Sennheiser True Wireless Momentum 3 BT/ANC earphones (review)
The Sennheiser True Wireless Momentum 3 are a refinement of what could arguably be called the best sounding True Wireless Momentum 2 earphones. Pure music pleasure.
To position these, you are competing with the $389 Sony WF-1000XM4 (Sony WF-1000XM4 are remarkable BT, ANC earphones (long-term review), $399 Bose QuietComfort and $349 OPPO Enco X Dynaudio OPPO Enco series earphones – Buds, Air, Free2, and X – too good to ignore.
All have strengths and few weaknesses
- Sony: Hands-free, neutral sound signature – no aptX
- Bose: Noise-cancelling and strong bass – no aptX
- OPPO: Exceptional all-rounder with LHDC
- Sennheiser: mature multi-genre music reproduction, wider sound stage and comfort
We have all four on our testbed for comparison, and you would be ecstatic with any of them. If you have a Qualcomm-based smartphone, the aptX Adaptive Codec is the key advantage of OPPO and Sennheiser.
Ratings – explanation
Readers have asked for more information on the strengths and weaknesses of each aspect of review devices and an overall rating. Against each segment heading, we will place PASS (everything you can expect from a comparable device/price), EXCEED (more than can you can expect) and FAIL (less than you should expect).
Sennheiser True Wireless Momentum 3 BT/ANC earphones
|Website||Product Page and Manual|
|From||Sennheiser online, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and good CE retailers|
|Warranty||2-year warranty (exceed)|
|Company||Sennheiser (Est 1945) is a German privately-held audio company specialising in designing and producing a wide range of high fidelity products, including microphones, headphones, telephone accessories, and aviation headsets for personal, professional, and business applications.|
Sonova Holding, based in Switzerland – a global provider of medical hearing solutions – now own its consumer audio business
|More||Cybershack Sennheiser news and reviews|
What is the difference between Momentum TW3 and TW2?
The sound signature is unchanged. The main improvements are
- Qi charge case (no)
- 3 x Upgraded MEMS mics (2 – not MEMS)
- 77/850mAh bud/case battery (60/600) – similar battery life
- BT 5.2 (5.1)
- aptX Adaptive (aptX)
- Upgraded ANC specs
- 5.8g (6)
If the improvements don’t excite, bag a bargain with the M2 at $249 on sale.
First impression – Exceed
Sennheiser has always been about music quality. If that means a little less ANC (that can compress/clip music), let Bose own that turf.
The Qi case has an excellent durable woven fabric cover with a strong magnetic clip. The USB-C connector and indicator LED are on the front. It is Qi-compatible – you can use any Qi wireless pad, and it negotiates the correct wattage.
The buds are a little more subtle with no hard edges -sculpted. Where the M2s had a chrome endcap and black logo, these have a sculptured and polished (graphite in the review unit) end cap and etched logo.
The ear wings (stabilisers) are subtle and ensure a good fit and stop them from falling out in exercise. IPX4 is sweatproof.
Comfort – Exceed
I wore them for eight hours (as long as the battery lasted), and they are fine. Many earphones become hot and uncomfortable – not these. But that all comes down to ear fit and the correct silicone ear tips and wings.
There is no App ‘fit test’ as in Sony. If external bass-heavy sound attenuates, you will know if the fit is good.
The App – Exceed
The App downloads all customisations to the earphones. After any firmware updates EQ settings, you don’t need it.
Connection manager can remember the last six devices and auto-pair, or you can change the pairing in the App. It does not support multi-point (simultaneous connection to two devices) – few do.
The EQ is very comprehensive, offering many music genres. Frankly, we liked it in default (flat). There are also settings for bass boost and speech clarity (perfect for podcasts and hearing impaired).
Sound check is interesting, and we are still not entirely sure how it works, but it can help clarity, richness and soundstage of the music genres you like. You can create up to 20 pre-sets.
Transparency mode allows you to set the default for voice over music, pause music and off.
Sound Zones can identify 20 types of listing zones – home, office, gym etc. It is GPS/Location linked, and you can specify noise reduction and EQ settings when entering or leaving the zone.
Controls – Pass
Touch controls comprise one, two or three taps plus hold for volume up or down on each bud – eight commands. You can change these in the App, and we had no issues with false touches etc. When a phone call comes in, the bud’s touch changes to accept or reject the call on either ear.
Bluetooth codecs – Exceed
As this uses a Qualcomm Bluetooth chipset, it includes SBC (standard), Apple (AAC), aptX (compresses and uncompresses the data stream on the fly, so it provides more bandwidth for HD audio) and aptX Adaptive codecs.
Adaptive means if your host device supports it (Qualcomm-based smartphones), it can adapt bit rates (279 to 420kbps) and gives lower latency (80ms versus 200ms for other codecs).
We tested to 10 metres, and the connection was stable.
Battery Life – Pass
Sennheiser claims 7 hours ANC off and does not quote ANC on figures. In our 8-hour test at 65% volume, we achieved 8 hours of playback (ANC off) and six hours (ANC on).
Battery charging time 0-100% is 1.5 hours (for the case and buds) using a 5V/1A/5W charger. The Qi charger takes around 2 hours.
Fast charge is 10 minutes for one hour (verified). Battery life is shown via the case LED or by percentage in the App.
Hands-free – Pass
This is one area that the TWM3s have over the TWM2s. Three MEMs grade mics on each bud for good ANC, noticeable wind reduction (App option) and voice beamforming.
It easily passes our standards, but the Sony WF-1000XM4 is marginally better.
Voice control – Pass
OK, Google was quick and easy – 3 taps on the left bud. It will summon Alex and Siri as well.
ANC – Pass
ANC is adaptive, meaning it is on (and constantly adjusting), with transparent conversation mode or off.
It has adequate 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.
It is a hybrid, meaning about 60% comes from passive isolation (good fit) and the remainder from active cancellation. Active blocks sub-100Hz to reduce bass rumble. Mid and treble mainly rely on passive isolation (as it should be) to not compress or clip the music.
We can’t test a Jumbo jet on take-off, but it will cut about 20dB from deep bass noise.
Latency – Exceed
With the aptX, Adaptive codec latency is reduced from over 200ms (SBC) to about 80ms, so gamers should be able to use these.
Sound – Exceed – a reasonably neutral blank canvas for the EQ
Sennheiser’s focus is on sound, not ANC. It has a neutral (flat) sound signature that means a blank canvas for the EQ (+/- 6dB Bass, Mid, Treble). In default mode, it had noticeable mid-bass, flat mid and treble and a terrific presence (which means it has high-treble as well).
We can’t test in-ear earphones, so it is all about the music (How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide).
- The Blue’s Brothers Peter Gun Theme has everything from deep bass to high instrumentals, and it has the edge on all the premium earphones – lovely and lively.
- Beach Boys vocal is crisp and clear and has no harshness at the top end.
- Manhattan Transfer Twilight Zone is superb with so much detail and directionality.
Volume is OK- 80dB is the maximum you can drive these over Bluetooth.
Sound stage – exceed
The sound stage is slightly wider than your head, and when playing Dolby Atmos content (DA for headphones) gives a good meter-wide sound bubble.
Build/Warranty – Exceed
A two-year warranty for an in-ear earphone is excellent. Add the precision build and evident quality, and it’s a keeper.
Missing – Pass
- Multi-point connection simultaneously to two hosts (few do this)
- NFC pairing (few do this)
- Latency is too high for gaming (although aptX Adaptive is way faster than SBC or AAC)
CyberShack’s view – Sennheiser True Wireless Momentum 3 BT/ANC are killer music buds
I have always liked Sennheiser’s sound signature in headphones (open or closed back) and now earphones. I really don’t know how a 7mm transducer (speaker) can reproduce near over-the-ear headphone quality – but it does.
Having used these for a week, I know the second killer feature – comfort. The addition of the changeable wings (stabilisers) makes all-day use easy.
What would I buy (if I wanted premium buds)?
It is a real conundrum. Sennheiser has the music advantage ad aptX. Sony has almost as good a sound signature, better hands-free but no aptX. Bose has better ANC. And let’s not forget OPPO Enco X Dynaudio as an exceptional all-rounder with LHDC, and it costs less.
You would be ecstatic with any of these four, but pure music pleasure is what buds are about for me.
And don’t forget that there are exceptional mid-range and even entry-level earphones that could save you money and offer listening pleasure. Its biggest competitor is the Momentum 2 at $150 less – same great music and lower ANC effectiveness.
Earphone comparison chart – Sennheiser True Wireless Momentum 3
|Sennheiser True Wireless Momentum 3|
|Website||Product page and Manual|
|From||Sennheiser and CE retailers|
|Accessories included||S/M/L ear adapter sets and XS/S/M/L ear tips, USB-A to USB-C cable and Qi/USB-C charge case|
|STYLE – exceed|
|POD (not in-ear canal)||No|
|Sports (with wing)||Subtle changeable stabiliser wings|
|IP rating||X4 – splash resistant|
|Ear tip type||Silicone ear tips|
|Colour||Black, Graphite or White|
CONNECTION – exceed
|Codecs||SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Adaptive|
|A2DP, AVRCP, HFP||Yes|
|True Wireless (Qualcomm)||Qualcomm TWS stereo|
|Google Fast Pair||Yes – it will auto-pair to the active device|
|Windows Swift pair||?|
|Multipoint||No, but it can pair to 6 devices but need to change pairing in the App|
|SIZE – exceed|
|Weight each gram||5.8|
|Dimensions W x H x D mm|
|CONTROLS – pass|
|Type||Touch – customisable with voice feedback|
|NOISE – pass|
|ANC||Hybrid adaptive (hardware and software-based).|
Off, Adaptive, Anti-wind
|Ambient passthrough||Yes – transparency mode|
|Game mode||aptX Adaptive is suitable|
|AUDIO – exceed|
|Speaker size mm||7|
|Driver sensitivity 1kHZ/1mw (dB)||107 dB SPL (1 kHz / 1 mW)|
BATTERY (unless cabled) – pass
|mAh in each bud||70|
|mAh in case||820|
|Case charge type (USB or Qi)||USB-C and Qi|
|Charge voltage rating||5V/1A|
|Battery time excluding case ANC off||7 (8 tested)|
|Battery time excluding case ANC on||Ranges from 5.5 to 6 hours|
|Additional battery time in case hours||21 ANC off|
|Charge time case||1.5-hours for charge case USB-C|
3 hours 5W Qi
Fast charge 10 min for 1 hour
|Mic – pass|
|Number on each bud||Three per bud|
|Other||Excellent noise reduction and clear hands-free voice. But you need to select Wind-reduction or noise reduction in the App|
|Voice Assistant – pass|
|Type||All (depends on the smartphone)|
|APP – Exceed||Sennheiser Smart Control|
Sound Zones (20)
Sound Check – personalises the buds to what genres you like (saves pre-sets)
|EQ||EQ – Flat, Rock, Pop, Dance, Hip Hop, Classical, Movie and custom|
Stored on buds
|Find my buds||No|
|Spatial||The buds can simulate Dolby Atmos content|
|OS support||App for Android and iOS and BT connection to any BT host device|
|SPECIAL FEATURES – PASS|
|MISSING – PASS|
|Find my buds|
Sennheiser True Wireless Momentum 3 BT/ANC earphones$399
- Sennheiser quality and warranty
- Sennheiser sound signature
- Comprehensive App and EQ
- Decent battery life
- Decent wider sound stage
- Closed-back, In-ear is not suitable for pulsatile tinnitus, itchy ear, and hay-fever sufferers
- Wind-noise reduction or ANC – you have to select one or the other in the APP