(Pocket-lint) - Sennheiser has plenty of wireless earbuds to choose from nowadays, but it's been a while since we've seen an update to its flagship line.
Now, with the Momentum True Wireless 3, the German audio giant is making its latest play at the top end of the market.
So, just how does the effort stand up to the industry's heavyweights, Sony, Apple and Beats? And are these a big improvement on the Momentum True Wireless 2?
We've been testing the earbuds in order to find out.
Sennheiser has updated its flagship earbuds very capably with the Momentum 3.
These are a clear step up from its last pair, with no real downsides and plenty of small improvements. That it's managed to do so while also cutting the price is even more impressive.
These earbuds look nicer, are more comfortable and still sound just as great, with better ANC than before and a very solid software experience.
Call quality might not be class-leading, but that's a common enough issue and one that shouldn't be a deal-breaker.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
- Smooth design
- Great case
- Excellent sound
- Improved ANC
- Suffer from wind noise
- Sub-par transparency mode
- Fabric case
- Available in black, grey or white
- IPX4 splash resistance
It's been a couple of years since the second-generation Momentum earbuds came out, and Sennheiser hasn't been sitting on its hands. While the charging cases don't look too dissimilar, opening up the newer version immediately reveals a nicer looking set of earbuds.
The Momentum 3 smooths out some of the hard edges that were present on the older versions, turning things into a really ergonomic package. You can pick them up in white, grey or black, and all three are impressively low-key.
There's an etched Sennheiser logo on the outside of each bud, where you'll be able to use simple touch controls, and, further into the earbud, there's a new rubber ring that you can swap out for different sizes that come in the box.
With a little ridge, it helps to get a secure fit in your outer ear but doesn't press hard at all, and we think it's a great way to make things comfortable and customisable. Pairing this with the more standard options for different-sized ear tips, you can make the earbuds fit a wide range of ear shapes and sizes.
This makes them more comfortable to wear for long stretches compared to the last generation, and, even after a couple of hours, we didn't really feel them pressing on our ear, which is an impressive mark to hit.
The buds and case are also now splash-resistant, which makes them more of an option if you want to be able to exercise with them - a welcome addition with no downsides for regular users. The only noticeable other change to the case is that the charging port is now on its front, not its back, which we can't say elicits strong feelings from us at all - it's fine!
As a package, the Momentum 3 is a great example of how refining a design can lead you to really impressive results.
- 7mm drivers
- Adaptive noise cancelling
- Full EQ control
The Momentum 2 already excelled in one major area - sound. That's made things easy for Sennheiser in some ways, but, thankfully, there's still some solid progress being made here.
The basic sound is impeccably balanced and clear without overpowering any one part of the spectrum. It means you get a nice richness to bassy notes and don't lose detail in the mids and highs, something that plagues so many headphones and earbuds.
It makes for a really nice experience listening to something more stripped back from the likes of Paul Simon, but, when you up the tempo and opt for some more modern sounds, things are just as impactful, making the Momentum 3 a great pick for those with eclectic taste.
There's the option for full equaliser control in Sennheiser's app, in case you do want to edit things, although we suspect most people won't feel the need.
With the Momentum 2, Sennheiser added Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and it's stepped that up a little for the new version. This is now adaptive, reacting to the noise around you to amp up its cancellation when it's needed, and dialling it down if you're in a quiet environment.
We can't say we noticed this adaptation too much - although, that might be a good thing, showing it's happening in the background. What we can say, though, is that the cancellation has generally gotten a nice bump since the last version. We noticed we were in more of a bubble, compared to the last generation, and were able to ignore the noise of public transport far more reliably.
One small negative note was that we found wind noise had an outsized impact on our sound when it was present, which can be a little distracting - even if it is far from a unique issue.
It might not be quite as seamless as the likes of the AirPods Pro, then, but this is a really impressive sonic package that gives you a good amount of control over how you listen and, generally, sounds excellent.
- Seven-hour battery life, 21 additional hours with the case
- Wireless charging
- Companion app
The Momentum 2 already offered pretty decent battery life, and Sennheiser kept it steady with up to seven hours on a single charge - more than enough for most people's listening needs, we would think.
You get a further three full charges in the carrying case, which is durable and makes us wish more manufacturers thought about finishing their cases in something other than metal or plastic. The case charges by either USB-C or wirelessly, making it nice and convenient, too.
Sennheiser's control app is really quite slick, too, connecting to the earbuds quickly and letting us change all manner of things to our liking. By default, we found the earbuds were turning on their transparency mode when we got them out of the case, which we could easily change.
That transparency mode, which amplifies the world around you for increased awareness, is a little jarring, though, and we found that it sounded tinny and static-y even in quiet rooms. Still, while we're not sure how much we'd use it, there's no harm in having the option if you're a runner or cyclist, say.
These are some really great earbuds - they're cheaper than the last version, have improved in-ear comfort and offer the same excellent sound with ANC that does a little bit more than before. There are some very minor foibles, but Sennheiser's Momentum 3 are an excellent pick for a reliable set of earbuds.