Pros / The Presence has an excellent battery life.
Cons / It is the most uncomfortable and most expensive headset we tested.
Verdict / Though the Presence looks nice, sounds fine and performs well, its uncomfortable design and super-high price make other products better options.
Sennheiser is a brand known for its sound quality, and with an almost $180.00 list price for the basic version, you would expect the Presence headset to perform notably better than devices that cost about half as much. Though the Sennheiser headset does have an excellent battery life, good audio quality and convenient included accessories, it is also lacking in important areas, such as volume and comfort.
As soon as testers tried on the Sennheiser Presence they noted it’s the least comfortable product by far. At 15 grams, it is the heaviest in-ear Bluetooth headset we tested, and the adjustable ear hook and four ear tip size options did little to help the device stay put. Ear hooks that wrap around the outside of the ear generally made the headsets we tested stay in well, but the positioning of where the hook attached, the ear hook itself and the weight of the device all contributed to a really awkward fit. It’s still wearable, but compared to similar headsets like the Jabra Eclipse, the Presence is distinctly lacking in comfort.
The Sennheiser’s poor fit also contributed to a volume problem. Compared to other headsets, the Presence has a low volume range. And even cranked up to max, it only put out 70 decibels, which is half as much sound as other headsets. 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 office environment, it works fine. Though quiet, the Presence’s sound quality is good, about on par with the Plantronics Voyager 3200. If you’re concerned about protecting your ears from loud noises, the quieter device has a guard against spikes in the sound level above 118 decibels, though, again, our testing couldn’t even get the volume to go above 70 decibels.
Design-wise, the Sennheiser Presence is a nice-looking device. It’s black and silver and generally unobtrusive. The silver mic slides out, which turns the headset on. The Presence uses a three-microphone system to filter noise out of your calls, including environmental sounds like wind or traffic. The body features volume controls, a call button and a micro USB port. The Presence has the best battery of the products we tested. It takes about an hour and a half to charge the Presence, and one charge can last for 10 hours of talk time or two weeks on standby.
We tested the UC (Unified Communications) version of the Presence, which is an upgrade option and costs much more. This version came with a charging cable, car charger, carrying case and USB dongle, though the Basic version does not have the latter two accessories.
Overall, the Sennheiser Presence is a fine Bluetooth headset, but its uncomfortable fit, low volume range, and high price make it a less practical option than other products on the lineup.