The iPhone has been able to take 4K videos since the release of the iPhone 6 in 2014. The iPhone X can take 4K videos at 60 fps, and they look remarkable on a small or big screen. What isn’t remarkable is the fact that after all these years, iPhone videos still don’t have stereo sound. Samsung has put stereo mics in its Galaxy S line since 2011.
Now comes Sennheiser’s AMBEO Smart Headset, which costs a hefty $299 and is there to take care of the audio recording issue. It’s a dual-purpose headset that works as high-quality noise-canceling headphones while mics from both ears record 3D stereo sound. Sennheiser’s device works very well for both purposes. These in-ear headphones may win the prize for the best iPhone accessory of 2017.
It’s important to note that these aren’t wireless; if they were, the sound they record wouldn’t be so fantastic. They have a lightning connector, and yes, there is a rectangular dongle that houses all the features that hang in the middle. It’s a minor inconvenience, but it’s one that is worth the hassle.
First, let’s talk about the sound, which was recently recorded in this video using the iPhone X. If you listen to the clip with stereo headphones, it should sound like you are right at USC in Los Angeles (not UIC, which this author mistakenly says in the video).
The stereo sound that the AMBEO enables the iPhone to record sounds very similar to stereo clips taken with Samsung phones, but there is more of a realistic “3D” sound to it. Sennheiser’s new headset is absolutely perfect for recording sound for virtual reality projects. Yes, wind does hurt the sound quality sometimes, but Sennheiser has an option (in an app) that allows you to minimize the wind – however, that affects the overall sound experience.
After listening to videos made with the AMBEO headset, you won’t ever want to return to monaural sound. And you’ll enjoy using the AMBEO as headphones for listening to all your favorite music and watching your favorite videos. The AMBEO headphones offer audiophile quality, which most people will love. However, these natural-sounding headphones don’t artificially pump up bass (Beats) or treble (Bose). Still, since they aren’t wireless, you aren’t losing any sound quality whatsoever. Listening to your music with these is a great pleasure, but it will remind you that the latest expensive $300 wireless headphones you just purchased aren’t as good.
Then, there is the noise cancellation. It works very well, but it isn’t as noise-canceling at the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones. In one test, turning on the noise cancellation at Starbucks made about 50 percent of the annoying noise disappear. Sennheiser gives you the option to turn the noise cancellation off, or even amplify the noise (this works very well) if you need to.
You are probably wondering about the battery life on these. The good news is that you don’t have to worry since they are powered by the iPhone. Sennheiser claims they are coming out with a version for Android phones as well (though you may be able to use them now with an adapter). Let’s hope Sennheiser’s marketing team realizes how huge the AMBEO Smart Headset can be and starts advertising them more in the new year.