It’s easy to get wireless earbuds fatigue when so many models are vying for your attention, both as a consumer and, we can tell you, a reviewer. But there are pairs that have proven so consistently commendable over the years that a new iteration is hard to ignore when it comes along, and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are one of them. Entering their third generation here, two years on from the launch of the sophomore efforts, the wireless noise-cancelling earbuds aim to remain on the top rungs of an increasingly tall ladder with an improved performance and personalisation features galore. Oh, and a welcome new price.
While the prices of fuel, electricity and Netflix subscriptions are on the up, Sennheiser’s latest pair of premium true wireless earbuds pleasantly buck that trend. Despite the first two models of Momentum True Wireless launching at £270 / $299 / AU$499, the new Momentum True Wireless 3 come in at a more competitive £219 / $249.95 / AU$399.95.
Price wise, that puts them in the direct firing line of the biggest players in the premium noise-cancelling earbuds market it enters – the class-leading Sony WF-1000XM4, the ever-popular Apple AirPods Pro and the formidable Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. It’s a space the True Wireless Momentum 2 confidently occupied before the arrival of these successors, so while the new Sennheisers are more affordable than we might’ve expected, the name of the game is largely the same.
Expectations of every new iteration improving on all aspects of a previous pair would see battery life being weeks’-long by 2029, so indeed it can’t always be a one-upping exercise from generation to generation. Sennheiser has chosen to stick with the same very reasonable battery life for the True Wireless 3 – seven hours in the earbuds and 28 with the charging case is your above-acceptable lot, which isn’t far shy of the class-leading level. The case charges via USB-C (the socket is on the front of it this time), with 10 minutes of ‘fast charging’ offering an hour’s playback. And Qi wireless charging is on the menu too.
The spec sheet isn’t stagnant elsewhere, mind you. Sennheiser has increased the Bluetooth codec support from aptX to the newer aptX Adaptive, meaning (compressed) transmission of up to 24-bit music files, lower latency, and more robustness to eliminate drop-outs when you're taking your phone out of your pocket or bag.
Realising that not all ears are equal, the German audio brand has also gone big on personalisation features for this third-gen model. While many wireless headphones, regardless of type, offer some sort of EQ adjustment to give users the opportunity to skew tonal balance as they see fit, the Momentum True Wireless 3 go that extra mile to make sound customisation less daunting and more accessible and user-friendly. Using the Sennheiser Smart Control app, users can go through a ‘Sound Check’ that asks you to choose your preferred sound – A, B or C – in three instances to gauge your preferred balance. At the end of it, you have your desired ‘profile’.
You can also create ‘Sound Zones’ that let you select desired EQ and noise isolation levels when you enter or leave a specific radius. You could, for example, set the Momentums to automatically inhabit a bassier sound profile when you enter your gym, or to instantly turn on noise cancellation when you leave your house, with the headphones then returning to their normal state when you leave or return.
More typically, touch controls can be customised, allowing users to select which tap and tap-hold actions on which earbuds should control music playback and call handling and activate your phone’s voice assistant or the ANC/Transparency mode.
Bluetooth 5.2, aptX Adaptive
Battery life 28 hours
Splashproof rating IPX4
The Transparency mode has a useful option in the app in that it can be activated while your music is playing or paused, so you can have a conversation over your music, or silence – though we found this hit and miss. Sometimes music would pause when asked, other times it wouldn’t. Active noise-cancellation is a three-option function too – ‘on’, ‘off’ and an in-between ‘anti-wind’ setting. As we find the earbuds’ design vulnerable to picking up wind noise, we’re glad to see the middle mode. It does help reduce those distracting wind-noise artefacts, though not altogether, so be warned when wearing them on particularly windy days.
Their noise-cancellation, meanwhile, works well. We’ve not yet experienced ANC in true wireless earbuds that is as effectively isolating as it is in noise-cancelling over-ear headphones, so those who are looking to buy their first ANC earbuds should manage their expectations. The Sennheisers do manage to curtail road noise, train hubbub and chatter, though, and you’ll likely only be aware of the leftover noise if you’re listening to quiet classical music through the earbuds.
As designs are honed and the competitive pressure is on to make standout design statements, true wireless earbuds’ charging cases have got small enough that some could probably be skimmed across a pond. Sennheiser clearly hasn’t felt the pressure here as the True Wireless 3’s charging case is relatively substantial – still perfectly pocketable, of course, but chunkier than the majority we’ve seen in the past twelve months. Substantialness equals robustness in this, er, case, with the fabric-wrapped casing feeling fairly solid to hold and flip open and shut, and not at all flimsy. Sennheiser doesn’t appear to have cut corners here in order to hit a lower price point.
The design isn’t totally ‘same old Sennheiser’ here, though – and not just because a third colour finish (grey) now joins the regular black and white ones. The German brand has moved away from the spherical earpieces of the previous Momentum True Wireless models in favour of more ovular ones, a shape it has actually adopted for its midrange CX series since 2020. In our minds, they look and feel cheaper than the rounded earpieces of their predecessor, though they arguably do look more discreet in your ears.
Whether or not the finger-width earpiece housings sit flush against your ear or slightly stick out when worn will depend on the shallowness of your ears, but either way, while the ear tips and housing physically hog your inner ear, they are lightweight and comfortable and don’t feel like too much of a burden. The small rubber lip that ever so slightly pokes up from the housing helps nestle them into your ear cartilage for a secure fit, too. It isn’t as pronounced and therefore not as effective as the ‘wing tips’ you get with dedicated sports wireless earbuds, so be aware that they aren’t the number one choice as gym companions, even if they are IPX4-rated splash-proof.
The level of performance that true wireless earbuds are capable of today has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and the Sennheisers speak to that, loud and clear. While perhaps one espresso-shot short of being deemed exciting sounding, they’re otherwise right up there – some of the most sonically sophisticated pairs of their kind we’ve heard.
As with the Momentum True Wireless 2, clarity, refinement and spaciousness are the order of the day here. Sennheiser has simply taken these talents to new heights, while boosting detail resolution levels, ensuring the Momentum True Wireless 3 keep the line’s sonic capabilities moving in the right direction to compete with the best. And compete they do.
We play Bonobo and Jamila Woods’ Tides, and there’s decent thwack and shape to the introductory bass kicks – a fitting introduction to the punch and insight that is also on offer further up the frequencies too. There’s a warmth and sense of flow to the synths. Woods’ vocal is well projected to take centre stage in the mix without compromising the presence of accompanying synths, which are nicely presented on an open yet involving soundstage that has obvious layering and depth.
It’s a similar story with Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s Tidal River as we coincidentally stick with the theme of tides… from Tidal. The electric guitar lines ring out clearly in the background, and there’s the clarity and organisation that make you feel involved in the band’s jangling guitar melodies. Over to something sleepier, like Ludovico Einaudi’s Rolling Like A Ball, and the piano keys are pulled more into focus by the extra clarity, and with added texture and greater dynamic expression too. It’s a mature performance that’s very rarely matched at this level.
In bowling, three strikes in a row is called a ‘turkey’; in What Hi-Fi? reviews, three five-star badges in a row is known as a blinder of a run. Building on an already winning recipe with an improved feature set, decent step up in performance and kinder price tag, the Momentum True Wireless 3 are as competitive as ever and Sennheiser’s best yet. A brilliant buy.
- Sound 5
- Features 5
- Build 4
Also consider the Sony WF-1000XM4