Take premium materials and make a nice pair of headphones, add stellar sound and a great companion app, shake powerfully, and you get the $399 Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones. But the 3rd generation Momentum brings enhanced active noise reduction into the mix. Plus, the headphones offer Tile integration, which will help you keep tabs on the cans up to 150 feet. But the price of $399.95 may not be enough for everyone except the most hardcore music lover. This is our Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Review.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Review – Design
In a world of plastic and faux materials, be like Sennheiser and embrace the grandeur that is stainless steel and genuine leather. The headband and ear shells are lined with supple ebony leather, while the joints and the yokes are made of solid silver stainless steel. Although the earplugs are made of matte black plastic, this does not detract from the otherwise luxurious appearance.
Sennheiser always pays attention to the smallest details, such as the Sennheiser and Momentum that are discreetly printed on the upper left and right joints, or the bold black S stamped on the silver-coated bolt that connects the earcup to the extender. However, I would like the company to put some more foam in the bottom of the band. With a thick full head of hair, I don’t feel any discomfort, but I worry about people with thinner or no hair.
The only other thing that makes the Momentum 3’s look good is the rather large knots on the back of the right auricle. There are only five, but they are large and bulky on the sleek design. And the large indicator light at the top doesn’t help. At the bottom, you’ll find a USB Type-C charging port and an audio port for the bundled charging cable and the 3.5mm audio cable. The grey fabric hard case also includes a USB Type-A dongle for use with a laptop or desktop.
When it was time to connect the Momentum 3 to my Samsung Galaxy Note 9, I just had to unfold the cans to start the pairing mode. They were paired before I had a chance to turn them on and open my phone’s Bluetooth menu. It is very similar to the Beats Solo Pro. However, thanks to the fact that I have a real on/off button, I don’t have to worry about killing the battery when I carry them around town, as is my custom.
If for some reason, the first pairing fails, the right earpiece also has an NFC chip so that you can tap it against compatible devices for a relatively quick pairing sequence.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Review – App
Not a single pair of cans worth their salt is launched these days without a matching app. For Sennheiser products, you get Smart Control. The free app (Android, iOS) complements the function of Momentum 3 in several useful ways. After the first launch and pairing, you get a quick tutorial explaining the basics. Smart Control allows you to control ANC modes and enable/disable Transparency Hearing. There’s also an equalizer that you can adjust to achieve your sound.
And while I like the freedom to create my own presets, it would be nice if there were a few presets for people who aren’t used to futzing with an EQ. But the best thing about Smart Control and the Momentums is Tile integration. Yep, that handy little doodad you stick on your keys and wallet is in your expensive $399 pair of headphones. So if there’s a small chance you leave your headphones somewhere, or some evil thief thaws out your precious cans, you can easily track them down with a range of 150 feet.
A recent firmware update puts Amazon Alexa in the mix as one of the digital assistants (Siri or Google Assistant) you can call up with the headphones. You can map your favorite assistant via the app at the physical button.
Active Noise Cancelling
Like many of its competitors, Momentum offers 3 levels of active noise cancellation. For a complete, shut-out-the-world cover, there is the Max setting, which successfully blocks a loud conversation between a group of teenagers when switched on. It’s the setting I use most to create a little peace of mind for myself. I’ve even used it to block my boyfriend’s crazy cheers for his beloved St. John’s basketball team when I wanted to take a nap in the next room.
When I was in the office, all I had to do was keep my volume at 50% so Max could drown my noisy colleagues. It was pretty blissful to stare at them and hear nothing but Jidenna coming out of their moving lips. However, the Bose outperformed the Sennheisers while maintaining its place at the top of the ANC heap, so my volume was only 45%. If you are not a fan of the pressure created by the internal and external microphones when sound is blocked at Max, you can switch to the Anti Pressure setting.
It is not as thorough as the maximum setting, but when you switch between modes, the difference in pressure is noticeable. I’ve learned that this setting works best when you’re in an airplane, especially during take-off and landing, when you encounter that gnarled pressure shift that makes you try everything to make your ears pop. Thanks to Momentum 3, I was spared from forced yawning, chewing gum, or any of the other remedies recommended to relieve that uncomfortable pressure during my travels to and from CES 2020.
The anti-wind mode works to eliminate wind resistance while walking in the street. It allows some ambient noise, but not enough to be particularly annoying while navigating the busy streets of New York City.
Transparency Hearing Mode
Unfortunately, sometimes you have to let the world in. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop listening to your playlist. Sennheiser has equipped the Momentum 3 with a Transparency Mode for those moments when you need to interact with someone, but don’t necessarily want to stop jamming. When the mode is activated, all the ambient noise comes into the cans, which, depending on how loud you play your music, can fuse in rather amusing ways.
For example, one of my colleagues set up an investigation on Jidenna’s “Long Live The Chief” for a particular processor. However, I’m not a big fan of the atmosphere that lets in the glances. I noticed quite a bit of wind noise from my colleagues, who were noisy and witty. The Bose 700 did a better job of keeping out unnecessary ambient noise, so I was able to concentrate better on the conversation that was going on.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Review – Audio Quality
Momentum 3 started the gate with a rich, warm presentation on Gallant’s “Bone + Tissue.” There were times when I was worried that those deep chords were going to catch the eye, but it kept dancing on edge with its knife-edge control while still delivering beautiful highlights. On the Bose, the synthy keyboard and the damp bass were lovely and clean and served as the perfect catapult for Gallant’s heavenly falsetto. The 700s, however, were not as warm as the Sennheiser.
When listening to Tank and the Bangas “Themeparks” on the Momentum 3, I was lulled into a comfortable room by the artist’s rich vocals. The details were sharp enough to hear the drumsticks gently but firmly tattooed on the drum skin and the cascade of the cymbals. Still, the Bose 700’s did a great job reproducing the alto of the singer Tarriona ‘Tank’ Ball. It was warm, comfortable, and surrounded by a keyboard that was a bit diffuse, delicate violins, and sharp cymbals.
I felt like listening to Santana’s “Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile)” at Momentum 3 in a private concert. Every drumbeat, strum of the bass guitar, stretched synthesizer and electric guitar lick was clean and clear. The generous soundstage made it easy to isolate and focus individual pieces of the song.
When it comes to the sound quality of music, Sennheiser is one of the best. However, the company has to work on the call quality. Making test conversations with my mother, brother, and friend, I was consistently asked to speak. My mother noticed that I sounded far away, while my friend described it as underwater. It didn’t look great on my side, either. Everyone I called sounded like I was talking to them at the end of a long corridor.
On the other hand, I didn’t hear any complaints about background noise, even when I walked to Times Square. Having a second round of conversations with the Bose produced a more precise, sharper sound on both sides.
Sennheiser estimates that Momentum 3 will take 17 hours on a charge. I managed to get about 15 hours of battery out of the cans, but not without some hassle. Unlike most wireless headphones, Momentum 3 does not have an automatic shutdown. To turn them off, they have to be folded. This means that my habit of wearing my headphones everywhere was detrimental to jamming sessions.
One night I just wore the cans to make sure I didn’t accidentally leave them in a bar or at a party, the battery was running low. And when it was finally time for me to tune up the world with some of my favorite music, my headphones, which had previously dropped to 90% and 60% during my after-work shenanigans. I was essentially punished for wanting to wear my headphones as a fashion statement.
Fortunately, Sennheiser fixed the problem via a firmware update. Now, if I wear the cans all day, I have a battery life of 80% at the end of the day. Thanks to the more stable connection with Bluetooth 5.0, I have rarely had to deal with signal loss. And with a theoretical range of 800 feet, I noticed that I was able to leave my phone on my kitchen table while I was cleaning the extra bathroom downstairs.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Review – Conclusion
There’s no doubt about it, Sennheiser knows how to make headphones that sound as good as they look. The Momentum Wireless 3 serves a mature style with a warm, rich sound and excellent noise reduction. And the integration of the Tile makes me feel that it’s not as powerful as Bose, but still great. For the price, however, I want longer battery life, especially if the Bose has a 20-hour lifespan. Again, Sennheiser fans and newcomers to the brand should try to get to know the Momentum 3 Wireless, a headphone that looks and sounds premium.
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 wireless headphones offer a mature, high-quality design, great audio, and strong ANC, but come a little short on battery power.
- Sophisticated design
- Great audio quality
- Good ANC/Transparency mode
- Tile integration
- Shorter battery life than the competition