To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus review: Chatting ain’t cheap

Our Rating :
£749.00 from
Price when reviewed : £749
inc VAT

The Conversation Clear Plus boost speech and cancel noise effectively, but a number of issues see them fail to justify their hefty price tag


  • Very effective ANC and speech boosting
  • Useful companion app
  • Decent battery life


  • Unnatural sound when enhancing speech
  • Vague sound when playing music
  • Some control-related shortcomings

True wireless earbuds that are primarily designed to help with hearing difficulties rather than to stream music are becoming more common, and the Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus come from one of the biggest, most credible brands around. They come at a price, though – and even before they’re set up and doing their thing, it’s hard to understand why they’re as expensive as they are. They’re perfectly adequately built and finished, but they look and feel a lot more ordinary than the asking price suggests they should.

That’s an impression that only gets stronger once you start using them. Yes, their control app is logical and useful, and yes, the earbuds’ ability to either negate external sounds or give them a welcome and quite accurately focused boost is unarguable. But the earbuds are tonally pretty hard and edgy, and when you do decide to listen to music, they sound diffuse and uncertain.

Add in some questionable operational choices – especially the series of similar-but-not-quite-the-same chimes that indicate the mode of operation you’ve selected – and the Conversation Clear Plus get as much wrong as they do right. Which at this price isn’t really good enough.

Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus: What do you get for the money?

The not-inconsiderable sum of £749 put Sennheiser’s way buys you what the company describes as an “elegant hearing solution”. What that means in practice is a pair of true wireless earbuds of the type we’ve all long since become familiar with, but this time the emphasis is not on playback of music or podcasts, but on assisting those with hearing difficulties.

Hearing loss, especially at the top of the frequency range, is an inevitable consequence of ageing. Sennheiser, which sold its consumer audio division to Swiss-based hearing-care company Sonova fairly recently, is just one of several companies that want to help its customers with those everyday interactions in everyday locations that may have become problematic. The Conversation Clear Plus are designed specifically to improve the clarity and intelligibility of received speech, ambient surroundings and media for the wearer.

The Sennheiser approach with the Conversation Clear Plus is threefold: there are modes called “Relax”, “Communication” and “Stream”. Relax is basically the kind of active noise cancellation we’re used to from regular true wireless earbuds; Communication gives a boost to external sounds; and Stream is for audio playback. Control of each is available either via physical controls on each earbud or in the bespoke ConversationClear control app.

On initial setup, you make a grand total of three Bluetooth connections to your smartphone – one for each earbud and one for the product as a whole. Then the app runs through a few hearing tests to establish your specific sound profile.

After that, there are ten stages of external sound reduction available in the Relax mode, as well as a slider to make external sounds “smoother” or “clearer” (Sennheiser’s descriptions, not mine). Communication has ten stages of speech volume enhancement, a “Clarity boost” control to basically turbo-charge that enhancement and, again, a slider to give an emphasis either to speech clarity or smoothness. Stream has a control option to balance the level of external sounds against the volume of the media you’re listening to, and the clear/smooth slider makes another appearance. The app has a degree of autonomy, too (as long as you allow it) – “Automatic Scene Detection” constantly monitors your environment, and will adjust noise and/or boost levels to suit.

To ensure the earbuds fit correctly, Sennheiser not only supplies three different sizes of eartips but also three types of ear fin. These are bands that fit around the earbuds to help stability, and two of the three pairs also feature extrusions that help in keeping the earbud secure; the largest pair of fins contrive to make the earbuds look a bit like a stag beetle.

The earbuds use analogue MEMS microphones to monitor sound and handle noise reduction, speech enhancement and call quality. The pick-up pattern can vary from omnidirectional to beamforming, depending on circumstances.

On the inside, the Conversation Clear Plus feature 12mm full-range dynamic drivers with a stated frequency response of 20Hz–20kHz. Battery life is around nine hours in the earbuds themselves, with a further two full charges in the case; from flat to full takes around five hours using the case’s USB-C input. No wireless charging is available. Wireless connectivity is via Bluetooth 4.2, with SBC and AAC codec compatibility.

READ NEXT: The best headphones for sleep

Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus: What did we like about them?

As far as their primary purposes are concerned, there’s no arguing with the effectiveness of the Conversation Clear Plus. In Relax mode, their noise cancelling is deeply effective to the point that external sounds are all but negated when the “external sound” dial is set to 0%. There’s no hint of counter signal or any other artefacts created by the noise-cancellation circuitry, either – just peace and, more importantly, quiet.

Communication mode is, in broad terms, just as effective a setting. Voices are more distinct and direct, while other external sounds get a more subtle boost. In busy and/or noisy environments, conversations are far easier to follow and, with clarity boost engaged, speech is given even more prominence. Anyone who finds it difficult to keep track of conversations happening anywhere that isn’t perfectly quiet will find the Sennheiser very helpful indeed.

READ NEXT: Our favourite noise-cancelling earbuds

Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus: What could be improved?

There are a few areas in which the Conversation Clear Plus could be better – and they are fairly fundamental.

First of all, there’s perceived value. There’s nothing wrong with the way this product is made or finished, of course – this is Sennheiser we’re dealing with, after all. But nothing about the look or feel of the plastics used to build the earbuds or their charging case suggests this is an even remotely premium product, and certainly not one that should command an asking price of £749. There are a few true wireless products in Sennheiser’s own portfolio that cost considerably less and yet look and feel more expensive.

Then there’s the way they sound. Emphasising speech in the interests of intelligibility is all well and good, but there’s an edginess and a hardness to the way the Conversation Clear Plus renders speech, especially voices in the higher registers, that’s actually quite unpleasant. And when listening to music, the Sennheiser contrive to sound similarly abrasive through the mid-range, slightly vague in the way they establish a soundstage and a little soft in the lower frequencies. It’s been a while since Bluetooth 4.2 was at the cutting edge of wireless connectivity, and the advances that have been made are made pretty obvious by the way it performs here.

And as far as control is concerned, things could be better implemented. Inexplicably, the earbuds send various types of chime to indicate which mode you’ve selected, the level of boost or reduction that’s happening and so on. For people who are struggling a little with their hearing, a selection of very similar sounds is considerably less helpful than simply having a voice to say what’s going on. And while having physical earbud controls that can (among other things) switch between Relax and Communication modes is handy, the inability to select the Stream mode anywhere but within the app is odd to say the least.

Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus: Should you buy them?

It’s important to bear in mind that Sennheiser’s website states the product “is not a hearing aid and not meant to treat hearing loss”. So you really should be in touch with a medical professional if you feel your hearing is failing in a fundamental way.

If, however, you find being in noisy, crowded environments problematic when it comes to keeping track of conversations, or if you find yourself turning your TV up to antisocial volume levels, a product such as this makes a lot of sense. Ultimately, though, the Conversation Clear Plus need to be more affordable and have a more restful, less aggressive tonal balance if they’re to have a hope of justifying their chunky asking price.

Read more