Sennheiser’s New SDW-5000 DECT Cordless Headsets

A Polycom VVX-600 and Sennheiser DW Pro2 headset are my workaday tools of choice. They have been for years. Polycom VVX remains best-in- class. The DW Pro 2 gives me hands-free flexibility and cordless mobility, sufficient to reach the coffee machine, which is clearly a critical issue.

This pair addressed my quest for practical tools leveraging HDVoice. They explain why I’ve not put much effort into reviews of new desk phones in recent years. The matter has been largely settled hereabouts.

However, they not perfect. There’s room for improvement. In particular, the advent of WebRTC brought a tide of Opus-capable services that would benefit from full-bandwidth audio. The 16 KHz sampling required to support G.722 was great in 2010, but nearly a decade down the road it seems more than a little limiting.

Full-bandwidth audio electronics is trivially easy. It’s the transducers that need attention. Products designed for telephony were deliberately limited. That made sense at the time. Not so much anymore.

Over the years I’ve watched various manufacturers to see if they were introducing a product that would best my trusty DW Pro 2. As far as I can see this simply hasn’t happened, perhaps until now.

This week I received an invitation to a webinar. (Yawn! Webinars suck.) I generally ignore such things, but this one mentioned one small item that caught my attention. In pitching their new SDW 5000 DECT headsets Sennheiser specifically mentions “super wideband” sound. This inspired a little digging.

This new line of headsets, launched just weeks ago, finally antiques the DW Pro Series. The notable details are as follows:

Frequency response (Microphone)

  • 150 Hz – 11 kHz (Super wideband)
  • 150 Hz – 7.0 kHz (Wideband)
  • 150 Hz – 3.5 kHz (Narrowband)

Frequency response (Headphones)

  • 150 Hz – 11.5 kHz (Super wideband)
  • 150 Hz – 6.8 kHz (Standard wideband and High density wideband)
  • 300 Hz – 3.5 kHz (Narrowband)
  • 20 Hz – 12 kHz (Ultra wideband – music mode)
  • 20 Hz – 16 kHz (Fullband – music mode)

Talk time:

  • Up to 10 hours (Narrowband)
  • Up to 7 hours (Density optimized wideband)
  • Up to 8 hours (Talk time optimized wideband)
  • Up to 6 hours (Super wideband)

I was not aware that the DECT standard had evolved beyond passing G.722, which was part of their initial CATiq specification. It seems that Sennheiser has implemented the optional MPEG-4 ER AAC-LD to deliver wideband in high-density installations and super-wideband.

The SDW5016 model includes a USB A type connector on the base and a BT dongle. This allows three way connectivity; desk phone, USB to PC, and BT to mobile devices.

The headset is capable of three different wearing styles; traditional over-the-head, behind-the-head, and ear-clip.

Finally, the boom-mounted microphone now features dual microphone elements in an active noise cancelling arrangement.

Sennheiser also makes some new claims about improved security.

While I’d be happier with a truly full-bandwidth path from the microphone, what I’ve read is enough that I’ve signed up for the webinar on August 14th. It’s offered by 888VOIP who is distributing the product.

In the mean time, I’ve reached out to former contact at Sennheiser with some questions. If you’ve read this far, you might also like this Telecom Reseller interview about the SDW 5000 Series.