For Sennheiser 2019 has been a ‘sound’ year releasing some of its best consumer products ever. That is not to take away from the company’s professional sound achievements since 1945 but perhaps to reflect on a new focus.
Sennheiser 2019 has been about: Ambeo (move over Dolby Atmos?); Momentum in-ear and over-ear audiophile standard BT/ANC cans; PXC 550 II travellers BT/ANC cans; and Australia got its own flagship Sennheiser store in Sydney.
Sennheiser 2019 was exciting to us sound nuts. What’s next?
Sennheiser 2019 (website here)
A new Australian flagship store
Sennheiser kicked off the year with the opening of its new Sydney flagship store in the beautiful art deco “Money Box” building at 5 Martin Place, Sydney CBD. The store set out to achieve two things. First, to give the iconic brand the ‘presence’ it needed. Second, to show off its huge range of consumer technology – on top of its pro gear – microphones, in-ear monitors, business conferencing and more.
One thing is for sure – a visit to this store may damage your wallet as you rediscover Sennheiser.
Ambeo 3D sound – as we are meant to hear
Ambeo is an immersive sound recording and playback technology. AR/VR/MR, in cars, movies and music use it. It is all about sound as we hear it – binaural (two ears) with all its glorious nuances and directions.
GadgetGuy Thomas Bartlett started with the $299 Ambeo Smart headset that both records and plays back sound. In his audiophile words, “It is really wonderfully effective”.
Then came the impressive Ambeo Soundbar.
At 18.5kg and $3999 had poor Thomas Bartlett gasping as he lugged it into the test lab and fitfully wondered whether his wife would divorce him if he bought one! This hi-res, 13-speaker, 5.1.4, Dolby Atmos soundbar with a room calibration mic is class-leading.
Again, in his audiophile words, The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar is a truly remarkable piece of design. I generally don’t go out of my way to recommend soundbars, but I do with this one. And it delivers that great performance from a device, not all that much bigger than a regular soundbar.
Watch for more consumer Ambeo products and know that they will be impressive.
Headphone – in-ear and over or on-ear
Before we get into the review, let’s just say that Sennheiser has 33 in-ear and 44 over-or-on-the-ear headphones (26 are BT) ranging from $19.95 to don’t ask. No other brand has that range nor the ability to get just what you need.
Assistive listening – sound as good as it gets
Of particular interest to hearing impaired are Flex, RS and Set range of assistive listening headphones that are hearing aid and cochlear friendly and provide clarity of speech and a quality TV or Hi-Fi listening experience.
The most spectacular performing BT/ANC headphone this year is the Momentum 3.
It is big, bold, beautiful and sheepskin lined. It scored 5-out-of-5, and our take is if you are not serious about owning the best over-the-ear, active noise cancelling, audiophile-grade headphones STOP READING NOW. Our take, “at $599 they are going to rattle the soundscape. Sennheiser Momentum 3 Bluetooth over-the-ear headphones are a premium product, yet not so much more than its competitors – you should aspire to them.
But wait, the Momentum True Wireless at $499 we also the class leaders. Thomas Bartlett said, “There was one operational area in which these earphones really stood out from the crowd: they were so very, very responsive. These earphones sound brilliant. I love them.”
And stepping up a level to the $799 Sennheiser IE 80S BT wireless earphones.
These are genuine audiophile-grade in-ear canal phones: they’re a Bluetooth version of Sennheiser’s wired IE 80S ‘ear-canal headphones’. Thomas said, “These are a first-class listen for those wanting higher quality than usually provided in wireless earphones … if they’re prepared to pay for it.”
But I think my favourite was the updated $549 Sennheiser PXC 550 II BT/ANC headphones, especially for travellers.
Ultra-light, ultra-foldable and compact with a sound signature nipping at the heels of the Momentum 3 – these are again class leaders. There are so many great things about the PXC 550 II – 20/30 hours use, fabulous sound signature, excellent noise cancelling.
Sennheiser GSP Gaming – serious rigs.
Sennheiser has seven GSP gaming headsets ranging from $149-499. Val Quinn, our resident Channel 7 GadgetGuy and gaming expert, said of the $499 GSP 670, “They are a luxury BT 5.0 gaming headset that delivers a premium audio experience and the performance to match. The real standout feature is the sound quality. We immediately noticed the excellent passive sound insulation and SO much more perceptible audio detail. It added a layer of immersion that wasn’t there before.”
And don’t forget the Camera Mic
Thomas Bartlett is our AV reviewer – audio and cameras. He was impressed with the $129 Sennheiser MKE 400 Compact Shotgun Microphone for Cameras. “You spend all that money on a decent 4K camera and lenses and forget about audio recording. What more can I say about the Sennheiser MKE 400 other than it’s a vital inclusion in the camera bag for video work”.
GadgetGuy’s take, Listen here – Sennheiser 2019 was worth watching.
Segue – I have been a Sennheiser ‘watcher’ for many years – in fact since the 80s when my ex-wife nearly divorced me for spending over $800 on a pair of Sennheiser cans. Well, that same $800 in today’s money would buy me three pairs of its new PXC 550 II or that and its Momentum 3 with change.
This article started as a ‘best of 2019 cans’, but it quickly became evident that Sennheiser had the class leader in every segment. Please don’t let that take away from the excellent products from Sony, Bose, Poly, JBL etc., – they all have honourable mentions and are stiff competition.
It is rare for the crown in all categories to go to one company. I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings.
Our best advice is that Sennheiser is the brand to aspire to this year.