Headphone Review: Philips CitiScape Downtown

[IMG]CES 2012 was filled with brands from accross the globe releasing their newest, loudest, and even shiniest headphones of 2012. While they ranged in price, many of them topped the $300 price point, some even going into the $1000 dollar price range. Philips, who also released a high-end headphone called the Fidelio L1 at 300 dollars, also released a line of reasonably priced headphones called the CitiScape Collection. Created for the urbanite who wants to stay part of the city’s buzz, but not be intruded upon the noise, Philips introduced 4 models in this collection: Uptown, Downtown, Metro, and Underground which range from 50 to 150 dollars.  Read on for the full review:

Recently, I had a chance to test the Downtown on-ear headphones. For 100 bucks and the midrange entry for the CitiScape Collection, the Downtown offers much for the listener.


  • Driver: 40mm Dynamic
  • Frequency Response: 18 – 22000 Hz
  • Impedance: 32 ohm
  • Sensitivity: 102 dB

In the Box

  • Philips Citiscape: Downtown
No additional accessories are included with the Philips CitiScape Downtown.


The design of the Downtown are surprisingly simple. A nice matte design covers the entire housings while the steel band creates a nice contrast. The matte design is a nice walk away from the normal glossy designs that are seen today. Written slyly on the end of the headband is the Philips brandname. A matching cloth-like padding is wrapped around the headband to improve comfort. The design on the Downtowns is stylish, but subtle and not overdone. They are eye catching, and also a matte design.

The design of the headphones simply fades away and blends in well due to the matte stylings.

Design: ★★★★★


Just as Philips stepped away from the glossy design on the Downtown, they also stepped away from the bass-heavy sound on them as well. Being a mid-focused sound, the midrange is clear and energetic with great detailing. The high end can be slightly sibilant at times but retains the great energy that the midrange had with plenty of sparkle. The lows dig deep but still remain mid-bass focused. The impact on the bass is strong, but the bass as a whole can seem lost at times.


Although not on the strong side, the bass is sufficient for most genres. The texturing is good, but can be slightly better as it may not dig as deep as many may like. The impact, like stated before is strong and powerful. The lack of body can become a slight problem depending on preferences, but delivers. The body isn’t small enough to be called anemic. The end result is a bass presence that is just enough for most genres, but may not satisfy all songs.

Bass: ★★★★½


Moving up to the midrange, I found that the mids were the most prominent part of the spectrum, which is rare for a headphone that is targeted at the urban crowd. The midrange contains plenty of power and energy from the central to the upper mids. This energy creates great clarity and really makes voices pop. The detailing on the lower-mids, however, can still use the work while the detailing on the rest of the instrumentals is nicely tuned.

Mids: ★★★★½


Following suit with the mids’ energy, the highs retain their sparkle. Although the highs can get slightly sibilant at times, they never get harsh; the separation is still just splendid. The clarity and detailing in the high end comes up nicely with each and every treble splash. The highs on the Downtown are really well played out and are a joy to listen, despite having the slight and sibilance.

Highs: ★★★★½

Audio: ★★★★½


When the worst part of a headphones build is the lack of an included case, you know the ‘phones are really great. Although I wish Philips would include at least a pouch with the headphones, I can see the headphones surviving a long time without it.

Another plus is the headphone’s cable. The permanently-attached, flat cable prevents tangling. Although I tend to hate flat cables, these cables really live up as they never tangled on me once. Even at times when I didn’t have time to wind up the cable, it really didn’t tangle at all. Speaking of winding up cables, this is a hard cable to wind up and takes time due to its flat shape.

Sitting on the end of the cable is a headphone jack. The headphone jack is strong, sturdy, and also angled to prevent breaks. Really, this is all I ask for in any headphone jack and Philips delivers with it.

The headphone jack on these is designed sturdily.

The housings are completely sealed together. No screws are used, which also means it can’t be opened by hand. The actual material used on the housings is plastic. This plastic, however, is strong and sturdy and protects the drivers well. The steel headband is strong and definitely won’t snap in the long run.

Strength is a property of the headband that is important for any headphone’s survival.

Build: ★★★★½


Memory foam, large padding, and angled cups really create a nice sense of comfort with these headphones. It’s like having clouds sit on your ears. They’re that comfortable. The lightweight steel frame ensures that the headphones can be worn for a few hours without fatiguing the neck, and the headphones don’t really clamp your head shut. All of these are great signs with regard to comfort.

Memory foam ensures that you’ll be on cloud nine while listening to your music.

Comfort: ★★★★★


Philip’s Downtowns are priced competitively at an MSRP at around 100 dollars. Although missing simple essentials like a pouch and any accessories at that, the CitiScape Collection’s Downtown still offer a great package as a whole. The comfort, design, build, and most importantly audio quality all come together to create a really well valued on-ear headset that is a huge bang for the buck. The ability for the Downtowns, as well as the rest of the CitiScape collection to seal music from leaking from the headphones; Philips calls this the MusicSeal. The included remote and mic isn’t too shabby either.

Adding to the entire package, the remote and mic is a great convenience for any smartphone user.

Value: ★★★★★

Final Thoughts

Philip’s new CitiScape Collection Downtown on-ear headphones offer an overall beautiful package. They may not be bundled with a million and one accessories, but the headphones themselves are beautifully built, both in strength and design while the comfort is magnificent. The Audio quality well surpasses it’s price range and puts itself high in the competition. I can honestly say that Philips hit a home run with the Downtown.

I’d like to thank Philips for the review sample.

Overall Score

Philips Downtown

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks Philips for the product sample.
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