… taking the earbuds out of the case, inserting them, and cue the music. Simple.
Product: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds
A little more than a year ago I reviewed my “daily driver” IEM (footnote 1), the Sennheiser IE 80, which had been my primary pair of earphones for the past three years. (Link to the review here.) It has fulfilled its purpose well. But with the growing trend of wireless devices, “true wireless” earphones, Airpods, and companies removing headphone jacks on smartphones, these wired earphones have become somewhat obsolete, sometimes even unnecessarily inconvenient to use. For this reason, I have been looking for a pair of wireless earphones for some time. I have recently acquired a pair of Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earphones, Sennheiser’s first attempt into the “true wireless” earphone market, and have been using it for the past several months. Here is my review.
The package includes a pair of earbuds, a charging case, a USB-C to USB-A charging cable, and four pairs of ear tips.
Let’s start with the accessories. Unlike the IE 80 package which offered more than a dozen pairs of ear tips in various shapes and materials, this one includes pairs of simple silicone ear tips in four sizes, from XS to L. As one who prefers silicone material over foam, these ear tips suffice. I picked the XS pair and they fit comfortably. I do hold one complaint against them. These ear tips differ from the standard Sennheiser ear tips which work for almost all Sennheiser in-ears from the old CX line, MM line, and the IE line. The standard Sennheiser ear tips, which I have a lot in possession from purchasing many of their products such as the MM 30g and the IE 80, are not compatible with the Momentum True Wireless. I can see the connecting sections on them are smaller than other earbuds that may require a new shape of ear tips to work. Nonetheless, I am displeased with Sennheiser’s decision in choosing to design a new type of ear tips just for this product over using their existing standardized ear tips.
On the other hand, the inclusion of a USB-C cable and the decision of using a USB-C port on the charging case are wholly welcomed. In my opinion, all electronic devices released after 2018 should be equipped with the USB-C ports rather than the outdated Micro USB ports. USB-C is simply superior in practicality, durability, and power/file transfer capabilities. I find it frustrating that many companies refused to do so. I was searching for a portable charger with a USB-C port for input and output, but I could not find one without a jump in price. Going back to the Momentum True Wireless, the USB-C port makes my life much easier. As one who believes in “one cable for all,” I carried a single USB-C to USB-C cable with me in daily usage, which is sufficient to use between my phone, these wireless earbuds, and the portable charger.
Now to the charging case itself, which is my favorite piece of this product. Unlike the charging case of Apple Airpods or most other wireless earbuds that have a smooth plastic surface, its fabric-textured exterior is comfortable to hold in hand and notably scratch-resistant. The case is slightly larger than that of the Apple Airpods, but it is compact enough to sit adjacent to my phone inside the pocket. The magnetic holder is easy to open and makes a very satisfying (almost addictive) sound when closing.
The charging port and an LED light indicator for the battery status with a corresponding button are located at the back of the case. The LED indications are slightly confusing: there are four sets of signals depending on whether the charging cable is connected and whether the earbuds are stored in the case. Generally, green light means they are charged or mostly charged, pulsing yellow means charging, yellow means low battery, and red means empty battery. Checking the battery status of the earbuds is simple as you can often see it on the connected device, but checking the battery status of the charging case itself is more troublesome. The only way that I know of is to check the LED indicator when the earbuds are not inserted, where green represents over 50% charged and yellow represents less than 50% charged — not particularly helpful.
Since we are on the topic, let’s go over the battery life. On a full charge, the earbuds offer around 4 hours of playback time. It is slightly below average compared to competitors like the Apple Airpods Pro or the Sony WF-1000XM3, both giving you around 5 hours of playback. The charging case can supply two extra charges, extending the combined battery life to 12 hours — yet not the top in the market. But in my experience, it is more than enough for daily usage. There is one critical problem though: the earbuds will slowly drain the battery of the charging case if left inside the case as they are perpetually on a stand-by mode. I cannot find any actual testing regarding the issue, but they will likely drain the entire battery of the charging case within a week or so if left without charging. This means that you will never get the full 12 hours of playback from a full charging cycle, and you will have to charge it often even if you are leaving it untouched. This is not a disastrous issue for me as I do charge it regularly. The charging cycle is also very fast, with a complete cycle of the charging case and the earbuds taking only 1.5 hours. There is one way to shut down the whole system completely by pressing the button on the case for a few seconds. I have not tested this, but it seems like a plausible way to conserve more battery life. I do occasionally shut it down unintentionally with the case pressing against something in the bag or in the pocket, and the only way to turn it back on is to plug it into a power source.
Finally, the earbuds themselves, which each sits firmly in its charging compartment with a magnetic holder inside the case. Its back is a flat surface that acts as a touch control panel with a radial brushed metal finish and the usual Sennheiser logo. There are two microphones located on its side and an LED light indicator for Bluetooth connection at the front. The conical-shaped body is made of matte black plastic, which to me feels kind of bland and cheap. Same plastic material, I much prefer the smooth polished finish of the body of the IE 80. Though Sennheiser has released their updated IE 80S and IE 800S with the new matte black finish, so what do I really know about design?
The plastic surface makes the earbuds a little slippery to hold. Especially when you are walking and your fingertips are feeling dry in a low humidity winter day, it is tricky to take them out of the charging case without dropping them. Thankfully, the Momentum True Wireless seems to be very durable. I have dropped the earbuds and the case to the concrete floor on multiple occasions, and they have survived all with little to no scratches. This does not mean that they would be totally fine every time colliding with the ground, but they should be able to take some beatings. On the other hand, the plastic material makes the earbuds lightweight and comfortable to wear. They are barely noticeable when wearing. Even for longer listening sessions, I have worn them regularly to listen to podcasts for hours or more without feeling much fatigue.
The Bluetooth connection may be another highlight of the Momentum True Wireless. Beyond the usual Bluetooth codecs SBC and AAC, it also supports Qualcomm’s aptX which delivers higher bitrates than both. Even more, it is equipped with the new aptX Low Latency, a codec that minimizes the lag in transmission of audio over Bluetooth. It is worth noting, however, that the aptX codec is not supported by any IOS device. Similarly, the aptX Low Latency is only enabled by less than a dozen devices — none of them are smartphones. While it cannot compare to the effortless pairing of Airpods in the Apple Ecosystem, the paring process with a single device is simple, and the connection speed is fairly fast (possibly due to its perpetual standby mode) – usually right around when I have inserted both into my ears. Connecting it with multiple devices gets more complicated, usually requires me to disconnect it from one device in order to connect to the other.
There are two microphone holes on the side of each earbud. I have used them for calls several times and according to the receiving ends the audio quality is decent. The touch control panels on the back take a combination of commands. A single tap on the left panel pauses or plays the audio, double taps on the left play the next track, and triple taps on the left play the previous track. A single tap on the right panel activates the voice assistant, and double taps on the right enable the transparent hearing mode. Long taps can also adjust the volume, with left decreasing and right increasing. I found myself using the double taps on the right command to enable the transparent hearing mode the most often. A super useful feature using the microphones on the sides to pick up ambient sound, allowing me to listen to conversations nearby without taking the earbuds off, or to notice surrounding noise so I do not get hit by a car while walking. The Momentum True Wireless also has the “smart pause function,” automatically pausing the music when removing one earbud from the ear, and continuing the music after inserting it back.
Sennheiser also offers a “smart control app” to unlock some extra features: an equalizer, the ability to turn off certain unwanted functions, and firmware updates. However, the app seems to be very problematic. Whenever I pair the earbuds with the app, I could not successfully connect them to my device. From the low rating of the app in the Play Store, I am not the only one having issues with the app. This essentially renders the app unusable.
Now I have gone over every aspect of the Momentum True Wireless, except the sound. So how does it sound? Well, when I first tried using it for the sole purpose of being wireless, I was not expecting great sound quality. However, like any other audio device engineered by Sennheiser, it does sound surprisingly good. As part of the Momentum line from Sennheiser, it inherits the classic V-shaped sound signature. Overall clean, vibrant, and energetic, with punchy bass and pleasant treble, and a decent sound stage giving a sense of airiness. I would not give it the claim of the best-sounding true wireless earbuds, but it is certainly the best from all I have tried — especially a league ahead of the Apple Airpods.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless is not the indisputable best true wireless earphones in the market. You can attempt to make an argument for it: as made by one of the best audio companies Sennheiser it produces better sound than most, it looks decently stylish, it is durable, and it has some nice features. But there are also quite a few downsides: there exists the battery drainage issue, the battery life itself is not exceptional, the app seems to be problematic, the charging case may be a little bulky, there is no active noise cancellation, and it is not made specifically for Apple products.
But despite its flaws, I do like it. I first tested the Momentum True Wireless from the SoundClub, a headphone subscription service from Sennheiser. You pay the subscription fee of twenty dollars per month to rent a pair of headphones or earphones you want to try out. If you do not like it you can swap it with another pair, and if you do enjoy it you can purchase it with the monthly subscription fee as credits toward the purchase. I chose the Momentum True Wireless as I was searching for a pair of wireless earphones, and used it for three months. In the end, I liked it enough and made the purchase. I enjoy the convenience it brings and it does its job as my daily driver well. No more untangling the cables after taking the wired earphones outside of the pocket; no more plugging in the 3.5mm headphone jack to USB-C converter just to connect it to my phone; no more adjusting the cable’s position to jacket and shoulder strap. Now the process has become taking the earbuds out of the case, inserting them, and cue the music. Simple.
In my review of the Sennheiser IE 80, I proposed the idea of what aspects constitute a good daily driver: portability, durability, and comfort. I would also add functionality and usability to this assessment as well. By this standard, is the Momentum True Wireless a good daily driver? Certainly. It has great features, is easy to use, compact enough to carry around, has survived multiple collisions, and decently comfortable.
So, do I recommend purchasing the Momentum True Wireless? Well, maybe first do a little bit of research in the wireless earphones market, or subscribe to SoundClub to try it out yourself. I think it is pretty good. It is not perfect nor the best across all categories. But really, is there anything that is?
Sorry if this post is a little dry to read. I have it as a writing practice for me to present something as complete as possible. I do believe this is the most comprehensive review of the Momentum True Wireless you can ever find, and I am happy for what I have written.
I will not be promising any new blog posts soon this time because my procrastinating self could not meet any deadline. Some ideas for the next project include a certain board game or a historical character. We will see…
There is a convention in the audio community to differentiate earphones into two main categories: in-ear monitors (IEMs) and earbuds.
IEMs refer to those fitted with ear tips that sit inside the ear canals. Some examples include the Sennheiser IE 80, Shure SE 215, ATH LS 200, and Etymotic ER4XR.
Earbuds refer to those that sit on the outer structure of the ears. Some examples include the Apple Airpods, Sennheiser MX 365, and VE Monk Plus.
However, few people are bothered to follow this convention. The Momentum True Wireless should be categorized as IEMs, but Sennheiser themselves even refer to them as “earbuds” in the user manual. Thus, for the rest of this post, I will use “IEMs” and “earbuds” interchangeably.