Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless review: Mediocrity at its best
Quick verdict: Sennheiser is one of the best in the earbud business. But with an increasingly competitive mid-range market, the CX True Wireless are fine but do little to stand out among the crowd.
- Decent price
- EQ customisation
- Passive noise blocking is pretty good
- Battery isn’t great
- Not the most secure feeling in-ear
- The balance with bass and highs are a bit off
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are so good that even 18 months after release they are still some of the best wireless earbuds on the market. This had us curious as to what to expect from the company's new mid-range offering, the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless. And look, they're fine. They just don't really do anything to stick out.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless review: Design
The Sennheiser Momentum CX Plus True Wireless can be best described as "blocky". From the case to the earbuds, there is a distinct rectangular vibe to them. This is particularly obvious when contracted with the flagship Momentum True Wireless 2, which have more of a rounded design.
The front of the case contains a small LED light to indicate charging, and at the rear you'll find a USB-C charging port. Standard. Practical. We like it.
While they never became uncomfortable, they weren't as pleasant to use for long periods as the Momentum 2. This was especially true for vigorous exercise – they just never felt as secure as I'd like. Fortunately, there are 4 different tips options to choose from. I just didn't quite find the perfect fit.
The buds do have an IPX4 water resistance so they're splash-proof, which is always nice.
As for colour options, Sennheiser is keeping it simple with classic black or white.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless review: Performance
The performance of the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless was a bit of a mixed bag for me.
The set-up was a breeze. Being a Bluetooth-powered device it connected easily to my phone and I was ready to fill my ears with my terrible taste in music within about 30 seconds.
The on-bud controls were also easy. A simple press lets you play, pause and skip your content of choice. You are also able to customise this further in the Sennheiser Smart Control app.
Being mid-range earbuds, the CX Plus True Wireless don't have in-ear detection. This is a feature that will automatically pause your content when it detects that both of the buds have been removed. This isn't strange for earbuds at this price point – this gesture is generally reserved for pricier buds. But it is something I found myself missing in order to not lose my place in an audiobook or podcast.
Unfortunately, I did find some connectivity issues with the CX Plus True Wireless. It didn't happen all the time but occasionally I did find that the left bud in particular would drop out. The buds definitely had enough charge so it was quite odd.
I am hoping this was just a one-off unique to my set. Hopefully it's something that can be fixed with a firmware update.
But overall the performance of the CX Plus True Wireless was pretty good, just not the best.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless review: Audio performance
If you're hoping for the level of audio quality delivered by higher-end Sennheisers, you should quell those expectations.
Where the Momentum True Wireless 2 are rich and complicated, the CX Plus True Wireless buds are far more pared back. And this makes sense considering they're about half the RRP.
They're by no means bad but I noticed quite a bit of flattening between the bass, mids and treble.
You don't lose all of the complexities between the different levels and instruments but you're not going to get an earth-shattering audio experience.
What you will get is a little bit of harshness, particularly on the bass. It can reverb aggressively in your ears. The same goes on particularly high vocals, which can come off as somewhat shrill if the volume is too high. Both of these things could result in fuzziness across the overall track, depending on the song and circumstances. Lowering the volume certainly helped and again, it wasn't terrible. It just wasn't a particularly high-class audio experience.
Fortunately, you can tailor this experience to your personal preferences by playing with the EQ in the Sennheiser Smart Control app. Using this I was able to pare back the harshness of the default bass and treble, which was super handy.
The CX Plus True Wireless also boasts active noise cancellation (ANC). And while it goes alright, I would compare it to the likes of the AirPods Pro or even the passive noise blocking on the mid-range Sony WF-C500 earbuds.
If you've read my headphone reviews before you may already know that my stress test environment of choice is the gym. There's thumping music, loud weights being dropped and a lot of blokey blokes. If a set of earbuds can survive all that they're doing pretty well.
While some noises still filter in, it can dull loud and environmental noise around you enough to not be distracting. For example, I can still hear office chatter, but it's dampened. If the CX Plus True Wireless were only boasting passive noise blocking (like the WF-C500s) I would be stoked with this result.
But considering Sennheiser is going the whole hog on ANC here, I am less impressed. That being said, not everyone likes ANC. So if you're someone who prefers more of a noise dampening feature from their headphones, I think these could be perfect for you. Sounds are dulled but you're still very much aware of your surroundings.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless review: Battery
The battery life on the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless is said to get 8 hours with ANC switched on. The charging case offers an extra 18 hours.
This brings us to 26 hours total, which is 2 less than the flagship Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2. On the one hand, it's a shame that a product that is 18 months fresher has a worse battery life. But on the other hand, this is only a mid-range set of earbuds. And as I argued in the Momentum review, they really should have had an even beefier battery.
While Sennheiser's estimations aren't 100% accurate, that's never going to happen anyway. Earbud battery can be impacted by things like volume and call usage as well.
But it's worth noting there are cheaper, and very good, wireless earbuds that get better battery, including the Jabra Elite 3. But then some batteries are worse, like in the Sony WF-C500s.
You also can't rely on quick charge functionality like you can on a lot of modern wireless earbuds. The Sennheiser CX Plus will only give you an hour of playback from 10 minutes of charging. That's not particularly great.
So overall the battery life on the CX isn't bad at all, it's just not best-in-class.
Should you buy it?
- Buy it if you're looking for a solid set of mid-range earbuds without all the bells and whistles.
- Don't buy it if you want the best experience regarding audio quality.
The low-to-mid-range wireless earbud space has become super interesting over the past 12 months. It's getting very competitive and difficult to stand out when the majority of manufacturers are doing a pretty decent job at it.
In the last few months alone we have seen great buds under $200 from the likes of Jabra and Sony. Now Sennheiser has entered the chat with CX Plus True Wireless, but it's coming in higher at $259.95. That makes them a harder sell.
There's really nothing wrong with them. They're pretty good! But there's also nothing here that makes them stand out against the fierce competition, especially at that price point. And that's a shame because Sennheiser rivals Sony for the top spot in the battle between the Momentum 2 and WF-1000XM4s.
I really want to see Sennheiser do more to excite me at this cheaper price point.
It also doesn't help that in the 18 months since the Momentum 2 launched they have dropped dramatically in price online. If you're willing to spend a bit more, you can get the flagship buds for as low as $250 online nowadays.
This leaves very little room for the CX Plus when they aren't particularly special. Let's talk when they're cheaper.
Pricing and availability
PriceThe Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless have an RRP of $259.95.
Where to buy
How we tested
The Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless buds were tested extensively over a 2-week period. They were used for music, podcasts and phone calls while stationary and during exercise. Sennheiser provided the earbuds for the purposes of this review.
The author has been testing and reviewing headphones for over 5 years.
Images: Tegan Jones