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 Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 review was updated on November 23, 2020, to reflect changes in pricing, and to add information regarding third party cables.
Who should get the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3?
- Commuters and frequent flyers should consider the new Momentum Wireless headphones. Integrated ANC effectively quiets midrange and high-frequency sounds, hushing talkative neighbors. The ear cushions look and feel lovely and are just as comfortable with glasses as without.
- People who value style as much as performance should get these over-ear headphones. The company knows its design is popular among those with sophisticated taste and have maintained the same aesthetic. The Momentum Wireless work flawlessly and have some of the quickest autoconnect technology I’ve experienced.
- Anyone whose phone is without a headphone jack should think about Sennheiser’s flagship wireless headset, or any Bluetooth headphone alternatives. Tile integration is brilliantly executed, making the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 nearly impossible to lose.
What is it like to use the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3?
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.
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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.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 successful marries style and performance.
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 Smart Control app and Tile tracking
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.
How well does the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless cancel noise?
Noise cancellation is good, and the technology filters out some midrange frequencies, while the dense ear pads and properly fitted ear cups nearly eradicate high-frequency sounds. However, the low-end attenuation isn’t great compared to top competitors. There are other benefits to effective noise cancellation, aside from quieting the world around you: good ANC can help prevent noise-induced hearing loss. See, when external noise is combated, we’re less likely to increase the volume to egregious, eardrum-smashing levels. If you’re looking for a way to justify an expensive purchase of noise cancellers, hearing loss prevention is a good reason.
How long does the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 battery last?
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. Fast charging isn’t always supported by ANC headsets, so this is a big plus.
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.
How do you connect the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 to your phone?
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.
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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. The cable unfortunately doesn’t have an integrated mic and remote module. However, third party cables are available for around $12, providing an in-line mic and remote that’s compatible with iOS devices.
High-quality wireless streaming is afforded by AAC, aptX, and aptX LL support.
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.
What do the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 sound like?
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.
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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.
Lows, mids, and highs
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.
Is the microphone any good?
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.
Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3.0 microphone demo:
Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 vs Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Both Bose and Sennheiser’s flagship consumer headphones have an attractive design, but Sennheiser takes a classic approach which contrasts Bose’s modern build. The Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3.0 lacks touch controls, but Bose has nearly perfected its touch-capacitive panels.
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Audio enthusiasts may prefer the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 sound signature: it’s more neutral-leaning and reproduces audio with greater accuracy than the bass-heavy MOMENTUM Wireless series. Both mobile apps, however, let you customize the sound to your liking, which is great for tinkerers.
Noise cancelling performance is better with the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: low frequencies are rendered up to half as loud with ANC enabled. This is much more effective than what the MOMENTUM Wireless 3.0 are capable of, though both headsets are better than non-noise cancelling headphones.
Battery life is much better with the Bose headset, too, which is something that matters for listeners who frequently take intercontinental flights. As far as price is concerned, both headsets are expensive but you’re more likely to see the Bose Headphones 700 on promotion than you are to see a discounted pair of Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 headphones.
Should you buy the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3?
The Momentum Wireless 3 are a beautiful pair of noise cancelling headphones that put build quality and design first, without ignoring the importance of sound quality.
Practically speaking, there are significantly better values out there. For those who need the best all-around headphones, look into the Sony WH-1000XM3 or Sony WH-1000xM4 instead. However, those headphones don’t have the same kind of durability offered by the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless, and are 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 was difficult for me to part with this review unit because of the ease of use and instantaneous autoconnect. Anyone who picks up the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless will immediately fall in love with the extraordinary build quality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Great question! The Sennheiser PXC 550-II are a great deal, and are much more affordable than the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 noise cancelling headphones. The difference between the Sennheiser PXC 550-II and Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 comes down to a form versus function debate. The PXC 550-II has more effective low-frequency noise cancelling; in other words, frequent flyers may benefit more from the more affordable headset. However, if you care more about design quality and durability, the premium construction of the MOMENTUM series is hard to beat.
The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 and Shure AONIC 50 are both stylish noise cancelling headsets, but the latter mops the floor with the Momentum Wireless 3 when it comes to noise cancellation. Anyone who travels a lot for work or pleasure will be better off getting the Shure AONIC 50 for how well it attenuates low and midrange frequencies. This means low rumbles just melt away when ANC is set to high. For a more accurate representation of sound right out of the box, get the Shure AONIC 50, but for anyone who likes to experiment with custom EQ settings, get the Sennheiser cans or turn your attention toward Sony. The AONIC 50 also supports more codecs than the Momentum Wireless.
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless has a completely different design than the Bose Headphones 700, even though both are noise cancelling headphones. Listeners who want a more accurate representation of their music should get the Bose 700 ANC headphones. Anyone who wants more low-end amplification will gravitate toward the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless for their default bass-heavy sound. Bose's headphones have more effective passive and active noise cancelling than Sennheiser's headphones.