Sennheiser has uncovered the secret to standing out in an oversaturated true wireless earbuds market. All you need to do is develop a pair, say Sennheiser’s new Momentum True Wireless 3 (available at Amazon for $249.95) , that offer world-class sound and surprisingly impressive noise cancellation. Never mind that they are some of the heavier, more expensive buds you’ll find. When you’re the best in the business for sound quality, you won’t go unnoticed.
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About the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
What We Don’t Like
The Momentum True Wireless 3 sport a new design that is nimbler and offers a more tailored fit.
Alongside four pairs of ear tips and three sizes of silicone ear fins, the Momentum True Wireless 3 come with standard accessories like a USB-C charging cable and an operating manual. Popping the top on the packaging reveals a fabric-covered charging case that’s very reminiscent of the Momentum True Wireless 2’s case, albeit scaled down slightly.
Beneath the case’s lid, the buds themselves resemble a sharper, more refined edition of the Momentum series. Maybe it’s the graphite color (also available in black and white) that gives them such a sleek edge, but they look markedly better than the True Wireless 2 and their now-dated silver end caps.
The Momentum 3 offer the clear and vivid sound we expect from Sennheiser's flagship wireless earbuds.
The Momentum True Wireless 2, were quite possibly the best sounding wireless earbuds our review team had ever tested. In other words, Sennheiser didn’t need to reinvent the wheel here, and it progressed as such. A few incremental changes were made here and there, and in some instances, the True Wireless 3 even sound a touch brighter than their older counterparts. But make no mistake. This is the same incredible listening experience that we’ve come to expect from Sennheiser’s flagship products.
Powered by a familiar pair of 7mm drivers (Sennheiser’s terminology is “TrueResponse transducers”), the True Wireless 3 deliver a soundstage that’s truly hard to believe unless you’ve had the buds in your ears. They masterfully maneuver the musical chaos of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” They lay the bass on thick for modern hits like Lil Nas X’s “Montero.” Luke Combs’ grizzled vocals ring out with a sense of authenticity in “Doin’ This.” The unparalleled clarity, the nearly flawless balance of frequencies, the ability to dig deep and deliver impactful dynamic details—the gang’s all here, and the result is nothing short of remarkable.
If I have an audio-related criticism, it would be that the Sound Check feature in Sennheiser’s otherwise intuitive Smart Control app is rather underwhelming. The feature is supposed to develop a personalized EQ based on a few quick listening tests, but the ensuing EQ was marginally different (at best) from the True Wireless 3’s stock sound. Luckily, the True Wireless 3’s audio quality is the furthest thing from broke. There’s no need to try and fix it in the first place.
A quick note about call quality: Sennheiser instituted a 6-mic voice pickup system (3 mics per bud) to help bolster the buds’ availability to hone in on your voice. From my experiences holding a conversation during a high wind advisory in my area, the new system is a solid addition to the ensemble.
Finally, to answer the question on everyone’s minds, I do prefer the sound of the Momentum True Wireless 3 to both the Momentum True Wireless 2 and the CX Plus True Wireless, Sennheiser’s cheaper and similarly designed earbuds. They’re all outfitted with the same drivers, and Sennheiser hasn’t divulged much else about the audio components found in each pair so I can’t point to a specific piece of technology that elevates the True Wireless 3. And there are many instances when all three pairs feel like they’re on the same playing field. But in my time bouncing between the trio, the True Wireless 3 seemed to showcase the most accurate, detailed grasp of frequencies.
The new hybrid active noise canceling is impressively competitive.
Sennheiser identified active noise cancellation as a true weak spot in its previous buds, culminating in some customers reporting that they couldn’t tell the difference between the feature being turned off or on. To remedy this, the True Wireless 3 adopted an adaptive hybrid ANC system with a pair of noise-reducing microphones in each bud.
The corresponding improvements are impressive. A decent, but frankly uninspired pair of ANC buds have flourished into a true competitor to some of the best noise-canceling earbuds we’ve tested. In a simulated airplane drone sound test, the True Wireless 3 performed notably better than Jabra’s Elite 85t when it came to crushing bass and even did a bit better quieting higher frequencies, like keystrokes.
Sony’s WF-1000XM4, our current best noise-canceling earbuds, still have a clear edge when it comes to battling higher frequencies like keystrokes and crowd sounds. Even so, it’s commendable just how much ground Sennheiser has made up in the noise-canceling space from one generation to the next.
Sennheiser also seemed to realize that the Momentum True Wireless 2’s infamous size and sheer bulkiness made them a problem in terms of comfort and secure fit. The brand shaved the True Wireless 3 down into a mold that’s smaller in stature and more friendly to the average ear, thanks to multiple pairs of silicone ear tips and fins.
Adversaries like Jabra’s looser, semi-open Elite 85t and Sony’s mold-to-fit WF-1000XM4 are still more comfortable options for some colleagues. I was also slightly wary of the fit security I could expect from these buds—they never fell out during a few trips to the gym or a brisk morning jog, but they were loose enough at times to cause concern. Still, the course correction is underway to solve a size issue that’s plagued several iterations of Sennheiser earbuds. And we are definitely here for it.
The earbuds offer plenty of features, including a new wireless charging case.
The True Wireless 3 are on par with other buds in their tax bracket, like Sony’s WF-1000XM4. They trump both the Sony and Apple's AirPods Pro in total battery life with noise canceling engaged (though Sony beats them with ANC off by a fair bit), offer identical water resistance (IPX4), and support a wider variety of audio codecs (including AAC, aptX, and aptX Adaptive). They also have near-comprehensive touch controls, including volume control by default.
The True Wireless 3 also have decent rapid charging stats (10 minutes for 1 hour of playback) and a few household names when it comes to voice assistant compatibility (Siri and Google Assistant). Plus, Sennheiser added wireless charging for the case (a big omission from previous models), independent earbud use, and an adjustable Transparency mode into the fold.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 (left) next to the new True Wireless 3.
It’s a somewhat small issue to make note of, and one that Sennheiser has committed to correcting with a future software update. But currently, you cannot connect more than one device at a time to the True Wireless 3. In an office setting, it would be advantageous to have the True Wireless 3 tethered to both your desktop and your phone, allowing you to swap seamlessly between phone calls and virtual meetings. Maybe Sennheiser will get on board with multi-connectivity in the future, but for now that’s just a pipe dream for all the working professionals of the world.
The case weighs almost twice as much as some competitors.
The True Wireless 3 sport a case that is noticeably shorter than the True Wireless 2. However, that doesn’t change the fact that at 78 grams total, the True Wireless 3 are very hefty compared to most other true wireless packages. The CX Plus, for instance, weigh in at 47 grams total between the buds and their carrying case, which is more in line with the average earbud. For all the slimming down that the True Wireless 3 have managed to do, they still stand out as one of the heavier options on the market.
Even with a $50 drop to their retail price compared to the previous generation, Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 3 are a lesson in luxury in the true wireless landscape. Their sound quality is the best we’ve heard at their price point, and they are a rising force when it comes to noise cancellation. But they’re also among the priciest wireless earbuds you’ll find.
If you can settle for a (small) step down in sound and average ANC, Sennheiser’s CX Plus come equipped with a roster of features that rival the True Wireless 3 for nearly $100 less. If you want to focus on ANC in particular, Sony’s WF-1000XM4 are still the buds to beat, and as you’d expect from Sony, they also sound very good.
If it’s top-notch sound quality you’re after, however, the True Wireless 3 are the best sounding earbuds I’ve tested. Your ears will thank you for it.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Nick Woodard is a tech journalist specializing in all things related to home theater and A/V. His background includes a solid foundation as a sports writer for multiple daily newspapers, and he enjoys hiking and mountain biking in his spare time.
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