Sennheiser Momentum 3

General Information


Wedemark/Berlin, September 5, 2019 Sennheiser’s premium MOMENTUM headphone range enters its third generation, with the launch of the new MOMENTUM Wireless at IFA 2019 (September 6-11). The headphones are the latest addition to the audio specialist’s iconic range that offers superior sound, a modern design aesthetic, cutting-edge technology, and a touch of handcrafted indulgence to every moment. Thanks to Auto On/Off and Smart Pause features, the new MOMENTUM Wireless headphones start up instantly when unfolded, and sense when put on or taken off to pause and resume playback, ensuring a world of uncompromised sound is just a heartbeat away. Designed to be supremely comfortable for all-day listening sessions, they feature genuine sheep leather and soft padding on the earpads and headband. Active Noise Cancellation and a Transparent Hearing function allow listeners to experience their audio on their terms, by either blocking out the world or staying aware of their environment. One-touch voice assistant access lets them stay connected on the move.

Our MOMENTUM range has been synonymous with a unique blend of superior sound quality, progressive technology and remarkable craftsmanship, and with the third generation, we are bringing this contemporary classic into the always-on, connected age,” said Stephane Hareau, Global Head of Products Consumer at Sennheiser. “The new MOMENTUM Wireless is a smart headphone that gives you fast, effortless control: whether enjoying entertainment or making calls, escaping it all or staying connected – it anticipates your needs and lets you interact intuitively and instantly,” added Sebastian Rodens, Product Manager at Sennheiser.

Never Lose your Rhythm Again
With the new generation of MOMENTUM Wireless, interaction is supremely intuitive thanks to a unique combination of features that offer fast access to one’s music. Auto On/Off instantly turns on or off playback as the earcups are folded open or closed, while Smart Pause uses proximity sensors to pause audio when the headphones are removed and to resume playback when they are slipped back on. Just as effortless is a three-button interface that gives control of audio or calls – all without the need to consult a manual. Via a dedicated button, the MOMENTUM headphones feature one-touch access to voice assistants such as Siri and Google Assistant, while Amazon Alexa integration will be available soon with a firmware update via the Sennheiser Smart Control app. Pairing is effortless as well, thanks to NFC and an automatic pairing mode that makes setting up on initial activation a breeze.

Hear the Difference
Sennheiser’s new MOMENTUM Wireless headphones offer outstanding sonic performance. The high-quality speaker system is powered by 42mm transducers to reproduce the balanced depth and precision of a studio recording. This flawless audio performance is ensured by Bluetooth 5 compatibility and support for codecs including aptXTM, AAC, and SBC, as well as aptXTM Low Latency for perfectly synchronising audio with onscreen visuals. Whether listeners are enjoying music, movies or podcasts or simply want to fine-tune the audio experience to their taste, it is possible to tailor the audio experience with the built-in equalizer via Sennheiser’s Smart Control app.

Perfectly in Tune, Wherever, Whenever
No matter where the MOMENTUM Wireless headphones are being enjoyed, they are able to adapt to every environment. When on the go, Active Noise Cancellation with three different modes blocks out the outside world. Alternatively, the Transparent Hearing function lets listeners enjoy their music and still be aware of ambient sounds in their surroundings – perfect for environments that require greater situational awareness.





A Sophisticated Harmony of Form and Function
Like all MOMENTUM headphones, the new generation model offers a sophisticated harmony of form and function. While the genuine sheepskin leather of the earpads and pearl-blasted stainless steel sliders express a subtle luxury, they also functionally enhance every interaction. The leather on the padded ear pads and headband is ultra soft for improved wearing comfort, even for longer listening sessions made possible by the 17-hour battery life. Meanwhile, the strong yet lightweight stainless steel sliders and hinges maintain a purity of design while also ensuring the headphones remain robust enough for a lifetime of listening on the move. The folding headband design allows the headphones to fold away in their fashionable fabric carry case.

Hard to Put Down, Difficult to Lose with Tile
With the new MOMENTUM Wireless, it is easy to lose oneself in the music, but thanks to smart Tile technology, the headphones are almost impossible to misplace. The integrated Bluetooth tracker ensures users can find their headphones via the Tile app.

The new MOMENTUM Wireless is available in black as of now for $399.95 (MSRP). A sandy white color variant will be available from November.

Latest reviews

Pros: Deep ear cups
No pressure hotspot from the headband
Deep extending sub-bass
Well-controlled mid-bass
Outstanding noise cancellation
Well-designed application for easier control
Smooth and well extended highs
USB Type-C audio input
Eye-catching physical appearance
Cons: The case is soft and providing insufficient protection to the headphones
Unable to hang the headphones on the headphone stand because of smart on / off features
The refreshed version of MOMENTUM Wireless is where classy and modern external design meets the Sennheiser’s superior sonic quality, with the addition of new technology implementations.
Disclaimer
This article is posted on Headphonesty. Thank you, Melvin and team from Sennheiser Singapore, for sending me the MOMENTUM Wireless headphones despite facing the Circuit Breaker implementation in Singapore. It was provided to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review and opinion.

Introduction
2020 is indeed an exciting year for Sennheiser. Celebrating their 75th anniversary, Sennheiser launches several products to refresh their current lineup. For those who are familiar with Sennheiser’s in-ear monitors (IEMs) or headphones, MOMENTUM series is definitely not a stranger to you.

The new MOMENTUM Wireless is the latest addition to Sennheiser's premium wireless headphone range. With this release, Sennheiser is aiming to offer superior sound with the implementation of cutting-edge technology. The modern design aesthetic of MOMENTUM wireless headphones is preserved too - with some slight improvement in this release.
It redefines your premium headphone experience by reproducing the balanced depth and precision of studio-quality audio. Let’s go through the detailed study on this new release together!
Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless


Unboxing
The packaging of MOMENTUM Wireless follows the characteristics of the current lineup - a box with a white background and blue liner, photo with the model name printed on the box. I would take this standardization as an approach to enhance the branding - crowds can immediately identify Sennheiser’s products from far away.
The standardised packaging - white background with blue liner

The unique selling points of MOMENTUM Wireless are printed on the back of the box, just like IE PRO Series. At the side of the box, the included accessories are listed. The supported Bluetooth codecs are printed too.
Unique selling points are printed at the back of the box.

Removing the outer sleeve, the inner white hardbox with Sennheiser logo provides sufficient protection to the headphones and included accessories. When the box is opened, the MOMENTUM Wireless is stored nicely in the grey soft storage pouch, together with accessories.
Inner hard box
The soft storage case with Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless in it

The soft storage case

Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless in the case

Here are the accessories included in the box:
  • 3.5mm terminated audio cable
  • USB Type-C charging and data transfer cable
  • USB Type-C to USB Type-A adapter
  • Soft storage case
  • Quick guide
  • Safety guide
Accessories in the box

Technical Specifications
  • Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 5.0 compliant
  • Supported profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
  • Audio input: Bluetooth, Analog (mini jack), USB Type-C
  • Power supply: 5.0 V DC, 330mA
  • Battery specification: Built-In Lithium rechargeable battery
  • Battery life: Maximum 17 hours
  • Frequency range: 6Hz - 22kHz
  • NFC: yes
  • Audio codec: SBC, aptX™, aptX™ Low Latency, AAC
  • Charging: USB Type-C
  • Battery life: 17 hours
  • Noise cancellation: 3 Active Noise Cancelling Modes
Build
The MOMENTUM Wireless headphones exhibit the characteristics of predecessors in terms of physical appearance - stainless steel bar at the side with a genuine leather padded headband. The premium appearance of MOMENTUM Wireless is definitely a unique selling point.
Compared to other popular models like Bose QuietComfort 35 and Sony WH-1000XM3, the MOMENTUM Wireless definitely will gain you a higher head-turning rate when you are walking on the street.
The side metal bar is the signature of MOMENTUM headphones

The ear cups are attached to the sides stainless steel bar. It can be tilted a little in different directions to provide highest quality comfort to the users. This is a thoughtful design especially for spectacle wearers like me because spectacles can be an obstacle for the ear cups to provide good isolation.

The ear pads are padded with memory foam. This enhances the overall wearing comfort. The memory foam will adapt to your head shape and offer you a “customized” wearing experience. I didn’t feel any discomfort within the period of reviewing and I put it to the test by wearing it for a long conference meeting.
The ear cups of Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless

The control buttons are placed on the right ear cups. A lot of current models are following the hype of using touch control, I am glad that MOMENTUM Wireless still maintains conventional physical control buttons. I will elaborate more regarding the controls in the upcoming section.

The control buttons

The provided storage case is soft and can be compressed when you are not using it. Personally I prefer the harder storage case from the previous generation which is able to provide a better protection from pressure. I always store my headphones in my bag so there is a chance I might accidentally damage the headphones when I exert pressure on my bag, such as when I lean against the wall.

Control
The control for MOMENTUM Wireless is easy and I like the user-friendliness of it. Near the USB Type-C and 3.5mm audio port, the button is for activating the voice control - Siri or Google Assistant, depending on which phone is connected. If the MOMENTUM is connected to a device with no voice control capability, the music will pause for a short while and continue after it.

Moving upwards, users can find the typical three button for audio control - volume control with a play / pause button in the middle. For MOMENTUM Wireless, the play / pause button has multiple functions - you can skip the track with double press and go back to the previous track with triple press. This button will be used for picking up phone calls too. You can also reject the phone calls by pressing and holding this button.

Moving to the top button, this is the control for noise cancellation. Simply slide the button upward, the active noise cancellation will be deactivated. Sliding the button downward, transparent hearing will be activated. To end the transparent hearing, simply slide the button downwards again. The three active noise cancellation modes can be adjusted on Sennheiser Smart Control applications on users’ smartphones.

A sticker to introduce the control on MOMENTUM Wireless

Active Noise Cancellation
Active noise cancellation (ANC) is an essential feature for most of the people nowadays especially for those who often need to squeeze into packed buses or trains, just like me. The noise from the transports and the chit chats from inconsiderate commuters are torturing. With ANC turned on, one can submerge him or herself in the sea of music, escaping from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Due to the implementation of the Circuit Breaker, I am working remotely from home. So, I didn’t have a chance to test the capability of MOMENTUM Wireless’s ANC in a noisier environment. However, my working desk is near a busy main road. With MOMENTUM Wireless on, the noise from vehicles can be eliminated, which allows me to focus on my work.

MOMENTUM Wireless comes with three ANC modes - max, anti-wind and anti-pressure. I am always using it with “max” mode on. I don’t feel the “vacuum” feel of the ANC. However, if you are more sensitive with the “vacuum feel” created by ANC, you can try anti-wind and anti-pressure mode which I believe can be considered as “partial noise cancellation”.

The three active noise cancellation (ANC) modes


Smart Features
Auto On/Off
This is a cool feature that I like the most. As a user of the previous model, I always need to unfold the headphones and turn on the headphones manually. For the new MOMENTUM Wireless, the headphone will be turned on automatically when the pair of headphones are unfolded.

However, there is a disadvantage in this design. I cannot hang my MOMENTUM wireless on a headphone stand when I am at home now because this will keep it constantly turned on.
When the headphone is folded like this, it is turned off automatically.


Smart Pause
When you take off MOMENTUM Wireless, the music playback will be paused. This is a design to preserve battery life and it also allows you to pick up where you left off when you’re ready to use them again.

Based on my music listening experience in the office, I think this implementation is very useful. Imagine you are working in the office and enjoying your music and your colleagues, supervisor or boss tap on your shoulder. You only need to remove your headphones to start the conversation immediately without losing your spot in your song.

TILE and Smart Control Applications
These two applications mentioned above are a must for MOMENTUM Wireless users to download on their smartphones. TILE is an application to assist you in finding your headphones when and if you misplace them. In the app, you can trigger the headphones to ring and vibrate.

For Smart Control Application, this is a control tower for your MOMENTUM Wireless. With this application, you can update the firmware of your headphones and adjust the equalizer and ANC modes. Besides that, the smart pause feature can be turned off in the application too. I hope in the future, the smart on / off feature can also be controlled in the application so I can hang the headphones on the headphone stand.
Sennheiser Smart Control smartphone application
TILE smartphone application


Comfort
I have a big head and based on my experience, a lot of on-ear headphones cannot fit me well. As an over-ear headphone set, MOMENTUM Wireless fits me really well. The ear cups are deep enough for my big ears. For those models with shallower ear cups, my ears tend to be pressed and uncomfortable which annoys me.

As mentioned in the “Build” section, the tilt design and memory foam padded ear cups further enhance the comfort of MOMENTUM Wireless. Despite having metal parts on the headphones, it doesn’t create pressure due to a heavy weight on my head. The padded headband distributes the pressure equally across the head, leaving no pressure hotspot.

Connectivity
MOMENTUM Wireless offers users three connection methods - Wireless (Bluetooth), USB Type-C and 3.5mm audio jack. Powered by the Bluetooth version 5.0, the connectivity between MOMENTUM Wireless and source device is very stable. Within the reviewing period, I didn’t face any signal distortions due to interference.

MOMENTUM Wireless supports SBC, aptX™, aptX™ Low Latency and AAC audio codecs. For those who are after Hi-Res audio, aptX™ will be a good codec for you. I am an Apple device user. So, I use AAC codec most often and MOMENTUM Wireless connects to my MacBook Air and iPhone XR flawlessly.

For those who are after wired connections, MOMENTUM Wireless got your back. You can connect the headphones to your device through 3.5mm audio cable or USB Type-C. Personally, I use USB Type-C connection more often because this is a good way to preserve the original sound signature.

When MOMENTUM Wireless is connected to the device through USB Type-C, the digital audio files will be decoded and amplified fully. You are going to get a sound signature close to wireless input. When MOMENTUM Wireless is connected to the device through 3.5mm audio cable, the decoding and amplifying will be done by the source. In this scenario, the source is affecting the sound signature.
Connected Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless to my MacBook Air via USB Type-C


Sound Analysis
To analyse the sonic quality of MOMENTUM Wireless accurately, I would use either Bluetooth or USB Type-C connection. This is to minimize the effect of decoding and amplification from the source. All decoding and amplification are done by MOMENTUM Wireless under these two connections.

I paired MOMENTUM Wireless with my MacBook and iPhone XR with AAC codec. To test the stability of aptX™ audio codec, I also paired it with my iBasso DX220.
Nice reflection on my iBasso DX220


Sound Signature
MOMENTUM Wireless has a L-shaped sound signature, with more emphasis on the low frequency compared to mids and highs. The overall signature is slightly warmer, which creates a comfortable listening experience. Comfortable sound signature and wearing really makes me hesitate taking it off.
The engraved MOMENTUM on the metal part near the folding hinge


Soundstage
The soundstage of MOMENTUM Wireless is above average. It‘s wide and deep. The ANC mode alters the soundstage a little - with “anti-pressure” mode on, the soundstage is slightly wider, with air injected. With “max” mode on, the airy feel is minimized and the presentation is richer. Nevertheless, regardless of which mode is toggled, there are no congestions experienced.
The engraved Sennheiser near the folding hinge


Lows
The lows of MOMENTUM Wireless are rich. It has more emphasis compared to other frequency spectrums. The amount of bass can definitely fulfill the needs of bass-heads. The sub-bass is extends deeply, creating good depth in the presentation. The feeling is like there is a subwoofer implemented - creating rumbles when the sub-bass hits.

I particularly like the “subwoofer” kind of sub-bass when I am listening to movie soundtracks like Arabian Nights of Disney Aladdin. The hits can recreate the scenes in the movie.

Moving to the mid-bass, it has similar emphasis as the sub-bass. The control of the mid-bass is good. I do not feel the bass is bloated or bleeded towards the mids. Despites having more emphasis, it still remains clean and neat, thanks to the good attack and decay speed of the bass response.
Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless


Mids
Warm and smooth could be good adjectives for the mids of MOMENTUM Wireless. The mids are slightly recessed compared to the lows. Don’t get me wrong, recessed mids doesn’t necessarily mean low quality mids. The formula does not work that way. The positioning of the mids is further from the audiences - creating a theatre like feel.

With the bass punching deeply and vocals presented smoothly, it’s definitely an enjoyable listening session. It reminds me of my Dynaudio Music 7.

The vocals have the warmth from the bass, resulting in a lively and emotional performance. You are not going to get any dry or analytical sound from the MOMENTUM Wireless. I like the positioning of the mids because this could reduce the shoutiness in the vocals and hence lengthen the listening period with it.

I particularly fall in love with the female vocals. The upper mids has the typical sound signature of Sennheiser - silky smooth and spacious. The female vocals are delivered smoothly and sweetly. It is just like a breeze of wind on your face, no irritation and full of enjoyment.
Sin Chan wearing MOMENTUM Wireless


Highs
As mentioned in the previous section, the highs actually have similar characteristics of the upper-mids - spacious and well-extended. Compared to under series from Sennheiser, I believe the MOMENTUM series should have the most polite highs - more well controlled and less sparkle. This could be a savior for those who have lower tolerance towards bright treble.

The treble in MOMENTUM is not particularly bright. It’s tamed to be more gentle and soft, to suit the slightly warmer sound signature. This further reduces the fatigueness in listening. I think this is a good approach because I would not want to get fatigued because of the sound from the headphones while I am trying to avoid external noises - it defeats the purpose. I think MOMENTUM Wireless got it right!
2 members of the MOMENTUM Series


Verdict
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless headphones successfully refreshed the MOMENTUM series and created a new benchmark for other brands. While preserving the excellent sound quality, Sennheiser improved the headphones aesthetically as well as in the technology aspects, making MOMENTUM Wireless more relevant.
The comfort and sonic presentation makes MOMENTUM Wireless a great companion for my daily commute, office work or even a long flight. I want it to be with me most of the time.
Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless is retailing at SGD$599 (USD$399). You can purchase it from Sennheiser Official Website for individual countries. For those who are in Singapore, you can opt for an installment plan by Hoolah.
With the launch of MOMENTUM Wireless headphones, Sennheiser once again proved to the world that you can have a pair of headphones that looks and sounds great without compromising comfort. All the aspects are well-considered!
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Pros: Sleek design, high-end materials
- Long battery life
- Extended frequency response with good transparency
- Rich tonality, sounds natural and easy going
- No harshness/brightness whatsoever
- Good detail retrieval
- Simple but intuitive Smart Control app
- Open wide and deep sounding
- Very good at making calls
- Can be used with a wide variety of devices (Smart TVs, laptops, desktop PC, tablets, smartphones and so on)
Cons: Lack of aptX-HD and LDAC codecs
- Not the best ANC I have tested


Sennheiser Momentum 3 debuted at IFA Berlin 2019 and since then everybody is talking about them. Are they better than the 4-year old Momentum 2, will they dethrone the ANC kings Sony WH-1000XM3, the futuristic looking Bose 700 or the all metal Master&Dynamic MW65?

When Sennheiser debuted first generation of Momentum over-ear wired headphones in 2012 it felt like a fresh start for the company, it entered a new era in terms of portables. Up until that time, the all-plastic and industrial looking HD-25 were their best portable headphones. Fast forward in 2015 Sennheiser upped their game and released not only a fresh Momentum 2.0 but an entire collection of headphones like Momentum On-Ear, Momentum In-Ear, Momentum Wireless and the Urbanite product line.

I cannot deny the huge advancements Sennheiser achieved in terms of sound reproduction and in terms of design. I mean a HD-25 pales in comparison near a beautiful all metal construction with a leather headband and earpads Momentum, it is completely on another level of refinement and visual excitement.

Four years passed and again Sennheiser is ready to Wow the crowd, first product in their line-up is the beautiful Momentum 3 Wireless headphones that we will be testing today.



Getting Momentum!

M3 Wireless came in a nice matte box. Opening it up revealed a white thick headphone box with a simple Sennheiser logo stamped on it. Opening it up reveals the carry case completely wrapped in huge amounts of foam for a good protection. Inside the soft carry case there is a USB type-C cable, a USB type-C to Type-A adapter, the analog headphone cable and the headphones themselves. A safety guide and a quick start guide will help you understand everything and set them up properly.

Looks & Build Quality

You know what’s funny? I tested multiple portable headphones from all serious manufacturers, lots of headphones are coming and leaving my home. Yet, there is one headphone that didn’t left my home for the past 4 years and that is Sennheiser Momentum 2 (Wired, Over-Ear), I just love their tonality, their liquid midrange, those soothing voices and that easy-going top end for long and relaxing listening sessions.

What caught my attention when I purchased the Momentum 2 was that their ear-pads were bigger than those on Momentum 1 and as a result the sound was also bigger and airier. With Momentum 3 I am having a Déjà vu moment because again M3 has huge ear-pads compared to M2 and I again expect a wider soundscape, more air around the notes and less heat ‘n sweat in the summer days.



My biggest gripe with M2 was the super thin leather headband that after about 30 minutes of playtime became really problematic due to high pressure on top of the head and little to do padding from the leather itself.

I’m really happy to see Sennheiser improving the padding, the part that touches the top of my head is much softer and fluffier, I can wear them much longer with close to zero pressure on my head or around my ears.

My biggest two complaints were solved with this one, if the sound remains unchanged, I’ll be super happy.

As expected, the entire headphone structure is made out of metal, headband is covered with genuine leather so are those big, deep and super soft ear-pads. Only the ear-cups are plastic made for a good wireless transmission, it all makes sense. The analog headphone cable is detachable of course and the ear-pads as well. Sennheiser is even selling those separately in case you’ll lose or damage them.

The adjusting mechanism is exactly like that of Momentum 1 or 2, just put them on your head and they will automatically adjust to your head size. M3 can be folded and easily transported with their carry case, I wish it was a hard case for extra protection but the included one it’s doing an Ok job at that.

Every feature of M3 Wireless can be controlled from the right ear-cup or from the Sennheiser Smart Control app. Starting with the bottom on the right ear-cup you have the locking type headphone jack, the USB type-C connection that will not only charge the headphones but can also be used as a wired connection with your smartphone, PC or laptop. Next is the pairing button, press it longer to enter the pairing mode. The next 3 buttons will decrease the volume, pause the music or increase the volume. Those three can also be used to skip a tune, go back a tune, they also work for answering or ignoring a call. The last button on top is the ANC button that has 3 positions: ANC Off, ANC Off and engaging Transparent Hearing basically boosting the environmental sounds in case you’ll want to speak to somebody without taking them off your head.



Tech inside Momentum 3

M3 is a closed-back dynamic driver headphone and as such uses a lightweight cellulose driver. The driver size is a huge 42 mm one, some desktop class headphones are using smaller drivers, of course bigger is always better (ladies would agree).

Using them passively (without engaging ANC) the impedance is at 100 Ohms, engaging ANC it rises to 470 Ohms, that is quite a lot, but don’t you worry since the headphone is sensitive and quite easy to drive, they can reach ear bleeding levels of 118 dB only with 1Vrms of power and up to 99 dB via Bluetooth to preserve the hearing.

In terms of Bluetooth capabilities M3 is having the latest BT version 5.0 for a wide BT range and when it comes to codecs, it supports SBC, AAC (for iOS users), aptX and aptX-LL (low latency), sadly no aptX-HD and since this is not a Sony headphone LDAC is not present as well.

Sennheiser wanted to go all-in with the active-noise cancelation they used 4 pick-up microphones and another 2 beamforming array microphones in case you want to make a call with them.

With BT and ANC enabled M3 will have an operating time of 17 hours on medium volume, I think that is plenty for a trans-Atlantic flight, if you are running out of battery life a full-charge will take approx. 3 hours to finish.

Sennheiser is quoting a 0.3% Total-Harmonic-Distortion (THD) at 100 dB, I will test and measure those claims myself really soon.



Comfort

With those thick and soft ear-pads with lots of cushioning inside plus that soft headband improved the comfort levels a lot. I can now easily use for few hours without feeling a pain around my ears or on top.

Since there is even bigger space inside the ear-pads my ears are not sweating and I hope they won’t in the summer days too. I find them just a tad more comfortable than Master&Dynamic MW65 and maybe just a little more than Sony WH-1000XM3.

Test Setups

I used them in three different setups:

  • Connected to my desktop Corsair One i160, playing first a youtube video and then playing a game
  • Connected to my smart TV and watching a movie
  • Connected to my Android smartphone and streaming Tidal Hi-Fi
My desktop PC is the weakest of the three when in comes to wireless tech, it uses Bluetooth version 4.2 and it doesn’t support any fancier codecs like aptX or aptX-LL. I was skeptical at first since I’ve had lip-sync issues with other wireless headphones like Hifiman TWS600 and Creative Ourlier Air in the past with this PC so I am not expecting anything better.

I fired two YouTube videos and to my surprise there isn’t any lag so lip-sync in just perfect, they work as intended. I then played a short 15-min match of Heroes Of The Storm and again the sound was loud and clear and most importantly there wasn’t an audio lag whatsoever. Be warned that an older PC or laptop with Bluetooth version 4.0 or lower might have a bit of lag. The clarity was good but I knew they can offer something more than the SBC connection with my PC.

I moved them to the living room and watched a short 20-minute episode on Netflix and they worked even better, I think. Absolutely zero lag and I can control the volume by pressing the buttons on the right ear-cup. I really like this feature since after my kid goes to sleep, I tend to watch a movie or a late-night TV show and with wireless headphones I can have the volume I want without disturbing anyone in the house, super neat!



Sound Performance

I. Wireless Performance

The last test that remained to do is to attach my smartphone that is Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX compatible to M3 and play a lot of music.

Before going deep with my tests, I want just to point out that at launch Momentum 3 Wireless had a pretty serious issue that not a single online publication or review reported about. When there is A LOT of noise around you and you would listen to a bass-heavy track with ANC engaged, the music and especially those bass notes will be heavily distorted. Again, this occurs only when ANC is enabled and the environment is super noisy (Subway, crowded place, malls, plazas and so on).

Few days ago, Sennheiser released a new firmware update for them, where they stated improved ANC without giving too many details. I just updated them, I put myself in front of my active speakers, I played a very loud song on them in front of me, I connected M3 to my smartphone, engaged ANC and played Infected Mushroom – Guitarmass that has some heavy bass riffs and solos. I’m glad to report that newest firmware update completely solved the distorted bass issue M3 had for few months already.

Please note that you can update the firmware of M3 only via Smart Control app you can find on App Store or on Google Play Store! I recommend doing that immediately after the purchase.

With all issues solved I think it’s time to relax and listen to some tunes.

Sub-bass was incredible starting with the first song I played. Guitarmass carries a lot of bass information and some of that goes lower than 40 Hz. M3 was not only capable of rendering all those bass lines but it also put them on layers, like piling them on, on top of each other. You hear fist bass note, then comes another layer and another one. Momentum3 as was the case with Momentum2 has a very good, textured and very outlined sub-bass. It was slightly boosted but only by a little, just to spice things up with the right music.

Mid-bass performance is even better outlined and takes the spotlight. In you listen to modern pop or in general new music that is quite full in terms of mid-bass information, M3 will just shine bright and reward you with an enveloping bass performance. This is the only frequency area that I feel is boosted by up to 5dB, I will measure them soon and we will see about that. Momentum3 has a colorful and playful sound signature. I am a big adept of linearity but even I need some cheerful musical moments where I would not analyze but just enjoy my music.

Momentum 3 is exactly that type of headphone, it brings emotions to your songs, it is lifting you up and adds a bit of charisma and shows its character. Yep, Momentum 3 has one and is never shy showing it off.

Midrange performance is my personal favorite thing about this headphone. Midrange was my first love when I listened to my Momentum2 about four years go. This magical and natural midrange is still there and still pumps a bit of soul and smoothness into my songs. What is really amazing is that midrange is not boosted, I hear it lifelike and natural so in the end I find it linear and straight as a line.

I switched listening to some alternative rock and Alternosfera – Arhitectul din Babel popped on my playlist. I know the vocalist as we had multiple chats in the past, I know the vibration and the tone of his voice, when I am listening to same songs on Momentum3 I remember the voice and its tonality, it is the same person I know. Probably, the best thing Momentum3 does is leaving the natural tonality unchanged, if that is a heavy voice it will render it like that, if its thin and dry it will do the same. Some will disagree with me but I believe the midrange part is the best part of Momentum 3 and I love them for that. This is my favorite frequency range.



As for the treble I feel that Sennheiser tuned them for a relaxing experience without artificial treble enhancers. M3 has it pretty detailed, I hear all the bells hidden in the background of Duende by Bozio Levin Stevens. All the percussion work and those buried cymbals are still there, I can hear them loud and clear. Just their raw energy is not so rough on the ears. M3 are not bright/harsh and don’t have peaks in the most sensitive part of our hearing (4 -7 kHz). Nonetheless, I don’t consider them rolled off or that some important sub-sonic treble information is missing north of 15kHz, nothing like that. M3 is just not poking its fingers on this area and doesn’t force your attention on this area. But if you want that, you can definitely have your focus on the treble as the overall performance is not crowded and is breathing some air.

Their transient response is actually quite good, they have a really good kick especially in the bass department. If you drive them past 90 dB (close to maximum volume in wireless mode) you will feel how fast the drivers are moving and how easily the air is hitting the eardrums. With some heavy bass riffs this is almost intoxicating, I love this effect and sadly MW65 from Master&Dynamic and even WH-1000XM3 don’t have the same effect on me.

Soundstage level is good, it sounds almost like an open-back. I was worried a bit since all the tech inside makes the damping material harder and the headphone driver would sit much closer to it, but my fears are gone. M3 are sounding quite airy and I can pick up individual sounds from a crowded track pretty easy. If I listed to a really good recording, then it becomes a child’s play and I don’t need closing my eyes anymore to disentangle everything.

Tidal recently got updated with 360° Reality Audio (360RA is available with a HiFi membership on iOS or Android devices only) and I was very glad to find one of my all-time favorite Jazz quartets in this format, the amazing Dave Brubeck Quarter. I fired Take Five and I immediately felt the 360° effect and the enhanced soundstage levels. Everything flew farther away; some songs would come like behind me and some of them like on different layers not just at different distances from me. If you have a Tidal subscription, I recommend trying it out. Momentum3 is capable of rendering a wider soundscape and a much smaller one as well, if it was recorded that way of course. M3 can’t match a completely open-back design but compared to other closed ones, M3 plays big, wide and open, no complaints here.



II. Wired Performance

A. Via the 3.5mm headphone cable

I ditched my phone, 360RA files and moved to an old-school wired desktop setup. I wanted to squeeze the maximum performance out of these drivers so I plugged them into the reference Benchmark HPA4 headphone amp which was amping the signal coming from a Matrix Audio Element X DAC. I used the internal player of Element X and its internal streamer since it sounds better this way.

In wired mode I can push those drivers to higher limits, not just at 99dB (their volume limit on BT) and obviously the best those drivers can offer will be achieved only in wired mode.

I listened to the same songs and I heard an additional layer of information, since aptX is still not lossless quality. Momentum3 sounded even more detailed, more holographic and enveloping. The missing layer of information that was felt in wireless mode came back and everything just clicked into place.

Bass notes sounded the same in quantity but more controlled this time around, the kick was better, it sounded clearer, in the end bass quality improved a lot. Without a doubt the speed of delivery improved the most, this is a better experience, especially if you crave for some faster beats.

Just for fun I plugged them into multiple desktop headphone amps and few desktop sources and with every one of them I didn’t hear the noise floor of the source, I believe the 100 ohm output impedance plays a bit role here.

The overall impression M3 left on me in the wired mode is that is sounds exactly the same as wireless, just a bit more detailed, more open, more controlled, faster, better in every way if you connect them to a high-quality audio source and amplification.



B. Wired via the USB type-C cable

What is quite interesting is that you can have them wired via their simple headphone cable or via the USB type-C cable. I tested the USB connection with my smartphone and with my desktop PC and both worked extremely well with them.

Since my PC recognizes it as an external audio device, it is obvious M3 has a DAC (Digital to analog converter) chip inside - an audio card (for noobies).

I dug deeper and using System Information tool > Sound Device I wanted to find the DAC chip or at least the manufacturer. It came up with Vendor ID 1377 and Device ID 6004. Disappointed that the DAC manufacturer was not found I dug even deeper and found that vendor ID 1377 was registered on Sennheiser Electronic GmbH that and that in the past Sennheiser registered Device ID 4000 for their high-performance HDVD800 DAC and headphone amp combo. Device ID 6004 from Momentum3 was still not listed online. Since Sennheiser moved from a Burr-Brown PCM chip from the HDVD800 to an ESS Sabre chip on their latest HDV820 DAC and headphone amp combo I will just throw a wild guess that Momentum3 is also using an ESS Sabre DAC chip, a mobile low-power one most likely.

I was very pleased to hear a very good performance via USB Type-C that in my book stays somewhere between their wireless performance and their wired performance (connected to a high-end rig). I’ve heard subtleties, diaphragm control, a good speed, a tremendous impact, I have close to zero issues here. I recommend at least trying once the wired USB-C performance, you might be impressed.



III. Active Noise Cancelation (ANC)

We have some nasty weather outside, its cold and windy, this is basically the best environment for testing the ANC capabilities of M3.

I used the Smart Control app that offers 3 ANC settings: Anti Pressure – read it as a Low intensity ANC, Anti Wind – self explanatory and Max.

I used Anti Wind outside and Max in really crowded places. ANC works pretty well and attenuated a lot of background noise but obviously not everything. M3 has already thicker ear-pads so the passive attenuation is already better and I tend to believe than the ANC tech improved as well.

Entering a crowded mall, low and mid-pitched sounds dropped the most and only higher pitched treble was attenuated to a smaller degree, all ANC headphones I know of are basically doing the same.

Max setting is the best, but it also has the biggest impact on battery. I recommend using the ANC only when it’s needed to preserve battery and in general, I think they sound just a tad better with ANC turned off. I think their ANC tech is good but still not on the same level with the best, personally for me Sony WH-1000XM3 had the best ANC and it killed more environmental sounds than any other headphone.

Here comes the great part: those two beamforming array microphones are actually pretty good and very usable, I made two phone calls and the person talking to me heard me clear, he just added that he can hear all the noises around me, those microphones are picking up everything around them. By comparison Sony WH-1000XM3 were almost unusable when making calls, MW65 from Master&Dynamic were better but still not in the same level with Momentum3. For making calls, M3 takes the crown.

IV. Measurements.

A. Wired performance measurements

As usual I connected M3 via the headphone cable to the Element X + HPA4 combo, this is the most linear and honest sounding setup so I know the measurements will come closer to reality of what I am hearing. For measurements I used a MiniDSP E.A.R.S (Earphone Audio Response System), of course with calibration files for HEQ (headphone compensation for flat EQ) and for HPN (original headphone compensation) but I felt that HPN compensation gave me the best results of all.



As you can see from the graph their measured performance is very good with little to no deviations, now take into consideration that this is a closed-back design and a wireless headphone and suddenly this graph becomes even more impressive.



Applying a 1⁄12 smoothing changes little to nothing as their raw performance was already impressive.

As I suspected there is just a small boost in the sub-bass area and a bigger one in the mid-bass area by about 5dB (I sent a 85dB signal to E.A.R.S) As expected, midrange performance is excellent, I really like that straight line and it reflects what I’ve heard, linear but natural midrange performance.

The 5dB dip in the 4kHz area was put there to calm down the treble a bit and add a bit of smoothness. The rest of the treble is quite good and there aren’t serious dips or rises so the overall treble performance is on a high level.





Checking its spectrogram and waterfall reveals close to zero leaking and a boost in the mid-bass area. The overall performance is super stable and nothing is leaking all over the place.



The spectral decay reading shows that sub and mid-bass have a slightly longer decay but that is understandable for a dynamic driver.



Probably among the most interesting measuring is the total harmonic distortion (THD) and indeed as Sennheiser specified in the manual it mostly stays in the 0.3% area, but the naughty sub-bass is rising the THD up to 2% and mid-bass up to 0.6%. Those are safe numbers by my standards, you should see those 10% THD of Grado headphones…

B. Wireless performance measurements.



Wireless performance is actually very good and quite unexpected they measure almost as good as in wired mode. The only difference I see is some granulation and higher distortion numbers in the treble area.



Even decay increased, exactly how I felt when I listened to them, the spectral decay reading shows a rise in decay (a slower driver movement) especially in the mid and higher treble.

Their overall wired and wireless measured performance is really good and my listening tests proved they sounded good with close to zero issues whatsoever.

V. Sennheiser Versus Sennheiser

If you still own a Momentum 2 like I do and if you are wondering if an upgrade to Momentum 3 is worthwhile, I think it’s time to make the jump.

Comfort wise M3 is miles ahead, more cushioning, deeper and softer ear-pads, bigger space inside the ear-cups make them very comfortable and the padding on the top helps listening to them for hours and hours. M2 can’t be used for longer listening sessions…

Since my M2 is the wired version I will compare the two in the wired mode.

The difference between them is not really that big but there are some notable changes that I will mention. The more I listen to them on the same rig the more I feel M3 has a snappier and faster sound, the decay is definitely shorter and each note will not linger too much.

Treble on M2 is quite good but not really extended. When I am listening to a treble heavy song, I hear more information on M3, they have definitely a better extended top-end and they sound just more detailed up top.

When I am going past 90 dB on both models, M3 doesn’t break up and has really good THD numbers, its distortion is super safe up to 100 dB volume wise. M2 is not that cool and starts clipping much faster and a result has higher THD numbers and overall sounds a bit more distorted at low level listening and much more at higher volume levels.

Soundstage size is almost the same, it is just a tad deeper sounding on the M3, I presume bigger ear-pads said the final word and that basically wraps my comparison.



Conclusion

The latest addition to the Sennheiser premium headphone range caught my attention immediately after its announcement as I still have a soft spot for my Momentum 2 and for Sennheiser in general. I booked a longer testing period for M3 and I’m glad I did that.

Few months ago, I compared the top 3 wireless headphones in a dedicated review and then a Master&Dynamic MW65 in-depth review followed shortly.

If I would rewrite my 3-in-1 wireless headphone comparison with Momentum 3 in it I would probably have a different conclusion. When it comes to pure sound reproduction, M3 would come on top and would be a toss-up with Master&Dynamic MW65.

Wired or wireless, Sennheiser Momentum 3 looks, feels and sounds as a really good closed-back headphone and at $400 in the US or €400 here in Europe I think they are worth it and are getting my recommendation.

PROS:
  • Sleek design, high-end materials
  • Long battery life
  • Extended frequency response with good transparency
  • Rich tonality, sounds natural and easy going
  • No harshness/brightness whatsoever
  • Good detail retrieval
  • Simple but intuitive Smart Control app
  • Open wide and deep sounding
  • Very good at making calls
  • Can be used with a wide variety of devices (Smart TVs, laptops, desktop PC, tablets, smartphones and so on)
CONS:
  • Lack of aptX-HD and LDAC codecs
  • Not the best ANC I have tested
ASSOCIATED EQUIPMENT:
  • Sources: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Corsair One i160, Sony Bravia 65XE9005
  • DACs: Matrix Audio Element X, Keces S3, Topping DX7 PRO
  • Headphone amps: Benchmark HPA4, Erzetich Bacillus, Headamp Gilmore Lite Mk2
  • IEMs: IKKO OH1, Simgot EN700 PRO, FiiO FA7
  • Full-sized headphones: Hifiman Arya, Quad ERA-1, Sennheiser HD660S, Momentum 2.0
  • Wireless headphones: Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless, Master&Dynamic MW65, Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Loudspeakers: KEF LS50W
  • Interconnects: QED Reference XLR (x2), Aune AL3 XLR
  • Power Cables: Isotek EVO3 Premier (x2)
  • Balanced Power Conditioners: PLiXiR Elite BAC 400, KECES BP-600




erich6
erich6
Excellent review. Thanks! I recently purchased these headphones and I agree with all your observations. The ANC is not as good as Sony’s XM3 by about 3dB and the battery does not as long. But they do sound better and I’m a fan of the look.
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DarKu
DarKu
Thanks, I'm thinking of upgrading my M2 as well. Love the looks and the sound of M3 more.
jupitreas
jupitreas
Just FYI, if you're using Windows 10 with a recent version on your PC, it is very likely that it is in fact streaming aptX to the headphones, and not SBC. You'll probably need a thrid-party app to confirm this though. Furthermore, people usually complain about SBC being used, but it should be noted that in ideal conditions (good BT connectivity and high-performance hardware) SBC can actually reach a higher bitrate than aptX.
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Comments

I cannot find any information about using these aw wired headphones - Either USB connected to my Laptop / iPhone7 or Analogue connected. I'm deeply unhappy with the lack of any information about using these in a wired config.
What DAC is being used inside these headphones? What bit rate and formats are supported ( I kown some of this is in the tech specs but if I connect the headphones to my Laptop with USB and use Foobar2000 to play 24 bit FLAC files - what really is happening - How does the DAC in the headphones deal with this format. Am I better off using the headphone DAC or using the DAC in the Laptop/iPhone and running Analogue to the headphones??
 
I cannot find any information about using these aw wired headphones - Either USB connected to my Laptop / iPhone7 or Analogue connected. I'm deeply unhappy with the lack of any information about using these in a wired config.
What DAC is being used inside these headphones? What bit rate and formats are supported ( I kown some of this is in the tech specs but if I connect the headphones to my Laptop with USB and use Foobar2000 to play 24 bit FLAC files - what really is happening - How does the DAC in the headphones deal with this format. Am I better off using the headphone DAC or using the DAC in the Laptop/iPhone and running Analogue to the headphones??
It appears that the DAC is limited to 16bit 48000 kHz. If you play a file with Foobar2k that exceeds these specs, Windows will transcode it on the fly .I can't find info about the specific DAC used either. If you want to get the absolute most out of them, I guess it would be best to use an analog connection with a good amp/DAC combo.
 
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