Sennheiser's large wireless headphones are not subtle or cheap at $350, but they deliver the company's signature sound with superb noise cancellation and convenient app support
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- The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Headphones deliver the company's signature sound in a classy, maturely designed set of over-ear cans.
- Sennheiser's bass-heavy performance can be tailored to your liking using the intuitive equalizer feature in the iOS and Android app.
- The 17-hour battery life is a little lower than some competing models, but the noise cancellation is superb, and there's even Tile support built into the
headphonesso you can locate them if they get lost.
- With a regular retail price of $399.99, the Momentum 3 Wireless are more expensive than many competing models, but the additional features do help to justify their higher cost.
- For more headphone recommendations, be sure to check out our continually updated roundup of the best headphone deals.
The Momentum 3 Wireless are the latest version of Sennheiser's highly popular and well-regarded over-ear Bluetooth headphones. The headphones include the company's effective noise cancellation, along with the excellent sound quality the brand is known for.
A few new features and a helpful app have also been added this time around, but do the Momentum 3 Wireless retain the overall appeal that led so many to buy previous versions?
I've been wearing them for a while to find out, and here's a teaser: The Momentum 3 really deliver, but you're going to have to shoulder a hefty cost.
- Drivers: 42mm
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, 3.5mm jack, USB Type-C charging
- Codecs: AptX, AptX Low Latency, AAC, SBC
- Battery life: 17 hours
- Weight: 300 grams/10.7 ounces
- App: Sennheiser Smart Control app for iOS and Android
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 headphones are not for shrinking violets. They're big over-ear cans in a size only a Cyberman would consider subtle and chic. The earcups are made of plastic with soft, pillowy leather surrounds that entirely encase your ears. If you've got a small head, the Momentum 3 will likely threaten to engulf it in its entirety. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration, but make no mistake, everyone will notice you're wearing these headphones.
Size aside, the design is modern and classy. The combination of black leather and brushed metal is a classic, and it gives the headphones a sophisticated look. They are the exact opposite of brands like Beats and Skullcandy, and up there with Bang & Olufsen's Beoplay in terms of both quality and maturity. The length adjustment is simple, just pull on either cup to raise or lower it, and there are no clicks or ugly breaks in the hanger when they're extended either. It's such a neat solution.
The curly wires leading up from the cups to the hanger will split opinion, and it's perhaps a little surprising they're not hidden away; but the trade-off comes in the stainless steel sliders that hold the cups to the frame. These ultra-thin blades look very cool, and are easy to get in the right position. Most importantly, once you find this setting, they stay put. The cups gripped my glasses a lot though, which can be annoying.
Despite the size, they don't feel heavy once they're on. The well-designed, substantially padded hanger ensures the weight is evenly distributed, so the headphones never push down on the top of your head. I consider my head to be of normal size, and the Momentum 3 don't tightly grip it, which would quickly result in fatigue. They fit securely, and don't shift around when out walking. However, they aren't really suitable for exercise.
This is because of the sweats. Yes, the combination of massive cups, leather pads, and all-encompassing size means the headphones do get quite hot. Since the cups extend down to my jaw, the lower part of my ear and face get uncomfortably warm with the headphones, especially when I wear them out and about on a brisk walk. With that said, it takes several hours to get to the stage where you need to take them off for a little.
I like the clear L and R markings inside each cup, the bright status LED light, and the easy to distinguish and press physical buttons on the right headphone. The volume buttons flank a play/pause button, while above is the noise cancellation control, and below is the button for your voice assistant of choice. All are made from rubber so they are grippy and easy to press. There is a USB Type-C charging port and a 3.5mm jack for wired use as well.
For easy transport, I really like that the headphones can fold up when you take them off, and this action activates an auto-off feature which turns the headphones off at the same time. When you unfold them, the headphones instantly pair with the last device they were connected to, and you can pair multiple source devices. Yes, the Momentum 3 are big and can get a bit sweaty, but they're also some of the classiest headphones you can buy, with one of the simplest, most user-friendly operation systems around.
Anyone familiar with Sennheiser headphones will know what to expect here; but for those who have not tried out a set before, the Momentum 3 have a strong, well-rounded, and unique sound which emphasizes bass without losing detail or control. It's all very full-bodied, with no part of the soundstage ignored, and a massive amount of detail when listening to the best recordings.
I should say at this stage, though, that I find the usual Sennheiser sound a little overpowering. There's always a lot going on, and the bass is exceptionally defined, often dominating the delicate vocals in my preferred music genre. Thankfully, the Sennheiser Smart Control app actually includes an equalizer so you can tailor the Momentum 3's sound with 12 slots to save your own presets. This has helped me enjoy them a lot more than older models.
The 2016 remaster of New Order's "Blue Monday" is a great case in point. I can get the bass level exactly right, delivering the punch I want, while still enjoying the superb percussion and mids. The layering of the track shows off the wonderful control delivered by the Momentum 3s. Commuting with the excellent noise cancellation is one thing, but these headphones are also fantastic to listen to at home with the cancellation switched off.
Depeche Mode and The KLF's "Policy of Truth" remix lets the headphones amazing detail shine through. The echo of the rich vocals flows around the soundstage, and the vocal clarity really stands out, something repeated in REO Speedwagon's "Keep on Loving You." Returning the equalizer to default, or with a slight decrease on the bass, makes HKT48's "3-2" much more enjoyable, driving the sweet vocals to the forefront.
The Momentum 3 Wireless sound excellent, and it won't matter where you listen to them or what kind of music you like. I find the Sennheiser's quite serious, in both design and sound delivery. They're here to do a job — expose detail like never before — and they're going to do that without any messing around. While that's a plus in many ways, the headphones might lack a bit of personality as a result.
Features and app
The Momentum 3 Wireless headphones have an extensive feature list, which goes somewhat towards justifying the high price. The standout new feature is the addition of Tile tracking. Once activated, this function allows a lost pair of headphones to be located practically anywhere, provided they still have power. Losing an expensive pair of headphones can be very upsetting, so the introduction is welcome.
After setting up a Tile account, the feature is controlled through the app. When you tell it to locate the headphones, they vibrate and an alarm sounds, making it really easy to find them. It should be noted, however, that the feature will put a small amount of additional strain on the battery life of the headphones and your smartphone.
The app as a whole is minimalist and well-designed. It clearly shows battery life — which can also be verbally stated with a long press of the play/pause button — and on the main screen you can quickly alter the noise cancellation setting, the equalizer preset, and activate the transparent hearing mode. There are three noise cancellation modes: Maximum, Anti-Wind, and Anti Pressure. This translates into a high, medium, and low setting.
I wore them on a 10 hour flight using the Maximum setting, and the effect is really dramatic. The majority of the engine drone is minimized, while switching to Anti Pressure allows more in without making it hard to listen to spoken word. On the street, the Anti-Wind mode is most effective, allowing me to still hear some traffic. Overall, the noise cancellation is superb, and has almost no impact on the sound delivered by the headphones. With that said, the noise cancellation isn't quite as effective as Sony's WH-1000XM3.
Finally, using the lower button on the headphones calls up Google Assistant, Siri, or Amazon's Alexa. The usefulness of this will depend on how often you use your virtual assistant already.
Battery life and connection
Pairing with my iPhone 11 Pro and a Samsung Galaxy S20 using Bluetooth is quick and painless. NFC also provides a fast connection with just a tap, provided the feature is active on your phone. If you don't want to use Bluetooth, the package also includes a cable with a double 3.5mm jack. I didn't experience any instability with the connection, and while others have noted some problems with the auto-off feature when adjusting the headphones, I couldn't replicate them.
Range is as expected from Bluetooth 5.0, reaching about 33 feet without a problem. As you reach the edge of connectivity, the headphones will stutter a little, but usually stabilize if you don't move around much. This range means I can move freely around my modest apartment and never drop out of a connection.
Sennheiser says the battery will offer 17 hours before needing a recharge. I experienced about 15 hours of use, so if you factor in a small amount of battery drain while the headphones sit idle, the 17 hour estimate is about right. However, it's below what many other models offer. For example, the Sony WH-1000XM3 provide 30 hours with the noise cancellation on, and the Beats Solo Pro Wireless offer up to 36 hours.
The bottom line
The Momentum 3 Wireless are maturely designed with the detailed, bassy Sennheiser sound signature many crave. They also have superb noise cancellation and a very easy to use app. On the downside, they feature a fairly high retail price tag of $399.99. For that price, however, you get all the quality, both in terms of build and sound, that you'd expect from the brand. The headphones are also currently on sale for $349.95, which adds to their value.
What are your alternatives?
When it comes to wireless headphones, there's no shortage of alternatives to consider. For those who favor noise cancellation performance over Sennheiser's unique sound, we like the Sony WH-1000XM3 ($348) and Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 ($348).
For those who want to save some money, the Beats Solo Pro Wireless (249.95) and the Marshal Monitor 2 ($319.99) are both solid options as well. For more recommendations, be sure to read our guide to the best noise-cancelling headphones.
Pros: Excellent noise cancellation, Sennheiser's signature sound quality, easy to use app, reliable connection
Cons: The large size won't be for everyone, headphones get quite hot, expensive when not discounted, battery life is decent but not outstandingRead the original article on Business Insider
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