When we reviewed the original Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless Earbuds the true wireless earbud category had just come out of its nascent days and had emerged as a legitimate and ongoing trend. I made the switch a few years ago, and despite my enduring love of a 3.5mm headphone jack 90 percent of my portable entertainment is delivered via true wireless earbuds.
So have the Momentum 2 improved on the original or delivered more of the same, which was pretty good to start with? That would be giving it all away with Sennheisers premium heritage and experience with making the top of the line headphones rest assured there’s a lot to like.
So how do the MOMENTUM 2 stack up in 2020? Read on to find out.
Like last year, the MOMENTUM 2 are a premium expression of wireless earbuds. Let’s run through the list of what we expect in a premium earbud:
- Top of the line finish — check
- Premium charging case — check
- Premium audio — check
- They charge using USB-C — check
The two precisely machined wireless earbuds are as well made and precise as you’d expect. These are not simply moulded, they’re engineered into being. It’s the little touches, the milled metal button, the slightly raised lip, the seamless body.
These are the hallmarks of a company who know how to make a product. A darker hue of fabric adorns this year’s case, and for my tastes I prefer it. The magnets make a return to hold the earbuds in tight and the case closed even with an accidental drop or 4.
The MOMENTUM 2 comes packaged with a standard array of adjustable tips to get that perfect fit in your ear canal. One again I opted for the smaller tip, letting me jamb these suckers deep within my ears and reduce the feeling that they may fall out.
Battery life is a nice improvement with 7 hours per bud and 21 additional hours in the case. In my real-world testing, I found this to be about right. I listened intermittently all day and still had a little left the following day, not bad.
I am a relatively heavy podcast listener with a solid rotation of daily and weekly shows. This means that I’m always reaching for my earbuds to fit in just a few minutes of listening to keep on top of my ever growing back catalogue. As such I give my earbuds a solid workout.
Like last year the earbuds are light and with the small tips, I felt fitted very well within my ear. The body of the earbuds sit loosely in your outer ear and despite them never falling out once I was often worried that they might. I think this is a combination of their lightweight and loose-fitting design, unlike other earbuds they don’t “clip” into your outer ears: again they never actually fell out though, not even once.
The MOMENTUM 2 isn’t suitable for heavy exercise but they never fell out for me with walking / chasing after my daughter on a bike, or other mild physical activity. I use the twist in method when inserting so I do “corkscrew” my earbuds right into place.
Just like last year, however, I’m not sure these premium earbuds aren’t really intended for the hot and sweaties. They are IPx4 rated, but these are almost too nice to get mucky.
Active Noise Cancellation
That’s right, the MOMENTUM 2 brings ANC to the mix this year. While I don’t expect ANC from a set of earbuds this size it can be a nice feature. I find sound isolation very effective with fully wireless earbuds.
Sound isolation is simply jamming things in your ears so other sounds don’t get through. If you can get a good fit with the ear tips the ambient noise is already reduced. As you might expect the ANC on the MOMENTUM 2 is mild at best.
In a silent room when activated you notice the white noise effect and slight pressure on your eardrums, so there’s no question if the system is active. However, in my simulated airplane flight (playing airplane noses via YouTube on the TV) I only noticed a slight reduction in ambient noise after turning on ANC.
From my perspective, ANC is a nice to have but I’d prefer longer battery life to mild ANC performance. If I was in a situation where I wanted good ANC I’d likely reach for over-ear headphones not fully wireless earbuds.
Last year one big issue for me was the inability to customise what each earbud controlled. I often only wear only one earbud and so I want easy access to Play/Pause, Assistant and volume. I asked for the ability to customise what each bud could control.
Well, bugger me if Sennheiser didn’t deliver. Now we’re 100 percent certain that this added feature is based purely on our review so you’re welcome world.
Using the Sennheiser app you can customise both the left and right earbud controls to anything you want. You have 4 controls per side, single tap, double-tap, triple tap and long hold. Having the ability just completely removed a frustration from the originals and I only wish other OEMs would follow in their footsteps.
Sennheiser unsurprisingly has delivered the same excellent audio quality as last year, with crystal clear and amply loud sound always a tap away. Don’t expect over the ear headphone quality, but expect some of the best audio from any fully wireless earbuds around.
Again the earbuds sounded great out of the box and just like last year the Sennheiser Smart control app gives you the ability to tune your buds to your liking. I’m not a sound engineer so I don’t mess with the defaults, but if you want to, once again the choice is yours.
WHAT’S IT LESS GOOD AT?
Like last year the MOMENTUM 2 were not 1005 perfect, but what is? So what caught our attention this year?
Where are my buds?
In 2020 we’re close to pronouncing that a built-in tracker is basically a must-have. Unfortunately, the MOMENTUM 2 doesn’t include such a feature. Ideally, both the case and the individual earbuds would have Bluetooth style trackers in them, but I think in 2020 at least the case should have that feature.
This would make finding the inevitable misplaced case or accidentally dropped earbud easier. With companies like Tile offering OEM partnerships it would be good for a premium product like the MOMENTUM 2 to include tracking.
Master and slave
With the release of Bluetooth 5, it is now possible to have individual connections to each earbud. This means that if you just want to have the left or right earbud in use you can. Unfortunately like last year the right had earbud acts as the master that connects to the phone, the left then connects to it.
If you only ever want to listen to both earbuds this isn’t an issue for you, or if you’re happy with just using the right earbud, this also isn’t an issue for you. Of course, I have to be difficult, when washing up guess which ear faces the back of the house where the rest of the family is getting ready?
Yep, it’s my right ear, I’ve tried inserting the right earbud upside down into my left ear, it kind of worked, but I wasn’t comfortable with these beauties dangling above a sink of hot soapy water.
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. The big improvement this year is that even if the case is out of battery returning to earbuds to the charging case will now turn them off.
Last year if the case was already out of battery the earbuds would remain on when you put them in the box. Even worse is if the case went flat while charging the earbuds they would turn on and then run flat themselves.
This seems to be 100 percent fixed. I did a couple run down test and each time the earbuds switched off and stayed off when in a flat charging case. So another nice improvement over last year.
I am already sold on fully wireless earbuds. I prefer them as my daily audio driver (pun intended). Yes the Bluetooth standard is a red hot mess, yes I still only buy phones with a 3.5mm headphone jack, but I still love wireless earbuds.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 2 Wireless Earbuds symbolise what the top end of a set of earbuds can be. Just like a Porsche, they may not be 100 percent perfect but they are a beautiful expression of the category.
At $499.95 RRP in Australia, they are certainly cheaper than a Porsche but they’re a premium price for the category. If you have last year’s MOMENTUM Sennheiser is offering a $125 trade-in if you want to upgrade, which, considering the improvements, is worth considering.
The MOMENTUM 2 is an improvement over last years in some really meaningful ways. The improved battery life and control customisation alone make these an upgrade worthy of consideration.
Should you buy them? I’d ask can you afford them, if the answer is yes then I can see no reason you wouldn’t consider getting the MOMENTUM 2 earbuds.