music sound a bit dull compared to other headphones. The rare breed of “treble-heads” should stay away, but everyone else should find the Downtown smooth and enjoyable.
The CitiScape Downtown is one of the best headphones to hit the market in 2012. Its combination of comfort, isolation, and modern simplicity make it a great option for those looking to spend ~$100 on a do-it-all headphone.
|Color options||Brown, Grey, Purple|
|Driver type||40mm Dynamic|
|Frequency Response||18 – 22,000 Hz|
|Cable||4ft flat tangle-free with L-plug|