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Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3
April 25, 2022
Original: $249.95 USD
10mm to 15mm (ear tips)
77.6g (case and earbuds)
509180, 509181, 700074
The pressure is on when any company releases a new flagship product, and the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 has a lot of expectations to live up to, from sound quality to active noise cancelling (ANC). With an already strong lineup of wireless earbuds and headphones, Sennheiser adds a bunch of extras to bolster the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3. We tested the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 for about a week, so here’s the rundown.
Editor’s note: this Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 review was updated on July 11, 2022, to address how it compares to the Sony WF-1000XM4. We also updated the microphone poll results, and added a table showing the controls.
What’s it like to use the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3?
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 (or MTW3) represents an iterative update to the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2. It comes in a tweed-covered case with a USB-C charging connection (and USB-C cable), and four sets of silicone ear tips, which range from 10-15mm in diameter. Like the popular Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen), the MTW3 ships with three sets of silicone wings that wrap around the outer edges of the buds to lock in the fit. I use the 11mm (size small) set of ear tips and the largest stabilizers. Pleasingly, the ear tips are the most hassle-free to swap out I’ve ever experienced: they just fit over the 7mm earbud nozzles. You don’t have to exert any force trying to get them on. The same goes for the stabilizers.
The MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 is a bit chunky and the case is a bit heavier than it looks, but I suppose that’s to accommodate the thick earbuds. Everything feels solid, from the satisfying magnetic click of the buds fitting into the case, to the snap that emanates when the clamshell lid shuts. The MTW3 has a IPX4 certification, meaning you have some waterproofing. While the buds stay in my ears reasonably well, I wouldn’t go for a jog with them—they don’t quite fit well enough for that.
Fortunately, the touchpad is obviously on the flat exterior of the housing, and this makes adjustments easy and mostly free of misfires. After two hours my ears experience some discomfort from fatigue. For daily use, like going for walks, commuting, or performing office work the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 has a good enough in-ear fit.
Unlike the pair-and-go earbuds out there the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 requires some of your time to set up. Sennheiser advises you to perform a quick 30-second charge when you open the box to pair. Yours may require a firmware update too. This is very much designed for people who like to tinker with apps and adjust fit.
You get some new features like Sound Zones (covered more in the Software section). This allows you to set up listening preferences depending on your geographic location. You can make your office a zone where the buds automatically turn on ANC and podcast EQ, for instance. I find this really handy when I’m working from home, and I have ANC on, but when I leave the buds in to walk the dog, it switches to Transparency Mode automatically. You also get conveniences like wireless charging, and a quality build.
How do you control the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3?
In an everyday capacity, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 has the right amount of touch sensitivity (Samsung, please take note.) The only time I experience misfires is when I remove the buds and have them in my hands—usually, it amounts to making paused audio start playing again. You can turn off the touch controls completely in the Smart Control app, but you lose out on some of the key features if you do that.
|SINGLE TAP||DOUBLE TAP||TRIPLE TAP||HOLD|
Transparency mode or answer / end call
Skip to previous track
Active noise cancellation (ANC)
Play/pause or answer / end call
Skip to next track
Should you download the Smart Control app?
As mentioned already the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 requires some set up time. Sennheiser includes a QR code, or you can go to the Google Play Store or Apple Store to download the Smart Control app. Our test set immediately required a 21-minute firmware update (we’re reviewing version 2.3.9). So, yes you should download the Smart Control app at the very least for updates.
In the app, you’ll see tiles pertaining to different options: your connected devices list, three-band equalizer, Sound Check (which lets you test custom EQ presets), Transparency Mode settings, Adaptive Noise Cancellation, “Sound Zones,” and Touch Controls. You can also tap the Settings tab to reorganize the tiles in the manner you like—a very nice touch.
The included equalizer is not as detailed as we might like. It features three modifiable sliders that affect bass, mids, and treble up to 6dB in volume (up or down). Sennheiser does not specify which frequencies these bands alter, which makes it more difficult to really dial in your EQ. With that said, it lets you save your custom presets, which is handy. It also has Bass Boost and Podcast presets you can toggle on and off.
Sound Check lets you create and play with custom presets that you can add to your personal library. If the included equalizer gave more information about the frequencies affected, this would be a really great idea to truly harness the best possible sound for every listening scenario. My fingers are crossed for an update.
Adaptive Noise Cancelling
Sennheiser equips the MTW3 with a form of active noise cancelling (ANC) that turns on and off, as well as an Anti Wind mode. Anecdotally, the Anti Wind mode works quite well compared to just having the Adaptive Noise Cancelling turned on during those windy days.
This feature is still pretty self-explanatory, but it does more than just turn off and on. Unlike a basic transparency mode, the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 lets you turn it off, on with music, and on when you pause music. It also supplies a slider to finesse how much environmental sound to let it. The discerning listener will like this feature.
What are Sound Zones?
“Sound Zones” is one of the more interesting features in the app. Equipped with a map you can customize locations you frequent, like your home, or workplace and save preferred ANC and EQ settings. Once you enter the radius—as set by you on the location map—your settings will automatically change to the saved setting for that Sound Zone. You also set what happens when you leave a zone. Either the settings stay as is until you enter another Sound Zone with different ANC and EQ, or they automatically switch to your saved preferences when you leave a determined zone.
You get notifications when you enter a new Sound Zone so you shouldn’t be surprised when the settings change either. In order to access these settings you have to create an account (or sign in, if you have an account with Sennheiser already), and consent to more data collection, specifically location-related data. It’s a genuinely novel use of location tracking, and it works well.
What Bluetooth codecs does the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 support?
Sennheiser kits out the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 with a suite of codecs: aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC, and SBC. In the Smart Control app under “Settings,” you’ll see which codec your device is using. Our tests were all done with aptX, which yields the highest potential quality audio the MTW3 can offer. aptX Adaptive is a nice option for folks using Android devices that watch a lot of videos or deal with patchy internet connections. This is because while aptX has the higher potential data transfer and generally low latency that’s good for video, aptX Adaptive adjusts audio quality to prioritize low latency and maintain a strong Bluetooth connection. Without altering any settings, the earbuds default to aptX with my Samsung phone.
If you’re part of the Apple ecosystem, the aptX inclusion is a moot point, as you’ll only be using the AAC codec. However, if like a lot of people you have a Windows machine and an iPhone, you may still benefit from aptX if your PC is capable.
The connection is mostly stable over aptX to a distance of about eight meters, after which the buds began to experience connection issues. A couple connection drops can occur no more than one meter away too, which is surprising. It should not pose a problem for most users, but it’s also not as stable as it should be.
The MTW3 should automatically enter pairing mode when you remove both buds, indicated by a flashing red and blue LED. If this doesn’t happen automatically, place both buds in your ears and hold down on each touchpad for 3 seconds to trigger pairing mode. In use, it links back to your device very quickly after being disconnected.
How long does the battery last on the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3?
According to our standardized battery testing the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 lasts 5 hours, 33 minutes on a single charge. This result is reasonably good, and the charging case has an additional three charges totaling 22 hours of battery. You can also use a wireless Qi charging pad to keep the case topped up, or the included USB-C cable. A 10-minute quick charge provides 60 minutes of playtime to the buds.
Is the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 noise cancelling any good?
Secure yourself a good in-ear fit and the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 is very capable of cancelling noise. Passive isolation is impressive, managing to reach over 45dB of attenuation around 10kHz. Although, that looks good on a chart, more impressive is how comprehensive the isolation is, particularly around 1kHz (where a lot of environmental sounds are), down into the lows. Low sounds are usually the area of struggle for passive isolation, with some earbuds blocking zero lows, but not here.
Active noise cancelling (ANC), which Sennheiser labels as “Adaptive Noise Cancelling” in the Smart Control app, is very good too. Besides a narrow band at 400Hz where both isolation and ANC dip down to just above 10dB of attenuation, from 1000Hz and below the ANC mainly hovers between 20dB and 30dB of cancellation. This is more than sufficient for your commute or your office to focus, or alternately, zone out. Anecdotally, it successfully mutes my very vocal cat.
How does the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 sound?
On the whole, the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 has a very pleasant frequency response, though treble takes a backseat to bass and midrange sound. Compared to our house curve, the MTW3 only really deviates with any significance in the highs.
From 2.5-10kHz in the treble range, Sennheiser gives the buds anywhere from a couple of decibels down to almost a 10dB under-emphasis around 6kHz. Generally, this leads to your ears hearing everything in the lows and mids very well. You may be tempted to turn up your volume, because treble might be just that bit too quiet, but please don’t do that. On the flip side, it also means you won’t experience ear fatigue from too much treble. Here’s where one can suggest using the included equalizer to turn up those frequencies, but the Smart Control app doesn’t tell you which frequencies you can adjust. Even so, you can play with it to your liking.
Lows, mids, and highs
Sennheiser dials in a good sound that works with a variety of music genres. The frequency response highlights the disco-inspired bassline in the song Negroni Summer by Donny Benét, and Benét’s airy voice is audible, if just a touch too quiet. During the bridge beginning at 2:25, the saxophone solo plays in excellent comparative volume with the kick and bass. Throughout most of the track, the relative volume of keys sounds just a bit too quiet but not egregiously so.
It’s not altogether unpleasant and for some tracks, it works better than on others. Girl and the Sea by The Presets sounds just about perfect. Low vocals sit at the right volume, while bubbly sequenced synths in the intro and verse are easy to hear too. The high-pitched synths and heavily processed rhythm guitar at the chorus are tamed to the right volume, while the driving bass and kick provide a satisfying groove.
Using the limited equalizer in the app, you can crank the treble slider up by 6dB (though I tend to leave it more around +2dB most of the time). Doing that with the Donny Benét song reveals more detail in the vocals and the muted guitar in the verse than before. The drum machine’s hi-hats come through much more obviously too.
However, I don’t think this EQ fully resolves the frequency response under-emphasis in the highs. The equalizer is too limited to make informed adjustments. Sure, a lot of people don’t know which frequencies apply to which sounds, but Sennheiser could easily label a slider “treble” and the frequency affected.
Can you use the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 for phone calls?
You can use the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 for calls, although it’s mostly just okay. Voices are captured with some under-emphasis in both the highs and lows. When taking a call in less than ideal conditions, say in a noisy office or on the street, the MTW3 filters out the lows heavily. Your voice will still be audible, but any noises in the highs will still come through too in a kind of noise haze—think keystrokes and car sounds.
Take a listen and let us know what you think.
Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 microphone demo (Ideal):
Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 microphone demo (Street):
Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 microphone demo (Office):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3?
Sennheiser is really aiming for the top tier with the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3, in price and specs. For people who just want basics like good sound and serviceable ANC, this might be kind of expensive. With that said, the noise cancelling is very good, and the sound is too.
While the connection isn’t always totally steady, it’s possible another update could resolve that. All the touch controls work effortlessly, as does in-ear detection. People who don’t want to sign over data like location tracking will miss out on the novel Sound Zones feature, which might mean it’s not the right choice for you. Sennheiser could take some cues from Shure or JBL and implement a more comprehensive equalizer at this tier.
By and large, the sturdy build of the case and buds, the IPX4 rating, and the two-year warranty do a lot to allay any durability worries. If you don’t want to compromise while looking for true wireless earbuds, you won’t have to make many with the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3.
In looks both the newer MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 and Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 have quite a lot in common, starting with a tweedy charging case. They weigh almost the same, with the MTW3 gaining an extra 7g. Both possess IPX4 ratings against water and sweat. Even in touch control functionality, not much is different. The ANC is controlled by default on the right earbud with the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, as opposed to on the left with the newer version, but both use the same Smart Control app.
The real differences come down to details: while the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 has AAC, SBC, aptX, and aptX Adaptive codecs, the predecessor has the same except it’s missing aptX Adaptive. Battery life on the MTW3 is longer than the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 which runs 4 hours on a single charge.
ANC and sound are where you’ll find some of the major updates with the MTW3. The MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 barely attenuates in the lows, often not even achieving 10dB in reduction. By contrast, the MTW3 all but mutes an impressive 30dB at 100Hz. It utterly blows the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 away with noise cancelling.
The frequency response on both sets of earbuds is pretty good. The MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 has a “flatter” frequency response with under-emphasis in sub-bass and between 2-7kHz. You can tweak this in the app, although only with the three-band EQ. Bass and mids in the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 more closely follow our house curve, meaning you get a little more oomph. In addition, the MTW3 also has some under-emphasis in the highs above 2kHz as well.
The MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 will likely go down in price now that the newer model is out, and still offers good sound and functionality. If you already own the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, unless you need improved ANC, it may not be worth the upgrade. However, if you own neither, the newer one is worth it for the noise cancelling and better battery life.
Should you get the Sony WF-1000XM4 or Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3?
Both the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 are top-tier earbuds. Both will make most listeners very happy but take slightly different approaches. You get some high quality codecs with either pair of earphones. The MTW3 uses aptX and aptX Adaptive (and AAC and SBC), as opposed to the WF-1000XM4 which has LDAC (as well as AAC and SBC).
Sony pushes ahead with a greater battery life per charge. The WF-1000XM4 lasts 7 hours, 43 minutes, compared to 5 hours, 33 minutes with the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3. Sony also has a more detailed equalizer in the app, though the UI/UX on the app is notably clunkier than the Sennheiser app, which could otherwise benefit from a more granular equalizer function.
It’s safe to say that both earbuds do a great job of muting your environment. The WF-1000XM4 relies heavily on a good in-ear fit to deliver better isolation than the MTW3, but Sennheiser manages to outdo the Sony below 400Hz in ANC performance. Particularly, the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 succeeds in really quieting sub-bass noise and noises around 900Hz compared to the WF-1000XM4. Even so, isolation on the Sony WF-1000XM4 will go a long way in dampening high-pitched sounds.
Neither set of earbuds sounds perfect, but they each sound good and follow our target curve reasonably well, especially in the mids and bass. Both Sony and Sennheiser under-emphasize treble, although the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 holistically reaches closer to our ideal in the highs. Fortunately, you can amend these deviations in the frequency response to some extent with the in-app EQ Sony and Sennheiser provide. Sony might have the upper hand for folks who want surround sound, with its 360 Reality Audio, although its implementation is still quite limited. In this price range, both sets are winners.
What should you get instead of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3?
Check out the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless if you want very good ANC and sound without extras like Sound Zones. It has a similar shape as the MTW3 and a similar frequency response at a cheaper price. It also uses the aptX codec and AAC, so you need not compromise. It’s a wise choice, if not the most decked-out set. For Amazon Prime Day, you can even get the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless SE at a heavy discount. Sportier listeners may instead opt for the Sennheiser Sport True Wireless which includes wing sleeves and a slightly different design. You don’t get ANC on the Sport True Wireless which is a “pro” for some and a “con” for others.
Maybe you don’t want noise cancelling, but do want good sound and a better equalizer. In that case, try the Shure AONIC Free. It boasts a great frequency response and a much more nuanced equalizer in the ShurePlus PLAY app. Instead of using ANC, it manages to attenuate quite a lot of noise, including lows, with excellent isolation. Like the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3, it has similar functions like Transparency Modes and aptX and AAC connectivity. The AONIC Free is larger than the MTW3, however, the fit is more comfortable, at least for small ears. It also sells for less than the MTW3.
Frequently asked questions about the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3
Surprisingly, this flagship set of wireless earbuds does not include Bluetooth multipoint. In the Smart Control app under the Connections tile, you can see all the devices it remembers, but it explicitly reminds you the MTW3 can only connect to one device at a time.