Philips CitiScape Downtown

I’ve been curious about Philips’ new CitiScape Downtown headphones ($99) ever since reading Tyll Hertsens’ review, so I ran into Best Buy this afternoon and checked them out.

I only listened for a short while, but I immediately liked what I heard. Scrolling between hip-hop, R&B, and pop selections, I was hoping for Prince, but settled for Adele. I found that “Rolling in the Deep,” the lead track from the excellent 21 sounded particularly fine, with a really impressive sense of space around the British singer’s powerful voice and good detail and clarity to the acoustic guitar. The Philips sacrificed some bass weight and impact, but I think it’s easy to forgive such a sacrifice when the rest of the presentation is so well balanced.

I love the look and feel of the CitiScape Downtown—it’s neither overtly masculine (“Hulk smash!”) or condescendingly pink-washed (“Tee hee”), but sleek and understated. The earpads and headband pad are soft, smooth, and feel good against the skin. While I did think the earpads were a little warm, I found that the CitiScape Downtown was extremely comfortable. I could easily imagine wearing a set for long periods of time without becoming annoyed or fearing the unbearable weight of hipsterness.

You know I'm not much of a headphone fan, but I'm always on the lookout for affordable, high-quality options for friends and family. The CitiScape Downtown seems like the perfect candidate: It's good-looking; comfortable; priced right; seals out noise, but not so much that my loved ones will be in danger of being run down in the street; and sounds great. It's available now at Best Buy and Amazon in white/gray, very cool black/brown, and fun purple, and I think it’ll also soon be available at Target. I love the fact that some truly good audio components can be found in such mainstream places. You don’t have to be rich to be my girl.

coruja's picture

unbearable weight of hipsterness

Didn't know you were such a fan of Milan Kundera. Anyway, they do look rather cool and hipsterish, but this a cross we will have to bear, stoically.

I have been on the look out for affordable, good looking 'cans' (pffft!) for a while now since my wife had briefed me on that project in 2011.

These might be it. Thank you for the review.

You say you aren't keen on headphones, and I used to be the same.

I think the secret of headphones (for budget audiophiles) is the headphone amp. Get the best neutral sounding headphone amp you can afford and then decide on the headphones. That way you can get a variety of sound from different headphones and swap and change until you find the right one.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Didn't know you were such a fan of Milan Kundera.

I didn't know either, until Ariel Bitran suggested I read some of his work. To me, The Unbearable Lightness of Being is almost perfect, and so very truthful.  I wish I had written it. 

Anyway, they do look rather cool and hipsterish

I think they're absolutely great in brown/black. Classic and cool.

Bill H324's picture

They are, indeed, available at Target.  Actually picked up a pair last night on sale.

I was curious about them after reading some of the Stereophile blogs from CES.  Plugged them into a tube headphone amp I have and they played nicely together.  Won't replace my main set, but will be just fine for sitting on the patio and not annoying the neighbors.  Well, at least my music won't.

"I love the fact that some truly good audio components can be found in such mainstream places."  Quite frankly, I think it's key to the hobby.  A lot of the folks just getting out of school don't have the scratch to build an entire system yet and walking into a good equipment store can be a bit daunting.

But they do frequent Best Buy, Target and Amazon.  Having some good gear there might get them started on the right foot and away from MP3s, docks and system in a box selections.

Best to all.

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Glad you enjoyed them, Stephen. Philips has done a great job delivering satisfying audio at a rational price. Rare in the headphone world these days.