“The Momentum True Wireless 3 offer signature Sennheiser sound, but are more comfortable and more affordable than the last generation.”
- Superb sound
- Comfy, secure fit
- Wireless charging
- Wear sensors
- Customizable controls
- IPX4 water resistance
- No Bluetooth multipoint
- No side-tone/transparency for calls
- ANC isn't very effective
- Mediocre call quality
How do you top one of the best-performing set of wireless earbuds we’ve ever tested? If you’re Sennheiser, you keep what works and you make small but valuable improvements to the parts that needed them. Oh, and you drop the price too.
That’s the approach Sennheiser has taken with its $249 Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 — the third generation of its flagship wireless earbuds — and it seems to have paid off handsomely.
How good are these earbuds, and how do they stack up to the competition? Let’s check ’em out.
Editor’s note: As of fall 2022, Sennheiser has started to roll out an update for the Momentum True Wireless 3 that adds Bluetooth Multipoint, which will address one of our few criticisms of these wireless earbuds. As soon as we get a chance to test it, we’ll add our notes to this review and adjust the pros/cons section accordingly.
Here’s a quick overview of what Sennheiser has changed from the Momentum True Wireless 2:
- Smaller, lighter, sleeker design
- Wireless charging
- Hybrid ANC with anti-wind
- Bluetooth 5.2
- aptX Adaptive
- New features in the Smart Control app
- Lower price
The elegant, woven fabric-wrapped charging case Sennheiser used for the second-gen Momentum makes a return for the Momentum True Wireless 3. (We’ll call them the MTW3 from here on.) But this time the case is a little smaller and more pocketable. It still charges via USB-C, but Sennheiser has added two improvements: The charging port is now on the front of the case, making it easier to plug in and to see the indicator light, and the case now supports wireless charging.
But the big differences can be found on the earbuds themselves. They’re now considerably smaller and lighter, and feature a much sleeker, curved/square shape — all of which address one of the few criticisms we had of the Momentum 2, which were pretty bulky.
The MTW3 were a perfect fit, right out of the box.
There’s also a new silicone earfin that wraps around the body of the earbuds. With three sizes to choose from, they help anchor the MTW3 in your ear by adding an additional point of contact.
In addition to the white and black colors that Sennheiser has typically provided, the MTW3 introduce a new graphite color, which you can see in these photos of our review unit. With its polished surfaces, it adds a sophisticated and stylish look befitting a set of premium earbuds.
Sennheiser has maintained the IPX4 rating from previous generations, and while that doesn’t offer as much protection from water as the IP57 rating on Jabra’s Elite 7 Pro, it’s still more than enough for the occasional sweaty workout or run in the rain.
Comfort, controls, and connectivity
As much as I like the way Sennheiser wireless earbuds sound, I’ve never been a huge fan of the way they fit. Their large size and hard plastic contours tended to become uncomfortable over time. That’s no longer a problem with the MTW3, which are now as comfortable to wear as the top contenders in this category like the Sony WF-1000XM4, Jabra Elite 7 Pro, and Technics EAH-AZ60. And thanks to their new earfins, once you seat them in your ears, they barely budge at all.
I should also mention that my fit problems with previous Sennheiser earbuds meant that I needed to abandon the included silicone eartips and use a set of third-party foam tips to get a good, comfortable seal, which is absolutely key to getting the best sound quality. The MTW3, by comparison, were a perfect fit right out of the box, using the default medium eartips, but Sennheiser includes three other sizes should you need them.
The touch controls, like those on Sennheiser’s other earbuds, are excellent. They’re responsive without being overly sensitive, and they give you an audible tone as feedback that you’ve tapped correctly. I still prefer physical buttons as a rule, but the MTW3 are at the top of the heap when it comes to touch, and their smaller size makes them even easier to use.
You get access to almost every possible command, including play/pause, call answer/end, track skip forward/back, volume up/down, active noise cancellation (ANC) on/off, transparency on/off, and voice assistant access. The only thing that’s missing is the ability to mute the microphones during a call. Better yet, Sennheiser’s excellent Smart Control mobile app lets you customize which earbuds and which gestures are used for each function, in case you don’t like the default arrangements. Thanks to the onboard wear sensors, you can also pause your music automatically when you remove an earbud (or you can disable this feature within the Smart Control app). It’s incredibly responsive, pausing and resuming music almost instantly.
The MTW3 are equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 and support a wealth of codecs including SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive, and Snapdragon Sound. Under the right conditions, and with a compatible smartphone, you’ll be able to enjoy up to 24-bit/96kHz lossy audio quality, which is about as good as it gets these days when it comes to wireless earbuds.
What’s unusual is that these earbuds are considered Class 1 Bluetooth devices, which means they enjoy extended wireless range (up to 98 feet) when compared to those in Class 2 (up to 33 feet) — which is pretty much all wireless earbuds except those made by Apple and its Beats subsidiary.
The new anti-wind ANC setting works really well.
My initial review unit suffered from some intermittent stability issues, however, Sennheiser suspected that was the result of a hardware glitch and sent me a replacement. The second set of MTW3s performed flawlessly. Like most new wireless earbuds, you can use each MTW3 bud independently for both calls and music.
Sennheiser has taken an if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it approach to the MTW3: They use the same 7mm TrueResponse dynamic drivers as their predecessors, and the smaller shape of the earbuds hasn’t negatively affected the sound in any way — these earbuds sound amazing.
Listening with aptX Adaptive delivers yet another level of detail.
All of the qualities that earned the second-gen Momentums such high praise are still here, including a rich and natural acoustic signature with ultra-clear high frequencies, impressively detailed midranges, and bass that is both authoritative yet balanced.
And that’s a description of what it’s like to listen when using an iPhone or an aptX-enabled Android device. But if you want to experience how the MTW3 can actually sound better than the MTW2, despite sharing the same driver technology, you need to connect them to an aptX Adaptive smartphone like the Xiaomi 12 Pro, which is also equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound.
In a busy gym or while commuting, you won’t hear any difference. But find a quiet location and then stream top-quality lossless audio from Tidal, Amazon Music, or Apple Music, and you will be treated to even more detail. The best way I can describe it is by saying it adds smoothness. Like changing to a higher thread count set of sheets, you don’t really want to go back once you’ve heard it.
I found the factory tuning to be perfect for almost every genre, but the Smart Control app gives you a variety of EQ presets to choose from and you can create your own using the three frequency sliders. Sennheiser has also introduced a feature called Sound Check, which attempts to find your perfect EQ setting by getting you to compare a series of A/B choices while listening to your favorite tunes. It didn’t produce noticeably better results for me, but I can see it being useful for folks who have limited experience with EQ settings.
When the MTW2 debuted in 2020, they set a new standard for sound quality in a set of wireless earbuds. But the competition since then has been fierce, with new models like the Master & Dynamic MW08, Sony WF-1000XM4, Grado GT220, KEF MU3, and most recently, the Astell&Kern AK UW100, all demonstrating superb performance. And while I don’t think the MTW3 manage to eclipse these models — even with aptX Adaptive — their price makes them an extremely attractive option.
ANC and transparency
Another feature that has been steadily improving since 2020 is ANC. The MTW2 weren’t especially notable for their noise canceling, but then they used a single-mic system. The MTW3 have a thoroughly modern, adaptive hybrid ANC system that uses two of the three mics on each earbud, which should yield dramatically better results. But even with this new system, the MTW3 aren’t nearly as effective at canceling unwanted sounds as their competitors. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, Technics EAH-AZ60, Sony WF-1000XM4, and Apple AirPods Pro all provide broader frequency coverage, and do a better job of masking annoying noises like those created by loud fans or jet engines.
Which is not to say that the MTW3’s ANC is bad. It’s perfectly capable of keeping the sound of traffic in check so you can hear your favorite podcasts, and its anti-wind setting (accessible via the Smart Control app) works really well. It’s just not as good as the best ANC earbuds.
Transparency mode, on the other hand, is very good, and I love that Sennheiser gives you the ability to adjust how much sound you want to let in, and whether or not you’d like to pause your music when engaging transparency — all wireless earbuds should offer this.
However, the implementation of transparency mode isn’t perfect. When I pushed the sensitivity slider in the mobile app beyond the 40% threshold, the right earbud started to produce a faint hiss, which got louder the more I increased the sensitivity. This is hopefully another area Sennheiser can tweak over time with additional firmware updates.
Despite having two beamforming mics, call quality on the MTW3 is only so-so. When outside, those mics struggle to cancel out competing noises and wind while keeping your voice clear. I noticed a considerable amount of compression and wobble. Indoors, things are better, but even then, I found my voice lacked the kind of full-range quality I’ve come to expect from the best wireless earbuds, like the Jabra Elite 7 Pro, which sound great in virtually all conditions.
Another small annoyance is that Sennheiser hasn’t included a side-tone feature so that you can hear your own voice clearly when on calls. If you have transparency mode turned on prior to a call, it gets turned off and ANC gets turned on when you begin your call and there’s no way to switch it back during the call. Sennheiser says this is by design, so that you’re not distracted by outside sounds, but I think it should be up to the user.
It’s also worth noting that the MTW3 lack Bluetooth multipoint, so you’ll need to manually switch between previously paired devices using the Smart Control app. On the bright side, I’m told that Sennheiser is looking for ways to add this feature with a future firmware update. It certainly wouldn’t be the first company to do that — Jabra added multipoint several months after launching its Elite 7 Pro and Elite 7 Active without the feature.
With the latest version of its Smart Control app, Sennheiser has added a feature called Sound Zones, which lets you choose specific settings for ANC, transparency, and EQ based on your physical location. You need to have a free Sennheiser account to use it, and you’ll need to give the app permission to track your location. I didn’t test it, but I can see how it might come in handy.
Sennheiser claims up to 7 hours of playtime with ANC off and up to 6.5 hours when it’s on.
If you keep the ANC off, you can get a total of 28 hours with the power reserves in the charging case. In my testing, those numbers proved to be accurate — and maybe even a bit conservative. Should you run low, a 10-minute quick charge will buy you an extra hour’s worth of playtime.
These are decent numbers that put the MTW3 on par with the Jabra Elite 7 Pro, while handily beating the AirPods Pro and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.
Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 3 keep everything we liked about the second generation earbuds, while adding plenty of valuable improvements. And they’re now more affordable. What’s not to like?
Is there a better alternative?
In terms of pure sound quality, you may prefer Master & Dynamic’s MW08, which have a slightly richer and fuller tone, but in general, the Momentum True Wireless 3 are top-flight performers.
I you’re looking for better ANC and transparency, I recommend Sony’s WF-1000XM4 or the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.
And if call quality matters a lot, Jabra’s Elite 7 Pro are amazing, and they let you connect to your computer and phone simultaneously via Bluetooth multipoint, something the MTW3 can’t do (yet).
How long will they last?
Sennheiser backs the Momentum True Wireless 3 with a two-year warranty. The build quality is excellent, and the IPX4 water protection should keep them from harm as long as you don’t take them swimming. Sennheiser also lets you replace individual components should one get lost or broken, which is a much less expensive way to keep these earbuds in your daily life.
Should you buy them?
Yes. The second-gen Momentums were already a top pick in terms of wireless earbuds. Now with more features, a better design, and a lower price, the Momentum True Wireless 3 are worth every penny.
- The best Bluetooth speakers for under $100
- The best running headphones for 2023: from JLab, JBL, Jabra, and more
- Jabra’s $100 Elite 4 are its most affordable ANC earbuds yet
- What is Amazon Music: everything you need to know
- The best live TV streaming services: Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and more