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Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset Review

sennheiser_ambeo

Mobile & on the go videography is on the rise, thanks to vloggers and millenials wanting to travel the world and shoot it. While camera quality on mobiles continues to improve, audio gets somewhat left behind. There are a few plug in solutions to improve the quality of your audio, one of which is the Sennheiser Ambeo, a smart headset, capable of imerssing your listener, into the world you’re recording. Sennheiser said they would be sending one through and after listening to some sample footage, I was excited.

So what is the Ambeo Smart Headset? Essentially, it’s a pair of earphones, with an omni-directional, 3D binaural, pre-polarised condenser microphone within each earpiece. The headset has inbuilt controls, available only on iPhone at present and ofcourse, the earphones are capable of playing music too!

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The headset comes packaged within soft foam, in a cardboard box and will withstand even the worst courier services. Inside the box is the headset and some instructions, that’s it. The headset is constructed from plastic and finished in white & grey (only option available). The ear pieces themselves come with different sized ear buds, and bendy ‘hooks’ for maximum flexibility. The ear buds are in ear, in the ear canal, so sit deep and secure. Out of the earphones, comes a small inline microphone, used for calls and controlling your iphone. Further on is the ‘brain’ of the operation, the headset controls. There are a number of controls on the ‘brain’ part, including:

  • Smart Slider, which can be assigned to a vareity of functions via the Ambeo app. Including, launching the Apple camera, Apogee Metarecorder, FilmicPro & Voice memos, plus 3D mic recording level (reduced or natural) or mute the telephone mic.
  • Situuational Awareness rocker, a switch at the bottom of the controller which toggles through 3 different settings, allowing you to tailer how much of the sound around you is part of your listening experience. Transparent hearing blendings the currounding sound in with your music, so you can still hear external sounds while walking or cycling. There are 3 levels of this, reduced, natural & amplified. Active noise cancelling is also available via the rocker.
  • Also on the controller is a recording status (red means on), volume up & down, plus stop/start & accept calls.

I mentioned above aboute Apogee, well Sennheiser have teamed up with Apogee to use their soft limit and mic premap plus, with the microphones. Other note worthy features include the 1.35m cable, two year warranty, Apple MFI certified lightning connector and the free app, allowing you to customise the recording level, EQ and smart slider options.

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The headset is plug and play, just plug them into your iPhone and wait for the red light to illuminate. No need to open the app, no need to even use it if you dont want to, just open the camera app and start shooting. The headset is in ear and with the included ear plug sizes, you can get a snug, secure fit into your ear. The hook then bends around the ear for added security. That being said, I wouldnt go running in these, as they will fall out, or at least they would for me. Using the headset is easy, the buttons are easy to use and responsive.

It’s hard to explain in words, how much depth and immersion these add to your videos, I was really taken back the first time I used them! The microphone quality is good, considering the size of them and more than enough for your amatuer to semi pro video. Watch the below video, especially the audio samples, with headphones on and all will become clear. Note there is meant to be a windshield on these to reduce wind noise, but it doesnt work very well!

Oh, I should add that the sound quality of the earphones is very good and listening to music was a joy. I almost forget they worked as earphones, I was too excited to try recording more video footage!

The headset retails at £259.99, which is steep but the market is very limited on this kind of technology, and I can guarentee it will add so much to your videos. It’s available on iPhone 5 and newer, iPad 4th gen & newer, iPad mini 2 & newer, plus iPod touch 6th gen. iOS version 10.3.3 or later required. Android is coming in 2018, though no date has been set.

If only I could plug this into my DSLR…

For more info, check out the official Sennheiser website.

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