(Pocket-lint) - When Sennheiser first took a stab at the true wireless market it, it went all-in on sound, but underwhelmed a little in other areas such as design and battery life. For the second generation Momentum True Wireless, the company wanted to improve things, so developed a battery which it claims lasts twice as long, in an earbud that now has built-in active noise-cancelling (ANC).

With popular choices like the AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro on the market, it's a tough ask to compete in sheer numbers sold, but what Sennheiser offers is a pair of earbuds that music fans and audiophiles will love that - and that won't need charging every 2-3 hours.

So does Sennhesier achieve with the Momentum True Wireless 2, or is it merely case of adding to the noise?

Design

If you've seen the first-generation Momentum True Wireless, then you've seen the second-generation too. Very little has changed in regards to the way these earbuds look and feel. That's to say these buds are a rather chunky tapered cylinder, finished with silver-coloured caps on the edges where the contrasting black Sennheiser logo is printed. The outer casing of the earbuds is predominantly made from matte black plastic, although a piano white version is coming at some point in the future. 

Being quite a chunky earbud design, these in-ears aren't the most comfortable to wear for long periods. There's a tiny bit of stretch in the ears. The one part you do feel after an hour or two of listening is the in-ear tips. These cause a lot of sensitivity within the ears, so we found we maxed out at about two hours of wear time.

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Now, we don't always sing the praises of touch-sensitive controls on the outside of any in-ear headphones. They're usually fiddly and over-sensitive, but we feel Sennheiser's implementation here is quite good. Which makes a welcome change from the norm.

Single-, double- and triple-press commands are well programmed - so you're not having to worry about tapping too fast or too slowly. What's more, you can change which each of those gestures does on each of the ears. Whether that's playing, pausing and skipping tracks, or switching the ANC on or off. 

While the earbuds aren't the most comfortable to wear in our view, the travel case for holding them in to charge is really rather nice. Sennheiser has combined a minimalist rounded rectangle shape with an attractive canvas cover to good effect. The hinge holding the lid is sturdy and well-made too, so it certainly feels like it should survive the rigours of everyday life. 

Performance & Features

  • ANC and transparency mode
  • 7 hour music play time out of case
  • Additional 21 hours of charge

There are two new features added - well, upgraded - compared to the first-generation Momentum True Wireless. The first, and most important (yes, more important than the noise-cancelling) is the improved battery life. 

With so many true wireless in-ears coming out throughout 2019, it was common to find ones capable of lasting five hours at a time. However, Sennheiser's first True Wireless lasted just over three hours per charge in our testing - which was underwhelming, to say the least. The True Wireless 2 doubles that, while the charging case adds a further three charges.

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In total, Sennheiser says you'll get up to 28 hours of use from the new pair before needing to plug in for more charge. That's so much better than the first-generation, to the point where you could easily wear these for your commute to and from work and during your lunch break from Monday to Friday - and still likely have some battery left over at the weekend. 

Or, if you're working from home and need to lock yourself away from audible distractions (or airborne disease), you can stick these buds in your ears and listen for most of your work hours.

In our testing, just under an hour-and-half of music playback at a good volume took around 20 per cent of the battery. We say 'around' because the iOS indicator for third-party earphones and headphones doesn't adjust incrementally by single percentage points. Instead, you get the closest 5 or 10 per cent rounded up or down.

The second key feature added is ANC, which helps add an extra level of noise-cancelling on top of the already good passive noise isolation. And, while it's beneficial, Sennheiser's tip design already does a great job of getting rid of the noise from around you to the point where we didn't notice the ANC all that much.

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The experience of the ANC is definitely not as noticeable as the AirPods Pro, for instance. You don't feel like you're immediately inside this noise-free bubble. If there's nothing playing through the earbuds, switching ANC on and off only reveals a subtle difference.

Likewise, the transparent listening/ambient noise passthrough feature is light in effect. It doesn't offer the clarity or volume you get from Samsung's Galaxy Buds+. External noise coming through the outer mics into theSennheiser's in-ear drivers is not well amplified, so it can still be tricky to hear what's going on clearly, unless you pause the music - which is an option you can activate manually in the Smart Control app. 

Unlike the Galaxy Buds+, though, the Momentum True Wireless has sensors within the earbuds to automatically detect when removing one from your ears. This will automatically play or pause playback - reliably, too.

Sound Quality

  • 7mm dynamic drivers
  • 5Hz - 21kHz frequency response
  • Adustable EQ (sort of)

One of the things we loved about the first generation Momentum True Wireless was the sound. That same quality holds true with the second-generation too.

Talking tech for a second: Sennheiser has equipped these buds with 7mm dynamic drivers, which is slightly larger than the norm, so the sound delivered is genuinely fantastic. The True Wireless 2 is perhaps the best balanced in-ears we've listed to in a while. 

There's great delivery of bass and mid, alongside high-end detail and clarity - but without the latter ever hitting the sharpness of, say, Master & Dynamic's MW07 Plus. While we love M&D's approach to sound, Sennheiser has kept things sensible and - as a result - has delivered more accessible sound that most people will be delighted with. 

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Listening to something like Ryan Adams' slow, melancholy cover of Wonderwall, there's lots of crispness in the plucked strings of the acoustic guitar, while also maintaining that ever-present low drone of the bass to good effect. More stripped down songs like Better Together are similar, with the clear vocals and acoustic strumming maintaining their detail and prominence, while the bass fills out the floor beneath. 

Lively rock songs like You're Love Alone is Not Enough by the Manics has plenty of wallop from the multiple guitars and hard-hitting drums. It's loud, but the guitar has that impact you'd hope to get from a treble heavy setting, without losing the presence offered by the rhythm section. 

It's a versatile enough sound profile to enjoy pretty much any genre of music. There's enough bass there to shake your skull when you want to listen to some late 90s hip-hop, yet full orchestral suites are still a joy to listen to. It maybe isn't as exciting as some more bass-heavy or dynamic earphones, but Sennhesier does a good job.

The one thing we listen out for a lot in testing any headphones is the bass - and not just for pure volume of it, but the quality of it. Poor quality headphones can have lots of volume, but lack when it comes to control and detail. Sennheiser doesn't struggle at all on that front. Low bass holds its shape; while cut-through kick drums are delivered in a way that you can almost hear the bass drum's skin flexing as it's struck by the pedal.

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Sennheiser does allow you to adjust the sound through its mobile app, but sadly the equaliser is the same Sennheiser system used for all of its other headphones. It's designed to make it simple to find a profile quickly, by swiping a single button around the screen until you get the preferred balance of bass, mids and treble. It's difficult to get a precise balance though - we'd much prefer having individual adjustment on screen for individual frequency bands.

Verdict

Sennheiser has made one of the best sounding pairs of true wireless in-ears with the Momentum True Wireless 2. If what you want more than anything is incredibly well balanced sound that holds the bass together and offers great detail and clarity, look no further.

Where Sennheiser still struggles is in its design. These in-ears aren't the most comfortable to wear for long periods, given the fairly chunky design (despite having been redesigned to be slightly smaller than the previous model). 

We'd love to see a pair of True Wireless with the same sound, more advanced ANC capabilities, and a more ergonomic shape - because Sennheiser is so close to creating the perfect pair of in-ears.

You'll struggle to find anything that sounds as good though, while the improved battery life and additional noise-cancelling also means you're unlikely to find better performers either. Can't say better than that.

Alternatives to consider

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AirPods Pro

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Apple's latest AirPods have a revamped design that's super comfortable and have epic active noise cancelling. It's like being placed inside a noiseless vacuum. The sound may not be as good as Sennheiser's, but they're very convenient. 

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Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus

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For another pair focussed on sound and a radically different approach to design there's the MW07 Plus. The sound is out of this world when it comes to pure dynamic qualities. They sometimes push things a bit too far, but they're really exciting to listen to. 

Writing by Cam Bunton.