The Hindu Business Line

Momentum True Wireless: Audiophile­s listen up

There’s a reason why Sennheiser‘s new earbuds cost so much

- MALA BHARGAVA

With the market flooded as it is with ‘true wireless’ earphones, you would be entirely justified in thinking the price of Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless is just way too much. You could get most others for half the price.

But the big dramatic difference is the Momentum True Wireless’ audiophile-level sound quality. If you’re serious about your music, you need to consider these as an option. But be warned; once you listen to them, you’ll find settling for any others very difficult.

One of the first uses of true wireless earbuds was for working out or going hands-free for other sporty activities. While you can still do all that with Sennheiser’s Momentum TW and even be assured of sweat and splash resistance, the product isn’t directed at fitness enthusiast­s specifical­ly. It’s meant for those who are on the go and want their music to be of uncompromi­sing quality.

Elegantly encased

The Momentum earbuds come in a very nice looking hard case with a grey fabric finish. It instantly looks different from others in that respect. Of course, you could get the case really dirty if you have sweaty, grimy fingers, so good luck with that. But if not, you can open them up each time feeling like there’s jewellery inside. On the back of that case is the USB Type-C slot for which Sennheiser’s provided a rather short cable.

Near the slot is a tiny button that tells you the battery status on pressing it. It doesn’t take too long to charge and once done, you get four to five hours of play depending on how loud you like to listen to music. The case will charge the buds twice over and since you’ll invariably have the case near the buds (or risk losing them) you can easily top up. I’m finding that the charge of both together doesn’t easily run out on me and I can continue listening in bits over several days.

The earbuds themselves look really good because they have the aluminium Sennheiser logo showing and though some people think the earbuds look too big in one’s ears, I rather think I have no problem with the logo of the German audio company showing itself off on my ears.

Conditiona­l fit

The fit with wireless earbuds is always tricky. Once these earbuds are in safely and properly in your ears, you’ll barely feel them but you do need to experiment with the ear-tips as well as position to make sure the music gets sealed in for you. I found the default tips good enough, so didn’t try too much more. You have to twist the buds carefully to fit in your ear — only then will you hear them as they’re meant to be heard barring which you’ll think there’s no bass and the sound is tinny. If you use them for exercise, you’ll all the more need to fit them properly so they don’t fall out. But I did find I sometimes needed to readjust them — which is where I bump into the one thing I don’t like about them and an increasing number of other earphones. You touch them and end up pausing the music.

Buttons on board

The controls for these earbuds are on the buds themselves. Taps on one side or the other will play, pause, handle volume, call up the assistant and take calls and navigate tracks. If you’re annoyed with the assistant, you can opt to turn this off from the app. There’s a bit of a learning curve in using the buttons and eventually I was willing to climb it to get this quality of music. I also learnt not to touch the button disk to adjust the buds but the outer body instead. Incidental­ly, these earphones behave beautifull­y if you lie down with your head on a pillow.

To pair the earbuds, you need to press and hold both buttons and either pair using the usual Bluetooth settings or open up the Sennheiser Smart Control app, which you need to download. This will also give you a few options you might want. The app has its annoyances though. It signs out of your earphones when you’re not listening and you need to wear them and tap to connect to get them talking to each other again.

Superb sound

Reviewers the world over are referring to the Momentum TW as the best wireless earbuds they’ve heard, though it does have some slight competitio­n in its category such as from Bang & Olufsen and one or two others not available in India. The Momentum earbuds have a unique soundstage — the localisati­on of sound that must be created by headphones. It’s when the product gives you an indication of where the sound is coming from. In the Momentum, the sound is not blocked and stuck to your ear but expansive as if in a room and clear in its left and right separation.

Another thing that’s separated is every instrument, so clear and distinct is the sound. Sennheiser has actually put in their audiophile

drivers into this product and also added Bluetooth 5.0 to prevent any lag, making it just right for listening to the sounds from a movie or video as well.

Worn right, they’ll give you adequate bass, which should actually be no more than it is for in-ear audio as it could be damaging. The highs are so clear that you hear new things in music you know. Just now and then, this can get a little too sharp at high volumes so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on that. The Smart Control app has an equaliser that some people like and some hate. It’s got a floating button that you can move around to change bass and treble amount. Many prefer finer control through the traditiona­l method with a bigger breakup of settings. For most types of music I found the default setting — right in the middle — worked best. But for some things like classical music, you might want to adjust.

At this price, you would think Sennheiser would give you some active noise cancellati­on features but they decided that first, the in-ear seal was enough to cut out a lot of noise and second that it would reduce battery life too much. Instead, you have a mode to make sounds around you more prominent — transparen­t listening. You can use that when you’re keen on not getting run over by traffic or waiting for a flight announceme­nt.

All said and done, the reason the Momentum TW earbuds cost so much is they give you unparallel­ed sound quality, bringing detail and depth you just can’t get easily in this form factor. It’s the reason you’d want a Sennheiser in the first place.

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