When Sennheiser announced the release of a pair of mid-range wireless over-ears that would hit the gap in the market between the likes of the super-affordable Sony WH-CH520 and more premium models such as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones or Sony WH-1000XM5, we were intrigued.
That said, so-called “mid-range” products can often go one of two ways. They can nail that sweet spot of affordability and performance, providing great value in the process, or else can end up compromised and a little stitched together in their attempts to emulate more high-end performers while keeping costs to a minimum.
Without giving the game away, the Sennheiser Accentum Wireless are disappointingly more of the latter than they are the former, feeling more like a compromised pair of cans as opposed to a craftily conceived bargain set to please all comers. Despite a reasonable effort, they might not cause too much trouble to the Sony models currently threatening to make the world of wireless headphones into something of a one-team league.
Sennheiser’s new over-ears with active noise-cancelling (ANC) will cost you £160 / $180 / AU$300, a figure that places them in a nice middle grown – it’s below the premium five-star Sennheiser Momentum 4 (£300 / $350 / $AU550), but considerably above the recently released and newly 2023 Award-winning Sony WH-CH720N (£99 / $129 / AU$259).
If you were after a truly budget pair of Sennheiser over-ears, the previous Award-winning Sennheiser HD 250BT would have set you back around £50 / $60 / AU$120. This now-discontinued model (although you can still find some stock online) didn't feature ANC, however, so the new Accentum model aims to fill in the gaps.
Comfort & Build
While they hardly set the world alight with a design that screams “artistic tour de force”, the Accentum are a comfortable, reasonably-made pair of headphones that have the reassuringly solid build quality we’ve come to expect from Sennheiser.
Compare the Accentum Wireless with the cheaper Sony CH720N, and it’s clear where that extra money has been spent. The Accentum’s headband feels sturdier and more lavishly appointed with padding, whereas the earpads themselves are far more solid than the slightly insubstantial cups offered by their Sony rivals. Sennheiser has promised “all-day comfort” from its reasonably-priced new over-ears, and while we’d feel happy sporting the Accentum for a stretch, we did experience some ear-warming during more extended periods of wearing.
Codec Support SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD
Battery Life Up to 50 hours
Finishes x2 (Black, White)
While the Accentum’s general build quality is befitting of a pair of mid-range headphones, there’s little in terms of design or aesthetic flourishes to make us feel truly spoiled. The earcups don’t fold up and away as is the case for the Sony WH-1000XM4, but they do swivel horizontally via a hinge that appears as though it could perform this same rotation many thousands of times before it gave up the ghost.
Controls, meanwhile, are pretty typical for a pair of headphones at this level. On the right ear cup are the standard volume controls, as well as an on/off button which hovers just above the cans’ USB-C charging port. They’re rather functional plastic buttons, reflecting Sennheiser’s desire to put usability before aesthetics with the Accentum Wireless.
What you don’t receive, though, is a case or even a fabric pouch for carrying your headphones around in, something we had tentatively expected given the model’s mid-range price tag. Even if a proper, heavy-duty case was too much to ask for, would it have been impossible to stretch to a pouch to at least keep the dust and elements at bay?
In terms of features, a hefty 50-hour battery life is the real standout here, with that number rivalling more premium models such as the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort 45. It’s not quite the 60 hours offered by the Sennheiser Momentum 4, but those particular over-ears retailed at £300 / $350 when they first arrived. 50 hours, then, is more than enough here.
Noise cancelling, too, is impressive. The experience here feels comprehensive and assured, with the Accentum providing a solid, even-handed performance across the sonic spectrum. The screech of train tracks, the hum of a busy road, even the twitter of birds; it’s all dampened effectively, if not eliminated entirely, by these mid-range hopefuls.
We’re even treated to those handy little extras that you don’t always find around this price. Bluetooth Multipoint’s continual ascent is reflected in its inclusion with the Accentum, while clearer voice calls are promised courtesy of two built-in mics with wind-reduction capabilities. That promise is delivered upon, too, and an outdoor chat on a blustery October afternoon definitely benefits from the added vocal pickup the Sennheisers effortlessly provide.
Let's start with the positives, using Massive Attack’s Teardrop and the opening movement to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture as our entry points. What we detect immediately is how well-organised and balanced the Accentum Wireless are, noticing their aptitude for placing instruments in the right positions without clutter or sonic bleeding. There’s no hint of excessive dominance or harshness, and the irritations of certain instruments taking centre stage when you desperately don’t want them to are smoothed over nicely by what is a measured, even-handed sonic style.
It’s all fairly detailed, too. Instruments mostly sound true to their original forms, and there’s never a sense of being starved of nuance or intricacy. That measured, inoffensive soundscape certainly allows for much of the body and scale of instruments to be revealed without harshness, excessive colour or over-richness.
And yet, there’s something missing from these new Sennheisers which becomes apparent the more you listen. Solid and weighty they may be, but the Accentum lack spark and rhythmic drive, preventing them from really digging into the soul and spirit of your favourite musical treats. It’s as though the Accentum are a matronly schoolteacher, guilty of stifling and suppressing the creative joy and flair of its most gifted livewire students in favour of keeping a general veneer of order and restraint.
Nick Cave’s Song For Bob should be an emotional gut-punch, but the impact is limited by the Accentum’s reserved approach, as broad, meaty strings lose vital timbre and tone as part of the headphones' rather flat, occasionally listless sonic profile. The flittering high hats and heavy drum kick pulses which characterise Gorillaz’s Désolé feel smoothed over and dynamically compressed, neutering the track’s percussive underpinning and depriving the song of its snappy, forward-moving character. Listening to the same track, the more sonically engaging (and considerably cheaper) Sony WH-CH720N reveals a world of difference, with the latter providing the energy, substance and effortless vitality that felt lacking from Sennheiser’s own effort.
Listen to De La Soul’s Eye Know with the Accemtum, and you’ll get a further sense of what we mean. There’s bass aplenty, but the flabbiness of that lower register, combined with a slightly hollow, insubstantial midrange, robs the track of its carefree, head-bopping spirit. Without wanting to make the obvious gag, the Accentum remove the “Soul” from De La Soul with a presentation that, while it doesn’t lack for weight, ends up feeling a touch bland to our ears.
Sadly, during our weeks-long stint with the Sennheisers, there was rarely a time during our tests wherein we felt compelled to dig out endless test tracks in anticipation of how the Accentum might convey them. Sonically, the Accentum Wireless soften songs to such an extent that they can sometimes feel as though they are draining the life and colour from the music itself. If you desire dynamism and drive from a pair of headphones, no matter the price, we advise you to look elsewhere.
The Sennheiser Accentum Wireless do an acceptable job of fulfilling their brief, providing a well-furnished, comfortable and stable-sounding pair of over-ears for the consumer who isn’t keen on splashing out £200 or more on wireless headphones.
That said, we can’t help but feel that the Accentum’s somewhat neutered, non-committal sonic style makes them hard to recommend wholeheartedly, especially when you could enjoy the punch and verve of cheaper models like the Sony WH-CH720N instead.
- Sound 3
- Build 4
- Features 5
Read our review of the Sony WH-CH720N
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