Today Sennheiser is announcing the first consumer product in their AMBEO 3D audio line, the AMBEO Smart Surround in-ear headphone. The Smart Surround appears to be a normal pair of in-ears at first glance, but upon a closer inspection you'll find it contains a pair of microphones as well, one on each ear. This enables anyone with an AMBEO Smart Surround to capture and playback their own binaural recordings. Binaural recordings are captured in a way that allows the listener to feel as though they're actually at the recording, but until recently the methods of capturing the audio was often cumbersome and awkward.
There's been a resurgence in binaural recordings in recent years thanks to the continued growth of the headphone industry as well as recent advances in augmented and virtual reality. While video technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past decade, the recording practices used to capture audio for these experiences was slower to catch up. Dr. Andreas Sennheiser was quoted as saying, "today’s consumers are accustomed to capturing incredibly realistic video, producing 4K and 360° videos. Yet as mainstream technology makes immersive visual experiences ever more accessible, the power and emotion of this footage is too often let down by the quality of sound that these devices can capture. AMBEO Smart Surround is an innovative solution that closes this gap."
AMBEO Smart Surround In-Ear
Sennheiser is also unveiling a new headphone aimed squarely at the music listener in the form of their new MOMENTUM In-Ear Wireless, also known as the HD1 Wireless in some markets. Yes, Sennheiser is releasing a wireless version of the much-loved MOMENTUM in-ear headphone, and they've done so in a very Sennheiser way. They've retained the streamlined enclosure found on the MOMENTUM in-ear, a shape I happen to adore. It looks solid and, if it retains the musicality of the MOMENTUM in-ear that came before it, it'll possess a sound that matches the svelte looks.
Sennheiser has incorporated a wireless neckband to provide us with a Bluetooth 4.1 connection, aptX and AAC support to connect wirelessly with our favorite devices. There's a three-button remote built into the band as well for music controls and a microphone for easy phone calls. Sennheiser say we can expect around 10 hours of battery life from the new MOMENTUM Wireless. There's even NFC one-touch Bluetooth pairing for use with compatible devices like smartphones and DAPs.
MOMENTUM In-Ear Wireless
Rounding off Sennheiser's announcement today are the first Bluetooth offerings in their HD 4 series, the HD 4.50BTNC and HD 4.40BT headphones. Both models run on Bluetooth 4.0 and support aptX for high quality wireless audio. They have NFC for easy pairing with wireless devices and cup mounted controls for music playback. There's an integrated microphone as well should you want to use voice commands or take calls when connected to a smartphone. There are a few differences as well. The HD 4.50BTNC features Sennheiser's NoiseGard(TM) active noise cancellation (ANC) technology and comes with a protective case rather than the soft pouch supplied with the HD 4.40BT.
Sennheiser's Head of Portfolio Management Lifestyle Ian Kuan describes them as being "...designed for always-on, always-connected customers for whom the enjoyment of media and music can be part of every day and every hour." It shows that they're targeting the always-connected customer because they've made sure both models can survive a full day with their 25 hour battery life. The HD 4.50BTNC is expected to run around 19 hours with the ANC enabled, long enough for most international travelers. Should anyone happen to run out of juice while on the go, both models can be used wired so the music never stops.
HD 4.50BTNC (left) and HD 4.40BT (right)
The HD 4.40BT will be available later this month while the HD 4.50BTNC is expected to ship in February.