(Pocket-lint) - It feels like only yesterday that we tried out Sennheiser's standard CX True Wireless earbuds - because, frankly, it almost was - as it's only been a few months since they were released. But there's already a new version of these earbuds to consider.
These aren't a replacement, though, they're just an upgraded option. The CX Plus True Wireless add active noise-cancelling (ANC) for those who are happy to pay a little bit more for the down-out-the-outside-world tech, otherwise bringing an almost identical suite of pros and cons to the table.
A familiar design
- Available in black or white finishes
- Weight: 6g per earbud; 35g case (47g in total)
If you read our review of the last CX True Wireless, or you've seen them out in the wild, then you've effectively also seen the CX Plus - nearly nothing has changed on the design front, apart from a glossier finish on the 'buds where they're controlled.
That means you still get an all-plastic build that is simple and functional, with touch-based controls on each earbud. There's a medium-sized charging case compared to the competition, which has shed a tiny 2g in this model somehow.
Each earbud is slighty chunky, but they're very light and therefore offer decent comfort levels, with a good seal on offer once you've tried out the various sizes of included eartips.
There are LED indicators on each earbud's inside to let you know if they're in pairing mode or connected, which come in handy, and also a light on the case itself to give you an idea of charge levels, which we similarly appreciate.
That said, the CX Plus aren't exactly lookers - they're generic in a way that means you might like how they don't stand out from the crowd, but they're also a little boring to look at and therefore wear. Still, nothing was broken here, and therefore nothing has needed fixing.
- 7mm dynamic driver
- 5Hz-21,000 Hz frequency response
- Active noise cancellation
As we've mentioned, there's really one headline addition that makes the cut here: the new active noise cancellation (ANC) tech. It gives you an extra bit of extra isolation when you're listening to the earbuds.
The market is increasingly adjusting to the point where ANC is a must-have in any top-end earbuds, but wallet-friendly options like these are also often managing to include the feature. It's a welcome move, even if you'll find much more impressive versions of ANC elsewhere.
Microphones on the outside of the CX Plus monitor the noise levels around you and help to cancel out background noise while you're listening, in effect. It works pretty well, filtering out the sorts of annoying noises like spinning fans or road traffic that could disrupt your focus.
However, we did a whole lot of toggling between on and off with the CX Plus' ANC and found it a mixed bag. The earbuds do a good job of passively reducing noise thanks to a solid seal anyway, so adding ANC into the mix wasn't always transformative.
That's a bit of a backhanded compliment - a good seal is a good thing, after all. Still, it does make us think that you'll probably be fine with the standard CX True Wireless and an extra £20 in your wallet.
Elsewhere, actual audio quality is unchanged, and therefore still entirely satisfactory at this price point. Sennheiser has managed to create a balanced profile that copes well across genres and styles, while the bass offering is capable too.
The CX Plus won't blow you away, but they are pretty likely to leave you quietly satisfied with your purchase.
A solid interface
- 8 hours of playtime per charge, 24 including case
- Customisation via Sennheiser Smart Control App
It's a repetitive tune, but the interface side of things is another area that's unchanged between versions of these earbuds. You once again can use Sennheiser's decent app for a more in-depth set of controls over your earbuds.
That's more useful this time around since you might want to change how you turn ANC on and off, since it won't always be needed and Sennheiser says it does affect the earbuds' battery performance. We found that performance once again very impressive compared to fancier options, although it's slightly shorter in all areas than the standard version by comparison.
Connectivity is rock-solid in our experience, but microphone quality is middling to the point where you might not really want to take calls using the earbuds - which is true of far too many options on the market (and an area where AirPods are very tempting).
The CX Plus True Wireless is the definition of a small upgrade, with one key feature added - active noise-cancelling (ANC) - but no radical changes elsewhere.
And while the price jump that Sennheiser has given to accommodate ANC is pretty minor, we still aren't totally sure it's the default pick compared to its cheaper sibling (the one without the ANC).
However, whichever Sennheiser pair you opt for you'll get good sound and solid comfort, all at a pretty fair price, so you can't really lose. It just comes down to whether you're interested in ANC enough to make that extra bit of cash worth it.
Nothing Ear 1
For a competing earbud that also offers ANC at an attractive price, the Nothing Ear 1 is a much more distinct-looking bit of tech, taking design notes from all over the shop to make something that really does look pretty unique. It also sounds great, undercuts Sennheiser nicely on price, although its availability is much more of an open question depending on where you look.