When you talk about 3D sound and recording with microphones, you initially expect large equipment, a large microphone head and a lot of effort. When we unpacked the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset for the first time, we were surprised and a bit suspicious at the same time.
These headphones are also supposed to record in 3D and support YouTubers and videographers with authentic recordings? At first glance, the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset looks like many other in-ear headphones, only the small grids on the outer sides reveal additional features.
Experience 3D Sound at Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset
Of course, the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset also works like a regular in-ear headphone and has good noise-cancelling and voice support to boot.
Initially, the new product from Sennheiser is only available for the iPhone and iPad and comes with a Lightning connector. The corresponding app for support can be downloaded the iTunes App Store. A version for Android smartphones should follow during the second half of 2018.
Admittedly, it is difficult to place the “headphones” or the “microphone” in a category – it is a hybrid device and combines both devices in one housing and that with a conceivably simple control via the smartphone.
Once you have downloaded the app for the smartphone, all settings and areas of use are directly available, such as setting the noise cancelling, the recording level, as well as a graphic equalizer. A simple control of the most important functions, which is already explained by itself.
If you now start the regular camera app of the smartphone, the sound is directly recorded via the headset and also played back accordingly.
Microphone in use
If you take a closer look at the earphones, you can see small grids on the outsides as wind protection for the microphones underneath. The special feature already becomes clear during the first recording – not only the regular sound of the conversation partner is recorded, but also the ambient noise with the corresponding placement in the room. If a car is driving behind the person wearing the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset on the left side, you can hear it again directly at that spot even when playing back over any standard headphones.
A surround effect, or 3D effect, is created directly during playback and you can imagine the person’s surroundings much better.
When using directional microphones, as they are used today by many YouTubers and vloggers on camera, you get slight impressions of the surroundings (birds chirping, car noises, etc.), but have no reference to the distance, the direction or even the speed. It’s just background noise and you don’t have much relation to it as a neutral observer.
The Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset forms a 360° sound experience around the listener and later reproduces the sound via the headphones according to the direction. Thus, as a viewer of the video, you then also directly notice that the car came from the left, accelerated in front of the vlogger/YouTuber and turned off on the right side in the street.
We were also a bit suspicious during the first use whether the effect can really be reproduced like in a good cinema and this surround effect can be recorded with such small headphones and the first review already surprised us.
In one of our last weekly review videos, we once presented the experience with the headphones. Despite a lot of wind on the Elbe in Hamburg, the regular sound recordings (original sound) were still very easy to understand, where some directional microphones with wind protection have bigger problems. In addition, in quieter places, the very clear sound during recordings and the good possibility of assigning where the person who is speaking is standing (example in the video).
What was really incredible when using the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset was especially the local assignment of the sounds. While we were out and about in Hamburg, using the headset in the city and in crowds, in department stores and on the Jungfernstieg, and filming a bit with the iPhone, you could recall those exact moments afterwards when you looked at it.
The glass that the waitress at the café dropped in the background was just as spatially appropriate as the skateboarder who was doing his exercises on the stairs at the Jungfernstieg to the side of us the whole time.
In addition, of course, is the ease of use of the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset, you can use the “3D microphones” like regular in-ear headphones and also have as a YouTuber and Vlogger the opportunity to record interesting scenes quite differently and later integrate them into the blog.
The further processing of the audio signals and video recordings with Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere succeeds without any problems, as with any other audio/video file, and thus enables a very easy integration.
Noise Cancelling at Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset
If you’re a regular user of large over-the-ear headphones and have spent several hundred thousand air miles with them, you’re naturally a bit cautious in your expectations when it comes to in-ear headphones with noise-canceling, and yet Sennheiser has far exceeded them.
Even compared to the big over-the-ear headphones, the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset don’t need to shy away from any comparison and can convince very well in most travel situations. The engine noise on a domestic flight from Düsseldorf to Munich was perfectly filtered out, as was the noise on the Deutsche Bahn train ride from Munich to Berlin.
What is pleasantly noticeable about the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset is the possibility to reduce the noise-cancelling and perceive more ambient noise without having to remove the headphones.
At the latest when checking tickets on the train, you no longer look at the conductor in a disturbed way, but can talk to him normally at a regular volume and then turn off the environment again.
CONCLUSION – Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset
Sennheiser succeeds with the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset a new product category that is “nice-to-have”. Especially for YouTubers, vloggers and many people who like to be on the go, have their friends “live” at the event (such as a concert) or while traveling, the headset offers a perfect solution.
Since you take a regular headset for your smartphone anyway, it is of course the perfect solution if a 3D microphone is already built in and the sound can be recorded not only through the small microphones of the iPhone, but directly with surround properties without any extra effort.
Another interesting factor is the active noise-cancelling, which can be individually adjusted and provides a clear added value for in-ear headphones compared to competitors.
We will certainly use the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset more often for our productions and especially for event vlogs, and will continue to report on it in the future.