Sennheiser’s second-generation high-end true wireless earbuds gain noise cancelling and longer battery life to do battle with Sony and Apple.
The German firm’s first earbuds were some of the best-sounding available. Now Sennheiser hopes its £280 Momentum True Wireless 2 can steal the show once again.
The first thing you notice is just how big the earbuds are. Despite being slightly smaller than the previous versions they are still large, shaped like a fez with the eartip projecting out of one corner. They protrude noticeably from your ear when worn.
The Sennheisers look like a silver-topped Rolo sweet or a fez with a silicone eartip sticking out of one corner. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
They are more comfortable than the previous versions, but still put pressure on some parts of my ears because of their size. People with larger ears will probably find them easier to position more comfortably, but there are no wings or similar to keep them secure. I didn’t need them, but some might, particularly for running.
The fabric-covered case is larger than I’d like, too. It is pocketable, but only just, because it’s a bit thick, sticking out as a lump in your jeans. It is smaller than the case of Sony’s WF-1000XM3 but much larger than that of the AirPods Pro or Libratone’s Track Air+.
Water resistance: IPX4 (splash resistant)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1, SBC, AAC, aptX, active noise cancelling (ANC)
Battery life: seven hours listening, up to 28 hours with case
Earbud weight: 6g
Charging case dimensions: 76.8 x 43.8 x 34.7mm
Charging case weight: 58g
Case charging: USB-C
Case and battery
The case charges via USB-C with the earbuds and lid kept in place by magnets. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The earbuds lasted over six hours with noise cancelling on, and longer with it turned off. The case fully charges the earbuds three times for a total of up to 28 hours of playback.
The earbuds magnetically snap into place in the case to charge and store them, with a flip-top lid also held in place by a magnet. A USB-C socket on the back takes care of charging, which takes about 90 minutes via cable. A 10-minute charge provides enough for about 90 minutes of playback from empty.
As with most true wireless earbuds, the Momentum True Wireless 2 are not repairable and the batteries are not replaceable. The batteries are rated for 500 full charge cycles, dropping to 80% capacity afterwards. Each earbud and the case are available separately for replacement, but Sennheiser does not operate a trade-in or recycling scheme, nor are the earbuds made using any recycled materials.
Connectivity and controls
The silver discs are touch-sensitive gesture panels for controlling your music, including the often missed volume adjustment. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The Momentum True Wireless 2 support Bluetooth 5 and had a rock-solid connection to an iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, even in congested areas.
The earbuds support the standard SBC Bluetooth audio format, as well as the improved AAC and aptX, but not Qualcomm’s aptX Low Latency, which their predecessors did. Not many devices support aptX LL, so while gamers might be put out, the majority of users won’t care. Lipsync wasn’t an issue with any video apps.
Only the right earbud can be used independently, which is disappointing.
The metal cap of each earbud is a touch panel for controls, supporting single, double and triple gestures, plus a tap and hold that adjusts volume by default. Each gesture can be configured to different actions on each earbud using the Smart Control app, including pause/play, skip track, activating your phone’s voice assistant, turning on ANC or the ambient listening mode.
Generally the touch panels work great, although they are further up your ear than you might expect at first because of the size of the earbuds.
Music is paused when an earbud is removed, resuming when reinserted.
Sound and ANC
Sennheiser’s detail-rich sound comes through well in these earbuds. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
Expensive, high-end earbuds like these need to deliver on sound quality. The Momentum True Wireless 2 are some of the best-sounding true wireless earbuds you can buy.
They have a very clean and detailed sound, with excellent separation of instruments and tones. Mids and treble are rich and detailed and there’s plenty of punch in the low end without it being overbearing, with well-controlled highs.
They sound great with practically every genre. Feed them something like Dr Dre’s The Next Episode and you’re treated to a track full of attack and aggression, while Darude’s classic Sandstorm is full of high energy and precision. They kept up with The Who’s cluttered Baba O’Riley, while orchestral pieces were delivered with the authority and depth required.
If I was to nitpick, I’d say they were a bit too clean for a raw and full-blooded rendition of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, and lacked a bit of warmth in Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Summertime.
Overall they sound great, delivering sparkling audio and revealing new things in well-worn tracks, second only to Sony’s WF-1000XM3.
The earbuds also have active noise cancelling, which on top of the good noise isolation of the silicone eartips helps to reduce background drone significantly. They dealt with engine noise and the drones of fans in an office well, which means they should help on a plane, but struggled with more complex disruptions such as typing, chatting, road noise and similar.
They were not as effective as Sony’s WF-1000XM3 or Apple’s AirPods Pro, being similar in level to Libratone Track Air+ but with better passive isolation.
Metal contacts on each earbud take care of charging in the case, while a presence sensor can detect when they’re worn. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The ambient sound mode is good, pausing the music by default and allowing you to have a quick conversation without taking them out or listen out for announcements or road noise while commuting.
Call quality was good with optional sidetone: callers said I sounded loud and clear, even while a little background noise was let through in noisy environments.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 cost £279 and will begin shipping in April.
For comparison, Amazon’s Echo Buds cost £119.99, Libratone Track Air+ cost £179, Sony WF-1000XM3 cost £169, Apple’s AirPods Pro cost £249, while non-ANC earbuds such as Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ cost £159 and Jabra’s Elite 75t cost £169.99.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are a great set of high-end true wireless earbuds that tick most boxes.
They sound fantastic, particularly if you are a fan of clean, controlled and highly detailed sound. They last a long time between charges, have a solid set of gesture controls including volume adjustment, and have rock-solid Bluetooth connectivity with support for SBC, AAC and aptX.
The earbuds also have excellent passive noise isolation and good but not class-leading noise cancelling. The case is good, but a little too big to comfortably pocket.
The two biggest issues are their larger size, which makes them difficult to position comfortably for smaller ears, and their high cost, which is greater than their chief rivals from Sony and Apple.
But if great sound is the most important thing to you, then the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 should come very close to topping your list.
Pros: great sound, long battery life, ANC, AAC and aptX, strong and stable Bluetooth connection, medium-sized case has USB-C.
Cons: earbuds are fairly large and can be uncomfortable for those with smaller ears, case a bit thick, expensive, left earbud cannot be used on its own.
The case is attractive, but a bit thick to comfortably pocket in a pair of jeans. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
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