The Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus are very special earphones. Because they not only offer good sound with effective noise cancellation, but are also an effective hearing aid when it matters most.
In spring 2021, Sennheiser announced the sale of its consumer electronics division to Sonova Holding AG. The Swiss company has thus supplemented its hearing aid expertise with the headphone know-how of the traditional German company - especially that of wireless earphones.
They wanted to "accompany even more people on their way to good hearing," said Sonova boss Arnd Kaldowski at the time. "We believe that our expanded range of voice-enabled personal audio devices will make a significant contribution to increasing the acceptance of hearing solutions."
The first results were the TV headsets Sennheiser TV Clear and RS 120-W. But with the Conversation Clear Plus, Sennheiser is now launching its first real combination of classic wireless earphones and hearing aids.
The enormously high price of just under 850 euros gives you an idea, but you can't tell that the earplugs are anything special. It could also be normal earphones. Visually, however, they differ significantly from Sennheiser's Momentum True Wireless series: On the outside, the Conversation Clear Plus cones, which weigh around 6 grams, have mechanical buttons and touch surfaces, and there are various silicone inserts for a secure and very comfortable fit in the ear. Rings with small fins.
Also striking is the rather large, but 55 gram light charging case, which has a rubber ring on the underside to prevent it from slipping off smooth surfaces. This makes it clear that the Conversation Clear Plus is not necessarily intended for uncomplicated music enjoyment on the go, but rather should always be ready to hand on the table.
That's not to say the earbuds aren't fun to listen to music with. On the contrary: the earphones sound like typical Sennheiser, i.e. really good. The sound is balanced and neutral. The basses are deep and powerful, but never pound uncomfortably.
The well-defined mids, which are supplemented with crystal-clear highs with many details, are always decisive. However, the Conversation Clear Plus are not quite as analytical as the Sennheiser True Wireless Momentum 3. This is partly due to the fact that they do not support high-resolution Bluetooth codecs such as aptX.
Enjoying music is just a task for the plugs. The other is to improve speech intelligibility. This means that whether you want to talk to people in a room, make phone calls or follow a lecture, the earphones make it possible to hear everything clearly, even in a noisy environment, down to the smallest detail.
In fact, speech enhancement is the default setting of Conversation Clear Plus. This means that when you use them, they are always initially in conversational mode. Only when you start playing music or a video do they automatically switch to streaming mode. If you pause playback, the earphones immediately switch back to voice enhancement.
The third mode is called Relax. It is used to enjoy silence, i.e. to largely exclude outside noise. Here you can see that the Conversation Clear Plus also has very effective active noise cancellation (ANC). It not only fades out constant noise, such as in trains, but also significantly dampens office noise. Even keyboard clatter is almost inaudible as long as nobody hammers the keys too hard.
In each mode, it is possible to continuously adjust the intensity of an effect in the associated app. In streaming, this means determining how much outside noise is being let through or blocked out. At the same time, the volume is lowered or raised independently of the playback device.
In communication mode, you set the speech volume and can also increase the higher frequencies for better intelligibility of voices. Relax mode is all about how much you want to hear outside noise.
In order for the language adjustments to be as effective as possible, you can create a personal sound profile in the app. In a test, you specify which volume and which tone color is pleasant. This helps ensure that the voice amplification doesn't look too unnatural.
This cannot be completely avoided, as the higher frequencies are always emphasized for better speech intelligibility. If you exaggerate, you may hear some things better than you would like. For example, one not only understands every whisper, but also notices the rustling of clothes, the noise of breathing, the squeaking of a door or other high-pitched sounds. In addition, the effect also increases the noise of the earphones.
To counteract this, you can find something hidden under "Don't you hear well enough yet?" a slider in the app to adjust the sound between soft and hard. In addition, the earphones automatically detect the volume of the environment and adjust effects accordingly.
Still, it takes a while to find the right balance. But then you really understand every syllable, even in noisy large-scale restaurants. When it comes to phone calls, the interaction between noise cancellation and voice amplification enables relaxed conversations, even on busy intersections.
Unfortunately, the many options make controlling the Conversation Clear Plus a bit complicated and some things are not possible that are otherwise taken for granted with wireless earphones. For example, you cannot skip songs when listening to music.
The most difficult thing at the beginning is that you have to learn different gestures for each mode. For example, in communication mode, a long press on the button on the right earphone turns speech intelligibility on or off. In relax mode and when streaming, you get to communication mode.
Double-tapping on the right side pauses or starts playback of a song or video, doing this on the left side calls up a digital assistant. This is easy to remember, but the earphones react to the gesture a bit sluggishly. You have to tap it quite hard, which leads to loud pops in the ear. Sennheiser can improve the sensitivity here, hopefully with an update.
The endurance of the earphones is not in need of improvement. They last up to nine hours, the case has reserves for two full charges. You can also forgive the fact that the box, despite its size, cannot charge up electricity inductively.
The Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus is a great and extremely convenient solution for people who are not hard of hearing but have trouble understanding voices. With the earphones, for example, you can easily have conversations or phone calls even in noisy environments. At the same time, the Conversation Clear Plus are very good music entertainers. However, their price is very steep, and Sennheiser should increase the sensitivity of the plugs when using the tap control.