Vibrant Colors and Stark Minimalism Unite in the iPhone-Ready URBANEARS Headphones

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Skillfully executed minimal design doesn’t always blend with its surroundings. If you disagree, pop on a pair of Grape-colored Plattan or Tanto headphones from URBANEARS the next time you’re dressed up and waiting for a job interview to begin. The name Plattan comes from a public square in Stockholm and Tanto refers to a garden-rich area of that city (not the Lone Ranger’s good buddy). These products are the work of Swedish designers, and if the color purple doesn’t suit your fancy, there’s a bevy of other options. But looks are only part of the story. These products also place a good deal of sound quality and functionality on your head.

When you need to quickly whip out a pair of headphones while in transit, the last thing you want is to be forced to untangle a mess of wires before you can listen to your music or make that call. The designers at URBANEARS feel your pain, which is why these headphones come with fabric cables. They're a lot less likely to become a nest of spaghetti, and the fabric makes them stronger and more durable, as well.

The Plattan series has a unique media-sharing feature. No, you can't wirelessly beam your music to a buddy’s headphones (although, admittedly, that would be pretty cool), but it's the next best thing. You can share music through a good, old-fashioned wire, and there's no need for a headphone splitter. The Plattan’s input cable is permanently attached to one earcup and the other earcup houses an output jack called the Zound Plug. A friend or a special someone can plug in his or her headphones into the Zound Plug and privately hear what you're hearing.

If you like headphones that are good at keeping outside noises out and keeping the sound of your media in, then the Plattans are the way to go. They're somewhat larger headphones that rest on your ears, but they're still compact and they collapse to slip easily into a slim backpack or purse. Color-wise, there are options for everything from basic Black to bright green Grass. Three new colors were just announced: Cream, Sage and the aforementioned Grape. No matter what shade users of these headphones choose, they always boast about the excellent sound quality and pleasing design.

If you're looking for headphones that are a bit more compact and lightweight, but share many of the qualities found in the Plattan, then the Tantos are the answer. Tantos are "open" headphones, meaning that they let the sound of the outside world in a bit more. This is indispensible when wearing headphones in environments where signals from the outside world are important to hear (such as that milk tanker barreling recklessly down the road). The Tantos don't have the music-sharing Zound Plug, but they do come in the new Cream, Sage and Grape flavors. Visually, they're a kickback to the 1980's heyday of portable cassette players. Technically, they're vastly superior.

Both the Plattan and Tanto have built-in microphones that are fully compatible with the Apple iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (as well as some phones from Nokia, Blackberry and HTC). A built-in remote enables you to answer and hang up calls, navigate your music library and play and pause the files. This can all be done without taking out your gadget or taking off the headphones. The amount of effort required on your part is minimal.

  Plattan Tanto
Type On-ear, Closed-Back On-ear, Open-Back
Frequency Response 20Hz - 20kHz 20Hz - 20kHz
Impedance 60 ohms 32 ohms
Sensitivity 115dB 112dB
Maximum Input Power 40mW 40mW
Connector 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo
Cable Length 47" (120 cm) fabric cord 47" (120 cm) fabric cord
Output 1/8" (3.5mm) Zound Plug None
Folding/Collapsible Yes No
Weight N/A N/A