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Sennheiser is working with Samsung to bring its 3D audio earbuds to Android

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Sennheiser’s Ambeo Smart Surround earbuds.
Image: Sennheiser

Three-dimensional audio — otherwise known as binaural audio — is all about recording sound as close as possible to the way your ears hear it. Usually that means using big recording rigs configured to look like a human head, but Sennheiser wants to make the process simpler. Earlier this year at CES, it unveiled its Ambeo Smart Surround earbuds, which come with embedded microphones capable of recording 3D audio. The Smart Surrounds were announced as iPhone-only, but now the company is planning to bring them to Android.

Sennheiser CEO Andreas Sennheiser (it’s a family-owned business) announced the news at the IFA Global Press Conference in Portugal. Sennheiser told The Korea Herald: “We are working with Samsung on the Ambeo smart headset to make it available for Android devices.” He said the company wanted to bring the platform to Google’s mobile OS for one very obvious reason: “A dominant layer of the smartphone market is Android-based phones.” Partnering with Samsung, Sennheiser added, would give the project “credibility.”

The Ambeo Smart Surrounds have microphones embedded under a mesh in each earbud.
Image: Sennheiser

It may seem a little odd that Sennheiser wants to partner with a company as big as Samsung just to bring one pair of specialized headphones to Android (remember also that Samsung has its own headphone partnership with Harman, makers of the AKG earbuds bundled with the Galaxy S8). But, for Sennheiser, 3D audio is a “strategic focus” that the company thinks will become more and more important with the rise of VR. It advertises the Ambeo headphones as a perfect pairing for a 360-degree camera, and also sells a super-pricey “Ambeo VR Mic.” Getting its platform onto Android will be essential if it wants to attract more customers.