STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ very detailed resolution and transparency
+ spatial ambience and fine dynamics
+ useful Noise-Cancellation
– it might lack the last bit of punch in the lower bass
– not all ears might find the fit comfortable
Sound: Tonal Balance / Transparency9.6
Sound: Bass / Dynamic9
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9.2
Price / Performance9.1
From a traditional German manufacturer you might expect long product lifecycles, and Sennheiser so far was no exception. But when it comes to true wireless earbuds, the technological progress is simply stunningly fast. As we had seen the Momentum True Wireless 2 entering the market quickly following their predecessors. And less than a year after we were reviewing the gen 2, a successor called Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 has made it to the shops.
So, what to expect from the third generation? Definitely some improvements in terms of noise cancellation as version 2 – the first Sennheisers offering Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) ever – were a step behind the competition when it came to acoustic isolation.
What else has changed? The price tag in an unusual way as the retail price has been decreased by 50 Euros or dollars. And the shap – while we just got used to the gen 2´s rounded earbuds with comparably sharp edges, the gen 3 looks was shifted towards a basically rectangular design language but with more ergonomic edges. They still quite stick out of the ear a bit. Some might argue they do not look that posh anymore. This might translate as Sennheiser´s strategy to compete with Sony’s, Panasonic’s and JBL’s bestsellers rather than Bowers & Wilkins and Bang&Olufsen.
Features and connectivity
On the spec sheet not that much has changed. We still got a battery life slightly above the average offering seven hours of continous playback without recharging and 28 hours including the juice stored in the case. That should be read as a maximum with noise cancelling actually being deactivated. We absolutely loved the look and feel of the fabric-covered case, which now offers a wireless charging option. However, for posh handbags we might expect a slightly thinner shape as offered by some competitors. A 7 mm fullrange transducer handels all audible frequencies as well as producting the necessary soundwaves for cancelling out noise.
Connection is established via Bluetooth 5.2. The impotant codecs AAC, aptX and aptX Adaptive are all on-board (besides the standard SBC). So smart devices having a Qualcomm chipset built-in can take advantage of a quite impressively broad bitstream. With 48 kHz and 24 bit we even get a bit of hires feeling.
The basic functions such as playback, answering calls and activating noise cancelling can be controlled easily by just touching the earbuds. The surfaces react quite sensitivly, but we did not experience any malfunctions.
What the Sennheiser App is offering
The Sennheiser Smart Control app can be downloaded from app stores both for iOS and Android, and it offers a reasonably wide range of useful settings. You might want your earbuds to automatically accept calls or pause music the moment voice-through mode is activated.
The touch control can basically be completely customised. This is particularly helpful as Sennheiser has changed the basic functions from left to right and vice versa compared to the predecessor model.
In addition, the app offers a 3-band graphic EQ. Adjusting the NC algorithm can be coupled to assorted locations, and that is really cool. You might want NC to be off at home, and have it activated automatically with a different EQ preset the moment you enter the train to work.
Connectivity test and ease-of-use
The Momentum True Wireless 3 are lightweight at just under 6 grams per side. As for everyday use such as sport and travelling, being IPX4 splash water protected is really helpful. But beware: This does not mean the earbuds are fully dust- or waterproof.
They hold well in most ears thanks to four different sizes of adaptors. The predecessors were showing a tendency to spontaneously fall out of some ears easily. To prevent this,Sennheiser has added four differently sized outer rubber rings looking like gaskets. These provide additional grip and allow some really fine adjustment to any ear shape. The result is amazing: a firm hold is ensured even during active sport.
To insert them, a bit of rotation is required. In most cases, we did not experience any problem once you are used to this procedure. In some cases it is advisable to apply a bit of pressure so they are positioned firmly in the ear canal. Which on the other hand might lead to a situation that you actually feel the presence of something solid in your ear canal especially if the latter is comparably narrow. However, most of folks might the Momentum True Wireless 3 wearing more comfortable than other Sennheisers, including its predecessor. To be on the safe side, we recommend to check the fit before buying.
Sound quality and noise cancelling
The noise cancellation logic has been developed from the scratch. With Gen 3 it permanently works adaptively, i.e. automatically adjusting to the acoustic environment. If low-frequency noise such as jetplane noise or wind is detected, the algorithm is doing its best to counter that. In addition to that, the tonal balance is slightly adopted offering an emphasized bass whenever NC is activated. Frequent travellers and music listeners who have to endure a lot of road noise might really appreciate this.
In our field test, the noise cancelling worked really well. It does not make the listener feel that he or she is totally isolated from the outside world, nor is it the most effective on the market. On the other hand, it conveys a naturalness that we rarely found elsewhere.
From the first beat, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless were showing an outstandingly fine resolution. Such a level of fine detail, transparency and 3D ambience are really hard to find in earbuds regardless the pricepoint. If you switch from other in-ears to the Sennheiser, you initially have the feeling that trebles but be slightly emphasized. But that’s not the case, they just provide much more detail without ever being annoying or fatiguing.
Exellence in many respects
With some historical recordings, you might experience the recording especially in the treble region as it is. That might reveal a bunch more of details than ideal for a relaxed listening session, but we did not experience a tendency towards harshness either. At most, a slight restraint in the fundamental region leads to somewhat slender voices in some recordings.
The low end appears to be lush in kick bass, perhaps a bit too opulent, especially with classical music and bass-rich pop. For older material, however, it just gives the right dose of extra bass. And those prefering hip-hop or electronic beats might want to feel slightly more overall pressure and some more of accuracy in the lower-end impulses.
Despite the somewhat studio-monitor-like voicing, timing, speed and dynamics are simply outstanding. The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 do not necessarily embody the most sonically relaxing in-ear headphones, but from an audiophile perspective they are all around the ones offering the best resolution imaginable.
Voicing compared to Momentum True Wireless 2
The predecessors were blessed with an equally audiophile, but also somewhat merciless and not always relaxed voicing due to their even more present detail resolution. Sennheiser has retained this basic character. Thanks to the somewhat wider ambience and the now flawless cleanliness, the really ultimate detail resolution does not seem annoying anymore though. In this respect, a clear step forward compared to the predecessor, although not a revolution in terms of sound quality.
Alternatives to the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
At 250 bucks, the third version of the Sennheiser TWS has a lot of competition. The obvious alternative being Sony´s WF1000-XM4 which offer slightly more comfort, more effective noise cancelling and a silkier, more lean-back-style sound. However, if you want a decidedly audiophile and dynamic in-ear set with speed and dynamics, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 is your first choice. Bowers & Wilkins PI7 might offer similar virtues with a slightly crisper bass at a higher price point.
Specifications Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
- Retail price: around 250 Euro/Dollars/pounds
- Type: In-Ear
- Transducer: Dynamic
- Weight: 6 g
- Special features: Charging case, app control with EQ, adaptive noise-cancelling
- More at: www.sennheiser.com