CES 2017: Sennheiser showcases binaural smartphone tech

Sennheiser has unveiled AMBEO Smart Surround – a new compact earphone for immersive 3D audio recording – at CES 2017, which is taking place in Las Vegas this week.

The technology lets consumers capture and listen to binaural audio recordings on their smartphones, and follows the original launch of AMBEO 3D audio and the introduction of the AMBEO VR Mic at CES 2016. Smart Surround will be Sennheiser’s first AMBEO consumer product, designed to create immersive, binaural audio that complements the high-quality video that is now available from a wide range of consumer devices such as smartphones.

“Today’s consumers are accustomed to capturing incredibly realistic video, producing 4K and 360° videos. Yet as mainstream technology makes immersive visual experiences ever more accessible, the power and emotion of this footage is too often let down by the quality of sound that these devices can capture. AMBEO Smart Surround is an innovative solution that closes this gap,” explained Dr. Andreas Sennheiser, co-CEO of Sennheiser. “With AMBEO Smart Surround we are taking the next step into the future of audio. We are inviting consumers to experience immersive sound by adding a recording earphone into our AMBEO technology program,” added the firm’s other co-CEO, Daniel Sennheiser.

The new AMBEO Smart Surround features a compact in-ear design that makes it ultra-portable and ideal for use with mobile devices. According to Sennheiser, the intuitive handling makes the spontaneous capture of binaural sound as easy as shooting a high-definition video, and the 3D sound files recorded with the AMBEO Smart Surround can be enjoyed through any pair of stereo headphones.

For the binaural audio recordings, the earhooks of the AMBEO Smart Surround are fitted with two microphones, and the immersive effect is made possible by reproducing the subtle differences in timing, volume and timbre that occur as sounds from different directions reach each ear.

At CES, visitors are being given the opportunity to try the new prototypes for themselves in Sennheiser’s 3D Audio Experience Room. Inside, they will be surrounded by acoustical and visual impulses – an immersive experience that they are invited to explore and record with a pair of AMBEO Smart Surround devices and a smartphone. At the end of the demo, they can watch and listen again, and even share their videos online – all enhanced with binaural sound.

The AMBEO Smart Surround will be available in the second half of 2017.