If the last headphones you bought were called “Walkman” it’s time to talk.
Headphones today are a very different beast from what they were even three or four years ago. For starters, the headphone world is moving to truly wireless; headphones that don’t have any wires whatsoever. While early versions a few years ago were known for finicky connectivity and dropouts, mediocre sound quality, plus battery life that could be measured in minutes, not hours, a lot of folks were understandably wary of diving in.
Today, truly wireless headphones are durable, comfortable, they have reliable connectivity, and with batteries that last longer than ever. Case in point; the new truly wireless offering from Sennheiser. MOMENTUM True Wireless are premium truly wireless headphones that promise “uncompromised sound performance, state-of-the-art technology and refined design”. Do they deliver on those promises? I had a chance to test a pair out for a few weeks to find out.
Setting up MOMENTUM True Wireless
In the box, you’ll find the earbuds, a charging case, a USB charging cable, and some extra ear tips.
Saying these headphones require “set up” is kind of overstating it. Turn them on and the first time they should automatically go into pairing mode. If you need to jump-start them, take them out of the charging case and simultaneously touch and hold the right and the left touch control panels for 5 seconds until you hear the voice prompt “pairing” and a beep. The LEDs on the earbuds flash blue and red. Go to your phone’s Bluetooth menu and choose “MOMENTUM TW.” You’ll hear the voice prompt “pairing successful” and the LEDs of the earbuds flash blue 3 times.
To get control over more features easily, download the Sennheiser Smart Control app.
Features of MOMENTUM True Wireless
Sennheiser Smart Control App
The first time you use the app, it will search for nearby devices. The app found my headphones quickly and connected easily. The app also does a few other things, like lets you adjust audio and EQ settings, turn ambient Transparent Hearing mode on or off and show you the battery level.
Sometimes I found the app didn’t recognize the headphones. I had them out, in my ears and playing music sometimes, and the app was still searching for them so I’d need to close and reopen the app.
You can do a lot with these buds just by touching them. The hardest part is remembering which tap sequence does what. Here’s the primer:
- To increase the volume: touch and hold the side panel of the right earbud.
- To reduce the volume: touch and hold the side panel of the left earbud.
- To access your phone’s voice assistant: tap the touch control panel of the right earbud once.
- To control calling features: tapping the right bud lets you control calls, just tap once to accept or end a call, tape twice to reject.
- To control music playback: tap the touch control panel of the left earbud once to play or pause music
- To skip a track: tap the touch control panel of the left earbud 2 times to skip a track.
I’ll say I found these controls, though they worked well, they were frustrating. It was hard to remember which bud to tap and how many times. Plus if I missed hitting the bud right on the touchpad it was all too easy to screw up the tap sequence.
Ambient listening, or Transparent Hearing
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless has an ambient function called Transparent Hearing which digitally lets some ambient noise into the earphones, while still playing your music and keeping the buds in your ears. To turn this feature on, tap the touch control panel of the right earbud 2 times. To shut it off, tap the touch control panel of the right earbud once.
Perhaps easier is using the app to turn the feature on and off and adjusting whether you want to “keep music playing and mix with ambient sound” or “no music playback, only ambient sound”.
Automatically stop playback
The Sennheiser Momentum earbuds automatically detect whether they’re in or out of your ear, and conveniently you can disable this feature too. Music playback will pause when you remove an earbud and then resume again when you insert it. This feature worked well in my testing, and I found it handy.
Using just one earbud
The right earbud can be used by itself, but not the left, since it requires the right earbud for Bluetooth transmission.
What do the lights mean?
The MOMENTUM wireless earbuds have a set of lights that will give you info about their status.
When the charging case is plugged in:
- Light pulses yellow: earbuds and charging case are being charged
- Solid Green light: earbuds and charging case are fully charged
- Red flashing light: a charging error/ battery error has been detected in at least one earbud or in the charging case.
When the charging case is unplugged:
- Green light: earbuds are fully charged
- Pulsing Yellow light: charging case is charged between 50-100 % pulses yellow
- Solid yellow: rechargeable battery of the charging case is empty and the earbuds are not fully charged
- Solid Red: earbuds and the charging case battery is empty Flashing Blue Light: headphones are in Bluetooth pairing mode
Using Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless
Assuming you’ve already connected to Bluetooth and paired things up, using the buds is easy. Just take them out of the charging case and put them in your ears. If a paired Bluetooth device is within range, you hear the voice prompts, “Power On” and “Connected” and the LEDs on the earbuds light up blue. I found this feature worked well.
The earbuds will automatically switch to power save mode if they don’t find a paired Bluetooth device within 15 minutes or if they are inactive for about an hour. You can wake them up again by touching their touch control panels once or by briefly inserting them into the charging case.
Battery Life of Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless
The battery life on these headphones is okay. Just okay. You’ll get about four hours from the buds in a single use, and there’s eight more in the charging case. As noted, they stay in idle mode for up to an hour if you forget to shut them off, it’s pretty easy to eat up some battery life accidentally.
Some other truly wireless headphones are offering five or six hours in the buds (Samsung, Jabra) and then up to a dozen more in the case (Jabra) so these seem weak by comparison, particularly at this price point.
Also worth noting is that there’s no fast charging feature, and they feel like they take forever to charge. There’s no stated time in the manual, but two hours of me charging the case did nothing to change the light from orange to green.
I needed a quick boost to get me through a walk, and I was left disappointed.
If you want to know how much battery you have you can check the status on the case, on your phone (if your device supports that) or in the Sennheiser Smart Control app.
Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless Comfort & Styling
When it comes to looks, these aren’t headphones that will stand out, so if you like to be low-key, these are perfect. The chic grey fabric wrapped case is nice, but again, it’s nothing fancy. I’d say these earbuds are designed to be professional and basic when it comes to looks.
Sound Quality of Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless
The sound quality is what these headphones are all about. Sennheiser goes to great lengths to create ultra high-quality sound for audiophiles, so what they lack in battery life and style, they’re supposed to deliver on in audio quality. Do they?
I tested them out and also compared them to several other earbuds I had at home in the test kitchen.
Gym Class Heroes – Stereo
Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
Beck – Dreams
Daniel Welsley – Ooh Ahh
Deadmau5 – Ghosts n Stuff
Kinnie Starr – Discovered
Benny Blanco – Can’t get enough
Jonas Brothers – Sucker
Marshmello – Here with me
Florence + The Machine – Ship to Wreck
Bridge Burning – Foo Fighters
Big Sugar – Digging a Hole
The bass in these headphones is outstanding (Kinnie Starr, Foo Fighters). Full, vibrant, deep, and resonant, that made listening to bass heavy tracks a pleasure. Vocal-forward tracks like Kinnie Starr’s Discovered and Florence + The Machine sounded gorgeous; as if these ladies were singing directly into my ear. I was also able to notice tiny things in the music; the sound of a guitar pick raking across a string where I’d never heard that before, and subtle breaths.
Overall the sound quality was clear and even; there was no lean to either the high or low end and voices cut through clearly whether I was listening to music or podcasts. At the same time, I got all the fullness of electric guitar alongside Dave Ghrol’s powerful vocals.
If you’re looking for probably the best sounding truly wireless earbuds, these are going to rock your world.
Watching videos—any lag?
Is there any lag when watching videos? Yes and no. When checking out dedicated TV from iTunes on the iPhone XS Max, there was no lag. With YouTube there was a slight lag between video and audio. I’ll say this is pretty common among truly wireless headphones so it’s not entirely unexpected. I’ve tested plenty of headphones like this and almost all have the lag, it’s just a matter of how bad it is and how distracting it can be, depending on what you’re watching.
Overall review of Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless
Overall there is a lot to love about these headphones, starting with how great they sound. They’re comfortable too and have zero dropouts. Downsides? The price—these are expensive. Plus those finicky touch controls can be confusing and annoying.
If you’ve got the funds, want the absolute best in sound quality, and are willing to learn the controls, then these are definitely for you.