Sunday, July 22, 2012

Philips CitiScape Uptown Review

Philips CitiScape Uptown Review

Initial Impression
Straight out of the box, I was really disappointed with the sound. It was too thin with lots of emphasize on the treble. The bass somehow sounds separated from the rest of the spectrum. However, the cushion really won me over. Did some research online and found out that this particular headphone greatly benefit from burn in. So the following review is on a unit that has been used for >200 hours.

VERY comfortable. The set itself is light that you won't feel burdened by its weight but at same time enough to remind you that you are wearing it. The cushion is where it excels. It pads over you whole ears and is oh so soft. It is also breathable so your ears won't get sweaty after extended hours of usage. Full marks here.

Build Quality
Very well built. Initially, I wasn't so sure because the metal parts connecting the cups to the rest of the headphones does look fragile but I have been traveling with it a lot and its still intact so I guess my fears are unfounded. This says a lot as I don't particularly pay any attention when packing, I usually just cramp all my stuff into my small backpack and then run to the train station. It survived many of such occasions so I am pretty confident that it will survive moderate abuses.

Sound Quality
I found the bass to be accurate and tight. It is not overpowering the other spectrum but is certainly there. With this headphone, I think the bass is more like for you to hear rather than feel. You won't feel the rumble but you can definitely hear it. You get me? :) This is really the only thing I don't like about this unit but this is of course a matter of personal preference. This unit also reproduces the lower frequency bass excellently (good bass extension). My perfect unit would be an Uptown with more (lots and lots more) bass impact.

The mids are warm but ever-so-slightly recessed. Vocals are clear but not forward or recessed. The mids float on the middle I guess. That is how it sounds to me anyway and to be honest it is quite confusing to explain it in words.

The Uptown does have some emphasize on the treble but not overly so that its fatiguing. It is bright, infact a little too bright for my taste but is still in the tolerable region. Cymbals particularly sound too metallic but really that is just me being picky. Most of the time I do use the equalizer to tone down these frequencies.

Excellent. Really, so much so that I don't think I can differentiate between an open air design sets to this based on its soundstage. It is expansive but not overly so that it sounds artificial. One thing I noticed is that this vary greatly on the quality of the files you are playing. Listening to my old (low bitrate) collections sounds somehow compressed with limited soundstage. This particular unit does need high bitrate sources to excel and for this reason alone I deem it not suitable for the general public :)

Very good indeed. The sounds are well separated but at the same time does not sound out of place. Everything have its place without bleeding into each others' region.

Isolation/Sound Leaks
Philips called it MusicSeal, whatever it is, it sure does work. Once you start listening to your music you can barely hear any other outside noises. I used this set when I was on my flight home (a 15-hours journey) and there was this baby constantly crying. Once I put this on, I can barely hear the cries although once the music stopped you can definitely still hear some outside noise. This, plus its comfort makes it an almost perfect companion for traveling. 

And it isolates your music from the others as well as it isolates you from the outside noise. Unless someone is sitting uncomfortably close to you, he/she will not be able to hear what you are listening to. Another plus for travelers.


To put everything into a sentence, the Philips Uptown is really the jack of all trade, master of none. Its characteristics does not favor any genre specifically nor does it negatively affect the listening experience to any of them. If there is just somehow more bass impact, I would have stopped my search for my 'Ideal' headphone. With that said, this would suffice for now. The Philips Uptown is a very capable headphone but bassheads will most definitely call them boring.

If you want to buy one of these, consider buying from for about £70 that is unless you can find it cheaper elsewhere.


  1. Hi, i just bought some to and am also not a huge fan of the sound.

    I am not sure what burn in is? can you advise me on how to to do this.

    Great review.

    1. Hello,

      Burn in simply means 'loosening up' the headphone drivers so that they can perform optimally. There is really no 'correct' way of burning in. Usually people simple play their playlist on the headphones for a period of ~40hours (or until there is no discernible changes in audio reproduction). Or you can just use this site but whatever you do, remember to NOT play anything at maximum volume while burning in as it is generally agreed that this will probably damage the drivers.

      Hope that helps. On another note, could you try to explain how it sounds to you now? This might help other users and also this will serve as a reference for you in the future to check if there are any changes to the audio quality.


  2. Thanks for the advice.

    Well, i'am no audiophile but the sound is quite shallow and washed out. It's very much like the vocals and music are coming from two different sources.

    The music seems to be more overpowering then the vocals on most of my tunes.

    As you said the there is definitely bass but no bass thump, but this is not a concern for me.

    I'll burn them in and come back with the results.


    1. Oh, this sounds like an entirely different matter. If you dont mind me asking, what is your source? I think I get what you are explaining. I get that kind of sound if I connect the headphone to my old trusty Nokia N900. Something about the iDevices compatibility which caused this. So whenever I have to use it with my phone I have to use the short extension cable that Philips bundled with the headphone. Try it.

      PS: This is the one I'm talking about.

    2. Hi there,

      I just got this headphone and it is incompatible with my Sony-Ericsson. When I insert it onto my phone, I get the message: "accessory is not supported." The label on the connector you've shown says it is also for Sony-ericsson, yet it didn't come in the box with my headphone.

  3. Thank you. that cable sorted it. It was a Sony Ericsson
    I went and tried them at home and they sound awesome.

    Thank you for your advice.