Hands On: Sennheiser's Lightning-connected, binaural Ambeo Smart Headset

Posted:
in iPhone edited July 2018
Sennheiser's Ambeo Smart Headset promises to go beyond most Lightning headphones by offering not just noise cancellation but binaural recording.

Sennheiser Ambeo


If you're not particular, the Ambeo is about a simple as any other headphones -- you can just plug them into an iPhone or iPad's Lightning port and be ready to go. We would suggest downloading the company's iOS app however, since the headset's EQ settings are set to be perfectly flat by default, and most people will want more bass.

Ambeo iOS app


In our initial testing audio seems to be extremely crisp and clear, but where it really begins to come into its own is noise cancellation. Active noise cancellation is what you'll probably use most of the time -- this reduces (though doesn't eliminate) any persistent background noise, such as traffic, wind, or jet engines.

Sennheiser also offers something called "Transparent Hearing," which will mix headset output with ambient sound. If need be you can choose to reduce or amplify iOS output, though only at preset levels.

Perhaps the neatest feature of the Ambeo is its binaural recording, even if its practicality is limited. As a quick primer, binaural recording captures audio in 3D -- which means that when you listen to media in that format you'll hear it as if you were there, assuming you're wearing a good pair of headphones.

Sennheiser Ambeo


The Ambeo uses two microphones on the outside of each earpiece, and when played back on the same headphones, even a simple street-side recording was extremely immersive.



You'll note that if you try to play the same file back on a pair of desktop speakers, the results are pretty underwhelming -- it sounds extremely quiet with little discernible separation. It's still somewhat quiet with headphones, but significantly clearer and exactly as if you were really there, with sounds at the right volume, location, and distance.

Keep following AppleInsider for more details in our full review.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,981member
    "Error" is your media sample...
  • Reply 2 of 9
    backstabbackstab Posts: 138member
    And so the move into the future begins...
    "But I want my 1950's era aux T&R jack connector instead!! Waaaaaah!!"
  • Reply 3 of 9
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,541member
    The size of that controller box thing is o_O
  • Reply 4 of 9
    Roger_FingasRoger_Fingas Posts: 124member, editor
    The size of that controller box thing is o_O
    It's probably smaller than you're imagining, but yes, it's far bigger than most inline remotes.
  • Reply 5 of 9
    robjnrobjn Posts: 203member
    Binaural recording is interesting. The basic idea is to record with two microphones that are close together and pointing in opposite directions. The microphones are therefore oriented exactly like our ears. These recordings are best experienced through headphones.
  • Reply 6 of 9
    backstab said:
    And so the move into the future begins...
    "But I want my 1950's era aux T&R jack connector instead!! Waaaaaah!!"
    As long as D/A converter is not cheapo from Apple vendors and from proper vendor who pays attention to sound quality and distortions. Yes move starts and nobody needs jack, but I do not need that garbage dongle from Apple either. Unfortunatelly DragonFly dongle can be used only for music and cannot be used to make calls. I trust Sennheier in this area - not Apple as Apple is not near expertise of Sennheiser in audio.
    edited July 2018
  • Reply 7 of 9
    rob55rob55 Posts: 1,254member
    As long as D/A converter is not cheapo from Apple vendors and from proper vendor who pays attention to sound quality and distortions. 
    Not sure why they didn't mention it in the article, but the mics use technology from Apogee (Soft Limit and mic preamps).
    edited July 2018 SpamSandwich
  • Reply 8 of 9
    backstabbackstab Posts: 138member
    backstab said:
    And so the move into the future begins...
    "But I want my 1950's era aux T&R jack connector instead!! Waaaaaah!!"
    As long as D/A converter is not cheapo from Apple vendors and from proper vendor who pays attention to sound quality and distortions. Yes move starts and nobody needs jack, but I do not need that garbage dongle from Apple either. Unfortunatelly DragonFly dongle can be used only for music and cannot be used to make calls. I trust Sennheier in this area - not Apple as Apple is not near expertise of Sennheiser in audio.
    "garbage dongle"
    Why would Apple's external D/A converter be any worse than the old internal D/A converter they used to have?
    (or am I misunderstanding something?)
    fastasleep
  • Reply 9 of 9
    There can be found seveal interesting recordings at Youtube etc. done with this type of microphones. But definitely use your earphones (as many people do anyway today with their smartphones). I can add some recordings from a sailing trip on a wooden boat. I tried to figure out how wind sensitive it is. Result: I need to build something to protect my ears (and the microphones), but I definitively love the surrounding sound https://vimeo.com/281086621
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