Take premium materials and make a beautiful pair of headphones, add stellar sound and a great companion app, shake vigorously and you get the $399 Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones. But the 3rd-generation Momentums brings improved active noise cancelling to the mix. Plus, the headphones offer Tile integration, which will help you keep tabs on the cans up to 150 feet. But the $399.95 price might be off putting to all but the most well-heeled music lover.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 design
In a world of plastic and faux materials, be like Sennheiser and embrace the greatness that is stainless steel and genuine leather. The headband and earcups are swaddled in supple ebony leather while the joints and yokes are made from sturdy silvery stainless steel. True the earcaps are made of a matte black plastic, but it doesn’t detract from the otherwise luxurious look.
Sennheiser always pays attention to the smallest details like the Sennheiser and Momentum discreetly printed on the upper portion of the left and right joint or the bold black S stamped on the silver-clad bolt connecting the earcup to the extender. However, I do wish the company put a little more foam in the bottom of the band. With a thick full head of hair, I don’t feel the slightest bit of discomfort, but I worry for people with thinner or no hair.
The one thing marring the Momentum 3’s otherwise good looks are the rather large buttons lining the rear of the right earcup. There only five of them, but they’re big and bulky on the sleek design. And the large indicator light at the top doesn’t help. Towards the bottom you’ll find a USB Type-C charging port and an audio port for the bundled charging cord and the 3.5mm audio cable. You’ll also find a USB Type-A dongle included in the gray fabric hard case for use with a laptop or desktop.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 setup
No muss, no fuss. When it came time to connect the Momentum 3 to my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 all I had to do was unfold the cans to initiate pairing mode. They were actually paired before I had a chance to put them on and access my phone’s Bluetooth menu. It’s very similar to the Beats Solo Pro. However, thanks to having an actual power button, I don’t have to worry about killing the battery when I wore them around town as is my habit.
If for some reason the initial pairing fails, the right earcap also has a NFC chip so you can tap it against compatible devices for a relatively fast pairing sequence.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 app
No pair of cans worth their salt these days is launching without a companion app. For Sennheiser products you get Smart Control. The free app (Android, iOS) augments the Momentum 3’s feature set in a variety of helpful ways. After the initial launch and pairing, you get a quick tutorial which lays out the basics.
With Smart Control, you can control the ANC modes and enable/disable Transparency Hearing. There’s also an equalizer that you can tweak to achieve your custom sound. And while I like the freedom of making my own presets, but it’d be nice if there were a few presets for folks unaccustomed to futzing with an EQ.
But the best thing about Smart Control and the Momentums is Tile integration. Yep, that handy little doodad that you stick on your keys and wallet is in your expensive $399 pair of headphones. So on the slim chance you leave your headphones somewhere or some pernicious pilferer purloins your precious cans, you can easily track them down with a range of 150 feet.
A recent firmware update brings Amazon Alexa into the mix as one of the digital assistants (Siri or Google Assistant) you can summon with the headphones. You can map your favorite assistant to the physical button via the app.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 active noise cancelling
Similar to many of its competitors, the Momentum 3 offer levels of active noise cancelling. For full, shut-out-the-world cover, there’s the Max setting, which when engaged, successfully blocked out a noisy conversation between a group of teens. It’s the setting I use most to carve out a bit of peace for myself. I’ve even used it to block out my boyfriend’s crazed cheering for his beloved St. John’s basketball team when I wanted to take a nap in the next room.
When I’m at the office, I only needed to have my volume at 50% with Max enabled to drown out my noisy coworkers. It was pretty blissful gazing at them and hearing nothing but Jidenna coming out of their moving lips. However, the Bose outperformed the Sennheisers, retaining its place at the top of the ANC heap, requiring my volume to be at only 45%.
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If you’re not a fan of the pressure the internal and external microphones create while blocking out noise on Max, you can switch to the Anti Pressure setting. It’s not as thorough as the maximum setting, but as you switch between modes, the difference in the pressure is noticeable. I learned this mode works best when on a plane, specifically during take off and landing, when you encounter that gnarly pressure shift that leaves you trying anything to pop your ears. Thanks to the Momentum 3, I was spared from doing any forced yawning, gum-chewing or any of the other remedies recommended to relieve that uncomfortable pressure during my trips to and from CES 2020.
Anti-Wind mode works to cancel out wind resistance as you walk down the street. It lets some ambient noise, but not enough to be particularly distracting as I navigated New York City’s jam-packed streets.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 transparency hearing mode
Alas, sometimes you just have to let the world in. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop listening to your work playlist. Sennheiser has equipped the Momentum 3 with a Transparency Mode for those moments you have to interact with someone, but don’t necessarily want to stop jamming. When the mode is activated, all the ambient noise comes into the cans which, depending on how loud you’re playing your music, can blend in rather amusing ways. For instance, one of my colleagues inquiry about a certain processor was set to Jidenna’s “Long Live The Chief.”
However, I’m not a big fan of how much ambience the cans let in. I noticed a fair amount of wind noise accompanying my colleagues loud and witty banter. The Bose 700 did a better job of keeping unnecessary ambient noises out which let me better focus on the conversation at hand.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 audio quality
The Momentum 3 started out the gate with a rich, warm presentation on Gallant’s “Bone + Tissue.” There were times where I was worried that those deep chords were going to overtake the cans, but it stayed dancing on the edge with its knife-edge control while still delivering beautiful highs. On the Bose, the synthy keyboard and dank lows were nice and clean and served as the perfect catapult for Gallant’s heavenly falsetto. However, the 700s weren’t as warm as the Sennheiser.
When I listened to Tank and the Bangas “Themeparks” on the Momentum 3, I was lulled into a comfortable space by the artist’s rich vocal. Details were sharp enough that I could hear the drumsticks gently, but determinedly tattooing the drum skin and the cascade of the cymbals. Still, the Bose 700s did a great job reproducing lead singer’s Tarriona ‘Tank’ Ball’s alto. It was warm, comfortable and surrounded by a keyboard that was a bit diffused, delicate violins and crisp cymbals.
I felt like I was in a private concert listening to Santana’s “Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile)” on the Momentum 3. Every drum beat, strum of the bass guitar, stretched-synth and electric guitar lick was clean and clear. The generous soundstage made it easy to isolate and focus on individual pieces of the song.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 battery life/Bluetooth
Sennheiser estimates the Momentum 3 will last 17 hours on a charge. I’ve managed to get about 15 hours of battery out of the cans, but not without some hassle. Unlike most wireless headphones, the Momentum 3 doesn’t have an automatic shutdown feature. To turn them off, they have to be folded.
That meant, my habit of wearing my headphones everywhere was detrimental to jam sessions down the line. One night, I was just wearing the cans to make sure I didn’t inadvertently leave them at a bar or party, the battery life was draining away. And when it was finally time for me to tune out the world with some of my favorite music, my headphones, which were previously at 90% dropped to 60% during my after work shenanigans. I was essentially being punished for wanting to wear my headphones as a fashion statement.
Thankfully, Sennheiser has remedied the problem via a firmware update. Now, if I wear the cans all day, I have 80% battery life at the end of the day.
Thanks to Bluetooth 5.0’s more stable connection, I’ve very rarely experienced signal dropout. And with a theoretical range of 800 feet, I’ve found that I’ve been able to leave my phone on my kitchen table while I was downstairs cleaning the extra bathroom.
When it comes to music audio quality, Sennheiser is one of the best. However, the company needs to work on the call quality. Making test calls to my mother, brother and boyfriend, I was consistently asked to speak up. My mom remarked that I sounded far away while my boyfriend described it as being underwater.
Things didn’t sound great on my end either. Everyone I called, sounded like I was talking to them at the end of a long hallway. On the bright side, I didn’t hear any complaints about background noise, even when I was walking towards Times Square.
Conducting a second round of calls with the Bose delivered clearer, crisper audio on both ends of the calls.
There’s no doubt about it, Sennheiser knows how to make a pair of headphones that sound as good as it looks. The Momentum Wireless 3 serves up a mature style with warm, rich sound and great noise cancelling. And the Tile integration makes me feel sIt’s not as powerful as Bose, but still great. However, for the price, I definitely want longer battery life, especially when the Bose lasts 20 hours. Still, fans of Sennheiser and newbies to the brand should definitely try to get acquainted with the Momentum Wireless 3, a premium looking and sounding pair of headphones.