BLUETOOTH AUDIO GEAR

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 – the most of a modern TWS

Our world moves forward, the future is inevitable, new technologies would change our habits… All of that comes in mind when we think of our own previous convictions that were broken by the success of modern products and approaches. TWS IEMs – true wireless, means that such products represent a bunch of interconnected technologies to create flawless and pleasant experience, totally wireless, with high audio / voice quality, fluent and versatile functionality that would free you from wires… Still sounded quite assertive couple of years ago as we were testing TWS of that time one after another and found such claims more of less veridical depending of the product. This forced us to get back to the best wired IEM representatives. Right to this point when we’ve laid our hands on Momentum True Wireless 3 by Sennheiser.

Sennheiser, as a brand, doesn’t need our presentation. It is among the largest and oldest manufacturers of personal and professional audio products, located in Germany and existing for more than 75 years. No doubt that their professionalism allows to create the most polished used experience mixed with the highest functionality at the forefront of the progress. A bit of conservatism that stops them from releasing raw products just to overtake the competition only show brand strength and differs it from smaller, less patient and picky ones. As the result, the end customer might play with the latest technology from the smaller brands, but the will to try similar products from the industry leaders still remains.

Couple of more words about the vendor which plays and important role in this review: we are rarely dealing with the largest and the most famous audio brands due to a simple reason – its price. Most of the hundreds of IEMs and other products that has been reviewed on our website are less expensive rivals which we can or cannot recommend to others according to our expertise. There are a lot of products which became a real bargain even in comparison to matured brands. Whereas some are just a shade of what it is meant to be… For brands of the first echelon like Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Yamaha, Beyerdynamic, JBL, etc, 99% of their products is the win, with almost no mishaps. But the price bar is much higher, in similar 99% of the cases. The only option to have a bargain here is to find the best price from trusted vendor. In case of Sennheiser and Audio-Technica (more brands would show up there soon) there is Voonaudio store that lists 100% authentical products with the best price compared to other online stores (excluding when brands provide the additional seasonal super sales/deals on Amazon or other official online shops). This finally makes us possible to test some famous products that were quite pricy before (product price + logistics). Momentum TW 3 set was provided for the review for free but considering the offer, we can finally plan some spendings on less common items like turntables, for instance.

Back to Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3:

Technical specs:

Most interesting features to outline in this product:

  • Supports aptX and aptX Adaptive (24bit/96kHz, up to 620Kbps) Bluetooth codecs
  • Active Adaptive Noise Cancelling technology with Transparency mode
  • 3 mics / channel
  • Smart control application for iOS and Android
  • Wireless and wired charging
  • IPX4 waterproof
  • Multipoint support (2 devices at once)
  • Great fit by exchangeable ear tips and fins

Device packaging and bundle:

Momentum arrived bit later than expected due to reasonable problems in the logistics between China and Ukraine. We were still surprised that it took only 16 days by a regular air parcel method to arrive. European hub reported that it arrived from China in 8 days, the rest was truck transportation from Germany to local hub and to its final destination afterwards.

The appearance of the product was definitely created with the intention to greet the customer with Christmas and New Year celebrations. Creativity and care stands behind the additional outer wrappage which also contains Voonaudio CEO (Samantha Lind) signature.

Thanks guys, happy New Year too!

Here is the standard Momentum True Wireless 3 box without the additional cover:

Box contains large amount of product and company information but the most important is the availability of counterfeit protection sticker that shows that it is 100% original Sennheiser TWS.

The insides are split in two vertical compartments, one holds IEMs with charging case and another stores all provided accessories.

Apart from TWS and its case, the bundle consists of:

  • 4 pairs of silicone ear tips (XS, S, M, L)
  • 3 pairs of fins (with slightly different shape)
  • type-C to USB A charging cable
  • user manual, warranty card and couple of leaflets

Can’t tell that this is the best bundle we’ve seen among all TWS that we’ve tested, but the availability of different sizes of fins and tips builds the confidence that the fit should be great.

Design, feel and fit:

As the representative of TWS IEMs, Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 consists of left and right channels and charging case that plays a role of a power bank. Case is made of plastic, fully wrapped with cotton material. Sennheiser logo at the top, type-C charging port with LED indicator at front.

Top case cover holds quite tight by the large integrated magnet. No way it would open by itself. Inner IEM contacts also hold each channel in the compartment with relatively strong magnetic force that would secure it from falling out if turned up side down. Case build quality is excellent, everything is perfectly aligned and crafted.

IEMs have similarly perfect finish and crafting – made of plastic but feels rigid. Perfectly aligned parts, clear openings and neat look. Top covers consist of brand logo, couple of mics and touch sensitive panels:

4 contacts, additional mic, proximity sensor and LED indicators on the bottom.

Sound channels are covered with nylon mesh for dust protection purpose. Additionally, each ear tip has its own dust protection in a form of foamy insert. Glad to have that since the most of the problems with IEMs happen due to dust and dirt getting inside the shells.

At first we were not confident about the fit – IEMs look pretty large and feels heavy. Although, its shape together with different fins and ear tips allowed to find the most comfortable and tight sitting option that even allows to use Momentum True Wireless 3 during active workouts. Weight is not causing any inconvenience either. When fit is great you just forget about IEMs in your ears. Of course, it would not win over any custom-shaped wired IEMs, but surprisingly good and gives the additional freedom due to being wireless.

One of the most important questions – how good is the fit comparing to other types of TWS, like earbuds (certain Apple products) or IEMs with long leg (like Huawei FreeBuds 4i), for instance…. Unfortunately, it is still a question of compromise:

  • Earbuds are the most comfortable for long and calm use but least secure for fitness and worst in sound quality due to lack of passive noise isolation
  • IEMs like Huawei FreeBuds 4i are less secure than Momentum TW 3 during active movements and have worse sound due to lack of room inside the case but should have better voice pick up due to lower position of microphones.
  • Momentum feels much more secure but heavier. It might not be as comfortable than other two through the whole day.
  • As to such types of TWS as ear hooks with IEMs (FiiO UTWS 3) – best sound quality due to optional preferred IEMs but the worst fit – feels bulky and not too natural.

Apart from physical comfort and fit, there is also such very important aspect of TWS IEMs as its acoustic feel. Some people might have bad experience with wearing in-ear monitors for a long time. It really might cause a lot of discomfort, physically as well as psychologically. Constant pressure against tympanic membrane may cause dizziness, headache, nausea, etc. But we can assure you that it is not about the Sennheiser Momentum 3 – it has the necessary transparency modes among all of its features to completely remove any negative effect during the long-time wearing session.

Functions and user experience:

Momentum True Wireless 3 is quite sophisticated products that features all expected functions that should exist in modern TWS. Besides, all declared functions tailored well in its logics, which is one of the main advantages of having more expensive product from the leading brand. We would like to go over main functions to describe the implementation quality and our feedback about each one:

  • Active Adaptive Noise Cancellation: can be activated in two modes (only wind noise reduction or full noise cut off), controlled with the touch on sensor panel (types of tap and channel side can be set in the app). Does really impressive job in full noise reduction mode. No audible change in sound quality but leaves most of the distracting external noises out. Active noise reduction in Huawei, Xiaomi, Apple TWS is definitely less capable (never tried Sony though, people say that it is pretty darn good as well). Of course, if using Momentum 3 only to isolate from the surroundings, without listening to anything, the effect of extra pressure would be apparent. Switching to wind noise reduction only or to transparency mode totally removes possible negative feel. In real usage scenarios, when listening to audio or speaking over the phone with ANC activated to its full potential – you would barely notice any external noises and can totally focus on the sound coming to your ears from IEMs. One note about ANC control: touch sensors on IEM housings allow only to switch between OFF and one of ANC modes (wind reduction, full), whereas the app allows to select any ANC mode in real time and to set which one would be activated with the touch.
  • Transparency mode: can be activated in 2 modes (along with audio and activating pause when enabled), controlled with sensor touch (types of tap and channel side can be set in the app) or by the app. Again, app allows to select either of 3 modes (OFF, along with audio, pause the audio) and sets which of the modes would be selected apart from OFF. Similarly to ANC, does a very good job on amplifying surroundings right to your ears. Releases any type of pressure that might annoy during long wearing sessions. Of course, the best effect is when the audio is set on pause, but the incoming voices are quite audible even when the music plays (if it is not very loud). Most of the amplification applied to upper mids rather than treble or lows.
  • Multipoint connection: when updated to the latest FW, Momentum 3 can be connected to 2 devices simultaneously. It would allow audio and phone calls from either device, whichever initiates it first. At the same time, we can connect to other devices and store it in TWS memory but only two of those would be active at a time. The rest would be inactive until one or both of the active two would get disconnected. New device pairing process can be initiated by tapping and holding both channels for 3 seconds. Channel LEDs flash red/blue when pairing takes place. The entire list of all stored and currently active devices is shown in the app.
  • aptX and aptX Adaptive BT audio codecs: first of all, base or enhanced codec that would be used to play audio with Momentum 3 is defined by the smartphone. If it is relatively modern and supports aptX / aptX Adaptive – aptX would be selected by default with the ability to switch to aptX Adaptive from the app. The difference is mostly vital for lossless audio tracks and respective music player apps that can handle it. aptX is commonly known as 16bit/44.1KHz while aptX Adaptive is substituting more recent aptX HD and bringing 24bit/96KHz, 620Kbps stream with lower latency. Therefore, being almost similar to LDAC and UAT, aptX Adaptive the the best codec currently available for Bluetooth audio – the closest match to the full-frequency quality over the wires. Currently used codec is displayed upon connection in the app itself and under BT connection settings of a smartphone. If aptX is not available, regular codecs like SBC would be used instead.
  • Separate use of channels: either left or right channel can be used independently for audio and phone calls. It takes only about a second to activate and synchronize when the second channel is taken out of the charging cradle. The difference between left and right would maintain in types of controls programmed for each one. If some side functions are programmed for the left – the right one would not activate it if you pick it instead. And vise versa. But main functions would remain the same for either one. Another way to control missing functions when using single channel – is to use the app. Both channels equipped with the proximity sensor which means that audio would be stopped or initiated when wearing it. Transparency mode would work and can be manually activated even with a single channel.

It seems that Sennheiser did a great job on developing the application for its TWS products. It is the first time in our practice when the app really helps to see what’s going on and allows to use various additional functions. Therefore, we would like to describe what it is capable of:

The initial screen allows to connect new and see the list of all Sennheiser products that has been located on this device:

First app screen shows the main functions:

  • Shows cradle and active channel battery level
  • Shows current connection status
  • Allows to see the list of connected/paired devices
  • Allows to tune and set EQ (it is possible to create own 3-way EQ profile or select one of the presets)
  • Allows to run sound check and tune the sound (means running any audio and selecting different presets in special wizard which finally creates your own preferred sound profile)
  • Allows to select Transparency mode and to set which one would be activated with the touch
  • Allows to select ANC mode and to set which one would be activated with the touch
  • Allows to create sound zones based on the location (activating functions in different GPS locations)
  • Allows to set touch controls for each channel

Discover tab is for the product and interest related news feed

Settings tab:

  • Allows to see and update FW version: updates take about 12-15 minutes, no matter whether earbuds are placed in or outside the case. LEDs would flash green/purple during the process until finished. Smartphone should stay in the area of BT coverage.
  • High res audio mode: allows to force aptX Adaptive codec if supported by a smartphone
  • Smart pause: allows to set music on pause when either one of the channels is removed
  • Allows to automatically accept calls: picks up the phone if any channel is removed from the cradle
  • Sets auto-power off interval when removed from ears but not placed in cradle
  • Activates and deactivates tone & voice prompts
  • Shows currently used BT audio codec
  • Displays model name
  • Allows to select app language
  • Allows to select tiles (functions) that would appear on the main app screen
  • Allows to perform factory reset
  • Allows to send user feedback
  • Lists FAQs and short help on different functions

Pretty powerful and informative application in comparison to most of the app from other vendors which are used once per quarter to check if there is an update. You would definitely use it for ANC, Transparency mode activation, EQ tuning along with FW updates or new device connections. For example, Huawei TWS app feels too heavy and slow with its smart hub and plugins. Moreover, it is not that informative. You visit it once to learn how to control TWS and never go back. Better to skip Huawei updates as well – the last one made ANC almost unusable (non-existent). We’ve already had one FW update for Momentum True Wireless 3 – its changelog was clear and promising as well as the final TWS performance became even more comfortable. We think that such consistency and wise approach from Sennheiser would remain and this is another valuable side of purchasing products from a leading brand.

Momentum True Wireless 3 audio/voice quality:

We’ve tried Momentum 3 with Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 PRO, Windows 11 E14 ThinkPad Notebook, Hidizs AP80 Pro DAP and Xiaomi Qin F2Pro. There were no problems with connecting to either one of these devices; discovery process and connection went fast. Connection keeps stable within one room and shows rare frame drops behind 1 concrete wall. For example, Huawei TWS start to loose the connection when smartphone is placed in back pocket. Nothing like this with Momentum 3 IEMs.

Voice pick up quality is great, responders say that my voice sounds naturally, clear and close to the mic. There were no problems with environmental noise during calls either. Wind noise / evenly spread noise is reduced to the point when the responder doesn’t notice it at all, only some sudden and sharp sounds might break in. Considering all that said, our worst expectation about possible bad quality of voice pick up due to physical shape of IEMs faded away.

Now, about the music: years and hundreds of tests of wired IEMs made us very sensitive and demanding in this respect. Earbuds (apart from some very rare ones like certain Smabat or Ourart models) don’t work at all even when connected with wires. Therefore, similar types of TWS definitely fall short of sound quality expectations adding BT codec problems over its physical fit problems. As to IEM-type TWS, we’ve found the direct relation between the size and shape of channel shell and its resulting sound quality. TWS IEMs with long-protruding leg (battery and mics inside this leg) and small-sized shell sound pretty similar to each other: mostly focused on middle part of the spectrum (which is logical for better voice pickup), with limited abilities on both ends. Tight speaker chamber and insecure fit cut the lows, while BT codecs (especially regular ones like SBC or AAC) severely affect treble. Momentum 3 is addressing both issues with large speaker chambers and the most enhanced BT codec so far. At the same time, more secure fit and much better passive noise isolation creates more linear AFR feel, with even spread across the entire range. Bass is present, pleasantly wide and deep, feels much closer to some regular, wired high-quality dynamic IEMs. Middle section and mid bass sounds dynamic and rich, although a little bit shallow to our liking. Better for linearity but leads to kind of congested stage. Treble is pretending to be extended and bright but still not this airy, sparkling and natural as we got used to with wires. Instrument separation is moderate, stage is pretty small. Resolution is surprisingly good for bluetooth IEMs throughout the entire range. In fact, the good thing is that in overall Momentum True Wireless 3 sound quite balanced, pretty warm and accurate. No will to take if off and switch back to wires. Which is the most important for us.

Comparing with Huawei FreeBuds 4i:

Different shape result in different sound. Huawei is not doing that good in any respect. Fit, passive noise isolation are much worse. ANC performance is not good at all with the latest FW update. Sound is focused mostly on mids.

Comparing with Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro:

Slightly better than Huawei but similar problems with ANC. Moreover, the app is not that useful – feels less consistent. Sound is close in its nature but lacks the extension at both ends as well as the balanced feel of Momentum 3.

Comparing with Divinus Ostia:

Ostia are great TWS IEMs for music. Apart that it neither features ANC, nor the transparency functions. Much less functional but pretty good for audio purpose. Sound is very close and we would say that even more accurate on treble, although not that extended on lows.

Comparing with FiiO UTWS2 + HiRes IEMs:

If to compare like this, you should understand that BT ear hooks would never be as comfortable and cannot stay for long time with you as a result. One hour is ok, but not for the whole day. At the same time, it is the best sound quality what we can get in comparison to wires. With UTWS3 we can use any of our preferred IEMs while BT hooks would work with the latest BT codecs like LDAC. What really suffers in such pair is the quality of phone calls (mics are less sensitive, ANC is not present). Moreover, we had some slight problems in synchronization between 2 channels after short periods of using single one for calls.

Conclusion:

Despite that we are still not convinced that Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 IEMs can totally satisfy audiophiles, this is definitely one of the best TWS on the market. All of the declared features and functions work perfectly, assisting app is great, ANC and transparency modes are very effective, sound is linear and balanced, voice calls sound natural, fit is secure… Even touch controls and proximity sensors behave precisely. All chances that Momentum 3 would become everyday companion no matter the surroundings – loud, extreme or calm. One of our main conclusions is that the overall Momentum 3 performance clearly defines its price and demonstrates the might of Sennheiser brand. So many details are polished and so satisfying is our user experience. Great modern product.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 was provided for the review by Voonaudio: link to the official store. Check out their prices and than try to find a better offer…

Short description about Voonaudio from their official website:

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