Although Sony and Bose are currently ahead of the pack when it comes to premium wireless headphones with active noise cancellation, this hasn't stopped other headphone manufacturers from giving the segment a chance. We have seen high-end options from leading brands like Jabra, Skullcandy, Bowers and Wilkins, as well as Apple, in recent months. The German audio specialist Sennheiser has now come into play with its latest headphones, the Momentum 3 Wireless.
This headphone is also known as Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (2019) and costs Rs. 34,990 – about the same as the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 and a good deal higher than the price of the Sony WH-1000XM3. For so much money, Sennheiser offers its classic Momentum series design and promises good sound with active noise cancellation. Does this headset keep these promises? We find out in our review.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless design and specifications
The Momentum sub-brand is successful for Sennheiser and stands for first-class consumer products in terms of design and functionality. While the Momentum series cannot be classified as a kit for audiophiles, these models have been popular with users for their combination of sound, design and function. The Momentum 3 Wireless is the third wireless over-ear headset in the series and follows the classic style and design of the series.
The most striking design feature is the headband, which is attached to the ear cups in a unique way, so that they can slide and move almost independently of the headband itself. This helped us to have a secure and comfortable fit, which was particularly important because active noise cancellation depends on it. However, the size of the headset meant that we usually had to adjust our glasses to make sure the seal was preserved.
The ear cups and the underside of the headband are padded with plush to ensure comfort and passive noise isolation. The overall aesthetic is an interesting combination of retro and modern. However, we felt the headphones looked too big on the head and they definitely got a lot of attention. These headphones are significantly less noticeable than the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.
The hinges are made of metal, while the ear cups are made of plastic. Nevertheless, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless definitely looks and feels like a first-class and elegant headphone. The ear cups are connected by a cable that runs through the headband, with small parts exposed near the ends.
There are physical buttons on the right auricle that allow you to adjust the volume, control playback and trigger the voice assistant on your smartphone or tablet. Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri all worked for us. The USB Type-C port and a slider are also on the right. The latter is used to control noise reduction and transparent mode.
The headset has a mechanism with which both ear cups can be folded into the headband. The left hinge also controls performance; The headphones switch on without a separate power switch when they are folded out and off when they are folded in. An indicator lamp on the right ear cup informs you about the operating status of the headphones and provides visual information for pairing and charging functions.
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 wireless headphones also have an automatic playback pause function, which pauses the music when the headphones are removed and continues when the headphones are replaced. This worked well for the most part, but the pause function occasionally fired even when we turned the headphones upside down or turned our heads to the side. This can be deactivated with the companion app – more on that later.
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 wireless headphones can compete with other high-end options in this price range in terms of technical data. The headphones have a frequency range of 6-22,000 Hz and use Bluetooth 5 for connectivity with support for Bluetooth codecs up to aptX Low Latency. Sennheiser states that the headphones can work for about 17 hours when noise cancellation is on, and we were able to achieve this number in our tests. The headphones also support quick charging. A ten-minute charge should provide 90 minutes of listening time.
Sennheiser has developed an app for the Momentum 3 wireless headphones called Sennheiser Smart Control. The app, which is available for iOS and Android, doesn't do much, but it does offer some useful features. This includes displaying the exact battery level, setting the type of noise suppression (maximum, wind protection and pressure protection), controlling the transparent listening mode and equalizer settings, updating the firmware and linking the headphones to the Alexa app for improved voice control and switching the smart pause function on and off.
It didn't take us much longer than the initial headset setup, but it has come in handy when we had to check the exact battery level on Android. Most of the useful functions can be controlled via the headset itself.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless performance
With 34,990 rupees, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless is one of the most expensive headphones in the segment and is significantly more expensive than the options from Sony, Bose, Jabra and Skullcandy. While the brand and styling can somewhat justify the price, performance is the most important thing here. Sennheiser offers a good overall experience, but we are not convinced that the headphones are worth such a premium.
We used the headphones for most of this test with a OnePlus 7T Pro (test) and the aptX Bluetooth codec. We used Spotify, YouTube Music, our collection of high-resolution audio tracks and Amazon Prime Video as sources. We also tested active noise cancellation in a variety of environments.
Regardless of whether we listened to streaming music or high-resolution tracks, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless sounded rich and detailed with pretty much every genre that we tried. The size of the ear cups and general fit give the headphones an airy feel, but the soundstage wasn't quite as wide and comprehensive as we have seen with other headphones in this price range.
The interaction between the left and right channels was impressive, and the headphones were also very detailed and instructive. This was particularly noticeable with a high-resolution version of 9,000 miles from Pendulum. This rich track with a lively combination of various instruments and electronic elements sounded particularly clear and impressive with the Sennheiser Momentum 3 wireless headphones.
The acoustic signature differs from that we are used to from most headphones, but is also typical of the Sennheiser philosophy. We also know this sound character from other products of the Momentum brand, such as the Momentum True Wireless headphones. We expected an increase in the lower area with a slight decrease in the middle area and somewhat flat highs. This went with most of the tracks we listened to, and added some punch and drive to the sound.
When listening to Thom Yorke's bass-heavy traffic, the electronic lows and bass hits of the beat played well together and gave the track a clear rumbling character, which combined well with the attention to detail of the headphones. With the much livelier Closer from Lemaitre, we liked the relaxed nature of the highs and mids while keeping things energetic and aggressive in the dubstep-inspired bass drop.
The noise cancellation on the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless was impressive in most environments. It was particularly effective on flights as it almost completely suppressed engine roar, and it was also useful for reducing background noise in office and outdoor environments.
However, we felt that the silence was not quite as strong and vacuum-like as the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700; it's almost there, but the Bose headphones do a slightly better job. We also noticed a lot of noise loss at high volumes, which was a bit annoying for the people around us. The call quality with the Sennheiser headphones was acceptable, but did not quite meet the standards set by the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.
The dominance of Bose and Sony in the high-end segment of wireless noise canceling headphones goes without saying, but it's good to see that other headphone manufacturers are challenging. The Sennheiser Momentum 3 wireless headphones are the closest competitor we've seen this year, and we think these headphones need to be considered alongside the two current space champions. We really liked the Momentum 3 Wireless, especially because of its design, comfort and sound quality.
Active noise cancellation is good, but it does not quite match the profitable performance of the Bose Noise Canceling Headphone 700. The battery life is acceptable, but it does not match the level we saw with the Sony WH-1000XM3. In all other respects, however, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless can compete with the competition, especially when it comes to the powerful, detailed and responsive sound.
Perhaps the biggest weakness of this headphone is the price. At Rs. 34,990, the Momentum 3 Wireless is the same price as the Bose option and much more expensive than the Sony WH-1000XM3 (although we expect the WH-1000XM4 to come to market soon at about the same price). Sennheiser definitely has the reputation and legacy to support its premium pricing strategy, but lower costs would have helped in this particular case.
That said, if you are looking for a very good-looking, well-built and feature-rich premium radio headphone with noise suppression that sounds very good, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless is definitely worth an audition and in addition to the current one absolutely worth considering in the segment.
price: Case 34,990
- Excellent design and comfort
- Comfortable, easy-to-use controls
- Decent noise cancellation
- Detailed, appealing sound
- Crunchy depths, aggressive bass
- aptX Bluetooth Codec
- Average battery life
- Below average sound stage
Reviews (of 5)
- Design / comfort: 4.5
- Audio quality: 4
- Battery life: 3.5
- Value for money: 3.5
- Total: 4