Are the Sennheiser momentum 3 wireless headphones worth the price tag?

From noise cancelling ability to design, does the third iteration in the Momentum range live up to the hype?

David RS Taylor@davidrstaylor
Friday 30 April 2021 06:00
<p>The pair boast a stainless steel, sheepskin leather, semi industrial finish</p>

The pair boast a stainless steel, sheepskin leather, semi industrial finish

If we were to describe Sennheiser in one word, it would probably be “reputation”. The German audio manufacturer consistently finds itself at the top of various lists, picking up awards left, right and centre.

From the hyper expensive and almost otherworldly set-ups like the orpheus HE 1 (the “best headphones in the world”, resplendent with their own marble-cased amplifier and yours for £51,000) to its momentum range of wireless headphones, the brand can’t help but impress.

That momentum range is now onto its third iteration. The first two were greeted with effusive praise, to the extent that Sennheiser didn’t make a sequel for about four years – very much a matter of not spoiling a good thing.

The company finally cracked, however, its designers tempted into making the Sennheiser momentum 3 wireless. It’s tricky to improve incrementally when your starting point is already pretty high in terms of its specs.

Sennheiser thinks it’s managed to do so, with much-improved active noise cancellation technology and an even more considered approach to audio output – but do these pricy headphones from a premium brand stand up to scrutiny?

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Sennheiser momentum 3 wireless headphones

Design

Fashion is cyclical. Unfortunately, the latest cycle seems to involve the worst parts of the ’90s. However, tastes for something a little “old school” never die away, which is why there’s something very refreshing about the design of the momentum headphones.

Sennheiser hasn’t tried to create the headphones of the future, with indiscernible joints, a chrome finish and a voucher for a free hoverboard. The brand knows what it does well, and has stuck to it: these are the sort of headphones that you know and love. They’d look as much at home in a 1980s recording studio as they would connected to your phone on the morning commute.

They’re supremely comfortable – the over-ear cups nestle nicely, while the stainless steel headband is cushioned perfectly to rest lightly on your head. The padding on the cups serves to give you a comfortable listening experience both physically and when it comes to some slight passive noise cancelling, due to its encompassing design. The cans fold up for better space economy, and the circular fabric case protects against errant drinks, acts as a nice presentation box and gives the headphones a bit of structural protection.

Read more: 10 best wireless headphones 2021

Despite the look, the tech included with the momentum 3 is anything but retro. The accompanying app is simple and clean, letting you adjust EQ levels and switch between three noise cancelling modes with varying levels of intensity and suction effect.

Moving on to the headphones themselves, a range of buttons on the ear cups control play/pause, hands-free calls, volume and noise cancellation. It’s all very easy to use, intuitive and sleek.

The momentum 3 have voice assistant capability, with the big three of Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri supported via various devices, and sensors pick up when you’ve taken the headphones off, pausing the music when you do. Tile, an app that tracks your prized possessions is also supported, which makes sure you’ll never lose another pair of expensive headphones again.

Read more: Are the Bose 700 noise cancelling headphones as slick as they look?

The fact that Sennheiser has packed all these features in means that the battery life comes in at around 17 hours – a little unambitious compared to the 20 hours promised by the Bose noise cancelling headphones 700 and 30 hours of the Sony WH-1000XM4. However, it’s still enough for a long-haul flight or whiling away the day at home.

Sound

Sennheiser is one of the most reputable sound specialists in the world, regularly producing award-winning audio products. The momentum 3 only serve to further this golden reputation. The noise cancellation on show here is among the best you can get on the market, and with some headphones, stopping sound coming in can impact the most important aspect: the sound coming out.

There seems to be no discernible effect on the momentum 3’s output at all, and the ANC (active noise cancellation) enhances aspects of each track. Bass-heavy songs give a deeper rumble, treble-filled specials are picked up crisply, and mids aren’t overpowered by either. The momentum 3 are as comfortable playing Childish Gambino as they are Mendelssohn, with AC/DC thrown in the middle: the clarity is astounding.

As mentioned, the app lets you tweak levels to your liking, but also flick between noise cancellation modes. Max is, unsurprisingly, ANC at its most powerful, blocking out pretty much anything you could think of. “Anti wind” is a slight reduction of noise, making sure sounds like the wind don’t get in the way of your listening. Importantly, “anti pressure” has also been included: many listeners can feel uncomfortable with the vacuum effect ANC headphones can sometimes present. This mode provides a comfortable noise reduction without any pressure in your ears. A clever element to include, even to use as a quick break from the heavy ANC artillery also on offer.

Sennheiser has decided to include transparent mode in the momentum 3, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of ANC while still being able to hear the doorbell for your third impulse-buy delivery of the day – the microphones actually make it even easier to hear your surroundings than when you have ANC turned off.

The verdict: Sennheiser momentum 3 wireless headphones

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Sennheiser momentum 3 wireless headphones are among the very best ANC headphones you can buy today. The noise cancellation tech is almost second to none, rivalled by few other brands, and the “anti pressure” ANC mode is a welcome aspect.

The audio output is characteristically Sennheiser. The brand just understands sound. The clarity, even at high volumes, is impressive, and nothing is lost due to heavy bass or complicated mids. It’s rare that headphones provide such a level of audio intricacy; they’re a pleasure to listen to.

The design references the very best of Sennheiser’s history, with a stainless steel, sheepskin leather, semi industrial finish. They’re expensive, on a par with the pricier wireless headphones you can get, but the designers have created headphones that are comfortable with where they’ve come from, and confident of their place at the top end of the market. These feature-packed, considered and stylish headphones deserve to be listened to over and over again.

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