Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review: A sexy feast for the ears, but it’ll cost you
Quick verdict: The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds offer incredible sound quality, comfort and noise cancellation. They prove exactly why Sennheiser is at the top of the true wireless earbuds market. But for $400 I was hoping for an improved battery and more than an incremental upgrade.
- Incredible audio quality
- Excellent active noise cancellation
- Extremely comfortable
- Battery life is the same as the previous generation
- Incremental upgrade
There's been a boom in wireless noise-cancelling earbuds over the last couple of years. Plenty of audio manufacturers are getting in on the action, and yet there are just 2 brands that represent the cream of the crop, and have the price tags to match: Sony and Sennheiser. And after 2 years since its last flagship release, the latter is back with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3.
I was super excited about these, because they were the first true wireless earbuds to rival the Sony WF-1000XM4s, at least in my opinion. But the question is, is it worth spending another $400 when the previous generation was already so good?
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds are slightly re-designed while still remaining spiritually true to their predecessors. They're still centred around prominent touch-sensitive controls, but the design of the Momentum 3 is more of a rounded off rectangle than a circle. The silver buttons are now also all black.
One thing that hasn't changed is the size. They remain quite chunky compared to some competitors in the market but are at least very light. And this is a boon when it comes to long listening sessions. I found the Momentum True Wireless 2 were quite comfortable, especially compared to the Sony WF-1000XM4s. But the Momentum True Wireless 3 have improved upon this.
Between their weight, fit and different ear tip options, I was able to wear them for hours on end without any discomfort. For the most part this was on long walks, in gym sessions and while writing.
Speaking of the gym, you'll once again find an IPX4 water resistance rating, meaning they're splash and sweat proof.
Fans of Sennheiser will recognise the cloth case, which remains on the slightly larger size to help house the sizeable earbuds. However, it is smaller than the previous gen which we love. And fortunately it's not as gargantuan as the true wireless earbud cases that were on the market just a few years ago. While a touch chunky compared to the likes of Apple and Jabra, they'll still fit into a bag or a back pocket without any issues.
Other familiar inclusions are a standard USB-C charging port and a small LED light on the case to indicate battery health.
Those familiar with the Sennheiser bud ecosystem will find no surprises here. Connectivity on Apple and Android devices is still incredibly easy, both over Bluetooth or via the Sennheiser Smart Sensor app.
The bud controls also do exactly what you expect them to. They can be used to control your media, your voice assistant and to answer calls. And if you have any specific preferences for the touch-sensitive controls you can customise them in the app.
You'll also find in-ear detection, which is one of my personal favourite headphone features. This is where the buds or headphones can tell if they have been removed and will pause whatever you're listening to. It's great for both convenience and battery saving.
Unfortunately, I found this to be hit and miss with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3. There were times when I removed the buds but they failed to pause. Not noticing, I would return to a different song or half a chapter further ahead in an audiobook.
That being said, I do have a pre-release version of the buds. These were sent to me over 3 weeks before release (a luxury in the review racket) so I'm assuming it's just a bug. My confidence comes from the fact that the previous generation had this feature and it worked beautifully. So hopefully a firmware update will sort this out.
What did work perfectly was the active noise cancellation (ANC). And this is no surprise. In our guide to the best wireless earbuds in Australia we awarded the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 as the winner for noise cancellation. And this was a big call because the Sony WF-1000XM4s also do a superb job here.
However, Sennheiser has managed to up the ante yet again. In addition to completely blocking out environmental noise, it has also added adaptive noise cancellation this time around. This scans the ambient noise around you to adjust to the environment. It isn't a new feature in the ANC space, but Sennheiser does well with it.
Where I really noticed the difference between generations was with low volume listening. This is the one area of ANC that found the Sony XM4s to have an edge over the Momentum True Wireless 2 but Sennheiser has now caught up. The Momentum True Wireless 3 is now better at blocking noise without the need to pump the volume, which is great news for your hearing health.
And if you're not a fan of ANC, that's no problem. The buds have a transparency mode so you can be more aware of your surroundings and hear things like traffic and public transport announcements. This basically dampens loud ambient sound but still lets just enough in. Alternatively, you can turn noise cancellation off altogether.
If you really want to be extra, you can also play with the Sound Zone functionality in the app. This lets you save different sound preferences for up to 20 different "zones" that can be toggled on or off based on your location. For example, you could have ANC activated while at the office but switch to transparency mode when you leave because you know you'll need to be more aware of your surroundings on the commute home.
I really liked not having to mess with the settings as much (besides the initial set-up) to get the listening experience I wanted in certain environments.
When it comes to wireless noise-cancelling earbuds, you generally can't get me to STFU about the Sony WF-1000XM4. This is pretty evident in this review, as well as most of my others over the past year. But Sennheiser does manage to give them a run for their money, quite literally considering the price tags on both devices.
Once again we have Sennheiser's 7mm drivers to thank for this auditory miracle. It essentially keeps the mids, lows and highs balanced while also highlighting individual components of a song. This is why on higher-end headphones or earbuds you can usually distinguish more instruments and background vocals. It's something that was largely reserved for over-ear headphones until the last couple of years and it still blows me away to see this level of quality in earbuds.
And the Momentum True Wireless 3 are no exception. They support a variety of audio codecs, including AAC, ABC and AptX which is quite good. However, you won't find the likes of HiFi, MQA or Dolby Atmos so Tidal users should be aware of that.
But let's get into it.
I love me some folk and country and find it makes for great sound testing. Sons & Daughters by The Decemberists is beautifully highlighted by the Momentum True Wireless 3. Layers of instruments and vocals are built achingly slowly during the course of the song without a single element being lost to dampening or blending. Everything from the plucking of the guitar, to the banjo to the kick drum gets to be the main character through these earbuds. It makes for a lovely audio experience.
If you're after something a little different, Grimes' Oblivion delivers a great balance between the punchy bass, middling synth and keytar and ethereal vocals. The entire track is incredibly bright and clear, with each element hitting like an auditory uppercut. You won't find any dampening or element loss here. But while cute, we need something to really bring the bass.
Childish Gambino delivers with 3005, which cuts sick on aggressive bass but without killing the melody or layered vocals. The rap elements sit firmly at the front and sound like they're being supported by the strong bass, while the more whispy chorus vocals dance in the background but are still equally highlighted. The sheer balance is eye watering. You simply love to hear it.
But here's the thing. I can confidently say all of the above about the previous generation buds as well. During side by side comparisons it was difficult to distinguish a difference in quality between the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 and 2. If anything I found the True Wireless 3 to be naturally warmer while the previous gen had a brighter sound. But both were truly excellent and those preferences can be achieved through messing with the EQ in the app.
I still consider the sound quality in the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds as better. But when it comes to the Momentum True Wireless 3 (and the previous generation) you're getting an extremely close second in a more comfortable package.
One thing that I was a little let down by was the battery. This isn't because it's bad per se, but because there has been no improvement to it. I find this eyebrow raising when you're dealing with premium tech that has one of the most expensive price tags in the game. I felt the same way about the Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones having the same battery life as the XM3s. Fortunately Sony managed to squeeze a few extra hours into its new bud offering compared to the previous gen.
Okay, but what about the actual numbers? The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 are reported to offer 7 hours of battery life, as well as 3 additional charges from the case. This brings the total up to 28 hours. This isn't the best in market, but we do need to take into account that some cheaper wireless buds can offer more battery because they have less power and fewer features.
However, it's worth noting that the 7-hour quote drops dramatically if you have active noise cancellation activated. In fact, I got similar results here to what I did with the Momentum True Wireless 2 – around 4.5 hours of playback with ANC on and the volume sitting at about 50%.
While this isn't the best outcome, it's also not terrible. And at least you can get quite a few charges from the case before it needs additional juice.
Still, an upgrade would have been nice considering the price point.
Should you buy it?
- Buy it if you have $400 to spare and want one of the best true-wireless bud experiences available.
- Don't buy it if you want something cheaper or with an even better battery life.
If you're looking for the best of the best it's impossible to go past the Sony WF-1000XM4s and now the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3. I still think the Sony earbuds offer the best sound in the business (and the same goes for its over ear headphones) but I have found the Sennheiser buds to be more comfortable and to have slightly better ANC. However, both are solid choices.
That being said, going for the best of the best means you need to have the capital to back it up. And at $400, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 are far from cheap. Though they're less eye-bulging than the original RRP of the Sony earbuds, these days you can find excellent wireless earbuds for less. Some of my recent favourites have been the Jabra Elite 7 Pro, Skullcandy Push Active and Sony WF-C500. But to be fair, they aren't as premium as the Momentum True Wireless 3.
But here's the thing. While truly excellent, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 are still what I would consider an incremental upgrade on the previous generation. There are a few improvements but nothing that places them far and away above their predecessor, especially when it comes to the incredibly similar sound quality. And this is largely because they were already so ahead of the curve even 2 years ago. So if you don't want to spend $400, you might consider picking up the Momentum True Wireless 2 instead.
That being said, I think it was a smart move to come in significantly cheaper than what Sony did with the XM4s in 2021. But if that's still outside your budget you could wait for a sale. We probably won't see the next gen for quite a while and these little guys will still be great in 6-12 months.
Pricing and availability
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 have an RRP of $399.95 in Australia
How we tested
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 were tested extensively over a 3-week period. They were used for music, podcasts and phone calls while stationary and during exercise. The author has been testing and reviewing headphones for over 5 years and won best reviewer at the 2021 IT Journalism awards. Sennheiser provided the product for the purpose of this review.
Images: Tegan Jones