Sennheiser's New Momentum Wireless Are Still King of the Headphones

Image for article titled Sennheiser's New Momentum Wireless Are Still King of the Headphones
Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

The celebrated sound junkies at Sennheiser have done it again. The company just released the third generation of the widely lauded Momentum Wireless headphones, and thanks to some meaningful upgrades, they’re still the king of the category. Bow down.


The new $400 Momentum Wireless headphones come with a familiar but evolved look. The trademark headband with sliding ear cups is still there, albeit a bit thicker with more room for your ears to breathe. The supple lambskin details along the edges are still soft and luxurious, although sleeker without the two-tone stitching of the old Momentum Wireless. The sound quality is still phenomenal. It’s even a little better thanks, in part, to improved noise canceling.

But Sennheiser also made some seriously useful upgrades to the Momentum’s guts. The most noticeable thing is the lack of a power button. You unfold the headphones to turn them on, and when you fold them back up, they power off. (A British-accented voice will let you know when they turn on. and off) The third-generation Momentum Wireless also come with a new feature called Smart Pause, which uses proximity sensors inside the ear cups to automatically play your audio when you put the headphones on. When you take them off, the audio pauses. Other additions include a new switch that toggles between three different noise-canceling settings and a new button that beckons voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant.

In my two weeks of testing the Momentum Wireless, the Smart Pause feature worked flawlessly and frankly just made using the headphones feel so much more graceful. The dependability of Smart Pause is relevant because many other companies (most recently, Jabra) have created similar features. Sennheiser’s version works more consistently, although, I’d occasionally cause the music to pause if I twisted my head in a weird direction. The Momentum’s lack of a power switch, however, impressed me less. I found myself either forgetting to fold them or folding them accidentally, which triggers that British-accented voice and makes me feel like a klutz. Even still, the overall Momentum experience is slicker than it used to be.

Other design tweaks bugged me, though. They’re a bit bigger than the previous generations, which has the upside of making the headphones more comfortable. But it also carries the downside of making the headphones seem a little clunky. The size was the first thing I noticed about the new Momentums, and over time, I realized it didn’t really matter. It just bugged me for some reason, if only because the design of the original Momentum headphones is so iconic. It’s possible any change to that simple design would bug me.

A legit gripe, however, is the new button array. Too many buttons! While one could argue that the controls on the old Momentums were too basic, I insist that the new Momentums have too many buttons. Worse, they’re all similarly shaped and arranged in a single row, so it’s hard to know what you’re ever doing. In my experience, it’s common for headphones to have crappy controls, but the buttons on these new Sennheisers really annoyed me for whatever reason. Heck, maybe it’s a little bit because I was already so used to the controls on the old Sennheisers.

Image for article titled Sennheiser's New Momentum Wireless Are Still King of the Headphones

This sort of wistful nostalgia transformed into something else the more I listened to music with the new Momentums. They just sound so damn good. Sennheiser is famous for being very sonically accurate, and to me, that translates into feeling like I’m right there in the studio with my favorite artists. The multi-dimensional vocals on “The greatest” by Lana Del Rey come through crystal clear, and there’s wonderful depth in the song’s slow wailing guitar solo. The Momentums also deftly handle every weird, scratchy detail in “Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest. The excellent bass response on a song like “Press” by Cardi B shows off how versatile these Sennheisers are. The new Momentums are some of the best-sounding wireless headphones I’ve ever used.

Focusing on the Momentums’ tremendous sound quality eventually led me to brush aside most of my other gripes. The extent to which I don’t love the updated design doesn’t matter since I can’t see the headphones when I’m wearing them. Plus, their roomier ear cups and broader headband do make the headphones more comfortable, especially if you’re wearing them for long stretches of time. Meanwhile, the noise canceling is better than previous generations of Momentums, but it’s not as robust as what you’ll find on the Sony 1000X or the Bose 700 noise-canceling headphones. I don’t totally care, though, since the Momentums’ noise-canceling does a great job of preserving the headphones’ excellent sound quality in different scenarios.


As such, audiophiles and wireless skeptics should feel very good about these headphones. The new Momentum Wireless support pretty much any codec you can think of, including AptX, AAC, and SBC. There’s also support for AptX Low Latency which is designed to improve syncing audio and video. This generation of Momentum also features Bluetooth 5 compatibility, which seemed to improve connectivity significantly. In my experience, the headphones will connect to two devices quickly and simultaneously. I can even switch between listening to audio, say, on my laptop and then on my phone without the annoying chore of going into Bluetooth settings. On top of that, there’s an integrated Bluetooth tracker that works with the Tile app so you can locate your headphones. It worked great in my tests. Then again, I tried not to let the Momentums out of my sight because I like them so much.


The weird thing to me, still, is that it took me a few days to love the new Momentum Wireless. If you’re upgrading from the old generation, there’s a little bit of a learning curve, as the new Sennheisers are smarter. You will immediately love the sound quality, though. If you’re looking for serious noise-canceling headphones, the new Momentums might impress you less than the latest Sony or Bose headphones. If you’re on a bit of a budget, you can save $100 or so by getting the Jabra Elite 85h, which offer a lot of the same features as the new Sennheisers.

But if you just want the best all-around wireless headphones, look no further than the Momentum Wireless. They’re simply majestic.




For an article with a headline that states “still king of the headphones” I’m not sure I got that from reading through it. Too many buttons, wonky fold-unfold to power on/off, ANC not as good as others and only sound quality as it’s leading feature. 

Seems like a good headset but certainly not “king”.