Sennheiser offers more than the usual with the Ambeo Smart Headset, a top choice of noise-cancelling in-ear headphones developed in collaboration with premium manufacturer Apogee. The real highlight here is the omnidirectional electret microphones that are integrated into the exterior of the earphones, allowing for binaural sound recordings that convey an impressive three-dimensional spatial impression.
These in-ears can only be connected to Lightning compatible iOS devices (from iOS 10.3.3 onward). However, future compatibility with an Android version is planned by the manufacturer. A somewhat bulky remote control containing the necessary electronics and converter technology from Apogee (PureDIGITAL) is firmly integrated into the cable. A free app which updates automatically can also be installed. Both the remote control and other functions can thus be configured to preference, while the graphic equaliser can be adjusted.
The earpiece guide might initially seem an unusual addition, but it’s certainly an advantage. The earplug is established and decoupled from impact sound. Three fitting options for the earpieces are included by the manufacturer, providing plenty of choices when it comes to comfort and personal wearing preferences. The connection via Lightning plug might be an efficient choice, but it does limit current usability to Apple devices only. Additionally, due to the non-locking design of the connector, certain iOS devices with protective sleeves will find connection failures a possibility. However, this is hardly a problem that Sennheiser can be blamed for. Steady listening pleasure and stable recordings can only happen when the earpiece plug is firmly connected.
The remote control can be used to set Start/Stop and title skips for music playback, as well as volume control and call answering. The so-called “transparent hearing function” and noise cancelling properties can be controlled via rocker switch, while a running recording is visualised via a status LED.
The headphones can be further configured using the free Smart Headset app. With this, you have access to the aforementioned equaliser and can assign a function to the additional slide switch found on the remote control, such as calling up the recording software of your choice.
The core strength of the Ambeo Smart Headset is, of course, the recording capabilities. In theory, the function is very user-friendly. This because the microphones automatically serve as monophonic or stereophonic sound inputs, depending on the app in use. With Apple Camera or iMovie for example, you can record binaural sound with your videos without further effort. For pure sound recordings, it is worth purchasing apps like Apogee MetaRecorder, which scores highly with a clear level display.
Sennheiser, fortunately, does not dilute its ambitious microphone concept with subpar sound delivery. The integrated headphones can be used to listen to all genres and, according to the driver technology manufacturer, are technically comparable with Momentum In-Ear specs.
Provided that the plugs are well seated in the ear, allowing for proper symmetry of stereo output, you can enjoy a harmonious sound profile. In the bass range, the system is powerful, with a slight emphasis. Low bass is audible and provides more thrust, especially in cinematics and electronics. At the same time, the bass always retains its contours and reproduces dynamics in this range, such as jazz recordings with a double bass.
The Ambeo Smart Headset is balanced in the mid-range and delivers clear vocals, acoustic and solo instruments. Art the same time, the reproduction of rock, metal and electronics is also harmonious and broad. The treble production is characterised by beautiful clarity, which leads to a richly detailed sound profile that’s sensibly rounded.
The panning is also easy to understand and, with good recordings, nice and wide. The room reproduction also holds up well but is less pronounced than what you’d find with more expensive models.
With these features, the headphone capabilities of the Ambeo Smart Headset reveal a real all-rounder that delivers balanced results across all genres. In addition, the graphic equaliser also does a pretty good job. It is musical and rather discreet, avoiding unwanted distortion. Also important is that noise insulation against the outside is high, with anyone sitting next to you unlikely to be disturbed by your listening.
What’s more, the Ambeo Smart Headset has an additional microphone with good speech intelligibility integrated into the remote control. With this, phone calls can be handled and Siri voice control can be used.
Without a doubt, the integrated noise-cancelling properties of this headset bring an added value to listening pleasure. It extends the isolation of external noise. In contrast to more complex systems, noise suppression is firmly defined and can only be switched on. Noise cancelling does not work too dramatically, but in particular can suppress static noise such as road and driving sounds quite reliably. These signals are clearly reduced in severity but do not vanish completely. Best results can be heard in relatively quiet environments, without many instances of speech or passing traffic. Nevertheless, sound quality is significantly improved in mobile operation, because the signal-to-noise ratio increases.
In contrast to noise cancelling, the above-mentioned transparent hearing should ensure that the user can perceive his environment in a meaningful way. For example, when in traffic. At the push of a button, the mid-range can be raised to make speech and other sounds more intelligible. A third mode provides a kind of hearing protection. In noisy environments, like crowds, the level of outside noise is reduced linearly.
Sound and Video Recording
Three-dimensional sound recording (immersive 3D) is the winning argument for purchasing an Ambeo Smart Headset. For an iOS device at least, there’s certainly no competition in this respect. In fact, Sennheiser has succeeded in making a sure-fire hit here, with the built-in microphone actually delivering a pretty convincing wideband and pleasantly low-noise sound quality that’s far superior to the integrated microphones you’d find in smartphones. In combination with the placement of the microphone in the ear position, a great spatial sound impression is created, which can only be reproduced conceptually in this quality via headphones. The captured spatial impression is actually quite intense and comprehensive, more so than what you’d find with conventional stereo microphones. As such, signals can actually be clearly assigned in front of, behind, above and below the listener. Nevertheless, recordings can, of course, be used via conventional loudspeakers and also provide a thoroughly clear and spatial sound in stereo.
Because of the technical prowess of the Ambeo Smart, the applications for it are well suited to hobby film-makers, sound researchers and even media professionals who enjoy audio experimentation. Microphone sensitivity can be adjusted in two increments to ensure distortion-free recording, even in noisy environments. For this purpose, the headphones are equipped with Agpogee’s Soft-Limit technology, which reliably intercepts overloading before the converter stage. In short, the binaural recording option convinces with astonishingly good quality and easy operation.
Sound and Image Examples from the Ambeo Smart Headphone Product Page
Ambeo Smart Headset – Locals Project “Cuba-Old Havana”
The Locals Project – localsproject.com
AMBEO Smart Headset: Hongkong I Sennheiser
With the Ambeo Smart Headset, Sennheiser enters interesting new territory. The in-ear headphones offer solid sonic performance that is complemented by practical noise-cancellation properties. The ingenious binaural recording function is also a plus, giving video and sound recordings on the iPhone an impressive spatial character that’s worth every penny for use with relevant applications. Apart from the oddities of the Lightning plug, the Ambeo Smart Headset is ultimately a hit with a very reasonable asking price attached.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)15 - 22.000 hz
- Sound pressure level (SPL)112 dB
- Cable length116 cm
What's in the box
- 3 pairs of ear-tips
- Carrying pouch
- Also available in black (Apple exklusive)
- for iOS 10.3.3 or later