Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless headphone review: Stylish but flawed
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless headphone review: Stylish but flawed
It’s safe to say by now that the true wireless form factor is not just a fad peddled solely by dodgy Kickstarter projects or minor brands looking to make a splash.
Some of the biggest brands in audio have thrown their silicon earbuds into the ring. Recent notable entries include the Sony WF-1000XM3, new additions to the Plantronics family, and the Klipsch T5 True Wireless.
With competition heating up, it’s easy to miss that one of the biggest brands in audio has also put forth their own entry in this category. Despite repeated waves of onslaught from its competition, Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless has managed to stand out as one of the better true wireless earphones you can buy today.
However, it possesses a number of flaws that prevents it from being the top choice in this reviewer’s opinion, especially in today’s vastly more competitive landscape.
Read on for our full review.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless scores high for its hardware design. The case strikes a unique and immediately recognisable design with its grey textured fabric case and a clean Sennheiser logo stamped on the lid.
Round the back of the case lies a USB-C port for charging, an LED light, and a tiny button. Press the button once and the light will flash either green, orange, or red to indicate the charge level remaining in the case. It’s a nice little touch that lets you know when it’s time to juice up the box.
Overall, however, the actual feel of the case is slightly disappointing. It is a lot lighter than it looks, and the fabric turned out to be hard and unyielding instead of the soft welcoming feel I was expecting. The absence of any significant heft, combined with a disappointingly weak hinge and a dull plastic interior, gives the whole package a much cheaper feel that belies its premium price point.
Lift up the lid and you’ll find a pair of earbuds looking up at you, all shiny and steely-eyed. They sport an attractive metallic finish that radiates outwards, an eye-catching look that leans more towards an attractive fashion accessory than a geeky gadget when it’s in your ear.
The earbuds are secured to the case with magnets, and snap into place with a satisfying “thud” every time you dock them in.
They feel perfectly balanced in weight and fit snugly in my ears. Unlike some other lighter sets that I’ve tested, the Momentum True Wireless felt like they would stay comfortably docked in my ears through the apocalypse, thanks in part to the generous size of its largest silicon ear tips and a pretty ingenious design that locks the earbuds into your ear through a simple twist.
The controls on the Momentum True Wireless deserve a section to itself, because for a device that you’re supposed to just put into your ears and forget about, Sennheiser has managed to make the learning curve just about as steep as possible for new users.
The silver finish of the Momentum True Wireless doubles as touch-sensitive controls that are confoundingly difficult to learn and inconsistent in performance.
Let’s start with the left earbud: you tap once to play or pause, tap twice to go to the next track, tap three times to go to the previous track, and press and hold to bring the volume down.
Unfortunately, none of these controls apply to the right earbud. On the right earbud, you tap once to accept a voice call or to summon your phone’s voice assistant, tap twice to reject a call or to turn on transparent hearing, and press and hold to turn the volume up.
Still following? It’s complicated enough that Sennheiser had to include detailed instructions in its app upon first setup.
Now, these controls are by no means impossible to learn and master, but the fact remains that it shouldn’t take that much effort just to use a pair of earphones.
Plus, they don’t work consistently. Often times, my finger taps didn’t register and I ended up having to tap a few more times. But if I tap a few more times, the earphones might think I want to execute a different command, so my music jumps to the next track instead of pausing, for example.
Touch controls also mean a lot of accidental plays and pauses and unwanted greetings from Google Assistant. Earbuds come loose in your ear and you want to push it back in? Touch. Wiping sweat off from your face in the middle of a workout? Touch. Even the act of putting the earbuds into your ear and taking them out… touch, touch, touch.
Ultimately, it’s not so bad once you get used to it. But they are totally unintuitive to someone who’s never used them before, and I can imagine some folks with less patience giving up on learning the controls entirely.
Performance and software
All that aside, the most important thing in a pair of true wireless earbuds is the strength and reliability of its Bluetooth connection. The form factor itself promises freedom of movement, and you can’t really have freedom if the music coming through keeps stuttering.
Sennheiser really knocked it out of the park on this respect. The Momentum True Wireless has an unwavering connection to my phone the whole time I was testing it. Unlike other true wireless earbuds I’ve tried, not once did the Momentum True Wireless’ Bluetooth 5.0 connection drop of issue pairing errors.
Latency was also fantastically low. Other true wireless earbuds typically lag noticeably when I’m playing games, but the Momentum True Wireless had no such issues at all.
One other feature that bears highlighting is what Sennheiser calls “Transparent Hearing”. Turning it on allows you to hear the world around you in addition to your music, which is great for safety while commuting, or when ordering your morning cup of coffee. It works surprisingly well.
Pairing the Momentum True Wireless for the first time was simple and straightforward. The first time you pull the earbuds out of their case, they automatically enter pairing mode. You can then either pair them in your phone’s Bluetooth settings menu, or use Sennheiser’s helpful app to walk you through the process.
I highly recommend using the app. Unlike the still MIA app promised by Klipsch for its T5 True Wireless, Sennheiser has a full-featured app ready to help you get the most out of the Momentum True Wireless.
You can pair and manage multiple Sennheiser Bluetooth headphones through it, adjust settings like automatic call answering, as well as tweak an equaliser to find the perfect sound for you.
That latter feature works really well to help you find the sound that’s perfect just for you. Once you settle on a setting, you can save it as a preset that’s saved locally on the earbuds, so you don’t have to keep the app running.
Battery life, sadly, is a flop. The Momentum True Wireless lasted around four hours on a single charge as advertised, but the case failed to live up to expectations. It suffers from a strange battery drain issue that left the case completely dead after just a few days, even without using the earbuds!
This is a significant issue that still hasn’t been fixed after multiple firmware upgrades. Overall, you’ll just have to make sure that the Momentum True Wireless is plugged in as much as possible. Forget to charge it overnight? You might be in for a long silent commute.
As is expected of an institutional audio brand like Sennheiser, the sound quality on the Momentum True Wireless doesn’t disappoint.
Sennheiser headphones are known generally for their clear and balanced action, and the Momentum True Wireless is no different. None of the music genres I threw at the little pair of earbuds could faze it.
It could pump out anything from an upbeat pop song like Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You to RADWIMP’s thumping J-rock hits with equal gusto. It never felt like any part of the songs were trying to overpower or outdo each other.
I was never that big a fan of EDM, but I decided to throw a few at the Momentum True Wireless just for fun. Admirably, even tracks like Armin van Buuren and Vini Vici’s Great Spirit sounded balanced enough for me to enjoy more than I’d like to admit.
On the downside, after prolonged listening, the Momentum True Wireless could sometimes start to sound a little bland. A trip into the app to tweak the equaliser easily fixed that. A slight boost to the treble and bass helped give the sound a little extra oomph for when you need to stay awake in the office.
Should you buy it?
With a recommend retail price of S$469, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless is expensive. Although it has seen a couple of price drops since launch, its suggested retail price is still at stratospheric levels compared to some of the more budget-friendly options available on the market today. Consider this, the excellent Apple AirPods Pro and equally stellar Sony WF-1000XM3 are S$379 and S$349 respectively.
Plus, the competition is catching up, making the Momentum True Wireless look a little long in the tooth. Most notably, the Momentum True Wireless lacks wireless charging – which Apple implements to great effect on its AirPods Pro – and noise cancellation, which is all the rage thanks to Sony.
There are three main reasons why the Momentum True Wireless is still worth a thought if you’re in the market for a new pair of true wireless earbuds: you’re a fan of the sound; you really like the hardware design; and you see an awesome deal somewhere thanks to the holiday season around the corner.
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth paying a premium just based on these factors.