(Pocket-lint) - Sennheiser was slightly late to the wire-free game, but that's no bad thing. Taking time to get things right is something we wish all manufacturers would do. It's all well and good rushing to hop on the latest technological bandwagon, but without considering things that really matter - like Bluetooth connectivity and battery life - it's an exercise in futility.
With its Momentum True Wireless, Sennheiser is aiming to add a touch of class and audiophile quality sound to an increasingly crowded market. The question is, does it succeed, or is the Momentum True Wireless just adding to the noise?
Sensible, modern looks
- IPX4 splash resistant
- XS/S/M/L ear tips included
- Metallic/plastic build
- Magnetic cradles in canvas covered case
- 13.2g earbud weight
While it's easy to get lost in a sea of same-looking plastic earbuds, we've seen a number of interesting variations in design in the wire-free market. There's the rather odd-looking Bose SoundSport Free with its bulky protrusions, the Master & Dynamic MW07 with its classy tortoiseshell acetate finish and chromed case, plus the more reserved leather-infused BeoPlay E8.
Sennheiser's offering is different again. The case is a relatively simply design featuring an easy-to-open lid on a hinge that snaps shut using magnets. The case itself is small enough to fit in your palm, and is covered in a stylish grey fabric. It's stamped with a simple black Sennheiser icon, features some subtle black plastic trim - which makes for a minimalist monochrome look.
Build quality, there's nothing much to sing about here. It feels like a fairly standard plastic case, and the hinge doesn't feel particularly strong. Still, it's been reliable in use, while the magnets keep it shut when in a pocket. We've not experienced any accidental openings. Similarly, the magnets holding the earbuds in place inside their cradles don't let go with ease, even with some fairly vigorous shaking.
The case features a Type-C connector for charging, which is a major plus, so no need to hold on to your age-old Micro-USB cable. What's more, there's a small button to check battery level, with an LED that flashes red, orange or green depending on how charged the earphones are.
As for the earbuds themselves: well, they're not exactly exciting looking. It's a simple, safe approach with some sensible choices. For instance, the outer face of the earbuds is finished with a metallic plate with subtle concentric circle pattern etched in, and the simple Sennheiser icon printed onto it. However, the entire unit is made to be rain- and sweat-resistant, to ensure that being caught in damp weather won't be a problem - which is great for outdoors use and exercise.
As a whole, the fit is pretty comfortable. They may have a slightly bulbous appearance, but they fit well, getting that right balance between not feeling too snug, yet not feeling insecure. Even shaking our head quite vigorously wasn't enough to coax them into falling out.
As you'd suspect in a wire-free pair of in-ears, these outer faces also act as touch-inputs for controlling playback. Touch the left earbud once, twice or three times to play/pause, skip forwards or skip back, respectively. Tap-and-hold the left earbud to adjust the volume down, or the right earbud for volume up.
It sounds simple, but we found it a little complicated to get used to, without having to refer to the user guide a couple of times. We found that the controls requiring multiple taps didn't cope so well with fast tapping, so we had to pace ourselves slightly. A quick double-tap, for example, would only register as a single tap, and pause the music rather than skip forward.
Sounds how you want it to sound
- Smart control app w/equaliser
- 5 Hz to 21 kHz frequency response
- 7mm drivers
While previous Sennheiser earphones used a dedicated CapTune app, for the Momentum True Wireless there's a brand new application for Android and iPhone. It's a free download from the App Store or Play Store, and - as well as featuring an easy-to-follow start guide - lets you adjust a couple of the features.
Our favourite is a really simple custom equaliser (EQ). We found the default setting a little to sterile and clean, so we used it to add a bit more oomph, upping the bass and mid tones, filling out the sound profile. With the EQ adjusted to our taste, the sound is fantastic; punchy, loud, detailed and full.
If you're someone who loves have a specific 10 band EQ with individual sliders, you might not like this setup, but the method of control is simple enough - dragging a dot around the screen and watching it fluidly adjust the EQ wave graphic. Dragging it up and towards the left kicks the bass up, pushing it towards the right makes it cleaner, more treble-heavy.
While it's not as granular as your typical EQ adjustment, it still offers fantastic versatility and is surprisingly intuitive. You won't struggle to get the sound you want, that's for sure.
Some hidden tech features
- Audio transparency
- Up to 4hrs playback time
- 2x charges in case's battery
Inside, to keep things working reliably and without frustration, Sennheiser has equipped the Momentum True Wireless with Bluetooth 5.0 radios and aptX support, ensuring that you get a consistent and reliable connection but that audio stays in sync with video really well too.
These in-ears are also pretty power efficient. Ok, so we're not talking to its claims of four hours of music playback outside the charging case, but we were getting about three total. After working our way through a 90-minute playlist, it was down to around 55 per cent.
There are some foibles though. After just over 40 minutes of playing songs, the battery indicator within our Android Bluetooth settings indicated 80 per cent left over. Keeping an eye on battery specifics isn't the simplest, given that the earbuds could have different levels. At the time of writing, checking within the Smart Control app, the left one shows 100 per cent, while the right is at 79 per cent.
The case holds a battery too, which can recharge the in-ears' batteries twice over before needing to plug the whole thing into a power source via the Type-C cable. But we think you'll get a total of 10 hours, of thereabouts, with charged buds and two case-based top-ups.
Essentially, it means you'll comfortably get through a commute to work, and then back again at the end of the day, and maybe only need to charge up once during the week (depending how long your commute is). What's more, if your commute is a busy one, you'll be pleased to know the passive noise cancellation from the ear tips is decent too. And, if you're ever at a point where you want to hear what's going on around you, there's the option to activate an ambient noise pass-through feature.
So the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless might not look the most exciting, but they certainly sound great.
Battery life will push to around three hours, plus there's two extra charges while on the go from the stylish included carry case - which we think is one of the best-designed cases on the market.
However, the asking price isn't small, placing these wire-free in-ears against some stiff competition: mainly the BeoPlay E8, Bose SoundSport Free and the Master & Dynamic MW07. The fashionable approach to Sennheiser's design is reminiscent of the BeoPlay, but not as eye-catching as the MW07 in our view, while offering high-quality sound like the Bose.
In short, we've waited some time for Sennheiser to join the wire-free game, and it was totally worth the wait. No, the design isn't the best looker in the world, but the quick charging from USB-C and the quality sound profile are big positives to take away that make these in-ears worth their asking price.
B&O Play Beoplay E8
There's a lot to like about the BeoPlay E8. Stylish design, subtle metal trim and a leather-covered portable case make for great looks. What's more, the buds sound great too and offer pretty much the same battery performance as the Sennheiser.
Master & Dynamic MW07
There's no doubt that the MW07 is one of the most striking pairs of wire-free in-ears currently available. The tortoise shell and camo designs on the acetate exterior look great (and completely different to the competition). As a bonus, these buds also happen to be among the most comfortable to wear for long periods, while delivering a loud, bassy sound profile.
Bose SoundSport Free
So these are a little more sports-focused than the others mentioned, but are still worth considering if you can ignore the unusual design that's become something of a tradition for the SoundSport range. Sound is truly fantastic, if you like the Bose profile, and the comfortable fit means they can be worn for a long time without getting uncomfortable. What's more, they're a rarity in that they're designed to be securely fit in the ears to ensure they won't get jogged out during a run.