Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs. Sennheiser Accentum: What's the difference?

Sennheiser Accentum face-off listing image
(Image credit: Future)

Some of the best noise-canceling headphones can be found in the mid-range price category. Two examples are the Sennheiser Accentum and their latest update, the Accentum Plus. These are two relatively affordable models with the audio prowess and specs to give class leaders such as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and Sony WH-1000XM5 a run for their money.

Both pairs of headphones promote similar hallmarks, including excellent active noise cancelation, intuitive sound settings, versatile connectivity, and some of the lengthiest playtimes at their price points. They also bear some of the same flaws, which Sennheiser aimed to fix on the newest entry, but only succeeded halfway.

Are the changes convincing enough to purchase the more recent launch instead of the original? That depends on your preferences. Our Sennheiser Accentum and Accentum Plus comparison breaks it all down.

Sennheiser Accentum headphones side by side for face off

(Image credit: Future)

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs. Sennheiser Accentum: Specs compared

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Header Cell - Column 0 Sennheiser Accentum PlusSennheiser Accentum
Price$229 / £199 / AU$399$179 / £159 / AU$299
ColorsBlack, whiteBlack, white
Size6.4 x 1.8 x 7.7 inches6.4 x 1.8 x 7.7 inches
Weight8 ounces8 ounces
Battery life (rated)50 hours50 hours
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC, aptX AdaptiveBluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC, aptX HD
Special featuresAdaptive active noise cancelation, Bass Boost mode, customizable EQ, headphone jack, multipoint, Smart Control, Smart Pause, Sound Zones, touch and voice controlsAdaptive active noise cancelation, Bass Boost mode, customizable EQ, multipoint, Smart Control, Sound Zones, voice controls

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs. Sennheiser Accentum: Price and availability

The first-gen Accentum dropped several months back and currently hold their launch price of $179 /£159 / AU$299, while the next-gen Accentum Plus are listed higher at $229 / £199 / AU$399. You can purchase either headphone in black or white.

Since their listening experiences are comparable, the original Accentum option is the better deal right now. That doesn’t necessarily make them superior.

Winner: Sennheiser Accentum

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs. Sennheiser Accentum: Design

Sennheiser Accentum face-off listing image

(Image credit: Future)

A few design elements distinguish the Accentum Plus from the original. They come with a carrying case, headphone port, one action button, silver insignias, and a touch panel. The regular version has black insignias and multiple buttons. All other details remain intact, from the arched yokes to the leather padding to the sturdy plastic frame. Each product embodies the brand’s clean and premium-looking aesthetic. I just wish that Sennheiser eased up on the clamp force because wearing either set of cans for over an hour can be fatiguing on the skull.

Winner: Sennheiser Accentum Plus

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs. Sennheiser Accentum: Controls

Sennheiser Accentum Plus worn by reviewer testing touch controls

(Image credit: Future)

The addition of capacitive touch controls makes the Accentum Plus more appealing from a usability standpoint. Multiple input methods (long hold, swipe, tap) are registered on the right earcup to enable all functions, including playback, call management, digital assistance, listening modes, and volume. All touch gestures are instantly recognized and execute intended commands with ease. The action button will either enable power on/off, pairing mode, or your phone’s native assistant (Google Assistant/Siri), which operates well and picks up commands accurately, thanks to Sennheiser’s intelligible mic array.

The Accentum have a 4-button layout to control volume, playback/call, power/pairing mode, and voice activation. All functions perform up to par, but we’re not fans of the small button design and the action button’s confusing control scheme.

Winner: Sennheiser Accentum Plus

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs. Sennheiser Accentum: Sound quality

Accentum Plus showing EQ control on smart app

(Image credit: Future)

Sound is nearly identical on the Accentum and Accentum Plus. Expect warm, detailed audio with rich bass and resonant mids that blend nicely over booming productions. Sennheiser provides a few customized settings to tweak sound, such as a Bass Boost preset for ramping up the low end without distorting the soundstage and a Podcast preset to emphasize vocals. The 5-band EQ lets you adjust frequencies and choose from 7 well-engineered presets. Proprietary features like Sound Check/Personalization and Sound Zones steal the show, providing a more tailored listening experience by arranging sound performance to your hearing and location, respectively.

Streaming playback is where they contrast. The Accentum has aptX HD for audio signal handling over Bluetooth, and low latency when streaming videos. The Accentum Plus gain greater detail and scalability from aptX Adaptive, and clarity is given a minor boost when listening to tracks on the best music streaming services.

Winner: Sennheiser Accentum Plus

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs. Sennheiser Accentum: Active noise canceling performance

The Accentum surprised many critics by matching the noise neutralization of mid-range favorites such as the Sony WH-C720N — see how they compared in our Sennheiser Accentum vs Sony WH-CH720N face-off — while also outperforming the ANC on some upmarket headphone options. Low frequencies and rumbling noises came to a halt when enabling ANC on the Accentum, and the headphones did a surprisingly good job of diminishing high-frequency noises; crying babies and whistles were less distracting. Sennheiser’s Transparency mode is clutch for increasing situational awareness. 

However, the Accentum Plus one-up their sibling with adaptive ANC that automatically tunes noise cancelation to your surroundings. The technology is intuitive and removes more unwanted noise than Sennheiser’s standard ANC. It was most serviceable during commutes; the plethora of distractions (e.g., engine roar, intercom announcements, rowdy pedestrians) I encountered were mostly silenced. Adjustable noise cancelation is another plus, providing full control over how much noise you want to eliminate or pass through via Transparency mode.

Winner: Sennheiser Accentum Plus

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs. Sennheiser Accentum: Call quality

Reviewere testing call quality on Sennheiser Accentum Plus

(Image credit: Future)

I loved using the original Accentum as a calling headset, and their successor is just as trustworthy for voice and video calls. Conversations sound loud and clear with minimal background interference. Wind resistance is some of the strongest in the category and reduces whooshing effects at a high level.

Winner: Tie

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs. Sennheiser Accentum: Connectivity

Sennheiser Accentum vs Accentum Plus face-off image showing wired conenctivity

(Image credit: Future)

These two headphones run on Bluetooth 5.2 and support AAC, SBC, and Qualcomm’s aptX codecs. The Accentum employs aptX HD and the Accentum Plus take advantage of the stronger aptX Adaptive. Both models have multipoint technology to connect to two devices simultaneously, but neither support one-tap Google Fast Pair.

The Accentum Plus also offers wired listening via aux cable.

WinnerSennheiser Accentum Plus

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs. Sennheiser Accentum: Battery life

Sennheiser left battery life untouched: 50 hours when fully charged. The same goes for quick charging, which generates 5 hours of listening time on a 10-minute charge. These are extremely long playtimes compared to noise-cancelling goliaths such as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra (24 hours) and Sony WH-1000XM5 (up to 40 hours). I got up to 10 days of moderate use (4 hours daily) from each headphone before recharging. Enabling Sound Zones and listening at high volume decreased playtimes by about 3 hours.

Winner: Tie

Sennheiser Accentum Plus vs. Sennheiser Accentum: Verdict

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Header Cell - Column 0 Sennheiser Accentum PlusSennheiser Accentum
Price and value (5)35
Design (15)1312
Controls (10)87
Sound quality (25)2322
Active noise cancelation (20)1817
Call quality (10)77
Connectivity (5)43
Battery life (10)99
Total score (100)8582

The Accentum Plus are the better headphones. Streaming playback is smoother, more refined, and complements Sennheiser’s warm and energetic soundstage. Adaptive ANC adjusts on the fly to effectively reduce noise in all locations. Highly responsive touch controls, long battery life, and basic add-ons such as an aux cable and carry case also make them more attractive, despite being overpriced.

You can get some impressive performance from the less expensive Accentum, though they could benefit heavily from a price drop (bring it down to $140, Sennheiser). The differences in sound and noise cancelation aren’t too far apart. Battery life is same too. However, the lack of adaptive ANC and touch controls are enough to point you towards their newest family member.

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Alex Bracetti

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.