Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware
While Bluetooth headphones are pretty common nowadays, it is not often we see earbuds with no wires on either side. The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are the first we have taken a look at and they definitely give off a polished vibe and look. Its grey body is met with a silvery side that adds some flash to an otherwise conservative looking pair of earbuds. As you can see, the Momentum True Wireless is designed as if people have taken some traditional in-ear monitors, cut off the connected cables, and increased its body for the battery and Bluetooth module. Overall, the buds are a bit chunky, but they fit surprisingly better than you may expect. Sennheiser logos are found on the side of both ears. Its silver flat side is finished with concentric circles which is where users can access the touch controls as we will look at later on. As a whole, the two earphones weigh approximately 13.2g which is pretty light. Despite this, the Momentum True Wireless feel quite solid.
As for the touch controls, both sides respond to touch and do different things. The left side's purpose is for media control, as it allows you to Play/Pause, Next, and Previous, for one, two, and three taps, respectively. If you tap and hold the left side, the volume will gradually decrease. As for the right side, we have a few more multipurpose items. If you single click, you can pick up and hang-up incoming calls. With no calls active, you can activate your voice assistant on your phone, such as Google Now or Siri. If you double tap, you can activate ambient mode, which we will talk about later on. Finally, if you tap and hold, the volume will gradually increase. Some have found the touch controls to be finicky, but I think they are easy to get used to.
As this is a wireless pair of earphones, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless connect to your devices via Bluetooth 5.0. It definitely is great to see a relatively recent version of Bluetooth supported here. This includes the supported codecs of SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Low Latency or LL. SBC, or Subband Coding, is the default Bluetooth audio codec with decent audio quality and low processing power requirements. This codec maxes out at 328 kbps. AAC, or Advanced Audio Coding, is preferred by Apple's devices and their iPhones, and maxes out at 250 kbps. Despite having a lower maximum bitrate, AAC is still known to offer better sound quality. Qualcomm's aptX and aptX LL offer slightly higher bitrates at a maximum 352kbps, while offering a "CD-like quality". While this term seems to be vague and overused, this codec still offers a more efficient audio encoding. This does mean you need a source with aptX support, which is not implemented in Apple devices. The LL version refers to a lower latency implementation of aptX, which should result in a better synchronization between visuals on your devices and audio, but has even less supported devices.
If we take a closer look at the earbuds of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, you can see how much bulkier it is compared to traditional in ear monitors. Internally, the drivers have a frequency response of 5Hz to 21kHz, which are beyond the normal hearing range for a human being. It has a rated sensitivity is 107dB and a total harmonic distortion of less than 0.08%. The drivers are directed to aim into your ear for a direct and transparent sound reproduction. The sleeves are there to aim at the user's ear canals while also creating a passive noise canceling effect. Sennheiser includes four sets of silicon sleeves, including XS, S, M, and L. It would have been nice to see some ear hooks included too for more security. Sennheiser also offers some splash resistance in an IPX4 rating, but I would not call these water or sweat proof. This can be a bummer, especially a lot of people may want to use these at the gym where sweat can accumulate around the earphones.
Near the ear canal, you can see a few more interesting features that are unique to the Momentum True Wireless earphones. Since there are no cables, the Sennheisers use a set of four pogo pins to charge the two sides. In addition, to keep the earphones aligned in the case, two magnets are located near this area to hold the pair in its position. This is quite successful in keeping the Momentum True Wireless in place, since it does not fall out even when I try to shake them out. Located beside the pogo pins are "L" and "R" on the respective side to show users which side the earphones belong on. Finally, there is an indicator LED near the letter. This flashes red or blue, depending on the status. One thing I did not capture in the photos are the two MEMS microphones on each side, which are used for picking up voice during calls or voice assistant actions, as well as for use in ambient mode, as we will see shortly.
As these two sides are completely disconnected, both of the sides of the headphones have a lithium rechargeable battery. In addition, the carrying case doubles as a charger and has a battery inside it. As a whole, the headphones should last four hours on one charge, while the carrying case should add an additional eight hours of listening for a total of twelve hours. Sennheiser advertises it should fully charge in 1.5 hours. Due to the way these headphones charge, you cannot use them while they are charging. In day-to-day use, I found while I was able to achieve this mark with ease, I still think the twelve hours is a bit shorter than I would have liked. I also would have liked to see some way to manually turn on and off these headphones. Normally, the headphones would turn off when charging in the case, and turn on when you take them out. However, if the case ran out of any battery, the case would stop charging the earphones, and the earphones would automatically turn on. This would then drain the headphones. This small nuance seems like an oversight and I would have liked a way to turn off the Momentum True Wireless instead.
As for the carrying case Sennheiser includes with the Momentum True Wireless, this doubles as a charger for the headphones. It is a really stylish and portable case, measuring 79mm in length, 45mm in depth, and 35mm in height. It has a fabric layer on the outside with a faded grey look. Internally, it is all plastic with an area to hold the two headphones. An internal magnetic secures the lid from swinging open unintentionally. At the back, we have another pinhole LED, a USB Type-C input, and a button. I was not being completely honest when I said there were no absolutely no wires on the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, because there is one included to charge the carrying case. As nice as it would have been to see some Qi wireless charging, I am happy to report we have the newer USB Type-C plug here.
As for the two input and output flanking the plug, the LED provides users with status of battery life and charging indication. When your headphones are slotted inside, it will display the current charge of the headphones. When they are in use, it will show the battery life of the carrying case itself. Of course, this LED does not stay shining, but rather only shows when users press the button found on the other side of the USB input. When plugged in, this light will illuminate the current charging status for the headphones or the carrying case, depending on if the headphones are placed inside.
As for the application, you can download Sennheiser's Smart Control app for Android and iOS devices from their respective app stores. As you can tell by the top bar and the navigation buttons, I am showing you the Android version, but this should be a similar experience across the two operating systems. Launching the app will automatically connect the app to your headphones where you can make changes. It will show you the device you are connected to as well as its current battery life. At the front page, you can immediately adjust the Transparent Hearing and Equalizer settings. As we have commented on previously, Transparent Hearing is an ambient mode that lets you hear your surrounding environment through the headphones by using microphones on both sides to pick up external noises. It is a pretty neat experience as you could hear other people speaking to you while listening to your music. You can adjust it to automatically pause playing media should it pick up voices, or let it keep playing your music. As for the equalizer, it does as you would expect it to do, letting you further adjust the settings. It is not the most flexible of equalizers, since it does not let you adjust for each frequency level, but rather applies different generic curves.
Finally, the cogwheel at the top corner lets you unlock a few other things. For one, a "Smart Pause" means your media will automatically stop playing when you remove one of your earbuds from your ear. This uses some sort of proximity sensor between the pair of Momentum True Wireless, since it resumes playing when the two are the same height level, even if it is out of your ear. I think Sennheiser has implemented this well, but I did find a bug where if you pause the music and then remove the left ear, the music may start playing again. It is a small annoyance, but something to be noted. Otherwise, you can allow it to automatically pick up calls and change if you want to let the headphones have access to your voice assistant on your phone. Finally, you may need to update the firmware on the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, which requires the app to do so. As of press time, I was on version 1.25.0.
Otherwise, the app is pretty easy to use. I did experience some connectivity issues at times in terms of getting the app to connect to the headphones. If anything, it would have been nice to see Sennheiser allow users to add custom actions to change what different taps do rather than just sticking to the default. These were minor nitpicks or suggestions, but I also would welcome the change.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis