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Review: Sennheiser Accentum Wireless – A Simplified Momentum 4

Review: Sennheiser Accentum Wireless - A Simplified Momentum 4 - The Sennheiser Accentum Wireless offers comfort and impressive battery life but falls short in audio quality and noise isolation.

The Sennheiser Accentum Wireless is a notable addition to Sennheiser’s product lineup, designed to offer a compelling mid-range Bluetooth headset that balances form, comfort, and functionality. Positioned below the €180 price mark, it competes in a market segment that may not be the primary focus for many brands but where there’s a clear need for a more affordable yet technically proficient option, especially considering the soaring prices of premium audio products. In this review, we’ll delve into the key aspects of the Sennheiser Accentum Wireless, examining its design, user experience, connectivity, audio performance, noise isolation, and more.

Design and Comfort

The Accentum inherits its design cues from the Momentum series, notably the Momentum 4, with a modern and minimalist aesthetic. While it may lack some of the premium materials of its higher-end sibling, the build quality remains impressive within its price range. Despite the absence of metal components, the combination of high-quality plastic elements, matte finishes that resist smudging, and plush leatherette ear cushions contribute to a pleasing tactile experience. Notably, the silicone headrest provides a comfortable fit, and the headset’s lightness at 222 grams ensures prolonged listening sessions remain enjoyable. The Accentum’s thoughtful design extends to the adjustability of height and the gentle clamping force, enhancing its overall comfort. However, it’s worth mentioning that Sennheiser no longer includes a carrying case with the Accentum, which could be a concern for users who wish to transport the headset safely. The minimalist packaging only includes a USB-C to USB-A cable, further underlining its budget-conscious approach.

User Experience

Sennheiser opts for a simplified user interface with the Accentum, eschewing the touch-sensitive controls found in premium headsets. Instead, it adopts a more conventional approach with 100% physical buttons, which might not be as flashy but is practical and user-friendly. The controls are straightforward, comprising a trio of volume buttons (volume up, volume down, and multifunction), along with a separate button for power, pairing, and activating the default phone assistant. Additionally, the multifunction button handles play/pause, navigation, and battery status. These physical buttons are responsive and feature a raised mark on the multifunction button for easy identification by touch. The absence of proximity sensors means there’s no automatic pause when removing the headset, which is common in mid-range products. This choice aligns with the product’s budget-conscious approach, focusing on delivering core functionalities rather than innovative features.

Connectivity

Sennheiser has harnessed the advancements in Bluetooth technology since its previous HD 450BT model. The Accentum introduces Bluetooth 5.2, offering support for the SBC, AAC, AptX, and AptX HD codecs, which ensures compatibility with various audio sources and devices. It also supports multipoint connection, allowing users to connect two devices simultaneously. However, there’s a minor regression compared to its predecessor, the HD 450BT, as the AptX Low Latency codec is no longer available, primarily used for achieving minimal audio lag when watching videos or gaming. A notable omission in the Accentum’s connectivity options is the lack of a 3.5 mm audio jack, which is a universal connector. Instead, Sennheiser provides the option to use the USB-C port not only for charging but also as an audio interface. This means the Accentum can no longer function in passive mode with the headphones turned off, a choice that may raise practical and ecological concerns.

App Integration

The Sennheiser Smart Connect app, designed for compatibility with the Accentum and other modern Bluetooth headphones and earphones from the brand, provides a range of settings. However, due to Accentum’s more simplified design and feature set compared to high-end products, the app offers a more streamlined experience. Users can access a five-band graphic equalizer and choose between the two available ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) modes. While some basic settings, like setting the time for inactivity before the headphones go to sleep, are included, the overall experience remains somewhat shallow. There’s limited customization, with no options to adjust control schemes or fine-tune ANC strength. On the plus side, the Sound Check feature remains, enabling novice users to easily create a personalized equalization profile through simple sound tests.

Audio Performance

The audio architecture of the Sennheiser Accentum, while not reaching the heights of its Momentum 4 counterpart, is based on new 37 mm dynamic transducers. A concern when transitioning from its predecessor, the HD 450BT, was the possibility of inheriting its less detailed sound in the high frequencies. Although not completely resolved, the Accentum introduces a more pleasant and versatile sound signature. As expected, there’s an emphasis on the lower frequencies, well-balanced mids, and variable highs. The high-frequency range, like the HD 450BT, still experiences a dip in the 2 kHz-6 kHz range, but it’s less pronounced. It’s not an extreme trough, and the rest of the treble range demonstrates greater linearity. These elements combine to give the Accentum a rounded sound that avoids excessive softness or harshness. The bass emphasis is well-contained without overwhelming the midrange, and the recessed treble allows for a forgiving approach to poorly mixed audio. While the Accentum is best suited for modern music, particularly tracks with less intricate details, it retains a degree of versatility. The bass doesn’t overshadow vocals and the slightly subdued treble results in a non-aggressive character. However, it’s important to note that the Accentum offers only average technical quality and does not redefine the landscape in the mid-range headphone market. The bass is effective and immersive but lacks the finest detail and punch. Additionally, despite improved tuning in the high frequencies, the 37 mm transducers do not deliver a fundamentally richer sound. The soundstage, while relatively wide, lacks depth, and the separation of instruments falls short. Nonetheless, the level of detail is satisfactory, and despite these minor criticisms, the Accentum remains within the upper tier of Bluetooth ANC headphones in its price range.

Noise Isolation

Sennheiser had ample room for improvement in the field of active noise isolation. The previous HD 450BT exhibited only average attenuation in the bass and midrange frequencies. With the Accentum, Sennheiser has made some strides in this department but still leaves room for further enhancement. Regarding bass management, the noise reduction capabilities are noticeable but may not entirely silence disruptive sounds, such as airplane engines. Measured attenuation in this range is approximately 10 dB, although it may seem slightly more pronounced to the ear. However, treating midrange frequencies is an improvement compared to the past. Active noise isolation performs more effectively, significantly reducing noise in this part of the spectrum, though it doesn’t reach excellence. For most frequencies up to 1 kHz, the Accentum achieves over 20 dB of attenuation, offering an appreciable reduction in external noise. While it may not create complete silence, it marks a step forward from the previous HD 450BT model. It’s disappointing that the active isolation isn’t as effective against voices and other unpredictable noises. In terms of high-frequency isolation, the Accentum demonstrates passive noise reduction similar to that of a typical closed-back headphone. While it provides real noise reduction, it may not match the performance of premium products, raising questions about whether a mid-range product can genuinely rival its high-end counterparts.

The Transparency mode offered by the Accentum is convincing, although it lacks customization options. This mode closely reproduces external sounds, especially in the bass and midrange frequencies, while still retaining some of the treble frequencies. Although there is a slight veil in the listening experience, it remains highly functional. However, an odd behavior arises when the anti-wind mode is deactivated (the default setting). With this configuration, the microphones are prone to saturating in windy conditions, and sudden noises tend to amplify unpleasantly, causing clipping in the ears. This can be particularly bothersome in specific situations. Unfortunately, the anti-wind mode is only available when active noise reduction is enabled.

One of the most puzzling aspects of the Accentum is the absence of a passive mode. The headset is designed and tuned to function exclusively with its microphones activated, whether in ANC or sound feedback mode. This mirrors the approach taken by the Momentum 4, which uses a slider mechanism to toggle between maximum noise reduction and maximum sound feedback. This choice limits users from experiencing a more relaxed listening mode that could save battery life and provide auditory relief.

Hands-Free Calling

The built-in microphones and internal processing of the Accentum are refined enough to make it a reliable option for hands-free calling in various environments. The voice recordings, irrespective of the acoustic surroundings, lack some naturalness. The voice sounds compressed, with pronounced cuts in both the treble and bass frequencies, resulting in a somewhat robotic or walkie-talkie-like effect. However, these limitations prevent common issues like plosive-related saturation, and despite the unnatural character, the voice remains intelligible. This “good but not great” microphone performance extends to various settings and scenarios. In a busy urban environment, external sounds are reasonably well-filtered, ensuring the spoken voice remains clear. The hands-free calling capabilities are indeed average but consistently reliable.

Battery Life

With the introduction of the new generation Momentum series, the Accentum promises a significant leap in terms of battery life compared to the 30 hours offered by the HD 450BT. The Accentum boasts an impressive advertised battery life of 50 hours in both ANC and standard modes. Real-world testing aligns with this claim, confirming the headset’s prowess as an endurance champion within its price bracket. The Accentum not only offers substantial playtime but also supports the AAC codec, achieving approximately 48 hours with RBA (Rechargeable Battery Adapter) enabled. In this regard, the Accentum delivers on its promise of extended usage without the need for frequent charging.

Conclusion

In summary, the Sennheiser Accentum Wireless successfully meets the challenge of being a convincing mid-range Bluetooth headset with several compelling features. Its design is sleek, comfort is top-notch, battery life is exceptional, and it doesn’t suffer from any glaring shortcomings. However, it doesn’t quite manage to leave a remarkable impression regarding audio quality and active noise reduction compared to its competitors. While it ticks many boxes, the Accentum doesn’t emerge as a standout choice in a crowded mid-range headphone market. Nevertheless, it remains a practical and well-rounded option for those seeking a balance between style, comfort, and functionality without venturing into the premium price range.

TECHNICAL SHEET / CHARACTERISTICS

Helmet typeFarm
EarpieceCircumaural
Weight222 g
Cable length1.2 m
Detachable cableOui
Wireless connectionBluetooth

Advantages of the Sennheiser Accentum Wireless:

  1. Sleek Design and Comfort: The headphones feature a modern and minimalist design inspired by the Momentum series, with a comfortable silicone headrest, plush ear cushions, and a lightweight build, ensuring a pleasing tactile experience and prolonged comfort during use.
  2. Impressive Battery Life: The Accentum offers an exceptional battery life of up to 50 hours, making it an endurance champion within its price range. It also supports the AAC codec for extended usage.
  3. Practical User Interface: The headphones feature physical buttons for controls, providing a user-friendly and practical interface that allows for easy navigation and use without needing touch-sensitive controls.

Disadvantages of the Sennheiser Accentum Wireless:

  1. Audio Quality Falls Short: While the headphones offer a balanced and versatile sound signature, they do not deliver audiophile-grade audio quality and may not compete with other mid-range headphones regarding audio performance.
  2. Limited Noise Isolation: Active noise isolation, while improved from previous models, may not be as effective as premium headphones in reducing external noise, particularly for voices and unpredictable sounds.
  3. Lack of Passive Mode: The headphones do not have a passive mode, restricting users from experiencing a more relaxed listening mode that could save battery life and provide auditory relief when active noise cancellation is unnecessary.