A new frontier of sound. Sure, we’ve heard that one before. Yet the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset could well be the next big thing. Binaural 3D audio is the key highlight here. Sennheiser’s been a bit of a constant in the space, right from 1974, when they showcased the MKE 2002 binaural microphone to last year, with the Ambeo VR 3D Microphone for VR field recording. The Sennheiser Ambeo smart headset, first seen at CES 2017, represents the first time a binaural 3D sound recording device is coming to the end-consumer with a reasonable price point to match. An easy target crowd that Sennheiser sees are vloggers, especially in travel and lifestyle, where binaural 3D sound can greatly enhance the ambience.
At first look, this interestingly looks like a large-ish premium sports in-ear, and yet, it’s quite comfortable to wear. The bit of flair on the ear buds apart, the design cues are rather simplistic, with a focus on the practical.
The concept behind the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset is simple: omnidirectional microphones integrated into the headset’s earpieces pick up sound as your ears hear it, setting the stage for a binaural recording. And all you need to do is plug the headset to your iOS device and start recording. Meaning if you are stepping out of restaurant, you get a feel of vehicles passing from right to left, feel the noises of restaurant customers fading in the background, hear the prominent creaking of the doors to your immediate right as you step out. It’s rather brilliant.
An early hiccup I felt was the fact that I had to wear the device while recording audio. That and the fact that you need to face the same direction as where you’re pointing your phone’s camera. That roadblock overcome, the resulting 360-degree soundfields were very intriguing.
The device easily functions as a standalone headphone with noise cancelling beef as well. Situational Awareness is what Sennheiser names it, and you can choose between full out noise cancelling and a transparent mode which enables outside sounds as well.
On the negative side, given the TG it is looking at, the design language could have been a little less conservative, and the device does look sportish, if a tad too much. It’s currently compatible with iOS devices, with an Android version available at a later date.
In conclusion, Sennheiser’s Ambeo Smart Headset is a smart addition to any content creators kit. It’s very straightforward to operate, the output is easily accessible and it stands apart as a very competent noise cancelling device as well.
The Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset retails at AED 1,199