Sennheiser’s Momentum Wi-fi overview: feature-packed, if not a sonic standout

It’s been round 4 years since Sennheiser final up to date its over-ear, noise-canceling Momentum Wi-fi headphones, and in that point quite a bit has modified. Voice assistants have grow to be a staple function in headphones, the trade has moved towards USB-C for charging, and we’ve had numerous variations of Bluetooth within the meantime, every bringing extra incremental enhancements in connectivity and sound high quality.

So the arrival of the third-generation Sennheiser Momentum Wi-fi headphones (which I’ll check with because the Momentum Three from right here on) is form of an enormous deal in headphone phrases. The brand new headphones are nonetheless a premium set of cans at $400 (£349), however they’re full of recent options and tech that wouldn’t have been attainable 4 years in the past. All these new additions mix to create a feature-packed pair of headphones which might be additionally comfy to put on, and which look each bit as trendy as Sennheiser’s earlier fashions. The one draw back, which I’ll get onto in a second, is that you could find headphones that sound higher at this premium value level.

Rather a lot has modified over the previous 4 years of headphones, so let’s begin by itemizing off a few of the methods through which these third-generation headphones have needed to catch up. There’s a brand new voice assistant activation button (Google Assistant and Alexa are each supported on Android, whereas Apple customers are restricted to Siri), a proximity sensor which mechanically begins and stops your music relying on whether or not you’re sporting the headphones, they usually additionally use a USB-C port for charging. Fortunately Sennheiser has caught with a conventional three-button format to regulate quantity and playback somewhat than switching to gesture controls as many different headphone makers have carried out. The buttons had been dependable and straightforward to make use of in my testing.

The place issues get somewhat extra attention-grabbing is with the mixing of Tile help, which lets you use the Tile app to seek out your headphones if you happen to lose them round your own home. It’s not a completely new function (we’ve already seen Bose add it to its SoundSport headphones, for instance), however it’s nonetheless one thing that isn’t frequent on most wi-fi headphones. It really works like another Tile machine, which is to say that it really works properly for finding your headphones do you have to misplace them.

One other much less distinctive trick the Momentum Three have is that they attempt to automate sure actions based mostly on while you’re sporting the headphones or whether or not you’ve acquired them safely stowed away. They do have put on detection (just like different headphones just like the Bowers & Wilkins PX Wi-fi), and likewise flip off mechanically while you fold them down. The truth is, folding the headphones like that is the one technique to truly flip them off, since they don’t have a conventional on / off button. And not using a correct energy button, there’s no technique to put on them round your neck with out having them in standby mode, which meant that I forgot they had been turned on and related to my cellphone on multiple event. Slightly annoying.

I ought to point out you can flip off the “Good Pause” setting within the app, which is able to cease the headphones from mechanically taking part in music once they sense that you simply’re sporting them. You can even use this app to regulate the EQ of the headphones, in addition to different settings. By utilizing this app, you’re mechanically opted in to sharing utilization knowledge, however you will have the choice of opting out within the privateness part of the app. There’s no point out of Sennheiser amassing your data for advertising and marketing functions, as one lawsuit claimed that Bose was doing.

All of the options on this planet wouldn’t matter if the Momentum Three don’t sound good while you hearken to them. Fortunately, they sound good — actually good — they usually’re positively in the identical ballpark as Sony or Bowers & Wilkins’ newest headphones. However the issue is that these headphones price $400, and if you happen to’re ready to spend that amount of cash then I feel you possibly can technically get higher sound high quality elsewhere if that’s your primary precedence.

That’s to not say Sennheiser’s newest headphones don’t have something going for them. They help Qualcomm’s AptX commonplace, their bass has a pleasant punch and heft to it, there’s no harshness or sibilance to the trebles, and all throughout the audio spectrum their sound is obvious and balanced. Hearken to a observe the place there’s quite a bit happening, like “Leviathan” by Japanese jazz group Mouse on the Keys, and also you’re not going to lose observe of any parts of the music, at the same time as its drums and two pianos mix to kind a barely coherent melody.

Nevertheless, the headphones by no means fairly obtain the identical refinement because the Bowers & Wilkins PX Wi-fi, which sound a contact extra weighty and grounded to my ears. They’re simply extra exact in how they ship their sound. The general sound separation provided by Bowers & Wilkins’ noise-canceling headphones can be a hair’s breadth higher, which contributes to a wider soundstage. Hearken to “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse on the Sennheiser Momentums, and one thing about it doesn’t have that epic edge that you simply’d hope to get from the music.

That mentioned, Sennheiser’s newest headphones are the rather more comfy pair to put on, with a properly padded set of ear cups that meant that they put near no strain on my ears, even after I wore glasses whereas listening to them. That is one thing that Bowers & Wilkins’ headphones typically battle with. Regardless of the large cushions, Sennheiser’s headphones didn’t find yourself feeling too cumbersome, and nonetheless folded down right into a compact bundle.

I additionally assume they’re a very great-looking pair of headphones, though for my cash Sennheiser’s headphones all the time look finest in cream, somewhat than the black fashions that the corporate is main with for these headphones. Sennheiser says that its new headphones will likely be out there in “sand white” from November.

The headphones’ noise cancellation additionally holds up actually properly. I used them extensively on my commute via the London’s rumbling and sometimes screeching Underground community, they usually did an excellent job with each, even when they couldn’t lower out both sound solely. Once I tried them out on a flight they had been capable of lower out the low rumble of the aircraft’s engines fully, and considerably scale back the high-pitched sounds round me. This doesn’t imply I used to be capable of get pleasure from full silence on my flight, however it was positively sufficient to let me hearken to podcasts and music with out having to show the amount up any louder than common. You may technically get barely higher noise-cancellation from Sony or Bose, however Sennheiser’s providing is greater than ok.

It is a minor level, however it was additionally good to find that the Sennheiser Momentum Wi-fi are very listenable with their noise-cancellation turned off. Some headphones, like AKG’s N60 NC or Sennheiser’s personal HD1, don’t allow you to flip off noise-cancellation in any respect, whereas the sound high quality of others, just like the Bowers & Wilkins PX Wi-fi, takes a nosedive everytime you do. In the event you’re something like me, then you definately’re more likely to do 90 p.c of your listening with noise-cancellation turned on regardless, however it’s good to have the choice of turning it off while you’re strolling alongside busy metropolis streets.

The headphones even have an audio passthrough function, which turns off your music and makes use of the headphones’ microphones to amplify background sounds, in case you need to shortly hear out for exterior appears like journey bulletins. The function works properly, however it’s somewhat more durable to entry than on Sony’s newest headphones. Sony’s headphones allow you to merely cup your hand to the headphones to activate their passthrough function, whereas Sennheiser’s depend on you flipping a small change, which will be more durable to do shortly while you need to catch a practice announcement. I additionally discovered myself turning off the noise-cancellation after I simply needed to show off the ambient passthrough mode.

Annoyingly, Sennheiser’s rated battery life for the third-generation Momentum Wi-fi has taken a little bit of a dip in comparison with its last-generation headphones. The corporate claims it is best to get 16 hours of playback out of its newest headphones, in comparison with the 22 hours it quoted for prior fashions. Nevertheless, I didn’t discover this to be an enormous downside throughout my time with the headphones. I discovered I needed to cost them twice over the 2 weeks I used them, throughout which I used them for quite a few commutes and whereas making different journeys. As compared, Bowers & Wilkins advertises that you simply’ll get 22 hours from the PX Wi-fi, Sony says its WH-1000XM3 can do 30, and Bose quotes 20 hours for its QC 35 II.

Except for the shortage of a bodily on / off button, the one different quibble I had with the headphones was that they use a 2.5mm connector while you need to plug in a bodily cable. This may simply be a private factor, however I’ve all the time discovered 3.5mm cables to be extra extensively out there in a pinch, like while you present up on the airport and also you’ve forgotten the cable you should plug your headphones into the in-flight leisure system.

The Sennheiser Momentum Wi-fi Three are an amazing and much-needed replace to Sennheiser’s high-end wi-fi headphones. I actually like their retro-inspired design, they usually’re comfy to put on. It’s additionally good to see Sennheiser experiment with some newer options, even when it doesn’t stick the touchdown on all of them. Tile help is a pleasant addition, for instance, however I might have actually favored to have seen a conventional on / off button along with having the ability to flip them off by collapsing them. In the event you’ve been holding off on shopping for the present Sennheiser Momentums due to their barely dated specs, then the brand new headphones are an amazing replace.

I’d cease in need of recommending these headphones to utterly everybody, nevertheless, significantly if you happen to’re searching for the best possible sound high quality out there. A $400 value level places these headphones firmly into premium territory. For that cash, if you happen to’re searching for the best possible sound high quality then I’d sooner level you towards the Bowers & Wilkins PX Wi-fi, whereas anybody trying to maximize on noise-cancellation would do properly to take a look at the newest from Sony or Bose.

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