Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset – Reviewed

Sennheiser is well known for producing high-end audio devices for both consumers and businesses. Their products range in price and functionality, but there are a few which could be classified as completely ‘unique’. The Ambeo Smart Headset is one of these devices – providing both high-end audio playback and 3D recording, allowing you to record binaural audio. With such an interesting feature, are these headphones a glimpse of what’s to come, or simply an interesting gimmick?

As mentioned, the Ambeo Headset has a high-quality microphone on each earpiece, allowing for 3D recording. This works with most native iPhone applications, including the Camera app and the Voice Memos app. The 3D audio provides a real ‘wow’ moment when you play your video or voice memo back to yourself; it really does add another dimension to the sound. As a test, we sat in the centre of a room and played music from both the left and right. This gave a great demonstration of the effect, and when coupled with a video, was extremely convincing.

Outside of the binaural audio, the headphones also function very well as a traditional headset. The sound quality is rich and bassy, which is unsurprising for Sennheiser’s high-end devices. As such, we would happily use them as our main music playback headphones. Thanks to the 3D microphones, the Ambeo Headset also supports powerful noise-cancellation, almost blocking the outside world entirely. On the flip-side, the microphones also allow for amplified ‘transparent hearing’, boosting the noise from the outside world and playing it through the earphones; this turns the headset into a practical hearing aid.

The design is generally sleek and functional, with the main exceptions being the microphones and control pad. The microphones are the most noticeable part of the headphones, and are clearly visible over the earbuds – these make the headphones look more advanced than similar headphones, but don’t detract from the overall design. The control pad is a large rectangular block about halfway down the cable and is the only drawback of such a tech-heavy headset. It’s large and fairly cumbersome when wearing the headphones, and although it provides a fantastic method of controlling playback, it prevents you from using these headphones for any highly physical activity.

The Ambeo Smart Headset is clearly a piece of tech which is targeted at a niche audience – those who want to record 3D binaural audio. For this purpose, they are without fault and offer a very convenient solution. Both the playback quality and recording quality are top notch, and anybody using these as their main recording device would be very happy with the result. However, due to the control pad adding more weight to them, we wouldn’t recommend this headset to those looking for a fitness device. It’s also important to note that the headset is only available for iPhone right now, utilising a Lightning connector as opposed to a traditional auxiliary input.

With all of this said, the Ambeo Smart Headset is a truly interesting headset and we would recommend them to anybody looking to record immersive video and audio. You can find out more on the Sennheiser website, or pick up a pair for £259.99.

Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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