Headphone Review: Philips CitiScape: Underground

[IMG]After looking at the Philips CitiScape Downtown and being pleasantly surprised at the utter quality they provided, we come to the fact that on-ears aren’t for everyone. With the release of the CitiScape series, Philips also included two other headphones in that series, an over-ear headset and an IEM. The CitiScape Underground represents the low-end tier of their CitiScape collection and is able to hit hard.  Read on for the full review:

Specifications

  • Driver: 10 mm Dynamic Driver
  • Frequency Response: 6 Hz – 23500 Hz
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 102 dB

In the Box

  • Philips CitiScape Underground
  • Silicone tips (S/M/L)

Like with the Downtowns, the Underground doesn’t come packaged with many accessories.

Design

The CitiScape Underground IEMs offer a beautiful matte design that is available in two colors purple and brown. The matte design really fades away and walks into the background subtly. The two dark colors really work well together to create a nice color theme around the entire headphone. The black rubber strain relief on each earbud has the Philips branding and the left-right markers embossed into it. Philips, once again, goes with the matte design that just beautifully flushes itself away into the background; never flashy and in your face.


It’s not flashy and shiny, but like the Downtown’s design, it just works.

Design: ★★★★★

Audio

The Undergrounds offer a sound signature that follows the classic V-shape. The bass has a mid-bass emphasis that can hit hard and sustain . It never goes muddy, but can be a tad much at times. The midrange offers lush vocals with good clarity, but detailing isn’t at its best while the highs sparkle brightly with authority, but can be slightly out of control at times.

Bass

The bass on the Underground offers great power through its mid-bass. This focus really allows the lows to be impactful. The downside is that the lows lack punch overall. The texture of the bass is definitely there, but can be slightly overdone at times. Body-wise, the Underground have a large bass body which leads to presence everywhere, but again, can make the texturing slightly washed out leading to a loss of the delicacy of the sub-bass. Overall, the bass is still good; especially considering it’s a bass-heavy ‘phone.

Bass: ★★★★

Mids

With a slight recess of the lower-mids, the Underground successfully create the classic V-shape that many of us love and hate depending upon our preferences. The midrange is more laid back and warmer than anything. Although it offers a hint of energy, the vocals remain more lush. Clarity is top notch in the higher-mids, however, detailing is lost in the lower-mids due to their recessed nature. Overall, the midrange does seem natural to listen to, but can still use some work.

Mids: ★★★★½

Highs

The high end is energetic with a slower decay. Both of these mixed together makes the high-hats shimmer beautifully. However, a negative consequence of this is that they can become sibilant at times. Outside of that, they can also seem slightly over-done at times as well. The detailing and clarity in the highs is nice as you go up the spectrum. In the lower-highs, detailing and clarity are in need of improvement. Separation is beautifully done with the high-end too.

Highs: ★★★★

Audio: ★★★★

Build

Like the Downtowns, no case is included with these IEMs. Unfortunately, this one will count against them as the Undergrounds seem a lot weaker in comparison to the Downtowns that are built like steal. I highly recommend buying a cheaper 5 dollar case for these if you plan to purchase them.

The housings on the Underground are made of plastic. Unlike the Downtowns, this plastic feels a lot cheaper and thinner in general. Although they won’t easily snap on you, I feel these can crack pretty easily. The strain relief coming out of these doe help me feel better about the materials used on these as the strain relief is strong and flexible. The housings also do have magnets built into them allow them to not separate and tangle as easily. Although it helps fight tangles, it doesn’t solve the problem.


The magnetic properties of the housings helps fight tangles and making cleanup quicker.

As we leave the strain relief, we reach the flat cable that is similar to the one found on the Downtown. For some odd reason, the cable on these just doesn’t seem as quality as the one on the Downtown. I found these were slightly more flexible which lead to it being more prone to tangling. It was, however, strong enough to take on the everyday stresses any IEM cable takes.


Although it makes it easier to share music (more on this later on), the cable on the Undergound does have a tendency to tangle.

At the end of the cable is the L-shaped headphone jack. This jack, like the one on the Downtowns has the Philips brand embossed into it like the housings do on the Underground. It has a strong strain relief that, like the one found on the housings, is strong and flexible. The headphone jack is definitely the sturdiest of the entire headphone; that is a good thing too.


The headphone jack on the Underground is strong and built to perfection.

Build: ★★★★

Comfort

The lightweight housings play a huge roll in terms of comfort for the Underground. Once inserted, they simply disappear into thin air. The slight angle in the nozzle makes them comfortable to wear down, but also doesn’t stop listeners from wearing them with the cable over the ear; it’s always good to have this choice. Three sets of silicone tips are included with these, and I had no problem finding one that sealed well.


Included with the Underground are 3 pairs of silicone tips to ensure a good fit.

Comfort: ★★★★★

Value

The Philips Underground is competitively priced at around 50 dollars. At this price range, they have a lot of competition as an entry-level pair of IEMs. Although they aren’t a steal for their price, they are well worth it. The included remote and mic is nice along with a Y-split that is lower in the cable. This makes it easier to share a single earbud with a buddy of yours. It offers great audio quality and comfort while having a nice design altogether. Although it may have a couple minor problems with the build, they can easily be fixed with a cheap 5 dollar case from Amazon.


The included remote and mic does help bump up its value for any smartphone user.

Value: ★★★★

Final Thoughts

Philips, once again, shows that affordable headphones aren’t all bad. With both the Downtown and Underground in the CitiScape Collection getting high marks in quality and comfort, they truly are a good phone. Although it’s not the best in its price class, it is definitely well worth the price. If you’re looking for good comfort and design that doesn’t sacrifice sound, the Underground is a good way to go.

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

Overall Score

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Philips CitiScape Underground

† 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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