If you've ever bought a pair of really good noise-canceling headphones, you'll know how easy it is to become attached to them – and conversely, how easy it can be to misplace them.
Frantically searching your house for your favorite cans is annoying, but the latest Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphones pack Tile tracking technology, so you'd never need lose them again.
More expensive than their biggest competitors, we wanted to find out whether these feature-rich over-ear headphones are worth the money.
Price and availability
The new Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphones are currently only available in black, with an off-white variant coming in November 2019.
There's no getting around it: these headphones are very expensive at $399.95 / AED 1,649 (around £280 / AU$500), just surpassing our favorite noise-canceling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM3, which come in at $349 / AED 1,299 (£300 / AU$499).
That extra $50 could potentially be justified by the inclusion of Tile technology, but the company’s cheapest tracker comes in at £19.99 / $25 (about AU$37) – so, can Sennheiser justify the price of their latest wireless headphones with excellent design, sound performance, and noise cancelation?
The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (2019) certainly stand out from the headphones crowd, with sleek, minimalist housings and metallic hardware.
Perhaps the most striking design feature of these noise-canceling headphones is their adjustable headband, crafted from pearl-blasted stainless steel sliders that are held in place by a shiny logo-adorned button.
As a result, there are some visible cables linking the earcups to the headband, which means they don’t have the fluid form factor of the Bose Headphones 700 – that’s all a matter of taste, though.
The earcups and foldable headband are made from sheepskin leather, which unfortunately means these headphones are unsuitable for those who avoid using animal products; if this isn’t a problem for you, you’ll find that these earcups feel extremely soft and comfortable to wear for long periods.
The headphones come in a bulky, yet attractive fabric carrying case; inside you’ll find a UBS-C charging cable, a USB-C to USB-A adaptor, and a 3.5mm audio cable for when you want to listen with a wired connection.
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These new Momentum Wireless headphones do away with the fiddly buttons of their predecessors. Now, the power button is gone entirely, replaced with an automatic on/off function that tracks when you take the headphones on and off your ears.
It’s a useful feature, and one that works pretty well – too well, in fact. Sometimes just slightly adjusting the headphones or moving our head was enough to abruptly stop our music.
That doesn’t mean these cans have no control buttons at all; you can adjust your music playback using one multifunction button. You’ll need to press it once to play/pause your music, press it twice to skip to the next track, and press it three times to go back to the previous track.
There’s also a button to summon your device’s voice assistant, as well as one to control the headphones’ noise-canceling function, allowing you to turn it off or turn on Transparent Hearing mode (more on that later).
Features and battery life
Setting these cans apart from the competition is their built-in Tile tracker, which means they're difficult to misplace. Using the Tile app, you can 'call' your headphones any time you can't find them, which is a fantastic feature for forgetful types.
You need to download the Tile app to your smartphone to use this feature and sign up for a free account. Once you’ve done this, you simply need to connect your headphones with the Tile app.
We tested this feature by selecting ‘Find my Tile’ in the app; once we did this, the headphones started vibrating and ringing, getting louder as time went on – all in all, it worked really well.
Building on these headphones' smart features, you can summon your device's voice assistant via a dedicated button, whether you use Siri or Google Assistant; Sennheiser says that Amazon Alexa is set to join the team "soon" as well.
At first glance, the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless’ 17-hour battery life sounds rather good, but compare it to the 30 hours offered by Sony's WH-1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones, and it doesn't seem quite so impressive – especially when you’re paying more for the Sennheiser model.
Battery life is also significantly lower than the original Momentum Wireless headphones, which offered a far more palatable 22 hours of battery life. Still, it should be enough to get you through a week’s worth of commuting.
Pairing with our smartphone was totally painless, as was navigating Sennheiser’s Smart Control app to adjust the noise-cancellation settings.
The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (2019) feature decent noise cancelation; they don’t block out as much environmental noise as rivals like the Sony WH-1000XM3 or the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, but you’ll still be able to listen to your music in relative peace.
Via the Sennheiser Smart Control app, you can customize the type and degree of noise cancellation; Max is unsurprisingly the highest level of noise cancellation possible, while Anti-Wind mode provides slightly less cancellation while blocking out wind and structure-borne noise.
There’s also an Anti-Pressure mode that reduces the discomfort sometimes associated with noise-canceling headphones – it’s a subtle difference, but if you suffer from the uncomfortable feeling of pressure on your ears, you’ll likely find this feature very useful indeed.
Lastly, there’s Transparent Hearing mode – this allows some environmental sound to pass through the cans when you need to focus on your surroundings. This mode actually allows you to hear better than when you have Active Noise Canceling turned off altogether, which is handy if you don’t want to constantly take your headphones on and off every time you want to hear what’s going on around you.
With 42mm transducers, these headphones are made to replicate the "balanced depth and precision of a studio recording".
The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphones support Bluetooth 5.0 and codecs like aptX, AAC, and SBC, as well as aptX Low Latency – this means you shouldn't experience connection dropouts or any annoying lag when watching videos with these headphones.
An equalizer within the app means that you can adjust the sound settings, whether you favor a bassier mix or the more natural sound of treble-heavy audio. It’s a nice touch for those who want the ability to truly customize their headphones, but we found that the default EQ setting was the best option for us.
Listening to Girl Ray’s Stupid Things, we were struck by how natural the harmonized vocals sounded, coming across with crystal clarity as warm piano chords shifted below and shimmering treble notes glisten at the higher end of the mix.
Cascading bass lines can be heard falling about in the background, without ever overpowering the twangy guitar riffs.
Moving on to Bon Iver’s iMi, we had the chance to hear how lush and rich these headphones can sound, with sonorous bass frequencies swelling around verdant vocal harmonies, as industrial beats clatter and fall around the open wide soundstage.
As the track reaches its climax, cacophonous brass runs climb the mix like a vine up a tree, reaching the highest frequencies without sounding overly harsh.
Overall, the wide soundstage and detailed sound provided by the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphone makes them very adept at voicing your music, no matter how complex.
Clarity is very good, and you may find yourself noticing elements of your favorite songs that had passed you by before – they aren’t quite as assertive as the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, but we like their natural sound.
In terms of sheer sound quality, the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (2019) headphones sound brilliant, with high levels of detail, warm bass, and natural-sounding highs.
The customizable noise cancellation on offer here is also good, but it doesn’t quite reach the class-leading standards set by the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless headphones.
They have nowhere near the battery life of Sony’s headphones, and are more expensive – which begs the question, why buy the Sennheisers when you could have the WH-1000XM3?
Well, if built-in Tile tracking appeals to you, and you like the industrial design and premium materials of the Momentum Wireless, that could be reason enough – and if you do opt for them over the Sony model, you won’t be missing out on any audio quality. In that respect, they’re truly matched.
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