Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset; The Latest 3D Headset to hit the market

Review Category: 

Review: 

Hello everyone. I'm here today with my review in progress of the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart headset. I've been wanting to get my hands on this for quite a while, as I like recording and my imagination was captured a few years ago by the discussions of the Hook Verse. I got that product last year and used it, and I think the reviewers on this site who have already reviewed it have done an excellent job talking about it. With that said, I do want to talk about the Ambeo Smart, as there are some things about it that really make it stand out as a binaural recording headset. One thing I noticed about the Hook Verse was that you couldn't move around too much from place to place. When I had it paired to my phone, often times throwing the phone into a pocket and walking a few feet broke my Bluetooth signal and either degraded the quality of the audio or stopped the recording altogether. Also, and this is just me--I don't think the space in front of or behind myself was picked up as well. Too far in front or behind and the mics just couldn't hear the audio. With the Ambeo Smart however, these issues are no longer issues. The Ambeo Smart headset connects to the lightning port on your iPhone for a wired connection, and I can say from personal experience, that walking around doesn't cause any problems whatsoever. Since I am still playing with this headset I will make updates here and there discussing my experiences, but let's just get right into it.

I had only heard this headset discussed, I'd never seen it. I didn't know what to expect in the packing at all. I was prepared for a bulky, giant thing that made me stick out like a sore thumb at a local restaurant or store. No dice, the box the delivery man handed me was quite small. On opening it and the actual headset package inside, I was surprised and amazed to discover that not only was the headset not large and cumbersome, but it would not cause me to stick out at all. I could look normal when wearing it.

I connected it to my iPhone and went into the iPhone's Voice Memos app to do a recording test. My first one I had the earpieces on backwards. As soon as I played the test over a different headset and figured that out, I turned them around and my wife and I performed another test, with much better results. Now when she said she was coming from the left, it was in fact from the left. When I got up and turned so her voice was behind me, it sounded like she was in fact, behind me.

But enough with the anecdotes. You want to hear about the Ambeo Smart, so let's do that. It is a pair of earbuds with mics on each of the earpieces. The lightning cable is connected to it, so there's unfortunately no way to disconnect it and just replace the lightning cable if, God forbid the wires get a short in them. . I suppose we could view this as a con, but I am hopeful that Sennheiser's build quality is just as good as their audio and recording, high-quality and no fear of breaking for a long long time. You are spending $300 on this headset though, so I have very high hopes that they respect that and made a product that won't have any issues for quite a while.

There is a voice mic on the right earpiece cable used for capturing your vocals and taking phone calls, so you can orient the headset to know which is left and which is right. On the cable of the headset there is also a small control box. ON this small control box are a toggle button, (called the smart slider in the app), which can be used by default to reduce the mic levels from natural to reduced--this has not been tested yet so I can't report back on what recording in that mode would sound like. This can be changed in the Ambeo Smart app, which by the way, other then the headset user guide, is completely accessible.

You can set the toggle to launch a certain app, to mute the telephone or voice mic, to toggle interact, and that brings up the transparent hearing, which is one of the best features of the headset. I've played around with the Aware mode, for example, on the Bose QC-20's and 30's and in my view, that doesn't hold a candle to the feature on the Ambeo Smart headset.

When using it, I can hear everything around me. This would also, in my opinion, make a good headset for travel out and about with Microsoft Soundscape and another GPS ap. The rest of the buttons on the small control box don't require much explanation. There is a button to control transparent hearing or to turn on the noise cancellation, which is also executed pretty well. Press down on the right side of this elongated button for noise cancellation, and the left side for transparent hearing. You can tell when entering these different modes because a very soothing female voice tells you. Voice prompts also can be disabled from within the app. Other than that, you have standard media controls, a play/pause, skip track, answer and end phone calls button, and a volume up and down. Now to discuss the recording quality. I did a couple of tests, and if anyone is interested in hearing those tests I can upload them somewhere so you can. My wife walked around our apartment wearing them and talking, and then we talked for a few minutes together about the headset. I played our keyboard a little bit just to add some ambiance to an otherwise empty sound and threw the package the Ambeo Smart came in across the room. The binaural effect doesn't come out as much in this test, but the good stereo image is shown off and the general high recording quality. By coincidence I had to run some trash out to our dumpster, so I recorded myself doing that. This test is where the binaural quality comes out. You can hear the sounds of light traffic around me and when I go back into the apartment complex you can hear the door shut behind me as I walk up the stairs. Over the next few weeks I do plan to do some environment capture recordings to really test out the Ambeo, but I believe these tests are good for a start.

This headset is also good as just a headset for listening to audio. As with the recording, stereo image is really excellent. If there are songs where some of the instruments or vocals tend to get lost somewhere in the mix, this headset seems to correct that. Background vocals are brought out just a little bit and the instruments sound better overall. As I said I will continue to make updates here and there as I get used to wearing this headset, but at first glance I'd say buy it if you can afford it. Whether you're a big audio recording enthusiast and recording audio in the field is part of your career, or you just record things with the family for your family memories, this headset is a good buy. Wouldn't you like to be in the auditorium when your son or daughter sings in the choir, or at the gym or field when they hit that home run for the school baseball team or score the winning goal in that basketball game, or anywhere for that matter? As both a pair of mics to record audio or to listen to your music and audiobooks, even at the $299 price point, you can't go wrong.
Update; well, it's my second week owning this headset, and if possible I've fallen more in love with this headset than I was when I wrote this. Everything works so well. I've done a few more recordings and I need to see about getting those uploaded. I recorded some footage in a local restaurant in late evening, traffic and very light birdsong outside on my apartment balcony, and a beauty shop. I wanted to remake the Virtual Barbershop, only this time it'd be an actual haircut, but unfortunately that wasn't able to happen. Still though, if I seemed to be on the fence at all during my initial review, any lingering doubts I have had are now gone. If you can afford it, buy this headset if you're looking for an excellent solution to record and listen to your music. It's a great buy and this is now my favorite headset, hands-down.
My only real wish is that some kind of adapter could have been made to be able to plug the headset into a 3.5 cable on say, a laptop. It's awesome having a dedicated lightning headset that doesn't need battery power for it's noise cancellation features, but at the same time it's a bit silly to spend this kind of money and not be able to use it on anything else.

Devices Accessory Was Used With: 

iPhone

Rating: 

5 Stars

Disclaimer

The review on this page has generously been submitted by a member of the AppleVis community. As AppleVis is a community-powered website, we make no guarantee, either express or implied, of the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this review.

35 Comments

#1 What about the Noise Floor?

When recording levels are at maximum, how much background noise does this headset have, when compared to the HookeVerse? I found the HookeVerse to be quite noisy in this regard, making it bad for capturing ambiance like bird song.

#2 Noise floor

I had not tried capturing birdsong or anything quite like that yet. I will however and let you know. Spring time is on the way so getting some actual birdsong should not prove too difficult in the coming days.

#3 recording example.

hello, thank you for the review. if you did upload those recording examles, please do let me know. many thanks.

#4 same here.

I won't be buying these headphones as I have bose quiet comfort headphones and they work very well for me.

Having said that, I'd love to hear some recordings of these headphones to see how good they sound

#5 The Sound Rivals Bose

Keep a few things in mind. I will be putting up somerecordings in the near future for the binaural recording effects, but these headphones can do something the Qc-35's can't.I also understand money is hard to come by but there are a few reasons I'd recommend these over the Qc's. The first, of course, is the binaural recording. That is just awesome. It sounds amazing and I can't talk enough about it, but I'll get some recordings together and then we can discuss it. Also, the transparent hearing. If you're looking for a set you can wear while walking around, these are it. You can press a button and the entire world will come through your ears. And the other thing I'd say is, the sound is better then Bose. For years I didn't think I could find something that actually sounded better then Bose—I have a pair of 35's myself, but even for listening to things I prefer the Ambeo. For one thing they do have the transparent hearing. For another they don't need to be charged to record in binaural, for the transparent hearing or the noise cancelation because they draw power from your phone so you don't ever have to be without them because you're waiting on them to charge up.

#6 Battery Drain

Club AppleVis Member

Do you notice a significant battery drain when using these? If so, do you still notice it when using it just as headphones and not while recording?

#7 re: Battery Drain

I don't. I have an iPhone 10 running ios 11, don't recall the exact version, but I don't. I typically use it with transparent hearing on so if someone knocks at my door or my wife wants to have a conversation I can hear it.

#8 RE: Battery Drain

Club AppleVis Member

Thanks a lot. I have looked up some Youtube videos, and the phones sound truly amazing. Like you, the only thing I would change is to have a detachable cord so if a short develops, you don't have to blow another $300.00. Other than that, it sounds like something I will seriously look into getting.

#9 Question on servers

I finally have a file that I think will demonstrate the noise floor question that I was asked when I first posted this review. There's some lighgt traffic, (unfrotunately there are a couple of accentricities in the video), but there are some sounds of people going in and out of my apartment building. I'm on my balcony, and it's a little over twenty minutes. I'd heard that it's no longer possible to post a file to a public Dropbox folder and put up a link to it. Is this true, and if not can anyone advise me on a good place to upload files to so you can listen? They're not massive files or anything if that helps.

#10 Try uploading to Youtube

Club AppleVis Member

Youtube might be your best bet.

#11 Thanks for an awesome review

Hi.
Thanks so much for this awesome review.
I'm looking for a new headset which works for everything, and because this headset doesn't connect with a minijack adapter, this headset is not for me. But it sounds really awesome if you are mostly using an iPhone. The remote where you can adjust all those things sounds really great.
You can upload recordings on
www.sendspace.com
Or if you are paying for extra storage in your iCloud, you can share a public link.

#12 Recordings coming

So sorry everyone, I said months ago that recordings demonstrating the Ambeo Smart would be forthcoming, and I have not delivered. I wanted to let you all know they are coming soon, but I wanted to ask what format everyone would prefer. ON the one hand, I could just assume this is Applevis, and everyone probably has a Mac or IOS device and leave it in m4a--the first several recordings I made were with the Voice Memos app, or I could be a little more professional and convert them to mp3's. What does everyone think?

#13 Hi.

Hi.
I would say mp3. Then you make sure everyone can play the sound files no matter what they are using.

#14 A couple of recordings to get you started

Call it my punishment, lol, for putting this off for so long. I have two recordings I made on the Ambeo Smart headset for your listening enjoyment. I have one where I was waiting in a barbershop to get a haircut. You can hear music, people talking and the occasional hairdryer running. The other one I have is me sitting out on my apartment's balcony just after five o'clock in the evening. You'll hear traffic, some of it faint, but sometimes cars will pull up and someone will get out. If you all need more, let me know. It was actually not the easiest thing to choose which recordings I'd share. Without further ado, here they are. https://www.dropbox.com/s/2i4qwsm3hyz5rhf/At%20the%20Barbershop.mp3?dl=0 https://www.dropbox.com/s/u39fjal7ecw00k9/Outside%20My%20Apartment--late%20AFternoon.mp3?dl=0

#15 Purchased on the strength of this review.

I purchased this headset as a result of HoldenM’s review, and have used it with Ferrite and Just Press Record.

I’ll be looking out for more reviews from you HoldenM, as these have turned out to be more than I either expected or hoped for.

Watching a band do their thing last Saturday for example, I left the venue deafened.

The sound in the venue itself was appalling, a din is the best way I can describe it.

I thought I’d record the din using the Ambeo Headset’s reduced level, and put off playing back the recording as the din wasn’t something I fancied listening to twice over.

Imagine my surprise then, when what sounded like a cacophony on the night was transformed in to something sounding just like you’d expect a 3 piece band consisting of Guitar, base and drums to sound.

I’m delighted, thanks again for taking the time to review this headset.

#16 My pleasure

Wanted to write back and say I'm glad I was able to help you make a decision. People shouldn't take spending money lightly and when possible, people who have spent it should be willing to share their experiences.

#17 Bought a pair also

Club AppleVis Member

I bought a pair also, and they should be arriving today. Very excited to play with these. Thanks for recommending them.

#18 AMBEO Smart Headset Observations

Hi everyone. I have owned the AMBEO Smart Headset for a while now, so I thought I’d post some thoughts on them.
First, let me say that they are my favorite set of earbuds for audio playback. While some reviews I’ve read from around the web talk about a lack of bass when listening to music, I understand why people might say that when listening to them. In fact, I find I use the “Bass” setting in the EQ settings when I use them for listening to music, especially if I’m listening to Pop or EDM. If I listen to binaural recordings, I tend to use the “Flat” setting, as the “Bass” setting sounds a bit unnatural to my ears.
I also ended up buying some memory foam tips to use in place of the default tips, as they tend to move too much in my ears and I keep having to push the ear buds back in to reestablish the seal.
I don’t know about anyone else, but in earlier versions of iOS 11, whenever I would use situational awareness, the audio I would hear from the microphones would be panned slightly to the right, but that issue seems to have been fixed.
Speaking of situational awareness, I find that the amplify level setting puts audio at the same level of volume I hear sound without the AMBEO headset in my ears.
Regarding making phone calls, I find that the telephone microphone volume is so quiet, I’m better off just using the phone handset which makes me sad, as I really was hoping that these could be my “everything” headset for iOS. It could be that mine are defective, but my current set is a replacement set. The cable that connects them to my phone developed a short. While I’m on the subject, the headset comes with a two year warranty.
Getting back to the telephone mic, I’m pretty sure that the headset uses it when situational awareness is enabled. I don’t know if it uses it when making a recording, though I can’t see why it would. That may also explain the call volume issue. Maybe the audio signal is being split between the binaural microphones and the telephone mic? If anyone has any ideas of how I might overcome the phone call issue, I’ll be happy to experiment, as that is my only point of contention with the AMBEO headset. Well that, and me wishing you got a cable clip with them.
I have also played with the noise cancellation feature, and I can say that it works well. The headset seems better able to deal with lower sounds though.
When I first got the headset I figured I’d use the voice prompts, but I’ve found they slow me down when changing settings with the rocker or Smart Slider.
Updating the headset firmware is also an accessible experience. I never lost speech once.
Interestingly, it seems that the app and firmware versions are linked. I updated the app on my phone and then updated the firmware on the headset. When connecting it to my iPad, I was informed that an update was available. When I checked, I saw that the update was for the version I had updated from while the AMBEO was connected to my phone. After further investigation, I realized that the app version on my iPad was out of date. I was not prompted again after updating the app.
Finally, I can say that the headset does send binaural audio if you use it with TeamTalk, though I can’t speak for other VOIP apps that support stereo audio.
I know this has turned into a bit of a long post, but I hope my thoughts and observations are helpful, and I would like to thank anyone in advance for any help with the phone call volume issue.

#19 Will it work on iPhone 6 or lower?

I am looking for a 3d headset to enhance my podcasting.

I have an iPhone 6, I hope it works. Otherwise, do you have any other 3d headset recommendations?

#20 Will it work?

Hi,
The headset should work with any iOS device that has a lightning port.

#21 looking for binaural microphone

Hi, these sound wonderful. I'm looking to invest in a pair of binaural mics for holidays and such. Going to disneyland later this year and would love to record stuff to send back to one of my favourite podcasts as well. would you recommend these, or something like a pair or sound professionals? I'm trying to gather as much info as possible on the best solution.

#22 Re: looking for binaural microphone

Hi,
I would say that the AMBEO should work quite well. With the awareness features, you will be able to hear the environment around you without it affecting your recording. I’ve been able to walk around quite easily with the awareness features enabled while the headset was in my ears. Haven’t looked at the Sound Professionals line, so I can’t say that they do or don’t make something similar. Hope this helps.

#23 My only issue

Club AppleVis Member

... and this has nothing to do with the phones themselves, but I wish I knew how to record a podcast using these headphones where I could incorporate Voiceover speech. These headphones themselves are awesome, both for recording sound and also as playback phones.

#24 getting recordings off the phone

Just wondering how easy this is to do? don't suppose there is a feature through the app to send them to dropbox or other places? also, does it record in mp3, or the apple format? I can convert if needed, but thought I'd ask

#25 Recording

Hi,
While, you can use most any recording app, including Apple’s Voice Memos.

#26 Accessory Not Supported

Club AppleVis Member

Is anyone else getting this message with these headphones? I have had mine about three months now, and the other day it began losing its connection. They would start out working, but then the audio would stop working and a message would pop up stating that this accessory is not supported. I am running them with an iPhone XR if that helps.

Thanks for any assistance.

#27 Accessory not supported

Hi there, unfortunately it sounds like your cable may have developed a short. I would contact Sennheiser for replacement. When my cable develop a short, my headset was exhibiting the same type of behavior. Be aware that you may be asked to provide a proof of purchase. Hope this helps.

#28 RE: Accessory Not Supported

Club AppleVis Member

Thanks a lot. I will do that. I bought them through Amazon, so hopefully contacting them through Amazon will result in them seeing my proof of purchase.

#29 about to make a bad decision...

I have been toying with buying these for a bit, and right now amazon has them for $199.99. I really shouldn't do it but... for a third of the price cut I think I'm about to buy them. From the sounds of these reviews and comments, I don't think I'll be sorry.

#30 The phones are still at $199

Club AppleVis Member

Despite my previous poor experience with Sennheiser customer support when my previous set broke, I am, against my better judgment, getting a new pair because they are still priced at $199. If anyone has been thinking about getting these, now may be the time to do so. Link is below to Amazon in the U.S.

https://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-AMBEO-Smart-Headset-iOS/dp/B0744PC5J8/...

#31 Ordered a pare from Sweetwater

Hi,
As a result of listening to the audio demos, and reading the amazing review from the poster, I've ordered a pare from sweetwater, which cells them for the same price. The nice thing about them compared to Amazon is that they offer excellent customer service and support. however, I saw on their product page a "coming soon," message. Not sure why, but I'm now awaiting a shipping confirmation email. if it takes too long, I may just end up ordering them from B&H photo video instead, but it'll be a last resort. Hopefully it won't take long before their back in stock.
Also, for those that own the headset, what audio recording apps work? I know the built-in voice memos app works well, and most, if not all, audio recording apps use the mono mic for recording, as some recording apps do not offer stereo recording, only mono recording. The only apps I've scene that offers stereo recording are Audio Memos Pro, and RecorderHQ Pro. If you have any other app suggestions, let me know.

#32 Wow!

Wow!!!! This review is amazing. Thanks so much for typing it up for us to enjoy. I love this product. I hope to get my hands on it one day.

#33 The Biggest Problem

Club AppleVis Member

The biggest problem I have with the headphones is that the wire is not replaceable. For this kind of price, you would think the cable would be detachable. Most of the issues in headphones when they go wrong aren't from busted out speakers but from little tiny cords fraying at the end nearest the phones where they plug into your device.

#34 Finally shipping!

Hi,
Just got an email confirmation that it's now shipping! should receive it later in the week. so excited!

#35 My experience so far

Hi all,
I would like to share my experience so far with the headset. It worked with all stereo recording apps, as well as it's MetaRecorder, but I don't use it, just Audio Memos pro and Just Press record. The sound quality is great. My favorite feature is the transparent hearing, where I can hear what's going on around me without taking the earphones off. All in all, excellent product and I will use them as needed to capture good recordings. I even recorded the worship service in spanish and the audio was clear to understand at the natural level with no distortion! absolutely amazing!