Upgrades that aren’t value the additional value

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Lower than 4 months after debuting its mid-range Accentum headphones, Sennheiser revealed one other model at CES that is still extra reasonably priced than its flagship Momentum set. Dubbed the Accentum Plus, this more-expensive mannequin swaps the bodily buttons for contact controls whereas providing revised energetic noise cancellation (ANC), wear-detection and different conveniences the primary model didn’t. All the additions come at a worth, although, because the Plus ($230) prices $50 greater than the common Accentum. For a set of headphones that principally appears to be like the identical, are inside updates sufficient to justify a much bigger funding?

Design

It’s troublesome to inform the Accentum Plus and Accentum aside at first look. That lack of bodily controls on the older mannequin is what primarily distinguishes the 2. The Plus model nonetheless has one button which manages energy, pairing and voice assistants, however all the audio and name controls are touch-based and situated on the surface of the precise ear cup. They work effectively, from faucets for playback to swipes for quantity, however relying in your preferences, ditching the bodily controls for contact could also be a flip off. The opposite distinction is that the Plus has a 3.5mm aux jack together with a USB-C connection whereas the primary Accentum solely has the latter.

Sennheiser

Regardless of adjustments to ANC and some new options, the Accentum Plus isn’t a big improve over the common Accentum that debuted final yr.

Execs

  • Higher-than-expected battery life
  • Trademark Sennheiser sound at louder volumes
  • Multipoint Bluetooth
  • Put on detection
Cons

  • Low-cost-looking design
  • Adaptive ANC isn’t an enormous distinction
  • Sound suffers at decrease volumes

$230 at Amazon

An almost equivalent design means Sennheiser didn’t tackle my key criticism of the primary Accentum. The headphones stay virtually totally made out of plastic, which provides them an affordable appear and feel. Plus, it doesn’t encourage loads of confidence within the construct high quality for a set of $230 headphones. The corporate launched its new design model on the Momentum 4 in 2022, which it continued with the general look on the Accentum line. However, the newest Momentums are a bit extra polished than these two more moderen fashions.

Software program and options

For essentially the most half, the Sennheiser Good Management App presents the identical options for the Accentum Plus because it does for the Accentum. Nearly every part you’d want is on the primary display, with battery share on the high. Under that sit connection administration for multipoint Bluetooth and My Sound audio customization. There, you may alter a five-band EQ, choose a prebuilt sound preset or make your personal. The corporate additionally presents Sound Personalization that calibrates the audio based mostly in your responses to some samples within the app.

Sennheiser’s Sound Zones are right here as effectively, providing you with the flexibility to configure particular audio settings based mostly in your location. You possibly can create as much as 20 of those for locations like house, work, health club and extra. After all, you need to give the app permission to trace your location, which could possibly be a nonstarter for some customers.

The final merchandise on the primary interface of the app is ANC management. Right here, you may disable the automated “adaptive” adjustment to the Accentum Plus’ noise cancellation and depart “common” noise cancellation on. There’s a slider to mix of ANC and transparency as you see match. You possibly can cycle between ANC and transparency mode with a double faucet on the precise ear cup, however that motion doesn’t mean you can activate any most popular blends. As an alternative, it solely activates full ANC or full transparency.

Sound high quality

Sennheiser Accentum Plus headphones from the side, laid flat on two books.

Picture by Billy Steele/Engadget

Sennheiser’s flagship earbuds and headphones have persistently provided the most effective sound high quality amongst all the merchandise I’ve examined. The corporate has a knack for a well-tuned audio profile that is dynamic, however not overbearing, and that gives loads of wonderful element because of wonderful readability throughout the EQ. That trademark crispness returns on the Accentum Plus, however it’s at its greatest at round 65-75 % quantity. Knock that degree all the way down to round 50 % and sound high quality begins to endure.

There’s a pleasing ethereal, atmospheric high quality to tracks on Fever Ray’s Radical Romantics on the Accentum Plus, enveloping you the best way the sound on dearer headphones would. Nonetheless, while you lower the quantity to about 50 %, bass begins to overpower among the particulars and the audio profile begins to muddy. The readability that makes Sennheiser’s headphones so good is gone at this level, which is a bummer for these of us who do not at all times want louder listening.

Whereas there’s ample bass that’s offset by crisp highs all through most genres, extra chaotic types like metallic is usually a blended bag. Boomy bass continues to be there on Texas In July’s With out Motive and Higher Lovers’ God Made Me An Animal, however finer particulars in guitars and drum textures begin to get misplaced. The general efficiency is a bit flat with all the devices coming throughout compressed in comparison with different units. Change over to one thing extra mellow like Charles Wesley Godwin’s Reside From Echo Mountain and it’s such as you placed on totally different headphones. It feels rather more such as you’re within the room the place this was recorded.

ANC efficiency

Sennheiser says the Accentum Plus has hybrid adaptive ANC the place the Accentum simply has hybrid ANC. Because of this the Plus mannequin adjusts to adjustments in environmental noise whereas the common mannequin has only one degree of blocking capacity. Throughout my checks, I struggled to inform a giant distinction between the 2, even when switching rapidly from one set to the opposite. The general ANC efficiency is strong in most circumstances, however it’s removed from what you’d get on the most effective that Bose, Sony and even Sennheiser have to supply. And because the Plus model is dearer, I anticipated an apparent enchancment.

Name high quality

Sennheiser Accentum Plus headphones power button, USB-C port and 3.5-mm jack.

Picture by Billy Steele/Engadget

Like most over-ear headphones, the Accentum Plus is simply wonderful for calls. The audio high quality isn’t pristine, however it’s definitely satisfactory for many makes use of. That features work calls, though I’d recommend one thing with a greater mic should you’re really main the presentation. General, the voice high quality comes throughout compressed and a bit tinny. It’s not the worst, however it’s additionally most likely not what you need when the way you sound actually issues. You possibly can select to have the headphones mechanically swap to transparency mode while you take a name. Nonetheless, the Accentum Plus doesn’t pipe in your voice, so the general audio isn’t as pure as more-expensive choices just like the AirPods Max.

Battery life

The Plus’ battery life stays unchanged from the common Accentum at 50 hours. That’s positively not a foul factor. In truth, I exceeded that determine throughout my checks, notching 57 hours of use with ANC enabled. This included a mixture of listening and calls, and in the course of the latter I switched to transparency mode as an alternative of noise cancellation. There have been additionally a couple of days in between classes the place the headphones sat unused. If you do end up out of juice, you may get 5 hours of listening time after plugging in for less than 10 minutes.

The competitors

Provided that the upgrades on the Plus are marginal, it’s onerous to advocate them over the cheaper Accentum. Each carry Sennheiser’s crisp, clear sound that performs effectively more often than not. The ANC enhancements aren’t sufficient to justify spending extra and the one factor chances are you’ll actually profit from is automated pausing that wear-detection brings. The corporate’s Momentum 4 would positively be an improve over both Accentum, however that prices round $300. Plus, Sennheiser’s flagship headphones nonetheless have its newer, more-boring design – albeit with a couple of refinements.

In case you’re out there for reasonably priced noise-canceling headphones that don’t reduce too many corners, think about the Sony’s WH-CH720N. At the moment obtainable for $105, this finances possibility gained’t win any design awards because it’s additionally all-plastic, however it’s extra snug and has nice audio for the value. Noise cancellation is simply okay, although Adaptive Sound Management lets you automate audio settings based mostly on exercise or location and there’s help for Sony’s 360 Actuality Audio.

Wrap-up

Sennheiser’s try to enhance on its preliminary mid-range Accentum providing is a blended bag. For all of its updates, the Accentum Plus isn’t the huge enchancment you’d anticipate with its increased worth. Positive, the sound is nice at occasions and the ANC will get the job accomplished, however the most effective factor about this Plus model is the better-than-expected battery life. Nonetheless, you may get that very same play time on the common Accentum for $50 much less. Some small design refinements and a more-obvious step up when it comes to audio high quality and ANC efficiency would’ve made a bigger influence. However, because it stands, the Accentum Plus is not a big improve over final yr’s mannequin.

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