Sennheiser makes its Momentum Wireless headphones smarter and more affordable

Sennheiser has routinely used the annual IFA show in Berlin to announce its new products — and this year is no exception. For 2019, the company is unveiling an updated version of its highly popular and high-fidelity Momentum Wireless headphones. The new cans pack more features and, amazingly, cost less than their predecessors. Available for $400 starting September 6, the new Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphones essentially represent a tech upgrade, leaving things like audio performance, design, and comfort largely untouched. If you’re wondering about what this means for the company’s current HD1 Wireless headphones, apparently that naming convention hasn’t proven as popular as the headphones themselves, so it’s back to the Momentum label for this third generation.

The bells and whistles abound. Sennheiser has put a real focus on convenience, taking some cues from its various competitors, including Apple. The Momentum Wireless can now start and stop your tunes when you put them on or take them off, thanks to new proximity sensors, and the headphones will automatically turn themselves on and connect to your smartphone or other devices when you unfold them. Only three physical buttons are needed to manage the Momentum’s functions, and one of those is dedicated to calling up your chosen voice assistant. Siri and Google Assistant are supported out of the box, and Alexa compatibility will be delivered later through a firmware update.

Wireless connectivity looks to be improved as well. The previous generations’ codecs are all still here, including AAC, SBC, and aptX, but they’re now handled by the more energy-efficient Bluetooth 5.0 standard, which enables aptX low-latency —  a must for watching videos with perfectly synced audio. Despite the advantages of Bluetooth 5.0, it seems all of these new high-tech features have had a chilling effect on overall battery life. The claimed battery life for these headphones has fallen from 22 hours for its predecessor to just 17. That’s probably not a deal-breaker, as 17 hours is still nearly a full day’s worth of juice, but with the vast improvements we’re seeing in the true wireless earbud market, that number should be headed higher, not lower.

Perhaps the hit to the Momentum Wireless’ battery life can be partially blamed on one of its most unusual features. A partnership with Bluetooth location company Tile has resulted in Tile’s tech being embedded in the new Momentums. We’re not sure that losing a big pair of headphones is as common as neglecting to remember where you put your keys, but if it does happen, they can be tracked via the Tile app.

As with the previous generation, Sennheiser has opted to keep it’s audio specs more or less identical this time around — why mess with success? — but the company did throw in a new noise-canceling feature: Transparency mode. It’s the ability to momentarily bring the outside world in, instead of shutting it out, and it’s a good idea for both ease of communication and safety.

The new Momentum Wireless is available in black right now for $400, while a sandy white color will be available in November.

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