Fully wireless earbuds – i.e. earbuds with Bluetooth and no connecting wires – are becoming increasingly popular across the market. Many of us at Ausdroid have made the move to the fully wireless lifestyle and I for one don’t want to go back for 90% of my listening needs.
With the increase in popularity, we are beginning to see more choices in the market and at the top end of the market, Sennheiser has introduced their Momentum True Wireless earbuds. Given Sennheiser’s reputation and pedigree in headphones, they immediately caught our attention.
With a premium build, materials and specs to match, they look like they should be contenders at the upper end of the market.
So what does Sennheiser’s new entry into the wireless earbuds space offer? Read on to find out.
Momentum represents a premium expression of the fully wireless earbud form factor. The feeling starts with the carry case, which also is used to charge the earbuds from a USB-C port.
Sennheiser has wrapped the case in a hard-wearing fabric not unlike the fabric we see in Google’s Home devices. It lends the case a personal, tactile quality that makes tut feel more connected to it and more likely to take care of it and bring it with you; that feeling might not be there if it was soft touch plastic.
The earbuds themselves are minimal and lightweight, yet somehow feel precisely made. There are milled metal touch controls on each earbud, and small touches like magnets that firmly keep the earbuds in place in the case until you pull them out.
Each bud has 4 hours of battery life, and the case holds a further 8 hours charge per ear, all up you can listen for 12 hours without having to plug the charging case back in but you’ll have to pause to let the earbuds charge – from empty, a full charge takes around 1.5 hours.
In the box you also get the customary set of ear tips, allowing you to find the perfect size rubber tip for your ears. Personally, I found the smallest set worked for me, holding the earbuds firmly in place deep within my ears. As we’ve seen with other earbuds, choosing the right tips can also reduce the amount of ambient noise that gets in while listening too.
In daily use, the Momentum True Wireless earbuds don’t disappoint.
The Momentum earbuds were always comfortable to wear. Everyone’s ears are different, so fit is going to vary from person to person. Sennheiser does have a notable difference in “fall out ability” from a design perspective.
Thanks to the lightweight nature and the shaping of each earbud I found that once inserted properly (using the twist in method), in regular use, the earbuds never felt like they were going to fall out.
Depending on what I was doing this might be a little different – during yard work and sweating or running, the buds didn’t feel as secure and I often felt the need to adjust them, bit they never actually fell out.
That’s not a deal breaker for me, I don’t often do yard work (thankfully) and the Momentum earbuds were never marketed as sports earbuds. I didn’t expect them to perform in those situations. I probably wouldn’t advise using premium high-end earbuds for anything that’s going to generate sweat or moisture near them, but that’s more about protecting your investment.
One bud to control them all
One interesting thing about fully wireless earbuds is that one bud is normally the “master”, meaning that it is the one that connects to your phone and the other earbud then connects to it.
Why does this matter? If you like to listen with only one ear, something I do often when I’m doing the dishes for instance and still need awareness of what’s going on in my house. The issue is, when you only have one earbud you also only have ½ the controls.
Each earbud can control the interaction with your phone in different ways. Here’s the list of control features supported by the Momentums.
|Left Earbud||Right Earbud|
|One Tap||Play/ Pause||Accept call/ Voice assistant|
|Two Taps||Next track||Reject call/ toggle transparent hearing|
|3 Taps||Previous track||–|
|Hold||Volume Down||Volume Up|
My only complaint with this setup is that with single ear listening you lose the play/pause control, and in my experience that is the most used function. In the end, I just ended up using the Assistant integration to play/pause, it’s a little slower and can interrupt an unexpected conversation you find yourself in, but it’s not a huge issue.
What I’d love to see in the ability to customise what each bud can do. Perhaps I’d like play/pause, assistant and volume controls all on the right? Other people may want something different. A little customization via the app would be an excellent addition.
It would be bordering on a complete loss if one of the best features of a set of headphones wasn’t their audio quality – rest assured it is. As you would expect from any Sennheiser product the sound is excellent.
Now, physics comes into play here. These are small, battery-powered Bluetooth headphones so you’re not going to get the kind of sound reproduction from there that you would get from a set of over the ear cans.
What you do get is audio on par with the best earbuds I’ve ever heard, and better than most I’ve tried.
Out of the box, the buds are well tuned, and music sounded excellent to my 42-year-old untrained ears. For those who want a little more control or prefer to tune their listening experience the Sennheiser Smart Control app lets you adjust the EQ to your preference.
The app also offers minor control for some of the features, and is the portal for firmware updates. Out of the box I got a firmware update.
Transparent hearing is one of the additional features that you can control via the app. When activate the feature it lets you hear the outside world either mixed in with your audio or as a pass through.
WHAT’S IT LESS GOOD AT?
There were a few niggling issues I had with the earbuds. But honestly I think it’s more a limitation on the form factor than Sennheisers execution overall.
As nice as the charging case is with its fabric, magnets and USB C port it’s also just a bit big. Having used several fully wireless earbuds, the case is a big part of the deal.
What’s the issue? It’s a bit bulky. The Sennheiser case is larger than some of its competitors, and the “boxy” shape makes it a bit of a pocket brick.
If you’re like me, you’re going to carry these things everywhere and the case will have to go with them either to hold the earbuds if you remove them, or to recharge them and extend the listening time. When I go to the shops it’s in my pocket, if I’m heading to a meeting they’re coming with me.
A smaller, sleeker case would be nice.
No power button
The earbuds have no on/off button. To turn them on you take them out of the case, to turn them off you put them back in. That’s not a huge deal on its own but if the case is out of juice it won’t turn them off. What’s more, when the case does go flat the earbuds seem to turn on.
I’m okay with the no on/off button in theory, however, it would be nice if the case could turn off the earbuds even when flat. After all, there’s magnets to hold the buds in place.
Because of the size of this style of earbuds battery life isn’t massive on a single charge. Fully wireless earbuds seem best for use through the day use where you can listen for a short while and then pop them back into the case and get a top up – maybe as you head into a meeting.
If you’re looking for something to last on a long flight, for instance, these just aren’t built for that, there’s just not enough room for any more charge.
This isn’t a negative, really – rather a limitation of physics. You should consider the length of time you’re likely to want to use the earbuds for, and whether your usage will fit this pattern.
I have to admit I’m a fan of the fully wireless earbud trend. Despite my love of the headphone jack and my overall disdain for Bluetooth as a protocol, the utility of a good set of wireless earbuds is unbeatable.
After spending a month with Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless earbuds I think they are one of the best implementations of that form factor. The design, audio quality and just overall feel of the buds and case is superb.
Should you get a set? I would happily recommend these to anyone. They are a premium product though, and as such they carry a premium price tag.
At $499 AUD they are not an impulse buy for most people, but as a high-end pairing of Sennheiser’s sound quality and engineering prowess with fully wireless earbuds they will definitely serve you well.