Bluetooth 5 aptX LL, aptX, and AAC Effective noise cancellation Sound quality Excellent build quality Multiconnect, fast autoconnect
The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 headphones build upon the Momentum line while retaining the same grade-A build quality and style. Connection quality is excellent in part due to the Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and an array of high-quality Bluetooth codec support. If you want a snazzy pair of headphones and aren’t bothered by the high cost, the Momentum Wireless 3 could be your next travel buddy.
The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 is a luxuriant noise cancelling headset, which is made painfully obvious by the $400 price. Sennheiser relies on its mature design and audio engineering expertise to make the new Momentum Wireless stand out from the sea of capable ANC headphones. Time to find out if these expensive headphones are worth the money, or if you’re better off with something more pedestrian.
Editor’s note: this review was updated on January 31, 2020, to account for price changes and Bluetooth multipoint.
Sennheiser sourced genuine leather for the headband and plush covering for the memory foam ear cups. Matte steel arms extend from the headband and feature a sliding mechanism for adjusting the fit. The ear cups minimally rotate, allowing them to rest comfortably. Despite the deluxe ear pads, a hotspot always formed at the crown of my head by the 1.5-hour mark; this happened no matter how I positioned the ear cups.
These cans hardly deviate from previous iterations: the design is nearly identical save for the button layout on the right ear cup’s edge. It forgoes plastic buttons and sliders, opting instead for a rubberized, matte material. In order to access your virtual assistant, press the Bluetooth pairing button once. This third-generation model also does away with the power button. Instead, folding the ear cups toward the headband initiates powering down, something we’ve seen from Jabra and Beats. Beware of the folding hinges. I carelessly unfolded the headphones and pinched my fingers on multiple occasions.
One of my favorite features of the headset is its auto-pause/play functionality. This occurs when the headphones are removed and worn, respectively. Another great feature is multipoint, which lets you connect up to two devices to the Momentum Wireless 3 simultaneously. I used this while working to connect my computer and phone. That way, I could stream music from the former but hear incoming notification dings from the latter.
Rather than last model’s drawstring bag and stitched case, Sennheiser provides a stout, cylindrical carrying case. The top and bottom panels are stiff but pliable. It’s not as nice as the previous carrying case but has an internal elastic pocket for storing the included 3.5mm cable and USB-C charging cable.
Sennheiser’s proprietary app is free on both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. While it isn’t required in order to use the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3, it has nifty tools that may be of interest. Like most accompanying headphone apps, this includes a way to customize the EQ and enable voice assistant access. You can also adjust the degree to which you hear external noise when Transparent Hearing is enabled, and how aggressive you want the noise cancelling to be. There are three ANC modes: anti-pressure, anti-wind, and maximum, listed in ascending order.
One of the major features separating the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 from the Momentum Wireless 2 is Tile tracking integration. It allows you to see where your headphones are located, making it useful for the forgetful among us.
Low-end attenuation isn’t the best available, which is a shame given how expensive the headphones are.
Noise cancellation is really good. It outperforms the Master & Dynamic MW65 when it comes to filtering out midrange and treble frequencies. However, the low-end attenuation isn’t great compared to top competitors like Sony, Bose, and AKG. If you spend a lot of time on rickety trains, you’ll likely prefer the performance of the previously mentioned brands. If you go with Sony or AKG, you’ll save a significant amount of cash, too.
With noise cancelling turned on, the battery lasts 13 hours, 17 minutes. This should get you a full week of commuting and nearly any international flight. If you listen to levels quieter than 75dB, which you likely will, then the battery should last closer to Sennheiser’s posited 17-hours. When the battery is drained, you can quick-charge the headset with the included USB-C cable. Just 10 minutes of charging yields 1.5 hours of listening.
You can check the remaining battery life via the Smart Control app or by holding the multifunction button down for two seconds. If you need extended battery life from your ANC headset, look into either the Sony WH-1000XM3 or Bose QuietComfort 35 II.
You can connect the new Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3.0 to your smartphone via NFC or the standard Bluetooth pairing process. For the NFC route, enable NFC from your phone’s settings and hold the device next to the Momentum’s right ear cup. A pop-up will appear on your phone confirming a successful pairing process.
Once connected, you benefit from three high-quality Bluetooth codecs: AAC, aptX, and aptX Low-Latency. As it stands, AAC’s performance remains dubious on Android devices. However, it streams consistently well on iPhones. Fortunately for us Android users, we can listen to our favorite tunes over either aptX codec. For anyone looking for the best possible audio quality, use the included 3.5mm cable as wired is still leagues ahead of Bluetooth audio quality. Unfortunately, the cable doesn’t have an integrated mic and remote module.
Bluetooth 5.0 firmware is an improvement over its predecessor, which operated via Bluetooth 4.0. Not only can you connect to multiple devices, but the new Momentum Wireless also boasts a snappy autoconnect feature. A Bluetooth headset with good autoconnect technology is essential. Otherwise, it’s a hassle to manually select a designated pair of headphones every time you want to listen to something.
Although bass frequencies are healthily exaggerated, they rarely impede midrange frequency reproduction.
In typical Sennheiser fashion, the headphones sound superb. As gathered by the appearance of the headphones, these are intended for general consumers, rather than professionals, and the sound signature reflects that. The bass bump (red) informs us that low-end notes sound up to twice as loud as their midrange counterparts (green). This is great for pop and hip-hop as it lends a nice oomph to tunes. However, if you favor folk or classical music, you may find it useful to EQ the sound in the Smart Control app.
The dip from 2.5-5kHz isn’t a mistake. The same de-emphasis is heard with the Momentum True Wireless earbuds. This frequency range tends to produce unpleasant harmonic resonances that are amplified when a proper seal is formed against the ear. By lessening the loudness of these frequencies, audio is perceived as clearer.
In Mallrat’s song Charlie, Grace Shaw’s voice is relayed front and center during the first verse. The accompanying piano doesn’t overpower her vocals. While the frequency response depicts a strong low-end, instrumental separation is fantastic and auditory masking is rarely an issue. It isn’t until the last third of the song (2:29) when the bass kicks in that Shaw’s voice and finger-snapping become slightly degraded by the low-end. To completely avoid this, you can lessen the bass response in the app.
The microphone amplifies voices which can cause clipping and the presence of fricatives and plosives. While the mic isn’t bad by any stretch, the person on the other line will know that you’re speaking from a headset microphone. If you have a low-pitched voice, others may comment that you sound distant or hollow. This is a consequence of the marked low-end attenuation.
If you don’t have time to peruse our in-depth list of the best noise cancelling headphones, here’s a quick breakdown: the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 is a stunning headset with fine noise cancelling properties. Using these cans is certainly better than over-ears sans-ANC but they can’t compare to the Sony WH-1000XM3 or Bose 700 Headphones, both of which are more affordable than the third-generation Momentum Wireless headphones.
The target audience for Sennheiser’s headphones overlaps with those interested in the Master & Dynamic MW65: both headsets offer ok noise cancelling with the main selling point being style and build quality. If you want an over-ear headset that’s slightly more portable, the MW65 ANC is a great alternative. Sound reproduction features a less emphasized low and is more neutral-leaning overall; plus, ANC can block out low-frequency sounds with greater effectiveness than the Sennheiser cans. Ultimately, both are great options and what you choose will likely be determined by aesthetic preference.
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Practically speaking, there are significantly better values out there. For those who need the best all-around headphones, look into the Sony WH-1000XM3 instead. However, those headphones don’t have the same kind of durability offered by the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless, and definitely not as stylish.
For those loyal to the Sennheiser brand or those who want their headphones to appear timeless, the $400 price is probably justifiable. It’ll be difficult for me to part with this review unit because of the ease of use and instantaneous autoconnect. I imagine this mirrors iPhone users’ experiences with the AirPods and Apple AirPods Pro; anyone who picks up the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless will immediately fall in love with the extraordinary build quality.
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