Almost two years ago, Sennheiser added wireless models to their popular Momentum series. Their latest innovation is the Momentum 3 Wireless.
This over-ear model is finished to Sennheiser’s usual high-quality standard, and retains the very pleasing distinctive retro-influenced styling favoured by the rest of the range. The leather headband and ear cups are well padded and the length-adjustable steel brackets also guarantee durability. The ear cups are foldable to save space when transported in the included travel bag.
The current model is only available in black and compared to the first Momentum Wireless and the price has slightly increased to 399 Euros.
All controls and connections are located on the right ear cup: four buttons, a switch, the USB-C charging connection and the socket for possible cable operation.
The most important innovation in the Momentum 3 Wireless is switchable noise cancelling. This replaces the constantly active, rather discreet noise reduction that was on the first model and is supplemented by a function called “Transparent Hearing”. Four microphones transmit external noise into the ear cup so that when need, you are not too isolated from your environment. Finally, Sennheiser’s free “Smart Control” app for iOS and Android offers additional control options.
Wearing these headphones is always comfortable thanks to the good padding and soft ear cups, which are tight enough not to slip – your neighbours on the train or bus are not disturbed by escaping sound despite good level reserves. But for use as sports headphones, the Momentum 3 Wireless are about a size too big.
The control system is straightforward and practical due to the tactile controls. The lack of an on/off switch is irritating at first: the headphones are activated by opening them and then switched off again when closed. But after a firmware update, the headphones can now also be switched off at the touch of a button. Music playback is automatically switched to pause each time the headphones are taken off. This function is quite handy, but if you just need to move an ear cup to one side like a DJ, then the function can be deactivated via the app.
The middle button is the most important as you can use it to start and stop playback, as well as jump between titles and fast forward or rewind using multiple clicks. Answering telephone calls is also handled via the middle button, and you can also check the battery level. The two other buttons next to it are used exclusively for volume control.
The button further down triggers pairing and calls up the voice assistant in your smartphone and it also works for Amazon Alexa. That leaves the switch at the top, which activates the Noise Cancelling and Transparent Hearing functions. This latter is useful but, in practice, it works less elegantly than the touch function of some competitors.
The range is rather average despite using Bluetooth 5, but it allows the possibility of pairing with several sound sources.
You have access via the app to a nice but rather crude adjustable equalizer. I would have liked to have an alternative control method with graphical sliders and storable presets here. Additionally in the app, the Transparent Hearing mode (which switches off the music or not), the smart pause function and the voice/sound messages can be configured according to taste and updates can be carried out. You can also connect to Amazon’s Alexa here. Additionally, you can use Tile, which with luck will help you to located lost or stolen headphones.
The manufacturer’s claim of 17 hours battery life (Bluetooth with ANC) is realistic and quite workable. A complete charging cycle takes about three hours, but ten minutes charging time is already enough for almost 1.5 hours of music playback. Multi-coloured status indicators on the device provide clarity about the charge level and other functions.
High-quality headphones for mobile use should not be without noise cancelling as it is a convenient additional feature that creates quiet zones, aids relaxation and also offers an improved signal-to-noise ratio when listening to music.
In addition to the effective mechanical insulation of the construction, noise-cancelling on the headphones can be achieved by means of the aforementioned switch, which turns the function on and off or activates the Transparent Hearing mode. Further configuration is done via the app on your smartphone.
With four microphones, the system offers good performance. It works efficiently in the bass range at least and is therefore effective when travelling by train. At the same time, it never creates the feeling of complete isolation. The maximum noise reduction is less intense than with headphones by Sennheiser’s competitor Sony. You can choose between three presets on the app, including a variant that prevents annoying noise from wind. However, there are no continuous control and motion-dependent automatic functions here. The noise suppression works smoothly without music and is thus also recommended for use in noisy offices. The only disturbance is the audible noise in the signal path. A little suggestion: Transparent Hearing and inactive Noise Cancelling could be more clearly distinguished, which is why I would like to see the ability to control the level of the incoming external signal in the future.
The technical quality of these headphones is already evident in their basic construction. The dynamic drivers already convince in passive, wired operation. The basic sound is coherent over the entire frequency spectrum, so that the active electronics, which are necessary for noise suppression and Bluetooth transmission, do not have to straighten out the sound. This is by no means a matter of course. Sennheiser lay the foundations for good sound from the start. Accordingly, cable operation should not be regarded as an emergency mode in the event of a flat battery, but as a completely legitimate alternative to wireless. The Momentum 3 Wireless also functions as a USB audio output device.
Further sound evaluation was done via Bluetooth particularly using the AAC codec. I would describe the basic character as warm and wide. The sound tuning was by no means neutral, slim and analytical; rather, it was positively enjoyable because it lacks neither contour nor details. This makes these headphones suitable for all genres from pop and rock to club and urban music. The bass of the Momentum 3 Wireless is voluminous and, in my opinion, a bit too full-bodied. As a closed system designed for mobile use, this is okay, especially since it doesn’t boom. Low bass is audible, but never overemphasised and it was resistant to overload at higher playback levels.
The harmonious midrange reproduction gives voices and individual instruments the necessary contour, distorted guitars in particular also sounded great. Finally, the Momentum 3 Wireless offers good detail and transient imaging as well as speech intelligibility in the high frequencies. Compared to high-quality open constructions, it still lacks a little bit of airiness and the limit of harshness is a bit too low for me.
Nevertheless, Sennheiser’s headphones play to a high standard, delivering a clearly recognisable tonality and easily comprehensible dynamics, which definitely makes jazz and classical music worth listening to with these headphones.
The stereo stage is convincingly staggered and movements can be detected at any time. The listener is also given a feeling of spatiality up to a certain three-dimensionality, which can be quite small and intimate depending on the recording. A clean performance, but nevertheless I can’t help but criticise the lack of the higher-quality codecs aptX HD and LDAC for Bluetooth transmission, particularly in view of the price. With aptX, AAC and the cinematically compatible aptX LL, this equipment is certainly appropriate, but there is still room for improvement. The noise cancelling on these headphones is to be praised for mobile use. If you can ignore the slight noise, music enjoyment can be intensified without reducing the sound quality, especially in noisy surroundings.
Last but not least, the voice quality during phone calls is worthy of high praise.
With the Momentum 3 Wireless, Sennheiser offers an all-round package for demanding users who like to listen to music in great comfort and want reliable headphones for use when travelling. We rate their sound as high quality, although not neutral. In addition, the high-quality workmanship, distinctive design, user-friendly operation and features make these headphones worthy of a recommendation.
More measurement results
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)6 - 22.000 Hz
- Pressure averaged from big and small head641 g
- Weight with cable319 g
- Weight without cable308 g
- Cable length140 cm
What's in the box
- Analog cable with 3.5 mm jack plug
- USB-C to USB-A Adapter
- USB-C cable
- Travel bag
- BT codecs: aptX, aptX LL, AAC, SBC
- BT version: 5.0