The new Momentum True Wireless 3 from Sennheiser is the company’s latest flagship earbuds. With a more refined style, improved active noise cancellation, new features, and premium audio quality, Sennheiser has provided a worthy competitor to the Apple AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM4, and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.
Perhaps the most requested thing about Sennheiser’s latest buds is that they’re cheaper than the previous model: the Momentum True Wireless 2s launched at $ 299, but the company is releasing them for $ 249.95. It’s still a premium price, but Sennheiser is now on par with Apple’s AirPod Pros and cheaper than Sony and Bose’s flagships. As tech product prices go up from year to year, it’s fun to see one go in the opposite direction for change – and add new features.
The most important improvement is wireless charging. It was hard to accept the lack of this feature on the Momentum True Wireless 2s. For the price, wireless charging should be table rates. I’m not sure how it took Sennheiser three tries to figure it out.
Another upgrade is in the box: Sennheiser offers four sizes of ear tips – the fourth is very small – but on the new model, the company also includes three optional earbuds that wrap around each earbud and put extra stability in the ears. The medium size comes pre-installed but can be easily removed or replaced with a smaller or larger wing if you want the earbuds to stay stable and securely attached during training or running. Even without ballasts, the MTW3s fell comfortably in my ears and did not come loose easily.
The earbuds are smaller than their predecessors, with a more square outer design in black, gray or white. My black control unit looks much more subtle in the ear compared to the MTW2 which have the shiny silver Sennheiser logo. But they still stick out further than something like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, so they’re not the most discreet buds. The charging case has also shrunk a bit, thanks to Sennheiser better use of space, and the USB-C charging port has been moved to the front. It may seem strange at first, but other companies like Jabra have started to do this as well, and it may seem more convenient depending on where you’re charging MTW3.
Sennheiser has improved the strength of the noise suppression, although you don’t actually have any direct control over how much ANC is used on the MTW3. The company uses adaptive ANC to automatically increase and decrease the noise reduction depending on the current environment. Other earbud manufacturers have tried this adaptive approach as well, although most make it optional rather than the default full-time. I did not lack manual adjustments when testing these earbuds, but you may prefer more control. ANC isn’t on the same level as Sony or Bose, but it does help silence nearby distractions. And you always have the option to activate transparency mode with a tap on the left earbud, although the Sennheiser implementation still doesn’t match the same natural sound that Sony, Bose, and Apple achieved.
When he announced his latest in-ear headphones, Sennheiser made no mention of any major sound changes. They still use 7mm drivers, which are similar to what was on the MTW2, and I would put the overall sound quality in the same field as those and Sennheiser CX Plus – although they are slightly better and can raise the volume louder. It’s a good place because they still sound wonderful. Sennheiser supports the AAC, SBC, AptX, and AptX Adaptive Bluetooth codecs, with the latter helping to eliminate any noticeable audio lag when watching movies or playing mobile games on Android. It would be nice if the Sony LDAC was added to the equation, but I can live with that neglect given the lower price. AptX Adaptive also supports higher resolution audio than AAC and SBC allow.
Throwing an old favorite like Buena Vista Social ClubThe Sennheisers provide a very spacious, clear and detailed sound, with piano, classic guitars and vocals all arranged nicely without a trace of silt. The same was true when I switched between the song The National, Molly Tuttle or Bon Iver’s “Second Nature” from Don’t look up. These earbuds bring out the little touches of a song with a very pleasant expressiveness. The Sennheiser Smart Control app for iPhone and Android allows you to adjust the EQ with bass boost and podcast modes that are independent of any changes made to the bass, mid and treble sliders. (The podcasting option improves speech clarity.) The standard, consumer-friendly tuning curve is present here, but I’d say the Sennheisers are more balanced than the Sony 1000XM4. Not everyone will prefer it: I ended up turning on the bass boost more often than not, while the Sonys deliver powerful, energetic sound out of the box.
The mobile app also recently added the option to configure “sound zones” and automatically change the noise reduction level and adjust the equalizer depending on where you are – be it at home, in the office, at the gym or in other frequently visited places. This worked as expected in my testing, but requires permission to track the location of the Sennheiser app on your phone. In addition, the use of sound zones (or the Sound Check feature that personalizes your EQ) requires a Sennheiser account. I’m not a fan of forcing people to register an account just to use the headphone features.
Some owners of previous Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless models have reported an audible, sustained white noise effect when listening to buds. Even in a completely silent room, I didn’t notice such annoyance with the third generation couple. Battery life remains unchanged with seven hours of continuous listening, and the earbuds (including the case) are IPX4 waterproof, making them suitable for routine exercise.
Voice call performance seems to have an edge over MTW2 and I have not received any serious complaints about call quality or difficulty to understand. However, they still lack recent accolades like Sony’s LinkBuds. Each earbud can be used on its own while the others recharge in the case and also have an automatic pause when one or both of the buds are removed.
The MTW3 weren’t completely immune to minor bugs as I looked at them: I noticed the occasional (albeit rare) dropouts and the status / prompt voice sometimes quickly spoke both ‘disconnected’ and ‘connected’ shortly after they were removed from their case and put them on for me in the ears. At launch, Sennheiser’s new flagship headphones do not support multi-point Bluetooth, so you can only connect to one device at a time. The company says it plans to add multipoint in a future firmware update, but as the old saying goes, you should only buy the product based on what it can do now, not what may come later.
If Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3s they did they have multipoint, I consider them a home run and would recommend an upgrade for fans of the company’s previous buddies. But even if they are, Sennheiser has done a good job of increasing its value while lowering the price of the sticker. The noise reduction is better, you now have wireless charging and they still sound great. Even if the battery life is the same and the call quality is just fine, the overall package is more appealing than Sennheiser’s previous efforts. they do not quite take out Sony 1000XM4s as my favorite earbuds; I’ll take better noise cancellation, foam ear tips, and a warmer sonic profile from Sony’s buds. But maybe that’s what I’m used to. Sennheiser offers the best sound quality – and for $ 50 less than last time.
Photography: Chris Welch / The Verge