By Ali Pardiwala | Updated: 3 April 2019 10:23 IST
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earphones are big, yet not too heavy
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless is expensive at Rs. 24,990
It’s one of the rare sets of true wireless earphones to support aptX
Sound quality is top-notch, as are design and build quality
Truly wireless earphones are convenient, and are usually the most comfortable option due to the absence of wires. They are also are undeniably cooler than headphones with old-fashioned headbands and wires.
However, this option usually comes at a premium, and the price of a decent pair of truly wireless earphones is typically the same as that of bigger and more capable over-ear options. You then have to decide whether the form factor is worth the premium. If you've made the decision to go entirely wire-free, then the next question to answer is how far you're willing to stretch your budget.
If the answer is ‘as much as it takes', take a look at the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless. The Momentum range is well-known to anyone who follows Sennheiser, representing its premium products that bring together design, features, and performance.
The Momentum True Wireless is priced at Rs. 24,990, which is significantly higher than all the other products in the truly wireless segment that we've reviewed to date. Is this the gold standard of truly wireless earphones, as the price suggests, or this simply far too much money for a big brand name? Find out in our review of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earphones.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless design and specifications
Like pretty much every other pair of truly wireless earphones, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless features two earbuds and a case to charge them and store them in when not in use. The sales package also includes a USB Type-C cable to charge the case with, and a total of four pairs of eartips, along with the manuals. All the eartips are made of silicone; at this price, we expect better foam eartips to also be included in the box. What's more, we didn't get a good fit from any of the four included pairs of eartips, though your mileage may obviously vary.
The earbuds of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are significantly larger that most other options in this segment, but have plastic casings that keep them light enough to stay in your ears in most use cases. The instruction manuals recommended that we twist the buds into place, and this helped achieve a comfortable, noise-isolating fit despite the eartips being less-than-ideal. Unlike the sleek and compact Nokia True Wireless Earbuds, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earphones are quite visible, sticking out of the ears.
The outer ends of the earbuds have a metallic finish with a pattern of concentric circles and the Sennheiser logo etched in the centre. These panels are touch-sensitive, and you can use them to control playback and volume, answer or reject calls, or trigger the voice assistant on your phone — the feature works with both Siri and Google Assistant.
The controls are a bit complicated, and we often triggered the wrong command because we couldn't remember the number of taps or the correct earbud to tap on for a particular action. Over time, we did get used to the control scheme. Adjusting the volume was the most convenient action, but to skip to the next or previous track, we found it a lot easier to reach for our source device. The microphone holes are at the bottoms of each bud, enabling hands-free use.
The inner surfaces of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds have contact points for charging, status indicator lights, and sensors that are used to implement the automatic pause and resume functions when you remove and insert the earbuds into your ears. Removing both buds also paused music, but it wouldn't resume unless we put both back. The feature worked reliably enough, and we found it useful when we needed to quickly get a sense of our surroundings or talk to someone.
A similarity we found to the Nokia True Wireless Earbuds is the fact that only the right earbud can be used on its own; the left one needs the right one to be active and connected to the source device to receive an audio signal. This also meant that the right earbud's battery would drain a bit faster — something we confirmed through the Sennheiser Smart Control app, which shows the individual battery levels of each earbud as exact percentages.
The app — available for both Android and iOS — also allowed us to tweak equaliser settings and enable a few interesting features. Transparent Hearing mode activates the microphones and allows outside sounds to play through the earphones while you're listening to music, so you aren't isolated from your surroundings. The Smart Pause function — mentioned earlier as the feature that pauses playback when the earbuds are removed from the ears — can also be deactivated through the app.
The charging and storage case features an interesting fabric wrap that we quite liked, along with a rubber-printed Sennheiser logo at the top. The earbuds fit into perfectly shaped cutouts inside the case. Right below the hinge at the back is the USB Type-C port to charge the case, along with an indicator light and battery level button. Pressing the button illuminates the light, but it can only indicate if the charge is above 50 percent, below 50 percent, or close to empty. It doesn't give much information, and we wound up charging the case as soon as the level dropped below 50 percent just to be on the safe side.
The earbuds are claimed to run for four hours on a single charge, and to take 1 hour and 45 minutes to charge back up. The case is said to offer two additional full charges to the earbuds. During our review, we were able to exceed the usage time on the earbuds, with them running for four and a half hours before needing to be charged. The case was easily able to give us two full charges of the earbuds, with a total runtime of close to 14 hours starting with both the earbuds and the case fully charged.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earphones feature Bluetooth 5 support, have a frequency response range of 5-21,000Hz, and are IPX4 rated for water resistance. The Momentum True Wireless is also a rare example of truly wireless earphones with support for the high-quality aptX and aptX Low Latency Bluetooth codecs as well as the AAC and SBC codecs.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless performance
The high price of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earphones is largely down to the concept of diminishing returns in terms of quality for audio equipment. Beyond a point, the cost of each incremental performance improvement goes up by a significant amount, and this soon begins to feel disproportionate to the perceived improvement. One thing was clear though — the Momentum True Wireless earphones did sound much better than any other truly wireless earphones we've tested, even if that improvement comes at a significantly higher cost.
We tested the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earphones primarily with a OnePlus 6T (Review) as the source device, which was able to use the aptX codec for audio streaming over Bluetooth. We also connected the earphones to our MacBook Air to test audio quality with the SBC codec.
While the quality of the drivers and tuning did ensure good sound even with the SBC codec, the true extent of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless' capabilities was heard only when using the aptX codec. Listening to Marcus Marr's The Music on Spotify at roughly the same volume level through both source devices, the OnePlus 6T using aptX was able to offer better sonic separation between the left and right channels, a superior sound stage, tighter bass, more sparkle in the highs, and a sound that was audibly cleaner, sharper, and more defined. The busy nature of the track, and the exciting and fast paced interplay between the left and right channels made it objectively better-sounding when using aptX.
We found the sonic signature to be pleasant for all genres, adhering to the classic V-shaped sound that brings out the best in most popular types of music. The earbuds were also capable of loud volumes. When we played Iron by Woodkid, we heard the track in a new light that gave us a new sense of enjoyment. The lows were tight, yet punchy when needed, while the highs brought out the timbre of the instruments in this track. Woodkid's gentle voice had a strong sense of purpose to it, feeling at home among the strong highs and lows.
Moving on to Disco Ballin' by Discotron, the attacking and driven nature of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earphones was brought out. The punch in the sub-bass resonated audibly and clearly, without overpowering the rest of the instruments or even the softer-than-usual vocals in this lively disco-inspired electronic track. The sound stage was particularly noticeable, giving the impression of direction despite the sound coming from two-channel 7mm drivers.
We also listened to some high-resolution tracks to put the earphones through a slightly more rigorous test, particularly to see how aptX handles the higher amount of audio data in these files. One of our favourite test tracks, Anxiety from the Touched By Tango Sensations series by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, didn't sound quite as good as on the Sony WH-1000XM3, which we currently regard as the best wireless headphones, and are priced only slightly higher than the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless.
The smaller drivers on the Sennheiser earphones don't seem to be able to bring out all the detail in this track, and it's here that Sennheiser finally shows weakness. It isn't necessarily fair to compare these two very different kinds of headphones, but this does illustrate that even the most premium truly wireless earphones will have some limitations.
Call quality was also good with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earphones, with the microphones doing a decent job of capturing our voice on most voice calls.
Verdict Truly wireless earphones do command a price premium, but Sennheiser takes this to another level with the Momentum True Wireless. At Rs. 24,990, these earphones are more expensive than anything else we've tested recently by a fair margin. However, that much money does buy you excellent sound, and makes these earphones the best-sounding option in the truly wireless category that we've had a chance to test. There's a lot that goes into this, including good drivers, Bluetooth 5 and aptX, the last of which is still a rarity in this category.
Yet, it's hard to get over the cost. At around this price, it's possible to buy excellent around-the-ear headphones such as the Sony WH-1000XM3, which offer better sound quality and additional features such as active noise cancellation. Indeed, nearly Rs. 25,000 is a huge amount to pay for the convenience of truly wireless earphones, especially when sound quality isn't the best for the price (when you throw in other types of headphones), and there are also small issues with the fit and on-board controls.
However, if you're willing to pay a premium, want the convenience of this fit and style, and want to compromise as little as possible on sound quality, then the Sennheiser should be your top pick in this segment. The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless is a rare example of a headset that doesn't sacrifice too much sound quality for this form factor.
Is Samsung Galaxy S10+ the best Android flagship overall? Are Samsung Galaxy Buds the best truly wireless headphones in India? We discussed these things on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
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