The “true wireless” earphone category has grown tremendously over the past year or so since the release of Apple’s AirPods, as the appeal of personal listening devices with no cables or straps of any form is easy to understand. My experience with the earliest true wireless in ear monitors a few years ago left a lot to be desired, though, with my main beefs being short battery life, delays between channels, and weak bass. I was curious to see (or hear, rather) what Sennheiser could bring to the format with its Momentum True Wireless earphones.
The Momentum True Wireless retails at $299. For this price you get the earphones, charging case with a built-in battery, a charging cable, and silicone ear tips in four sizes. For those who prefer foam tips, Comply makes tips that fit this model. The charging case is covered in an attractive gray cloth but is a little bulkier than the AirPod case due to the shape of the earphones. Sennheiser claims the earphones themselves have a four-hour battery life and the battery in the case has enough juice for two more charges for a total of twelve hours. The case has a small led light that signals charge status, and its lid is held shut by a magnet to prevent your earphones from accidentally falling out.
Upon removing the earphones from the case, they looked bulky at first. The earphone bodies are made out of a black plastic material. The outer faceplates are polished metal with a black Sennheiser logo in the middle. These are the touchpads that control volume, forward/backward, and answering calls. Fit and finish on the earphones is good and they feel solid. I was surprised by how light they felt when I removed them from their case given their size and solidity. With the medium silicone tip, the Momentum True Wireless were comfortable and secure in my ears, never coming out unless I removed them on purpose. For those of you who are style conscious, it’s worth noting that my very fashion-forward coworker begged me to get her a pair of these. This is the first headphone or earphone she has asked for in the decade, plus we have worked together and she has seen me with a lot of gear in that time.
The earphones come with much of the latest technology that you would expect to find in a premium wireless headphone, including Bluetooth 5.0, as well as support for AAC, aptX, and aptX Low Latency codecs. The extra bit of technology that brought my experience to the next level with the Momentum True Wireless was the Sennheiser Smart Control App. The app is available on Android and iOS devices and enables additional functionality that I greatly appreciated. The app let me setup voice prompts rather than tones to provide feedback. OK, that’s nice but not extraordinary. The app also lets you set the earphones to pause music when one of them is removed from your ear; to automatically accept a call when you take out the right earphone; to enable your choice of voice assistant such as Google Assistant or Siri; and one important safety feature: transparent hearing. Transparent hearing allows you to hear ambient sounds when you have the earphones in and are listening to music. In addition to the additional features, the app also provides an equalizer so you can adjust the sound profile to suit your tastes.
I picked a track that I recently used in my review of the Sennheiser CX 6.00BT: Ariana Grande’s “God is a Woman” from the album Sweetener (Republic Records). The Momentum True Wireless surprised me with the amount and depth of bass it produced, easily surpassing the CX 6.00BT. However, like the CX 6.00BT, there was some harshness in the synthesized highs, at least when listening without the EQ engaged. The Momentum True Wireless were a bit more refined in the highs and using the EQ let me adjust the sound to get a good balance of detail and extension.
Sticking with female vocals but upping the sound quality, I tried Laura Marling’s “Soothing” from Semper Femina (Sony Music). Laura’s vocals and accompanying guitar track were balanced and natural sounding as compared with other IEMs in the class.
Competition and Comparison
The true wireless market is flooded with options. Some of the more popular include Apple’s AirPod 2 ($159) and the Jabra Elite 65t ($169). I have not had a chance to listen to the AirPod 2 but prefer the sound of the Momentum over the first generation AirPods. The AirPod 2 has a fantastic features set, especially within the Apple ecosystem. One feature that stood out was the ability to use either pod separately in mono, effectively doubling battery life. This could be handy when you are on the road and don’t have time to charge.
The Jabras, on the other hand, have four microphones for good noise cancellation on calls, and silicone tips that provide good noise isolation, provided they fit your ears.
I have to say I was skeptical of the true wireless format before I tried the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, but now they are in regular use for me when I am on-the-go locally. The limited battery life of any of the true wireless earphones makes them impractical for all-day travel but well suited for an afternoon out and about.
In addition to the physical format, the sound quality of the Momentum True Wireless is better than I expected. No, they do not compare to the audiophile models from Sennheiser or others, but they can sound good, better than most similar offerings. The anemic bass of the early true wireless devices is gone and a respectably refined and balanced (with some tweaking of the equalizer) is now available from a completely wire-free in-ear monitor.