The Sennheiser Accentum was announced just over a month ago, with the sell-line that these wireless over-ear headphones share “much of the most desirable DNA of [Sennheiser’s] award-winning Momentum 4” with “impressive value”. In other words: high-quality audio at a reasonable price.
I reviewed the Sennheiser Momentum 4 earlier this year, and while I think it’s a fantastic pair of headphones, it’s also a $579 pair of headphones. A great option if you can afford it. So the prospect of getting a pair of mid-range wireless headphones that live up to the spirit of these premium ones for almost half the price (RRP $299.95) sounds like a pretty desirable offer.
So how far from the audio tree does the apple fall with Sennheiser’s Accentum headphones?
Sennheiser Accentum form and function
In terms of design, the Accentum look like a pair of Momentum 4 but slightly scaled down, with smaller ear cup housings. While the headphones were quite stiff out of the box, thanks to the sturdy headband, I didn’t experience any discomfort after wearing them for prolonged periods of time. If anything, that stiffness lends to a firmer seal for the ear cups. The headphones are quite light, which definitely helps with their comfortability.
As far as its functionality goes, the Accentum takes a pretty simple, meat and potatoes approach. The headphones have no touch controls but instead use a series of buttons on the right ear cup. There’s no on-ear detection either, so you’ll need to manually pause whatever you’re listening to before taking the headphones off. To make things easier, the play/pause button is much more pronounced than the rest, so it’s not hard to lock onto it through feel.
One thing that surprised me is that you’re unable to customise the functions of the buttons, so you’re locked into Sennheiser’s presets (one press to play/pause the track, two presses for the next track and three presses for the previous track). On the one hand, it’s just a pair of headphones, so there’s only so many things you can actually do, function-wise. But if you prefer to set specific inputs for certain functions, I can see how that could be annoying.
The Accentum doesn’t come with a carrying case and lacks an audio jack, so it’s wireless or nothing. You can maintain two active Bluetooth 5.2 connections at a time, and I found it pretty seamless to swap from my phone to my laptop.
Sennheiser is advertising a battery life of up to 50 hours and while I can’t give an exact read on that figure, it’s definitely in the ballpark. I ran the headphones from 9.30am until 5.30pm with ANC enabled, stopping for an hour to take lunch. I was checking the battery every hour, on the half-hour, and only saw it drop down from 70 per cent to 50 per cent. The battery level is only displayed in intervals of 10, so while I can’t get much more precise than that, it was at 60 per cent when I checked at 4.30pm – only a 10 per cent loss in battery over six hours is pretty good.
How does the Sennheiser Accentum sound?
Sennheiser has built a pretty solid reputation for being one of the best in the biz and while it may have taken a simpler approach with the Accentum’s other features, its audio quality isn’t one of them.
There was a nice balance to everything I listened to. The highs and mids were bright and crisp, while the bass was quite robust and thick. Listening to songs like ‘Bombs Over Baghdad’ by Outkast and ‘You Got Me’ by The Roots, I’m struck by how punchy the kick drums are. Even when pushed to a higher volume, I couldn’t detect much in the way of distortion.
Through the companion app, there’s a ‘Sound Check’ feature, which will create a personalised equaliser setting after you answer a series of prompts while listening to music. It’s a handy feature if the few presets provided by Sennheiser aren’t doing it for you.
While the Sennheiser Accentum makes for an affordable alternative, I don’t think these headphones sound as good as the Momentum 4. That’s not to say the Accentum sound bad, but there’s an extra degree of richness and depth to the audio quality of the Momentum 4 that isn’t present in these headphones. Chalk that up to the 37mm drivers used by the Accentum, compared to the 42mm drivers of the Momentum 4. That said, the Momentum 4 are my day-to-day headphones, so it’s hard not to compare everything with them.
How is the Sennheiser Accentum’s noise cancellation?
The Accentum includes Active Noise Cancellation, which is by far its strongest feature. Its noise cancellation is about as good as the Momentum 4 headphones running with ANC at full – which is to say, quite excellent.
I tested and compared the two headphones in a few locations – working in a busy office, walking up and down a busy road and sitting near a portable air conditioning unit – and they did a fantastic job of dampening the ambient noise around me. If there is a difference, it’s a minor one.
With the ANC, there isn’t an option to adjust its levels, so it’s running at full at all times. The only customisable feature available is the ability to toggle a wind noise reduction feature on and off, which does a pretty solid job of doing what it says on the can. There’s also a transparency mode, which sounds crisp and clear.
While some of the Accentum’s features might be pared down from Sennheiser’s more premium headphones, at least its noise cancellation still feels deluxe.
Should you buy the Sennheiser Accentum Wireless Headphones?
With a long battery life, excellent noise cancellation and good audio quality, the Sennheiser Accentum are solid and reliable headphones, through and through. While the inability to customise the headphones’ functions might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I don’t think its simple controls are a dealbreaker. It does everything you’d want from a pair of headphones, with zero hassle.
However, I do wish there was an option to adjust the levels of ANC. While I understand the physical hardware choices that were made to keep the price more mid-range – the lack of a carrying case and no touch controls – I don’t fully grasp the choice to not include something driven by in-app software.
Are the Accentum the best-sounding headphones Sennheiser has ever made? No, but these headphones won’t disappoint. If you’re deadset on having the highest quality audio possible and have the cash, I’d say you should still go the premium route and pick up the Momentum 4 headphones. But if you’re working to a set budget, then the Accentum will serve you well. For the price you’re paying, it’s good gear.
Where to buy the Sennheiser Accentum Wireless Headphones
Image: Chris Neill/Gizmodo Australia