As you might expect from Sennheiser you get two things with this headset: superb audio quality and a steep price. That makes it a contender in our list of the best Bluetooth headsets. But it's not perfect.
Focusing on the positive first, the Sennheiser Presence sounds amazing. The quality is rich and means you not only hear the other person on a call clearly, but they can hear you well too. The system even learns your voice and adapts to it to make sure your voice is picked up in the best way possible in all situations. This is followed on in the design which is super-premium in both look and feel.
Despite being relatively compact this packs in one of the best battery performances we've seen for a Bluetooth headset with 10 hours of talk time or a massive two weeks in standby mode. When you consider this uses that three-mic array to actively cancel noise, that performance is doubly impressive.
On the downside, the fit on this can be a little awkward to get right. While this does go over the ear and at 15 grams it's not the heaviest, the fit was still a bit off even with the right-sized earbuds firmly in place – not ideal when volume tops out at 70dB too. Of course, this can change from person to person, so it might be worth a try on before you buy.
Sennheiser Presence: Design
The Sennheiser Presence is a nice-looking device. It’s black and silver and generally unobtrusive. The black ear hoop feels solid and comfortable, while the main unit is sleek matte black. From there, the silver mic slides out, and this then turns the headset on. The body features volume controls, a call button and a micro USB port, which is a restrained, limited affair, but also all that's needed for easy interaction with the headset.
However, while the design is pretty chic, the Sennheiser Presence is not as comfortable as many of its competitors - something like the Jabra Stealth is king here. At 15 grams, it is a heavy-ish in-ear Bluetooth headset, and the adjustable ear hook and four ear tip sizes provided did little to help the device firmly and consistently stay put (which is a shame).
Ear hooks are generally a winner when it comes to the fitting of Bluetooth headsets, but the positioning of the Presence's one, combined with the design of the ear hook itself and the weight of the device all contributed to a really awkward fit. It’s still wearable, of course, but compared to similar headsets the Presence is distinctly lacking in comfort. The Presence can come with a charging cable, car charger, carrying case and USB dongle, but the Basic version does not have the latter two accessories.
Sennheiser Presence: Features
First up when considering the features that a Bluetooth headset should excel at, it's frustrating to declare that the Presence's volume range is a bit low - not unbearably, or so low it doesn't function well, but enough to make a notable difference. And even cranked up to maximum, it only put out 70 decibels, which isn't ideal. When that's combined with the generally less-than-snug fit, yet more sound escapes. This could pose a problem if you need to use your headset outside or in a noisy environment, but if you intend to use it primarily in a quiet working environment or on a car commute, it'll work fine.
Elsewhere, the Presence uses a three-microphone system to filter noise out of your calls, including environmental sounds like wind or traffic. This is largely effective and again shows the quality from which the headset is imbued with.
Sennheiser Presence: Performance
Though quiet, the Presence’s sound quality is very good - this is where Sennheiser's audio pedigree shines through. The range of audio is excellent, and the clarity and crispness are second to none. It's a genuine joy to hear everything so clearly. The on-board controls and buttons are easy to interact with and use, too, ensuring you can nimbly accept or decline calls and adjust the volume. One feature that goes about its work unnoticed is the Advanced Own-Voice Detection Technology. This is an onboard detector that will learn your voice and subsequently optimize the intelligibility of your speech intelligibility as well as reduce background and environmental noise for the listener. This makes phone calls that little bit clearer and crisper for the listener, and gives the user comfort knowing that the device is doing all it can to project the voice clearly - a neat trick inside such a compact Bluetooth headset. Noise-canceling is better on the Plantronics Voyager 5200, but this solution works well for the Presence.
Lastly, the Presence has an excellent battery life for a Bluetooth headset, more so than most others we've tested. Simply put, one charge can last for 10 hours of talk time or two weeks on standby and it takes about an hour and a half to charge the Presence. This is a brilliant boon for a bluetooth headset and one great big tick for the Presence; a very big selling point indeed.
Should you buy the Sennheiser Presence?
The Sennheiser Presence is a super option for sheer audio quality and battery life performance. But this headset is slightly lacking in the volume area, and the fit can be a little awkward.
If this product isn't for you
The Plantronics Voyager 5200 model is one of the brand’s best. The four-mic system makes for very clear calls with active noise cancellation, the reversible design is good for either ear and call volume is well balanced. This may be a bit bulky for some but with features like moisture resistance, dynamic mute alert and smart sensors this certainly offers a lot for the price.
The Jabra Stealth headset is a real all-rounder with a beautiful minimal design, powerful and very clear audio performance, decent battery life and useful accompanying app. It lacks button controls for things like volume but is super light and comfortable and still offers a good six hours of talk and ten hours of standby time.
The Razer Hammerhead True Wireless set from Razer is designed for gaming meaning it's built with a focus on clear and high-quality microphones for calls. The buds are also made to be comfy for long periods of time and feature a good-looking minimal design.