It isn’t often I come across a product that is truly the first of its kind. But Sennheiser’s new Ambeo Smart Headset is just that–and I expect other companies will follow suit. The Ambeo Smart Headset is not only a pair of great sounding earphones, it is also a pair of 3D binaural microphones. For those who are new to this technology “binaural” recording refers to a method used to emulate the way our ears hear sound. Therefore, not only do these type of recordings very accurately portray left to right imaging, but also front to back and top to bottom imaging. So what can you expect from the Ambeo Smart Headset? Today I’ll find out as I conduct the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset review.
Frequency Response: 15Hz-22kHz
Sensitivity: 112 dB/SPL
Cable Length: 1.16 m
In the Box
Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset
Ear tip adapter set (small, medium, and large)
Quick Start Guide
As I first pick up the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset, I notice it feels durable overall. These earphones use the ear hook design. The ear hooks feel durable, yet are flexible, and as I fit them onto my ears I am immediately impressed with how well they fit. Because of their flexibility, it seems like they would fit a wide range of ear sizes. One of my coworkers tried and the eartips didn’t work so well with his ears, but they worked wonderfully with mine– a rare but beautiful occurrence.
Powered by Apogee
When I first learned that the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset worked via an Apogee DA/AD converter and mic preamplifier, I was immediately excited to hear them. As a recording engineer, I’ve always placed Apogee on a high pedestal because their recording interfaces are clean, accurate, and easy to use. They are a smart company that continues to evolve and release amazing products–although often out of my price range. Listening the first time, I could tell right away that it blew away the DAC from my phone. It allowed me to turn up the volume louder than usual and it sounded clear without distortion. Likewise, the technology had a similar effect with my recording.
Ambeo Smart Headset App
Accompanying the headset is an App, also by Apogee. It is arranged in a clean and intuitive way. There are a handful of controls in the App. The Situational Awareness options customize the amount of ambient noise the earphones let in. They even can amplify the sound around you, satisfying all the spies out there. My favorite feature in the app is Apogee’s 3-band Graphic EQ. The bandwidth of the cue makes sense to my ear when I use it in custom mode. Additionally, the presets sound musical. In addition to these controls, there are also controls to assign commands to the Smart Slider, turn voice prompts on and off, and access the Quick Start Guide.
The noise cancellation feature, much like other Sennheiser headphones featuring noise cancellation, is subtle and still allows ambient noise in even when ANC is fully active. This gives the sound of the earphones a more accurate sound stage.
The Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset uses the same drivers as the Sennheiser HD1 earphones. As a result, they sound great and have a pleasurable frequency response. They are not flat, especially considering the frequency boost around 2kHz. But they are quick to respond and sound good with a wide variety of genres. I do wish there was a little more low end, but the Graphic EQ gives a enjoyable boost which makes it better to my ear.
Overall, the imaging of the earphones is good! It is able to reproduce a good sense of depth and an accurate sense of width. In regard to height, it is less accurate, and this is where the earphones struggle the most.
Like the earphones, the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset’s microphones have a frequency boost around 2kHz. As a result, playing the recorded audio back on the same earphones accentuates clicky, crinkly, and other edgy sounds, but also sound really nice with vocals. I like the sound better when the recordings are played back on other earphones or headphones. The microphones are great at reproducing mid-range and high frequency information and they do okay with low frequencies, although are less accurate there.
The imaging is very impressive on these microphones. Left to right is extremely accurate, front to back sounds so real that it feels like you are in the same room as whatever has been recorded. Again, top to bottom imaging is less accurate, although decent.
As earphones, the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset sounds great! They use the same drivers as the Sennheiser HD1 and they work with a wide variety of genres. The Ambeo Smart Headset App is intuitive and easy-to-use. As microphones, the headset is impressive and creates a great 3D image of the sound. I would recommend the Ambeo Smart Headset to vloggers, concert-goers, and podcasters.
The Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset is available right here on Audio 46: