Sennheiser CX and CX Plus true wireless earphones – a double act (review)

The Sennheiser CX and CX Plus are Bluetooth true wireless earphones. The latter has noise cancelling (ANC). They remain true to Sennheiser’s focus on neutral sound – well, as much as you can for closed-back earphones.

Let’s face it; there are a plethora of earphones. At last count, JB Hi-Fi listed 190 brands/models/variations of True Wireless in-ear earphones. That goes to over 300 with cabled earphones. Sennheiser starts with the CX at $199, and the CX Plus is only $259. Further up are the Momentum 2 Open-back at $299 (on runout) that put music quality first over compressive ANC.

The purpose of a deep-diver review is to narrow the field and let you decide what is best for your needs.

Sennheiser CX and CX Plus true wireless earphones

ItemSennheiser CX Plus
Model CXPLUSTWI
Sennheiser CX
Model CX200TWI

WebsiteProductProduct
Price$259 (you may see them for $229) inc shipping$199
Warranty2-yearsSame
Country of originChinaSame
ColoursBlack or WhiteSame
BluetoothQualcomm 5.2
SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Adaptative
Same
SBC, AAC, aptX
Battery (claims)8 hours (ANC off 50% volume)
4-5 hours (ANC on)
Plus 16 hours in the case
9 hours
N/A
Plus 18 in the case
Charge time (case)90 minutes 0-100%
10 minutes 1 hour
Any charger 5V/.6A or higher
Same
15 minutes for 1 hour
Same
AppSennheiser Smart Control for Android and iOSSame
ANC (Active noise cancellation)YesPassive sound isolation
ControlsTouch and programmable in the AppSame
SidetoneYes, via App and excellentSame
Hear throughTransparent Hearing ModeN/A
Voice guidanceBasicSame
SpeakersTrueResponse Transducer Sennheiser 7mm dynamic driver 5Hz-2100kHzSame
Mono modeYesYes
Personal sound profile  
EQInnovative waveform plus pre-sets Movie, Podcast, Bass Boost, Neutral, and custom
Downloads to internal EQ
Same
Ear tipsFour sizes supplied
XS, S, M, L
Same
MicFour mics per bud (2 for voice)Two mics per bud (voice)
IPX4 rain/sweat resistantSame
Weight (g)6gSame
Voice assistantsOK Google, SiriSame

First impression (CX and CX+)

German engineering – solid and well built. The buds fit in the ear canal, although not as deep down as others. They do stick out a little from the outer ear – a common issue with many earphones and not nearly as much as the dorky Pod style. Anyway, it’s a status symbol to see the Sennheiser Logo.

A choice of four ear tip sizes means it will fit most from young adults to seniors. The ear tips are for passive noise isolation only.

Sound – reasonably neutral with lots of scope to change in the App

We cannot accurately measure earphone sound, so this is subjective. In neutral mode, no ANC, there is a fair bit of bass, and the upper treble range is a little thin. But you can easily manage this in the App to get a warm and sweet signature (bass and mid boosted and treble recessed) best for most music. Or if clear dialogue (bass recessed, mid boosted, treble recessed) is what you need, then select that. There is no perceptible distortion so often experienced in buds in this price range.

Both are almost identical until you enable ANC, and the CX+ can become slightly muddy (bass) and the treble a little boomy. Again, it is just a matter of looking at the pre-set that suits your taste. I like the flexibility the Waveform EQ offers, but most will use the pre-sets.

The sound stage comes from within your ears (only open-back buds can have a wider sound stage) but the stereo left/right separation is outstanding, probably because the German-engineered buds match so well. You can hear sound objects move from one side to the other. There is no sound leakage if you have the right tip size.

ANC (CX+ only)

It is either on or off – no customisable levels – and most are happy with that. Sennheiser put music quality first over ANC. Great low-frequency suppression (<100Hz). Speech 1-4kHz left alone, and good suppression of annoying high-pitched sounds 10kHz or more.

Transparent hearing mode is excellent.

Hands-free

It is good on both. The CX+ has more natural sound and better ambient noise reduction, but both are good hands-free with voice sidetone (hear your voice in the earphones). Wind noise is an issue – indoor use is best. Callers noted a slight preference for the CX+ sound.

Latency

Neither showed any signs of latency when connected to Android or iOS. There was evident latency playing a video on a PC indicating >200ms.

Comfort – closed back but not too deep in-ear canal

We tested the buds for two hours each, and there was no evident outer ear or inner ear heat. If you suffer fairly common pulsatile tinnitus (hearing your heartbeat in your ears), itchy ear, or hay fever, the open-back Sennheiser Momentum 2 is better. Any open-back over-the-ear headphones are best.

Sennheiser Sound Control App

Perhaps the most outstanding feature is the waveform EQ. There is a standard frequency-based EQ, and some pre-sets for those that don’t want to use it. The nice thing about both is that the EQ/pre-set downloads to the buds, so you don’t need the App after setup.

Sidetone (hear your voice in the earphones) is adjustable, and it is one of the better I have used.

It does not support Android fast pair yet, so the App can take its sweet time to find the buds.

It does not have Android fast pair, so you connect the buds to your device Bluetooth first and then wait for the App to find them – just a little slower. Nor do they support multi-point (connect to two devices), but they will remember the last eight device connections – again, just a little slower. As they use BT 5.2, I suspect a firmware upgrade will fix this.

Cybershack view – Sennheiser CX and CX Plus true wireless earphones

OK, I admit I am a sucker for anything, Sennheiser. That is because I have been using the brand since the 80s and even got spare parts (batteries and earpads) for an old over-the-ear headphone that cost a motza back then.

The decision is ANC (CX+) or not (CX). Both will please you.

CX+ shines

  • Music quality first, ANC second
  • SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Adaptative – excellent choices

CX Shines

  • Same great music quality
  • SBC, AAC, aptX (no Adaptive)
  • Longer battery life (no ANC)
  • Value although the CX+ is only $60 more

Both have

  • Sennheiser quality
  • Sennheiser neutral sound signature
  • Comprehensive App and brilliant EQ/pre-sets
  • IPX4 is rain/sweatproof
  • Good passive noise isolation, particularly low- and high-end attenuation

Comparisons (we exclude sports versions and most Pod styles)

The CX at $199 paddles in the same pool as Sony WF-XB700 ($199), Samsung Galaxy Buds Live ($199), and BlueAnt Pump Pro ($199 software ANC). For a few dollars more are the AirPods 2nd Gen ($219), Jabra 75t ($219), and JBL Live 300 ($229). Having heard most of these, the Jabra is a 2020 model (replaced by 85t), but its open back design gives it a wider sound stage, software ANC, and its App is excellent. However, that starts you on the slippery slope of upselling. So, if you want to keep just under $200, the CX is my pick.

The CX+ at $259 would be my choice. Again, on the upsell, the Jabra Elite 7 ANC ($279) are competitive. Read more at Jabra Elite 7 Pro and Elite 3 earphones for all tastes and budgets (review). But the wild card is the excellent Sennheiser Momentum 2 at $299 (runout pricing) that are fantastic value, open-back and with the same great App.

Ratings

Both are excellent – ANC is the ostensible difference. They are well-featured, have that Sennheiser neutral sound (that you can adjust in the App) and quality build.

Sennheiser CX and CX Plus true wireless earphones

CX $199 and CX Plus $259
9

Features

9.0/10

Value

9.0/10

Performance (Music)

9.5/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Design

9.0/10

Pros

  • Sennheiser quality and warranty
  • Sennheiser sound signature
  • Comprehensive App
  • Decent battery life (ANC off)

Cons

  • Pulsatile tinnitus, itchy ear, and hay-fever sufferers need open-back over-the-ear-headphones – not in-ear canal buds
  • Not a very wide sound stage (no closed-back is)


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