Sennheiser is one of the biggest names in the audio business, and when it releases a new flagship product, it’s worth standing up and paying attention. That’s exactly what’s happened this month with the release of the Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds. Following up on 2020’s Momentum True Wireless 2s, these new earbuds are smaller, cheaper, and boast improved sound and active noise cancellation. Coming in at $249.95, are they worth picking up versus the competition? Find out in this review.
- Current Price: $249.95 (Amazon)
- Microphone: MEMS
- Supported Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP
- THD, total harmonic distortion: <0.08% (1 kHz / 94 dB)
- Ear coupling: ear canal
- Transducer: TrueResponse™ dynamic, 7 mm diameter
- Charging time: approx. 1.5 hrs for full charge, after 10 min charging 1 hrs music playtime
- Pick-up pattern: 3 mics per earbud, beamforming for noise reduction
- Operating time: 7 hrs
- Power supply: 5 V?, 1000 mA max, USB charging via USB-C socket at charging case; Qi Wireless charging
- Battery Specification: Built-in Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries; left/right earbud: 77 mAh, charging case: 850-950 mAh
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.2 compliant, class 1, 10 mW (max)
- Codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX™, aptX adaptive™
- Frequency range: 5 Hz – 21 kHz
- Sensitivity: 107 dB SPL (1 kHz / 1 mW)
- Noise cancellation: Hybrid Adaptive ANC
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 - Key Features and First Impressions
As you might guess from the name, the Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds are the third release in Sennheiser’s flagship line of true wireless earbuds. That means the company has had time to learn, evolve, and refine its design. The line has always been popular, but in my estimation, this is the best version of the Momentum True Wireless earbuds yet. Sennheiser has listened and responded, advancing the already award-winning formula in form, function, and most importantly, sound quality.
The buds come in simple packaging, in keeping with the rest of its mainstream line-up. Once open, you’ll find the new, smaller case, hiding the earbuds inside. In separate cardboard sleeves are three sets of ear tips (XS, S, and L; medium is pre-installed), three sets of retention wings for added stability in the ear, and the USB charging cable. There’s also included documentation with a quick start guide, warranty, and a card advising you to download the app to access all of the features the buds have to offer.
The case is smaller this generation, which makes it easier to slip into a pocket and carry through the day. It shares the same stylish design as its predecessors and is wrapped in fabric. Though I was concerned about this design in the first generation, it’s proved to be durable and hasn’t frayed, so seeing it return here means no fingerprints, an easier grip when taking it out of the pocket, and a better-looking charging case. It’s also been improved with Qi wireless charging, which is a nice addition to cut another cable from your life.
The buds themselves have also undergone a redesign. Instead of the circular shape of past MTW models, the MTW3s are smaller and more rectangular in shape. They don’t stick out from the ears quite as much and provide an easier fit for me compared to prior generations.
Battery life is one of the most important features for a pair of true wireless earbuds and these compete well with other flagship headsets. Sennheiser rates these the same as the last generation at 7 hours per charge and comes to a total of 28 hours with the charging case included. In practice, they offer an improvement from the Momentum True Wireless 2s of nearly an hour, coming in at about 6.25 hours with active noise cancellation enabled.
These new buds also make use of a new driver. Like last generation, they use a 7mm dynamic driver, but this model features Sennheiser’s new TrueResponse transducer. With it comes a redefined tuning that adds more clarity in the mids and highs, leaning a bit further into its audiophile roots (though you can set your own in the app). Driver performance is very good, and I expect most listeners will be impressed by the sound quality they’re able to deliver.
Along with the new drivers, the buds also support high-res listening with the aptX Adaptive codec. This is the latest and greatest of the aptX codecs, but to make the most of it, you’ll need a recent device that supports it. If yours doesn’t, never fear because aptX Adaptive is backward compatible and can transmit to standard aptX and aptX HD devices just fine. I would love for Sennheiser to take the just and support LDAC, but sadly that isn’t the case this time around.
Before moving on, it’s worth giving a special nod to the controls built into these buds. Sennheiser allows you to tie controls to single, double, and triple taps, as well as holding each bud. Doing so, you can have full control at your fingertips. Play and pause is handled with a single tap, track navigation, ANC, and your smart assistant are summoned with double and triple touches. Volume is handled by holding either earbud: right turns the volume up and left turns it down. What’s even better here is that there are feedback tones for each, so you can immediately tell how many taps have been registered. Compared to buds that use the same tone for everything or none at all, this is a big improvement and makes the touch controls much more useful and easy to use.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 - Comfort and Fit
The new design of the Momentum True Wireless 3 is an absolute improvement in terms of comfort, fit, and style. Though I enjoyed the previous models, their design always led to my inner ear becoming slightly sore over time. This seemed to be a quirk of my anatomy (most users didn’t report this), but the changes here, combined with proper tips, finally make this a set I can wear all day without needing to take breaks. I will note, however, that it’s important to insert these a bit more shallowly than you may be used to with other true wireless earbuds.
Sennheiser has also put finding a comfortable and secure fit at the forefront of the design. This model takes a cue from its Sport True Wireless earbuds with new retention wings. These come in four sizes to match the different silicone tips and your ears. The wings are fairly small (definitely smaller than the Sports) but do a good job of keeping the buds secure in your ear during vigorous movement. If you do use these for exercise, you’ll be pleased to hear that they’re IPX4 rated and should be fine for sweat resistance.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 - Sound and ANC Performance
These are the best-sounding Momentum True Wireless earbuds to date. As a fan of past models and of the Sennheiser sound in general, I was quite pleased with their tuning out of the box. The sound is big and detailed, a perfect fit for pop, hip-hop, and rock songs with driving bass and drum beats. That isn’t to say the bass is overdone or bleeds into the rest of the mix. The bass has its place and doesn’t overplay its hand, which leads to these buds having an overall balanced but fun sound signature.
With that in mind, it’s also possible to tune the sound exactly to your liking. Inside the Smart Control app, there’s a smart EQ feature called Sound Check. Using your own music, you choose between three EQ choices in a quick quiz, selecting which sounds best to you. When you’re done, a custom EQ is applied based on the preferences you selected. Because this uses your own music and not a random track as SoundID requires, I found this to work surprisingly well. My custom tuning turned up the bass slightly and boosted the treble to bring out even more detail. I did have to dial the treble back one notch, but it was very close. I was impressed.
The app also allows you to choose from set EQ presets and control other features, like setting custom sound zones. This feature makes use of your phone’s GPS so the app can detect when you’re in a certain area and adjust the noise control automatically. This is a wonderful feature for commuters, allowing your buds to automatically turn on noise-canceling with you’re traveling and turn it off again when you enter the office. The app also lets you customize touch controls if you don’t find what’s built-in intuitive enough.
The active noise cancellation is excellent but not customizable. Instead, the buds feature adaptive noise cancellation and will monitor the noise in your environment and adjust the ANC level to match. I would definitely prefer to have full control, but the adaptive ANC does an outstanding job. Contrary to the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro’s adaptive ANC, the Momentum True Wireless 3 doesn’t jump around and change levels suddenly.
The level of noise reduction is truly impressive. They compete with the best ANC earbuds on the market, including the Sony WF-1000XM4s. There is very little cabin pressure effect, and the noise reduction extends moderately into the mids to block out a range of typical office noise. From the first MTW earbuds, these have come a long way and are now outstanding.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds should be at the top of your list if you’re in the market for true wireless earbuds with active noise canceling. They’re premium price, yet cheaper than prior Momentum earbuds were at launch, which makes them feel like a better value. While there are a couple of quirks, like the non-customizable noise cancellation, they’re a stellar buy and an exceptionally easy recommendation to make.
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