When Sennheiser CEO Andreas Sennheiser took the stage at the IFA Global Press Conference in Lisbon, I was excited to hear what new developments the German audio technology company was going to announce. He did not disappoint with a demo of the company’s new products from its partnership with digital electronics powerhouse Apogee Electronics under the AMBEO brand leaving most of us asking for more.
Inspired by the need to provide users with a deeper and immersed audio experience, Sennheiser’s new AMBEO smart surround headsets, the most memorable products in the AMBEO brand that also includes a virtual reality (VR) 3D microphone and so on, seeks to deliver the best possible audio quality to the listener as well as recording it for other listeners.
The headset has omnidirectional microphones integrated into the ear pieces on the outside to let users record binaural audio besides listening to it, the first time that anyone has compacted binaural audio recording and integrated into a mobile product.
Other than doubling down on superior audio quality, the AMBEO smart headset also has a feature called Transparent Hearing. This means that one will no longer have to remove their earphones in order to listen to what is going on around them.
That is all nice and geeky-sounding until one realises that the product fails in the one aspect that most of us really expected it to deliver: work with our beloved Android devices. I was surprised to note this when I hit the streets of Lisbon looking for a Lightning to 3.5mm dongle only to find out that the only way to get the pair of headsets given to me by Sennheiser at the conference to work was by buying an iPhone.
Sennheiser’s AMBEO smart headsets only work with iOS devices. Specifically, Apple’s iPhone. Since the focus of the headset is to let users record high fidelity 3D audio on their mobile devices, the iPhone is a perfect fit. For starters, the iPhone has abandoned the popular 3.5mm standard headphone jack and instead requires its users to plug in their wired headsets via its proprietary Lightning connector, which is great for high-quality digital audio. Sennheiser has even gone a step further and, in order to take full advantage of the iPhone, integrated the headset’s audio-recording functionality into the camera so that binaural audio is recorded by default when one is recording video on their iPhone.
So where does that leave us, Android users and enthusiasts?
The company has promised that support for Android devices would be coming later this year.
According to the Sennheiser CEO, speaking on the sidelines of the IFA Global Press Conference soon after his presentation at one of the Power Briefings, the company is courting Samsung, the largest maker of Android devices, to spearhead its foray into Android. This, according to him, will give the product the credibility it deserves while opening it up to the entire Android user base which, at over 1.5 billion, is hard to ignore as much as the AMBEO smart headsets are premium products.
Pricing and availability of the AMBEO smart headset is yet to be revealed but it should be by the time that the Android-compatible version of the product, which we are all looking forward to, is announced.