Sennheiser Accentum Plus wireless headphones review

Sennheiser Accentum Plus wireless headphones review
By: GSMArena Posted On: April 02, 2024 View: 15

The Accentum Plus are Sennheiser's newest pair of noise-canceling headphones. They are one of the two new pairs of headphones that are part of the company's new mid-range Accentum range, the other one simply being titled the Sennheiser Accentum. The Plus model features a few extra features such as touch controls, adaptive ANC, wear detection, etc., and costs a bit more. That's the model we will be focusing on today.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus wireless headphones review

Design and comfort

The Accentum Plus are a full-sized pair of circumaural headphones. The headphones feature an all-black design with full plastic construction that has a uniform matte finish to it.

The earcups use soft foam pads with a pleather covering. The earcups have about 2cm of depth before you hit the soft padding covering the speaker grille. The earcups are easily removable but require some effort to put back on correctly.

The earcups are mounted on a swiveling mechanism that offers 180 degrees of motion, allowing you to keep the cups flat facing either side. However, the earcups do not bend inwards, so while they can lie flat, they cannot be folded to take up less space.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus wireless headphones review

The yokes are mounted on a smooth sliding mechanism that slides into the headband. I'm not particularly fond of adjustable headbands without preset notches as it's difficult to get both sides exactly the same length but of course, no normal person cares about that. The headband has a decent amount of padding in the middle with a matte rubberized coating.

The right earcup has all the controls and seemingly all the electronics. There is one physical button, which acts as the power and pairing switch but can also summon your voice assistant of choice. The rest of the controls are handled by touch gestures by swiping on the side panel. There's also a USB port here, which can be used for charging as well as audio, along with a 2.5mm connector for the supplied analog audio cable.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus wireless headphones review

The headphones overall are not too big. This makes it easy to wear them outdoors without drawing too much attention to them and also to carry them around. Speaking of which, the headphones do come with a carry case that can also hold the charging and analog audio cable.

The comfort of the Accentum Plus was a contentious issue. The earcups have plush padding and a good amount of depth to them. However, the diameter of the pads is rather small. So small, in fact, that despite having smaller than average-sized ears, I could still feel the earcups pressing around the edges of my ears instead of sitting comfortably around them.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus wireless headphones review

This made it difficult to just plop the headphones on and be on my way. I had to adjust them multiple times every time I put them on so that they could fit around my ears instead of crushing some parts of them. I use the term 'crush' here loosely as the clamping force isn't too high but it's still not enjoyable to have at least some part of your ear under the rim of the padding.

The other issue isn't exclusive to the Accentum Plus but being noise-cancelling headphones they tend to block all air movement once you put them on. If you live in warmer climates like me, this results in your ears being sous vide in their own sweat over time. Of course, if you live in a cold weather environment, you will appreciate the added covering for your ears.

Software and features

The Accentum Plus support Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity with multi-device pairing. They also support SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, and aptX Adaptive codecs. While aptX and aptX HD are found on most Android devices due to their inclusion within Android itself, aptX Adaptive is usually only found on devices with a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset.

The headphones can be controlled with Sennheiser's Smart Control app. From here, you can manage the paired devices, adjust audio and ANC, access additional features, update the firmware, and reset the headphones.

The Equalizer feature has a five-band EQ, which lets you create multiple custom presets or you can use one of Sennheiser's own. The issue with the EQ, other than having very few bands, is that any adjustment causes a significant drop in the audio levels across the board. I found it better to adjust the sound through any other EQ that might be there on the device or the music playing app.

Smart Control app for Android Smart Control app for Android Smart Control app for Android
Smart Control app for Android

However, the equalizer doesn't really matter as Sennheiser's Sound Personalization feature is a vastly better substitute. Using an ingenious method of playing music samples and letting you adjust the balance of the instruments you hear within, it lets you tailor a sound profile that is very much precisely what you are looking for. Also, unlike the EQ, this doesn't seem to drop audio levels when enabled.

Like the EQ, the Sound Personalization profile is saved on the headphones themselves so it works even if the device you paired them to doesn't support the app (like a PC). However, for whatever reason, the headphones need to load the profile every single time audio is played, which causes about two seconds of delay where the headphones play in their default mode before the sound from the profile kicks in. This happens every single time the audio is paused for more than a few seconds and eventually gets a bit annoying.

But the biggest annoyance with this feature by far is that Sennheiser had the audacity to lock it behind an account. You have to create a new Sennheiser account or log into an existing one (which, I mean, who among us doesn't have???), and only then can you access this feature. It's actually impressive the ways companies come up with to siphon your data but fortunately, fake email sites exist so nice try, Sennheiser.

Sound Personalization Sound Personalization Sound Personalization
Sound Personalization

The app also lets you create Sound Zones. This lets you create up to 20 sound zones, which are geo fences around areas of interest, such as your home or work, and you can have certain audio settings automatically apply as you enter or leave these zones.

You can also control the ANC through the app. The important thing to note about the ANC processing on these headphones is that it cannot be disabled. The headphones can switch between ANC and transparency mode and there's even a slider to let you smoothly transition between the two. However, at no point can you simply turn these features off completely like on every other ANC headphones. The Accentum Plus model gains an Adaptive ANC feature, which automatically adjusts the level of noise cancellation based on your ambient noise levels.

Other features include wind noise reduction, auto transparency mode when on a call (with adjustable levels), auto pause when you enable ANC, on-head detection using a sensor within the right earcup, and auto power off when not in use.

ANC settings and Sound Zones ANC settings and Sound Zones ANC settings and Sound Zones
ANC settings and Sound Zones

The last thing I want to mention is the touch gestures. The Accentum Plus have a somewhat long list of tap and swipe gestures for the right earcup (and only the right earcup) and for whatever reason, none of these are customizable or even viewable through the Smart Control app. I had to download the user manual to figure out how any of them work as some of the gestures aren't even intuitive. You also cannot disable any of them, which is especially annoying as it is quite easy to trigger them while simply handling the headphones.

Performance

Audio quality

The Sennheiser Accentum Plus are decent-sounding headphones out of the box. The sound signature should be familiar to anyone who has used the company's non-pro models, which is a preference towards warmer sound with darker mids and highs.

Starting with the bass response, the Accentum Plus feature a sizable boost in the lower octaves. This gives percussion instruments and bass drops a heftier thump as well as a bit of rumble on the bass guitars. The good thing about the bass on these headphones is that it isn't too exaggerated, so you can still hear the original sound over the rumbling, and the bass boost starts low enough in the frequency range to not spill into the lower mids. It's not the most articulate bass response but it can be enjoyable without being overwhelming.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus wireless headphones review

The lower mids sound a bit recessed but have decent timbre so deeper male vocals and drums still sound reasonably natural. Unfortunately, the upper mid-range is quite lacking, which creates a dull, dark sound that feels like it's lacking in detail and resolution. This especially affects vocals for most singers but especially female ones and string instruments also tend to sound a bit lifeless.

The treble, on the other hand, can be a bit spicy at times. There is a boost in the upper frequencies that manifests as slight sibilance on certain tracks. Depending on your choice of music, it may be not too distracting or hard to ignore.

I found the sound to be most enjoyable with electronic music with no lyrics. This way, you don't really notice the lack of upper mid-range detail as much and can enjoy the bass impact with the slight sizzle at the top.

However, a lot of these observations go out the window once you enable Sound Personalization and create your own profile. I was able to turn the bass down and dial in just the right amount of upper-mid frequencies to my liking and then it was like listening to a completely different pair of headphones. It's not perfect but the difference can be night and day and I've never seen audio customization features have such an impact before.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus wireless headphones review

There is another advantage of tuning the sound to be brighter is it helps improve the imaging and soundstaging of the headphones. By default, the sound feels very congested and intimate but boosting those upper mids really helps open it up. It's still relatively boxed in around your head by large headphone standards but gets a lot more spacious compared to the default tuning.

Microphone

The Accentum Plus have average microphone performance. The sound is quite tinny and somewhat robotic in timbre. It's also a bit quiet so you will need to speak up to be heard. The quality is fine for the occasional voice call but I've heard a lot better even from cheaper earbuds. The only good thing is that the transparency mode kicks in every time the microphone is on so you can hear yourself quite well, which helps a lot.

Noise cancellation

The ANC on the Accentum Plus works quite well. The earpads passively block a lot of noise even before you turn the headphones on. The ANC then kicks in and irons out the low frequencies further. While you can find better ANC on more expensive models, what's on offer here is still quite good for most use cases.

Similarly, the transparency mode also works well. The smooth adjustment dial in the app helps you dial in just the right amount of outside noise, which is a lot better than the binary on/off setting you find on most other headphones.

Latency

The Accentum Plus have good latency performance. Regardless of the codec used, the headphones exhibited only a minor audio delay that was easy to get used to and eventually ignored.

There was an issue with the aptX Adaptive implementation, however, where there was severe distortion in some apps that seemed to trigger a low latency mode on the headphones. This wasn't noticed on other content including most other games, all of which sounded fine. If you face this issue, the solution is to switch to other another codec, which in most cases would be SBC.

Connectivity

The Accentum Plus exhibited flawless Bluetooth connectivity during testing as there weren't any issues to report.

The headphones also support audio input over USB and analog connector. The USB input worked fine and you can receive 16-bit, 48kHz audio over the connected device. The headphone also supports its controls and microphone when used in this mode. However, the headphones must always be on to use this mode.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus wireless headphones review

As for analog input, the headphones can either be on or off. You can still use the mic but the controls obviously do not work. If you turn the headphones off or if they die then you lose the ANC but the audio continues to work. Funnily enough, the sound is a lot leaner and brighter when the headphones are off, which means the bassy, dark signature is purely fabricated within the DSP and not inherent to the drivers.

Battery life

The Accentum Plus have a claimed battery life of 50 hours. In my testing, using the aptX HD codec, I got just over 47 hours of continuous playback.

Sennheiser also claims 5 hours of usage after a 10-minute charge. I managed to get 5 hours and 45 minutes.

Conclusion

At $230, the Sennheiser Accentum Plus sit somewhere between the entry-level wireless headphones and the most premium models from Sennheiser and other brands. The good thing is that the performance is closer to the latter so you get most of the way to the flagship models without having to spend the big bucks.

The things I liked included audio quality, which is decent out of the box but can be improved wildly using the company's clever Sound Personalization feature. The battery life is also good and it's good to have wireless as well as two wired methods of using the headphones. The ANC and transparency modes also work well enough.

Sennheiser Accentum Plus wireless headphones review

Unfortunately, the headphones simply weren't comfortable for me as the earcups were too small. The microphone quality is lackluster for this price range and there needs to be more (or rather any) control offered for customizing the touch gestures. Lastly, locking useful features behind a mandatory account is unconscionable.

Still, for the price and especially coupled with any future discounts, the Accentum Plus can be a good purchase for those still wanting to buy full-sized headphones for outdoor use.

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