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Sennheiser CX True Wireless
5.5 x 4 x 3.5 cm (case), 3 x 2 x 2 cm (earbud)
49g (in case), 6g (per bud)
Sennheiser’s been plugging away in the true wireless space for a little while now, putting out good but often expensive entries like the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2. Now the company is aiming for a more permissive budget, with the Sennheiser CX True Wireless. This new pair of earbuds lacks active noise cancelling (ANC), but otherwise offers features well in line with its more expensive counterparts.
Is the CX True Wireless the next high-value contender?
Editor’s note: this Sennheiser CX True Wireless review was updated on February 28, 2022 to include more alternative recommendations, as well as a microphone score based on the results of our reader survey. Thanks for voting!
Who is the Sennheiser CX True Wireless for?
- Listeners looking for a new daily driver that won’t break the bank and can last all day.
- Fitness-focused people who want something sweat resistant, but don’t like noise cancelling when out for a run.
What is the Sennheiser CX True Wireless like?
If you’ve seen any of Sennheiser’s recent true wireless releases, the CX True Wireless should be pretty familiar. These earbuds feature the same black boxy shape as the previous CX 400BT, now with all-black matte touch panels instead of the previous glossy ones with silver Sennheiser logos. The case is basically identical to the CX 400BT too.
Start here: What makes a good set of in-ears?
However, if you don’t mind that the Sennheiser CX True Wireless is a clear aesthetic retread, there’s a lot to like here. The earbuds are a little bulky, but pretty lightweight, and they’re pretty secure, provided one of the four included pairs of silicone ear tips (extra small, small, medium, and large) fits your ears well. Unlike many other true wireless earbuds, these don’t have any sort of hook or fin to more actively stay in your ears, so finding the right tip is imperative.
The Sennheiser CX True Wireless case is fairly compact, though it’s bulkier than something like the Apple AirPods case. It’s made of plastic but it doesn’t feel cheap, and the earbuds nestle snugly in their slots, held in place with magnets and tiny pegs near the charging connection.
See also: The best true wireless workout earbuds
The Sennheiser CX True Wireless is IPX4 rated, so it can stand up to sweat and splashes of water just fine, which means you’re safe to work out with them. However, while the fit is largely secure, you may want to stick to workouts that don’t involve vigorous head movement—going for a run can shake them loose, at least a little.
Does the Sennheiser CX True Wireless have an app?
Much like the CX 400BT, these new earbuds feature capacitive touch panels. Without reaching for your phone, you can adjust volume, answer calls, access your voice assistant of choice, and control playback. Using the Sennheiser Smart Control app, you can also swap any of the controls governed by taps, but volume controls will always be tied to holding your finger on the earbud (you can swap volume up and volume down between ears, though).
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Sennheiser Smart Control offers a decent spread of features on top of control remapping. There’s a three-band EQ module, as well as EQ presets called Bass Boost, Podcast, and Movie. You can also adjust sidetone (how much you hear your voice during a call) and more crucially, get firmware updates. Additionally, while there’s no support for Bluetooth multipoint, Sennheiser Smart Control will let you switch back and forth between recently paired devices (only one at a time, but it’s pretty seamless). Many companion apps are pretty clunky, but this one works well—it’s responsive and reliably connects.
How does the Sennheiser CX True Wireless connect?
The Sennheiser CX True Wireless connects to your device of choice using Bluetooth 5.2. They’re not available yet, but 5.2 means the earbuds may one day be able to use the LC3 audio codec and Bluetooth’s new LE Audio feature. In the meantime, the CX True Wireless supports the SBC, AAC, and aptX codecs, so there’s a decent option whether you’re using an Apple or Android device.
How is the battery?
Sennheiser claims the CX True Wireless can last up to 9 hours of playback on a single charge, but in our testing, we found it fell well short of that—sort of. At a consistent output of 75dB, the left earbud of the Sennheiser CX True Wireless lasted 8 hours, 31 minutes on a single charge, while the right one lasted a comparatively meager 5 hours, 50 minutes.
Due to the nature of true wireless earbuds connections, it’s normal for one bud to drain faster than the other—one is typically connected to both your device and the other earbud, and the other only has to connect to an earbud, after all. Nevertheless, we reached out to Sennheiser about this result, given the large discrepancy between the right and left bud.
Apparently, battery performance like is within expectations for the CX True Wireless, given that our test is run without putting the buds back in the case at any point. Sennheiser said it designed the earbuds to switch which earbud functions as the primary connection point when taken out of the case each time to mitigate lopsided battery drain—this means in regular use, you likely won’t have much issue with one earbud running out of juice way before the other.
According to Sennheiser, the CX True Wireless case holds up to 18 hours worth of additional charges, and the review experience largely squares with that. The case charges with USB-C, which is nice, but it features no quick charge or wireless charging options.
How does the Sennheiser CX True Wireless Sound?
The Sennheiser CX True Wireless has a pretty accurate frequency response (cyan line), compared to our target curve (pink line). Bass and mid-range sound is emphasized a little more, but it sounds pretty nice—nothing’s boosted so much to make music come through sounding notably distorted. The less emphasized high-range sound from 2-6KHz is a little surprising to see, but this is intentional as it reduces the amplification of naturally occurring resonances within the human ear canal that we typically perceive as irritating.
Highs, mids, and lows
Music of most genres should sound pretty nice coming out of the Sennheiser CX True Wireless. That drop in treble response may mean that sounds like cymbals and some strings, as well as higher-pitched whirr noises in genres like EDM, are a little harder to pick out. Otherwise, you shouldn’t have much issue.
Goat’s song Queen of the Underground sounds great coming out of the Sennheiser CX True Wireless, with the distorted crush of guitar and bass coming through loud, but still distinctive. Even when they’re considerably quieter, the drums also largely stay present throughout the song. The hi-hat and tambourine have trouble keeping up, especially when the guitar solo ramps up (~2:15). It’s not a huge deal, but these kinds of sounds are exactly what these earbuds under-emphasize.
How well does the Sennheiser CX True Wireless block out noise?
The Sennheiser CX True Wireless doesn’t have active noise cancelling (ANC), but that doesn’t mean it has poor attenuation. Once you find the right size of silicone ear tips to establish a decent seal, you’re in for some very solid isolation performance. Isolation rarely has all that much effect on mid and low-range audio getting into your ears—sounds like droning engines are what ANC is made for—but the CX True Wireless offers a decent amount of attenuation in this range. It’s not going to actively quiet the world around you, but most distractions should seem considerably less distracting.
Is the CX True Wireless good for phone calls?
The Sennheiser CX True Wireless microphone is pretty much bog-standard for a pair of TWS earbuds. It’s clear enough—though there’s a little bit of muffling and some digital compression sounds—and it does a decent job cutting out obnoxious low-level environmental noise, but don’t expect to record anything of particularly high quality using it. This is a phone call mic, through and through, and in that, it’s relatively proficient. Listen for yourself:
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Sennheiser CX True Wireless?
If you’re looking for a reliable pair of true wireless earbuds on a budget, you should consider the Sennheiser CX True Wireless.
The Sennheiser CX True Wireless isn’t a perfect device. Lingering quibbles like the high range audio, uninspiring battery life, and the lack of things like wireless charging and ANC hold it back from greatness. If you’re looking for the perfect thing for a specific use case—whether that’s working out, out commuting, or taking a lot of calls—this probably isn’t it.
However, these earbuds do enough things well enough that it’s hard to dislike them. They sound quite nice and offer solid isolation performance. That IPX4 rating is a big plus, and Sennheiser Smart Control works quite well. The battery life is plenty for most people in a given day. Basically, if you’re looking for something that can handle a little bit (or a moderate amount) of everything, this might be the product for you.
What are alternatives to the Sennheiser CX True Wireless?
Sennheiser updated its CX line with the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless, which features active noise cancelling, a similar design to the CX True Wireless, Bluetooth 5.2, and expanded high-quality codec support. The headset costs less than the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 at $179 USD.
If you’re looking for true wireless earbuds that last a long time and you don’t need ANC, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is a perennial favorite. These earbuds can handle almost 12 hours of playback on a single charge, and they’re a couple of models behind, so finding a discount shouldn’t be hard. If you like Samsung products and want something that falls between the Buds Plus and Buds Pro, look into the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2.
If you’re in the market for a great workout companion. The Jaybird Vista 2 features silicone ear hooks to keep the buds in your ears, whether you’re running, climbing, or just shaking your head. The second-generation model includes ANC and other new features. If you’re a runner or someone who really just wants to maintain awareness of your surroundings, it might be worth looking at the Sony LinkBuds—it doesn’t sound great, but it’s ring-shaped ear tip design will keep outside noise coming like normal.