If you’ve poked around the internet in search of the perfect noise cancelling true wireless earbuds, you’ve probably come across the Sony WF-1000XM3 and the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2. Though both headsets are pricey, they tick off most of the important requirements for true wireless earbuds. Let’s see if one white horse is better than the other.
Editor’s note: this versus article was updated on July 12, 2021, to include more information about the Sony WF-1000XM4.
Sony WF-1000XM3 vs Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2: Design and hardware
The Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds are a very comfortable and sleek. Each earbud has a tri-point contact system to evenly distribute pressure along your ear. Sony provides multiple sets of ear tips to ensure stability, comfort, and proper noise isolation. The charging case is a bit bulky, but it should fit in your pocket well enough. Both Sony and Sennheiser’s cases charge via USB-C and neither supports Qi wireless charging.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 has a similarly sized charging case, which matches the large earbuds. If you have smaller-than-average ears, these may cause some discomfort after short listening sessions. Some users have reported that the earbuds put too much pressure on their ear canals. They do, however, merit an IPX4 rating whereas the Sony buds don’t have any official IP rating. Even still, we don’t outright recommend the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 for exercise because they don’t offer the same secure fit as dedicated workout earbuds.
Both pairs of true wireless earbuds feature touch panels, so you can take control of your music, answer calls, and more without digging around for your smartphone. You can reconfigure either headset’s controls in their respective mobile apps.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 has advanced software features
Nearly all true wireless earbuds feature a companion mobile app, and the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 aren’t exceptions to this rule.
The Sony Headphones Connect app lets you remap the touch controls, including smart assistant access, ambient noise passthrough, and more. You can either create your own custom EQ, or choose from Sony’s presets. It also lets you enable adaptive sound control, which adjusts the amount of ambient noise let in based on your environment. Another great feature: you can prioritize audio quality or connection stability, which is something few apps include.
The app also includes a personalization test for Sony 360 Reality Audio support. This analyzes your ear shape and creates an optimized sound profile accordingly; you can learn more about it here.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 touch controls operate similarly to Sony’s: you can control the media playback functions, access your smart assistant, answer calls, and adjust ANC and ambient noise passthrough. If you get the Sennheiser Smart Control app, you can remap the touch controls, equalize the sound, downloading firmware updates, and toggle transparent hearing.
Both headsets house automatic ear detecting sensors. When you remove an earbud, media playback automatically pauses and subsequently resumes when you reinsert it. You can disable this feature within the apps. Both apps also give you access to firmware updates, which is important for product longevity.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 supports more Bluetooth codecs
The MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 operate via Bluetooth 5.1, and support and the SBC, AAC, and aptX Bluetooth codecs, making them a good choice for iPhone users and Android users alike. Like the Sony WF-1000XM3, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 earbuds don’t support Bluetooth multipoint, so you must manually switch between source devices.
Become an expert: Understanding Bluetooth codecs
The Sony WF-1000XM3 connect to your device via Bluetooth 5.0, so their connection strength is good too. The Sony buds support both SBC and AAC, but strangely enough not Sony’s own LDAC codec. Sony has a trick up its sleeve though, and uses DSEE HX processing to upscale compressed audio, making it comparable to high-resolution audio files.
Neither the Sony WF-1000XM3 nor Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 have good battery life
True wireless earbuds have notoriously poor battery life, and unfortunately neither the Sennheiser nor Sony earbuds provide stellar standalone playtime.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 last roughly 4 hours with ANC on and the volume at 75dB, which is quite a bit less than the official 7-hour battery life rating. You can also fast charge the earbuds in a pinch—10 minutes in the case yields 90 minutes of playback. The Sony WF-1000XM3 last a little under 5 hours under the same conditions, but and the fast charging efficiency is identical to Sennheiser’s earbuds.
|Standalone battery life||Fast charging||Charge time (headset + case)||Charging case||Wireless charging||Connector|
|Sennheiser MOMETNUM True Wireless 2||3:59||10 minutes = 1.5 hours of playtime||1.5 hours||3 charge cycles||No||USB-C|
|Sony WF-1000XM3||4:46||10 minutes = 1 hour of playtime||3.5 hours||3 charge cycles||No||USB-C|
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 have better active noise cancelling
Both the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 attenuate midrange frequency sounds, but neither headset can compare to their over-ear counterparts. You’ll notice more of a difference when toggling ANC on/off with the Sony WF-1000M3 than you will with the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, but again, neither headset will knock your socks off. For that, you’ll need to check out the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds.
As with any noise cancelling headset, optimal ANC is highly dependent on effective passive isolation. This is where taking the time to find the proper ear tips comes in. If you’re unable to achieve a solid seal between the ear tips and your ear canal, background noise leaks in. Since ANC tends not combat high-frequency sounds (~1kHz and higher) as effectively as low-frequency sounds, you need to a proper fit to block out incidental noises, such as someone talking or clanging dishware.
Which true wireless earbuds have better sound quality?
Both earbuds in question have a consumer-friendly frequency response. Sony’s earbuds amplify bass notes quite a bit more than Sennheiser’s, as well as treble notes. With the default sound profile, you’re more likely to notice auditory masking when listening with the WF-1000XM3 because of the loudness disparity between bass and midrange notes. Sennheiser’s frequency response inaccuracies serve an important purpose.
The MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 frequency response dip from 2-7kHz appears strange, but it’s intentional. This reduces the unpleasant sound of resonances within the human ear canal. While this is mainly beneficial, there are trade-offs in that some harmonic frequencies may sound muffled (think vocal harmonies).
If you listen to a lot of modern music, you’ll be happy with either pair of earbuds. Again, their respective frequency responses can be changed via the mobile apps. If you don’t want to mess around with EQs, you should save for Sennheiser’s earbuds, despite the lower objective score.
Are the Sony WF-1000XM3 or Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 better for phone calls?
The Sony WF-1000XM3 features a decent microphone system, but it’s not the best at filtering out wind noise or other environmental sounds. While background noise gets through, the person on the other end of the call shouldn’t have major issues discerning your speech.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 microphone array is also decent, but it amplifies sibilant sounds (f-, s-, sh-) to an annoying degree. Take a listen to the mic demos to determine if the sound quality is good enough for your needs.
Sony WF-1000XM3 microphone demo:
Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 microphone demo:
Should you buy the Sony WF-1000XM3 or the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2?
The contest was pretty close, but the Sony WF-1000XM3 is the better option for most consumers because it’s more affordable, has better battery life, and is a more feature-rich package. The truth is, neither the Sony nor Sennheiser buds is objectively a better buy, it depends on what you value in a pair of ANC true wireless buds.
If you have the money to spare, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 is great and more compact than the WF-1000XM3. It also has an IP rating, something that can’t be said of the Sony earphones in question.
Read next: Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM4
The new Sony WF-1000XM4 includes notable upgrades
Now that the new Sony WF-1000XM4 is out and about, it’s starting to cast a shadow on the older WF-1000XM3. These new earbuds have even more impressive active noise cancelling performance than the older model, and they come with memory foam ear tips to further improve the noise isolation experience. This is a big perk because we often recommend people to invest in third party memory foam ear tips but with this headset you don’t need too.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 has an IPX4 rating too so it’s great for workouts. Another perk is that it’s one of the first available headsets that uses Bluetooth 5.2, meaning it supports all the mandatory codecs in the 5.2 stack. You’ll also get access to exclusive Sony features like 360 Reality Audio which mimics the effects of surround sound, and Speak-to-Chat which automatically lowers media volume when the earbuds detect you speaking.
If you want a feature-rich pair of earbuds, get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are extremely durable earphones with a compact, playful design. AKG tuned these earphones to reproduce consumer-friendly, yet accurate audio, so you can enjoy a slight bump in loudness to bass notes without it masking instrumental detail. Some features are exclusive to Samsung Galaxy handsets though, like Samsung 360 Audio and Bixby voice access. These earphones compare pretty well next to the much more expensive Sony WF-1000XM4.