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Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review: Better ANC for less

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds are a little smaller and a little more affordable, making them a better buy altogether

Sennheiser Momentum TW 3 in office
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

This third generation is the most competitive Momentum True Wireless yet — but that’s not to say there’s no competition…

Pros

  • +

    Balanced, informative and convincing sound

  • +

    Good noise-cancellation

  • +

    Compact design

  • +

    Great control options

Cons

  • -

    Some will hanker after greater bass presence

  • -

    No multi-point connectivity

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3: Specs

Colors: Black; white; graphite

Battery life (rated): 7 hours (ANC off); 24 hours (charging case with ANC off)

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 (codec: SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive)

Water resistance: Yes (IPX4 rated)

Size: Not specified

Weight: 0.21 ounces (per bud); 2.33 ounces (charging case)

The first two generations of Sennheiser’s Momentum true wireless premium earbuds sounded great and were superior noise-cancellers, but they were gawkily large, had mediocre battery life and were priced a bit too high.

For this third generation, Sennheiser has shrunk the earbuds, and tidied them up while it’s at it, and managed to hold the price down to a level most realistic rivals compete at. Battery life is good. Control options are both extensive and reliable, and the app is great. Noise-cancellation, especially where wind is concerned, is competitive. And the sound is a combination of fanatical attention to detail, a naturalistic approach to rhythms and tempos, and a very pleasant unity of tonality.

To find out more about how these third-gen true wireless earbuds perform, read on.

Earbuds with charge case on a white brick surface

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review: Price and availability 

  • Competitive pricing
  • Three color options

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 are priced at $249 / £219 / AU$399 and available in black, white and graphite color options.

This is a more attainable price than the Momentum True Wireless 2 launched at, it’s true, but it’s nevertheless a premium price. All the biggest and most obvious names — Bose, Sony, Apple — have a model in this particular fight. So ‘more affordable than before’ doesn’t let Sennheiser off the hook here, not by a long chalk.

Sennheiser earbuds in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review: Design 

  • Lighter and less bulky design than predecessors
  • 7mm dynamic driver

It’s always been easy to characterize Sennheiser’s true wireless designs as a little bulky and ungainly — which is why everyone always does. So the knowledge that the Momentum True Wireless 3 are 16% smaller than the model they replace, making them a lot less gawky-looking too, is positive news.

At 0.21 ounces each they’re far from the lightest earbuds around, mind you. The form-factor is altogether smoother and more discreet than past models, though, and the look is altogether more understated than the outgoing Momentum True Wireless 2. So where ‘design’ is concerned, the TW3 have to count as an improvement. And despite this altogether tidier enclosure, Sennheiser has still found room for a 7mm ‘TrueResponse’ full-range dynamic driver in each.

Sennheiser earbuds on cartoon background

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review: Comfort and fit

  • Good comfort even when wearing for long periods
  • Secure fit

The Momentum True Wireless 3 wear their 0.21 ounce weight quite lightly. The ergonomic shape is augmented by a rubber stabilizer on each earbud (the packaging contains two pairs of different sizes), and in tandem with the choice of silicone eartips it’s the work of a moment to achieve a snug, stable and entirely comfortable fit. Once that’s done, the Sennheiser stay comfortable for hour after hour. And thanks to their IPX4 rating, they’ll stay comfortable in all realistic conditions.

Lady dancing wearing earbuds

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review: Controls 

  • Reliable touch controls
  • Useful control app with plenty of features

There’s a capacitive touch-surface on each earbud, and they prove both responsive and reliable. Dealing with the basics (Play/Pause, Volume up/down, Skip forwards/backwards, Answer/End/Reject Call and cycling through noise-cancellation options) is straightforward. There’s no built-in voice-assistant here, and consequently no wake-word — but should you summon your player’s native assistant, interaction is equally reliable. 

Sennheiser’s splendid Smart Control app offers a stack of options. From reassigning the touch-controls and choosing your default noise-cancellation preference (Adaptive, Off, Anti Wind or Transparency), it’s simple to customize your Momentum True Wireless 3 experience. There are several EQ presets, an option to create your own using a three-band equalizer, the facility to create Sound Zones that can automatically adjust your earbuds’ settings relative to the zone you’re in, and more besides.

Sennheiser control app

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review: Sound quality 

  • Insightful and balanced sound
  • At times, bass is a little too polite and lacking punch

As with any headphones with EQ adjustment available in their control app, it’s possible to adjust the sound of the Momentum True Wireless 3 and save the parameters to personal presets. It's a useful tool that allows you to tinker the sound output to your own tastes, but this test is conducted, for the most part, with EQ settings 'flat' — just as Sennheiser's engineers intended.

It’s possible to tease an awful lot of information out of the Sennheiser about their overall attitude with a listen to a Tidal Masters file of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ "Turn Your Lights Down Low" so that’s as good a place as any to start.

The TW3 are a poised and dextrous listen, able to give the characteristically choppy rhythm full expression while keeping the eased-back tempo moving forwards. The soundstage they generate is expansive, wide-open and properly organized — so every element of the recording gets sufficient elbow-room to do its thing unhindered.

Throughout the frequency range, the Sennheiser retain a gratifying amount of information. They do particularly good work with transients, but in every circumstance the TW3 let you know exactly what’s going on. The midrange, in particular, is packed with information, so what’s an already characterful vocal is absolutely explicit via these earbuds.

Man wearing Sennheiser earbuds

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

The top of the frequency range is rolled off just a fraction, and the bottom end is a little short of the sort of punch many listeners consider to be essential — nevertheless, the overall tonal balance is nicely judged and every element gets just what it needs to sound right.

Alter the mood somewhat with a 16-bit/44.1kHz stream of "Silkworm" by Giant Swan, and while all the positives remain in place — even the overall unity of performance, which is by no means a given when dealing with a laptop-and-headphones confection like this — the few shortcomings are rather spotlit too. Basically, the Momentum True Wireless 3 are too polite and too considerate to just sink their teeth into a recording — and the result is that this tune ends up sounding rather ambivalent when really its eyes should be out on stalks. The bottom end is the culprit: it’s textured, detailed and enjoys decent extension, but it simply doesn’t hit hard enough or with sufficient purpose. Dialing in more bass using the EQ doesn’t help — bass becomes more dominant but it doesn’t get any harder.

Sennheiser control app

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review: Noise Cancelling and Transparency Mode

  • Effective ANC with strong resistance to wind noise
  • Slight sonic shift when noise cancelling is active

Noise-cancellation is very competitive — and the Anti Wind setting that’s available in the control app is among the very best of its type. The earbuds protrude slightly from each ear, and the outer casing seems prone to catching gusts of wind. But with the Anti Wind mode enabled while stood on an exposed and blowy train station platform, it was very effective at making the sound of the wind disappear. 

The TW3 do alter their sonic attitude just a little when ANC is switched on and the bass has slightly less definition, but it’s by no means a fundamental change. 

Transparency mode is good and as with its predecessor, it's very useful for close-range interactions, like speaking to someone face-to-face, but was less effective at pulling out station platform announcements during train commutes or more distant interactions. Unlike its predecessor, though, the level of transparency can now be adjusted, allowing you to control the amount of background noise that's let in. Another app customization option enables you to pause music when Transparency Mode is switch on.

Sennheiser earbuds with open charging case

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review: Battery life 

  • 7 hours battery life from a single charge (without ANC) 
  • 28 hours battery life (with charging case)

The Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds themselves hold the thick end of seven hours of power. The 2.33 ounce charging case holds a further three full charges, and like the earbuds themselves, is smaller than its predecessors.  

28 hours, all in, isn’t a bad total at all — certainly it should prove sufficient for the majority of users — and 10 min charging gives 1 hour of music playtime. There’s no getting around the fact, though, that the equivalent Sonys will last longer — and when you’re totting up Points of Difference, well, here’s another one.

Sennheiser control app

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review: Call quality and connectivity 

  • 6 mics in total
  • Codec support includes aptX Adaptive

The TW3 have three mics per earbud, beam-forming to reduce noise, and when it comes to call quality there’s very little to grumble about. In extremis, when the noise-reduction circuitry is working hard, incoming voices can take on a slightly metallic quality, but they’ve never less than intelligible. 

Wireless connectivity is via Bluetooth 5.2, and there’s compatibility with SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive codecs. Stability is never an issue, unless you wander a significant distance from your source player, and synchronization between audio and video is solid. The lack of multi-point connectivity is disappointing, though.  

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review: Verdict

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 get almost everything right — some listeners will want more assertive low frequencies, and some listeners may well want to pair their earbuds with two devices at once — which means means that some listeners may be disappointed. But for the rest of us seeking the best sound quality from a pair of wireless earbuds, though, the TW3s are one more option to add to our shortlist and deserve to be given your full attention.

Simon is a freelance technology journalist and consultant, with particular emphasis on the audio/video aspects of home entertainment. Before embracing the carefree life of the freelancer, he was editor of What Hi-Fi? – since then, he's written for titles such as Wired, Metro, The Guardian and Stuff, among many others. Given time, Simon likes nothing more than publishing and then quickly deleting tweets about the state of the nation (in general), the state of Aston Villa (in particular) and the state of his partner's cat.