Sennheiser has finally entered the best wireless earbuds race. With the release of the Momentum True Wireless, the German audio icon has created an in-ear monitor with excellent sonics and smart features designed to compete against the Apple Airpods, and, well, everyone else. And while the final product isn't perfect, its sheer audio excellence makes it worth the rather expensive price.
Editor's note: On March 13, 2020, Sennheiser announced the Momentum True Wireless 2. They are rated for longer battery life, and add a bunch of features that the AirPods Pro have, such as active noise cancelling and Transparent Hearing mode.
Sennheiser is as adept in design as it is in sound. The Momentum True Wireless proves that, showcasing prime craftsmanship from the buds to the charging case.
Matte-black plastic makes up most of the construction, with a shiny emblazoned panel on the front featuring the company logo. It's not as fancy as the acetate and stainless steel employed on the Master & Dynamic MW07, but it upholds the brand's clean and minimalist design heritage. IPX4 certification also protects the buds from splash damage.
The Momentum True Wireless showcases prime craftsmanship from the buds to the charging case.
More enticing is the charging case, which resembles the Google Pixel 3's fabric phone case. The sleek gray fabric is refined and gives the package an elegant presence. I found it more convenient for travel than the MW07's charging case; a fingerprint magnet that's a hefty carry. The inside has magnetic stands that easily store and lock the buds in place to recharge on the go.
Bundled accessories are normally scarce for true wireless models, but Sennheiser gifts a handful of them, including three different ear tip sizes and a USB-C charging cable.
Comfort and Fit
Knowing the company's penchant for grade-A circuitry and sturdy aesthetics, I was surprised at how light these earbuds felt. They rested firmly on my concha without applying any unwanted pressure, and the ear tips ensured a cozy, pleasant fit.
The buds are listed at 0.2 ounces each. That is 0.1 ounces lighter than the MW07 (0.3 ounces), but you won't notice the difference. Sennheiser's case hits the scale at 2 ounces, whereas Master & Dynamic's case remains the heftier option at 2.7 ounces.
Control and Setup
I really like touch controls, especially when they support multiple functions and work well. Sennheiser meets me halfway; the touch controls allow for many commands, but the sensitive touch response confuses them most of the time.
Music management is reserved to the left earbud, which functions as follows: play/pause (1x tap), track forward (2x taps) and track backward (3x taps). The right earbud is for calls and the digital assistant. You can answer/end calls or enable the digital assistant with one tap. Two taps reject a call. Oddly, volume up/down is split between the two earbuds, with a long-press on the left (lower volume) or right (raise volume) to adjust.
Despite the controls having an intermediate learning curve, the real issue is their lack of accuracy. Trying to pause a song would often skip it, and attempting to raise the volume would fire up the digital assistant.
The touch controls allow for many commands, but the sensitive touch response confuses them most of the time.
Connecting the earbuds is simple. Touch both buds for 5 seconds until you hear the "Pairing" prompt. From there, access your Bluetooth settings, select "Momentum TW," and wait for a connection. I connected to my MacBook Pro quickly, but had issues with my Pixel 2XL and 3XL. A connection error alert popped up on both screens every time. One workaround was to pair the devices through the Sennheiser Connect app.
The Momentum True Wireless is the best-sounding pair of true wireless earbuds I've tested. It combines spacious sound with top Bluetooth codecs (aptX Low Latency) to offer an amazing listening experience across all compatible devices.
Sennheiser engineered powerful 7mm drivers for these earbuds, which shows when listening to bass-heavy content. I queued up Eric B. and Rakim's "Follow The Leader" and was awestruck by how well balanced the lows sounded. Most earbuds accentuate the track's throbbing bass line and muffle Rakim's vocals, but these buds let them breathe, creating a pleasant, warm sound. There was minor distortion coming from the MW07 and the Jabra Elite 65t.
Transitioning into other genres of music, like alternative rock and jazz, the Momentum True Wireless still delivered lively results. Listening to Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" was intense, as I could feel the anguish in Chris Cornell's voice over the ominous guitar riffs. Sonny Rollins' instrument-centric "Moritat (Mack the Knife)" also provided plenty of depth – the symphonic frequencies that reverberated throughout the track sounded clear and sharp.
The Momentum True Wireless is the best-sounding pair of true wireless earbuds I've tested.
Regarding sound, the only other pair of earbuds that give the Momentum True Wireless a run for its money is the MW07. Master & Dynamic's sound profile and super-powerful 10mm drivers are praiseworthy, but subtle differences in bass response and clarity give Sennheiser the edge. The Elite 65t does produce great sonics, but not at the level of these other two models.
Sennheiser Smart Control App
Sennheiser Smart Control isn't pre-loaded with several customization options like the Jabra Sound+ or the Jaybird MySound apps, but it's useful for tweaking EQ levels. You'll find some other nifty features that can be toggled from within the app, such as Transparency Mode and Smart Pause, which silences the buds when removed from your ear. The app's overall design is clean and sleek, much like the earbuds themselves, and easy to navigate.
Most true wireless earbuds aren't designed to block out noise. The Momentum True Wireless is the exception and it does it surprisingly well. The ear tips do a great job of forming a tight seal, which is key for silencing your surroundings. I walked by the intercom in my apartment hallway a few times and didn't notice delivery people buzzing my door. When outside, the occasional fire truck horn and police siren were audible, but not loud enough to break my concentration when watching YouTube videos.
More and more earbuds are featuring ambient-listening modes – Sennheiser refers to its own as Transparency Mode. The feature works decently well. It doesn't compromise audio output, so you'll still enjoy music while eavesdropping on strangers' conversations. But don't expect to hear someone hollering your name from across the street.
Digital Assistant Support
Sennheiser's two-mic beamforming technology is top-notch and picks up speech well enough to summon Google Assistant or Siri (depending on your device) for hands-free commands. Launching the digital assistant operates just as smoothly as on the MW07, although both IEMs falter in drafty conditions. My other complaint against the Momentum earbuds is that it usually requires two to three attempts before the buds register the function. But when it worked, Google Assistant answered my questions and opened programs without a hitch.
Sennheiser doesn't hide the fact that these buds have subpar battery life; a full charge supposedly provides 4 hours of playback. It's more like 3 to 3.5 hours, which places it in the same company as the MW07 (3.5 hours), but under the AirPods (5 hours) and the Elite 65t (5 hours). It's sufficient for two to three days of commuting, but not a cross-country flight.
The carry case promises up to 12 extra hours of juice, but that pales in comparison to other cases, like the Sol Republic Amps Air 2.0 (45-plus hours) and, again, the AirPods (24 hours). Even with USB-C charging, it still takes 90 minutes to fully power the buds. I also noticed the case overheats during charges.
Call Quality and Connectivity
As a calling headset, the Momentum True Wireless is a step up from most of the competition. Vocals were crisp and full. The mics helped neutralize noise, allowing callers to hear me clearly when strolling through busy streets.
On the flip side, Bluetooth 5.0 wasn't as stable as I would have liked. The buds struggled to communicate with my smartphone, though they connected instantly to my laptop. Another issue was range. Stutter became noticeable around the 30-foot mark, which is standard performance for Bluetooth 4.2 devices, not the latest Bluetooth protocol.
At $300, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds are an expensive investment, but one that provides category-leading sound and great call quality. The deep, wide soundstage is slightly better than the MW07's, creating a neutral-listening environment to hear most of the details on a recording. However, unpolished controls and weak battery performance hold the earbuds back from their full potential.
Can you find other models with great comfort and performance at nearly half the price? Yes. The Elite 65t is our current favorite, listed at $150. Just know that Sennheiser's sound quality is superior and more rewarding, especially if you have the money to splurge.
Credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide