Sennheiser’s CX Plus True Wireless earbuds seek to rectify a lot of the issues and missing features of the original CX True Wireless.
Catch yourself up on my previous Sennheiser CX True Wireless review and you’ll see that while they were set to be the budget Momentum True Wireless 2 that I’d craved for, they failed to live up to the hype. The famed German brand has gone back to the drawing board and fixed a lot of these problems while maintaining the competitive price to stand out in a crowded market.
The question is obvious: do these fix enough of the problems to hit those lofty expectations? Are Sennheriser’s earbuds a worthwhile upgrade? Let’s find out.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: Availability and price
Sennheiser’s CX Plus True Wireless come in at $179 in the U.S., which is $50 more than the original CX True Wireless and $120 less than the Momentum True Wireless 2.
Price-wise, this puts it towards the upper echelon of the mid-range earbuds market at $20 more than $159 Denon AH-C830NCW, $50 more than the $120 Jabra Elite 4 Active and $10 less than what the AirPods Pro usually are at their regularly discounted price.
Strangely, the U.K. pricing is a helluva lot more competitive at £129: £50 less than the AirPods Pro, a £10 less than the Denons and £10 more than the Jabras.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: Design
Much like Denon’s AH-C830NCW and AH-C630Ws, Sennheiser’s CX Plus True Wireless earbuds are virtually identical in design to the previous CX True Wireless.
These have no real design flourishes or any stand out pops of color. Sennheiser has always opted for refinement and these are no different with an all-black design. The way to tell these from the CX True Wireless is the plus sport metallic branding atop the case and on the buds themselves.
I’m always a fan of form over function and this minimalist aesthetic continues to speak to me over flashier devices like Nothing ear (1) or AirPods Pro.
Diving into the specifics, the CX Plus case sports exactly the same dimensions as the standard CX (1.3 x 2.3 x 1.6 inches), which makes a shorter-yet-stubbier bulge in your pocket than the competition like Denon’s buds (2.3 x 1.2 x 1.8 inches), whereas the Jabra’s fitness-focussed Elite 4 Active sports a slightly wider profile, but is slimmer too (1.1 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches).
As for the buds themselves, they are at a nice light weight of 0.2 ounces and given the lack of stem, they have a small height at 0.8 inches. This is markedly shorter than the Denon AH-C830NCW (1.4 inches, 0.3 ounces), and identical to the Jabra Elite 4 Active (0.8 inches, 0.2 ounces), but the problem — like last time — is the bulkier casing and thickness of the bud itself in your ear.
All of the tech is contained into a cuboid-shaped shell of the bud that, at over half an inch, can feel pretty bulky. They’re fine in bigger ears like mine, but those with smaller lugs will certainly find these uncomfortable.
The selection of tip sizes in the box does offset this slightly with a secure fit, and the IPX4 water resistance is welcomed. But I’d certainly prefer a sleeker, curvier bud design, which would be more universally comfortable.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: Controls and digital assistant
Touch control options are expansive and customizable on the CX Plus True Wireless, with single, double, and triple tap functions along with a press and hold for vast levels of interaction. Beeps can be heard to confirm when touches are received, which is a nice addition over hoping your buds register your commands.
On paper, this sounds great, and opposite to the standard CX True Wireless, the CX Plus are far more responsive and don’t seem to have a mind of their own. Calling the smart assistant is an easy triple tap and the microphones do a good job of picking up your request, and these do a good job of ignoring accidental taps.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: Active noise cancellation and ambient listening
The biggest upgrade Sennheiser brings to the CX Plus True Wireless is the inclusion of active noise cancellation (ANC) — something that really should be in the original CX True Wireless, but it’s better late than never!
On-board mics do a decent job of neutralizing the background noise and isolating your listening experience. Combined with the snug fit, these can handle their own against rush hour traffic with extremely minimal hiss.
Flip over to transparency mode and the mics make equally good work of your surroundings, highlighting conversation over any kind of background drones. I could hear low level chatter from my partner at up to roughly 20 feet away.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: Audio quality
With the same 7mm TrueResponse Transducer drivers as the CX True Wireless, the Plus model sounds pretty much identical — falling short of that Momentum-level sound quality.
For simpler songs with more compressed compositions, like the “Bittersweet Symphony” cover by Four Year Strong, the CX True Wireless provide warmth to the thudding lower tones that eat into the chugging guitars in the mids, but let the higher vocal tones shine.
This continues into tracks with a higher number of intricate details too like “2009” by Mac Miller, in which the signature Sennheiser tendency for detail is in full effect. The reverb of the piano and the small breaks in Mac’s voice are emphasized and given plenty of life, but the warmth of the sharp stings of 808 bass does distort ever so slightly, which can be fixed by reducing that bass level a bit.
To put that into real-term comparisons, they offer more detail but have a slightly looser grip on bass than AirPods 3, provide more full-bodied definition than the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro and fall slightly behind the Denon AH-C830NCWs in both detail and warmth.
The only difference here, really, is the inclusion of ANC to provide a more interrupted listening experience, so this is more a story of the CX Plus True Wireless playing catch up with what is expected from mid range earbuds in 2022.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: App
It’s business as usual on the app front and, as you’ve probably heard multiple times in our previous Sennheiser reviews, the Smart Control companion app (free to download) is laid out nicely and gives you plenty of features to tinker with.
Particular shout out to the customizable EQ, which gives you free rein over creating your ideal sound profile, and an option to turn off the annoying voice that tells you when you’re connected.
However, the same problem persists: no “find my earbuds” feature. For some particularly prone to losing earbuds, that’s a shame. I’ve learnt to be careful with these and you should too, but to have that extra level of safety is kind of expected.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: Battery life
This is one of the more important questions that comes with sticking ANC in your earbuds, The standard CX True Wireless boast 9 hours of listening time, extended to 27 with the case, and Sennheiser vaguely promises “up to” the same with the CX Plus.
Of course, as you probably already guessed, that’s with noise cancellation turned off. Flick that feature on, however, and you’re looking at a little closer to 7 hours listening time. This beats out the Denon AH-C830NCW (5 hours) and Jabra Elite 4 Active (just under 6 hours), and is an impressive longevity at this price point.
It’s not quite the full all-day use dream I have for mid range buds (give me 8 hours), but they are more than enough for my usual workday of Lo-Fi streaming.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: Call quality and connectivity
Connectivity is handled with Bluetooth 5.2, which forms a secure connection that I had no problems with up to 30 feet away from my iPhone 13 Pro, OnePlus Nord 2 and M1 MacBook Pro.
Contrary to the CX True Wireless, however, call quality is a lot better here. Your voice is clear indoors and outdoors, and the on-board mics do a good job of isolating the background noise around you during even my more intense tests such as walking alongside rush hour traffic.
Don’t get me wrong, it does struggle and you will sound like you’re underwater, but words are understood and thanks to ANC, you can hear the person talking to you with ease. This is a drastic improvement.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: Verdict
At the end of my CX True Wireless review, I reeled off a list of things that I wanted Sennheiser to sort out. With the CX Plus True Wireless, that is exactly what the team did.
They sound better, take calls better, touch controls have been refined and they pack powerful noise cancellation — all in a package that offers decent value for money.
While some issues persist like the uncomfortable fit for those with small ears, the improvements across the board are substantial enough to make these a worthwhile low-cost alternative to the Momentum True Wireless 2.