Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review: These earbuds beat out AirPods Pro

The new Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds ship in April for $ 300.

David Carnoy / CNET

When they came out in 2018, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless were among the truly wireless earphones with the best sound, otherwise the better sound. However, they weren’t without flaws. The buds’ batteries drained while they were in the case, so if you didn’t charge the case for four days, you might end up with a dead set of earphones, which was annoying. They were also a bit large, so some people complained of discomfort after holding them in their ears for a while. And at $ 300, they were quite expensive.

Like it

  • Excellent sound
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Slightly smaller design, more comfortable fit
  • Increased battery life (7 hours)
  • Best for making calls
  • Transparency mode

I do not like

  • Expensive
  • No wireless charging
  • It may not fit everyone’s ears equally well

The second-generation Momentum True Wireless 2, available now for pre-order and shipping in April, still has that high price tag of $ 300 (£ 279; 300 euros). But they’re better all around, with a slightly smaller and more comfortable design, active noise cancellation that rivals that of AirPod Pro, longer battery life (up to seven hours compared to four on the original) and better noise reduction during calls. And, if you don’t like them in black, a white version is planned for the end of the year. Most importantly, though, the Momentum True Wireless 2 has the same stellar sound – for true wireless earbuds, anyway – delivering clearly superior sound quality to the AirPods Pro. That probably makes them the best true wireless earbuds on the market today and earns them a CNET Editors’ Choice Award.

That said, they’re not necessarily for everyone. Aside from the fact that they’re expensive – $ 50 more than the AirPods Pro – they’re heavier, not as comfortable to wear, and don’t have the hands-free Siri found on those Apple models. And, while Sennheiser has shrunk the new earbuds by 2mm, the Momentum True Wireless 2 are even larger and may not be a perfect match for some people’s ears. Personally, they fit quite well in my ears and I got an airtight seal from the tip of the larger ear (three sizes are included). As I said, I felt that the slightly smaller design helps – I was able to wear them smoothly for long stretches.

Read more: The best true wireless earbuds of 2020

This seal is essential for optimizing sound quality and noise cancellation. The AirPods Pro have adaptive noise cancellation. The noise cancellation on the Momentum True Wireless 2 doesn’t appear to be adaptive, but it is effective. In the settings menu, it says, “Single mic ANC reduces low-frequency ambient noise,” adding that enabling the feature has an “impact on battery life”. In other words, don’t expect to get seven hours if you’ve turned it on, particularly if you listen to your music at higher volumes. The charging case provides three extra charges (21 hours) on the go, and Sennheiser solved the problem with the battery of the gems draining in the case – they now go into a deep sleep mode.

The buds are 2mm smaller than the originals and the case is a darker shade of gray.

David Carnoy / CNET

I wore Momentum True Wireless 2 on the streets of New York and on the subway for a couple of days. You get passive noise cancellation simply by getting an airtight seal, but when I turned noise cancellation on and off while on the subway, the difference was immediately noticeable. It appeared to be on par with the AirPods Pro’s noise cancellation to muffle ambient noise. I haven’t tried them on a plane, but I think they would be fine for that environment too.

Read more: Wireless earphones with the best sound: Sony, Sennheiser and others in comparison

Like the originals, these have touch controls and work well, although I like Apple’s stem compression controls a little better on the AirPods Pro. You can program the touch controls in Sennheiser’s Smart Control app for iOS and Android. For example, I set the tap and hold gesture on the right earbud to activate noise cancellation. The same gesture on the left earbud activates a transparency mode that allows for ambient sound so you can have a conversation while wearing them.

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Sennheiser does not market them as sports earphones, but with a IPX4 classification they are splash resistant and should be sweat resistant. I could run without them falling out of my ears and they are definitely good for lighter workouts in the gym. I can’t tell you how long they will last over time if you sweat a lot on them, but they should be able to handle some humidity without a problem.

Like the originals, the earbuds have volume controls on the earbuds themselves using the default tap and hold gesture. However, after changing the tap and hold gesture to activate ANC, instead of controlling the volume, I was unable to return the gesture to the volume control (I had to reset the controls to their default settings). The app I was using was labeled beta and I assume this bug will be fixed in an update.

The earbuds are still a bit large, but they fit more comfortably.

David Carnoy / CNET

A couple of other settings are worth mentioning. You can choose to turn on the sidetone, a feature I like that allows you to hear your voice in the earbuds and modulate your voice when making a call. And there’s an equalizer in the app to adjust the bass and treble levels to your liking. For the purposes of this review, I left it at the default setting, which seemed perfectly good to me.

Sennheiser has added a microphone to each earpiece for noise canceling, and there is a beamforming microphone in each earphone to pick up your voice when making calls or using your voice assistant. Call performance is improved over the originals, with better noise reduction so people can hear you better in noisy environments (ambient noise is muffled although still present). I’m not sure they’re as good as the AirPods when it comes to call quality, but overall they’ve performed well in this department.

I also encountered a minor Bluetooth drawback – the wireless connection was mostly solid. They use Bluetooth 5.1, with support for AAC and aptX audio codes (only some Android phones support aptX streaming). And I had no problems with proper audio syncing when watching video apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Vudu.

The case has USB-C but no wireless charging.

David Carnoy / CNET

The Momentum True Wireless 2 earphones have the same 7mm dynamic drivers as the originals. If there are some slight improvements in sound quality, it is more likely due to better digital processing following chip and software updates. As I said, the sound quality is excellent, and the Momentum True Wireless 2 has a richer, more detailed sound than the AirPods Pro with well-defined bass, natural-sounding mids, and some sparkle in the treble. They sound like premium headphones should. They are quite open; the sound doesn’t get stuck in your head.

I rated the Sony WF-1000XM3 earphones highly for sound, although they are not great for making calls. The Momentum True Wireless 2 are a little more detailed and articulate. On well-recorded tracks you can really hear every instrument; they don’t blend with each like with many Bluetooth headphones. Other high-end models like the Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus ($ 300) also have smooth, well-detailed sound with good bass definition, as well as some noise cancellation, but the True Wireless 2 has a headphone design and performance. better along with slightly better sound and more effective noise cancellation.

The case charges via USB-C, while at this price point you’d want to see wireless charging, but that’s not a big omission. The AirPods Pro certainly have an attractive design and a high-performance feature set, but they simply aren’t in the league of Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 for sound quality. And now that Sennheiser has added active noise cancellation and fixed some of the small flaws of the original Momentum True Wireless, these are the earbuds to get if you value sound quality over everything else.

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