Traveling With the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset

Binaural recording technology is becoming increasingly important as virtual reality increases in prominence
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MARRAKESH, Morocco — Motorcycles and mopeds weave past me on the crowded market streets; souk vendors call out in Arabic from all directions as I step cautiously along. In the Jemaa el-Fnaa square, the heart of Marrakesh, the cacophony of snake charmers’ horns, Gnawa folk bands, and eager merchants is interrupted by a call to prayer, carrying loudly across the din from the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque.

My wife and I recently traveled around Morocco on our honeymoon, where I had the opportunity to make use of Sennheiser's new Ambeo Smart Headset. It offered me the ability to bring back one hell of a souvenir: the ability to relive the adventure at any time with fantastic realism.

With special microphones on each earpiece and Apogee Audio technology, the headset captures sound in three dimensions, giving iPhone-recorded videos a stunning sense of immersion.

The headset is made for iOS devices, and is extremely straightforward to use: simply plug it into your iPhone or iPad’s Lighting port and record using the native camera app. For deeper customization, there is an app available for free download in the App Store that offers a wealth of options, including input level configuration and EQ presets. In my case, as I didn’t want to miss out on any of the sights while fiddling with my phone, I simply used the default settings, which worked fine. 

There are also some quick settings on the headset’s control module, most notably a toggle between Active Noise Cancelling and Transparent Mode, which allows you to hear (or block out) your surroundings as you record.

The form factor is earbuds with sport-style rubber supports that go around your ears to keep them in place. As mentioned, there is a control module on the main connector cable. Besides the noise cancelling toggle, it has a switch that disables 3D recording in favor of a mono mic on the headphone cable for phone calls, as well as volume up/down buttons for playback control.

The spatial immersion of recordings made using the headset can be reproduced by any headphones, and their 3D nature isn’t lost in file transfer or conversion (I had to down-convert my videos from 4K60 to 1080p30 so I could edit them on my aging MacBook Pro).

Binaural recording technology is becoming increasingly important as virtual reality increases in prominence, and there are several solid professional tools on the market, including Sennheiser’s own Ambeo VR Microphone. But for a consumer device, you’d be hard pressed to find a more convenient solution than the Ambeo Smart Headset.

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