Deathmatch: Sennheiser Momentum TW 2 -vs- Sony WF-1000XM3

I purchased these with my own money, and I am not being compensated in any way by anyone for this review.

So, I wanted to post this sooner, but I couldn’t. I wanted a set of true wireless headphones to go on walks with my dog. As nice as the Koss Porta Pro and BTR3 combo sound, the wired nature of them, plus handing a leash, plus walking through waist high grass and brush trying to chase a Doberman that saw a rabbit and bolted like lightning make wired anything problematic. Unfortunately, my dog passed away, and I haven’t felt like posting this review. But, life must go on, so here it is in a shorter than originally intended format.

What I won’t be covering here: Stuff you can look up for yourself. Pics, specs, material, charging, etc. Most notably, I’m going to leave out general features and usability unless there was something that I thought really stood out. Call quality, tap functions, etc. They both have overlapping feature sets, like Google Assistant, so if you’re keen to find out about that kind of stuff, go Google it. As far as sound quality goes, I’m not going to deep dive here. If you are interested in microdetail, decay, super nitpicky and deeply analytical listening… Don’t wear true wireless headphones, dummy. It’s not what they are for. Anyway…

Momentum True Wireless 2.

I purchased these first after doing a butt ton of research about which true wireless headphone I should go with. At first I really thought I was going to get the Sony, but a few reviews swung me towards the Sennheiser due to size, sound stage, and clarity.

Comfort is good, but the silicone tips provided makes my ear canals itchy. I purchased Spinfit and Comply tips, and settled on the Comply. This does trim a little brightness off the top end, which suits my preference for sound and comfort with these.

Sound: With the stock tips, they sound a bit forward and bright. Life is better with the Comply tips bringing the top end down. Bass is elevated, but not to basshead levels. Mids are present and don’t sound sloppy. They do seem a little recessed, but that may be due to the elevated bass and treble. The soundstage is wide and has a decent image. It’s not Andromeda levels of either, but I’m not disappointed with how they present themselves here. If you’re out walking the dog, or wandering up and down isles at the grocery store, the presentation feels natural and just kind of blends in or fades away, if you know what i mean.

@metal571 had a Twitter post showing the frequency response of these being unequivocally unforgivable for the peaks and valleys it showed. I really don’t think that graph is representative of what I hear when I listen to these. I’m not saying he’s wrong, there are some sins being committed here. (Sometimes it takes direct comparisons to highlight them.) With that said, a little EQ does go a long way with these and they’re very receptive of changes that you make. Unfortunately, the Sennheiser application that allows you to control the EQ is absolute dog poo poo. See below.

(The video I captured does not let you hear how the EQ changes the sound, unfortunately, but does show you what it looks like.)

For a company that has made audio gear for decades, you would think that they could include a working and functional EQ in their software. There are so many mobile EQ apps, I am not about to get into it, but you’re going to want one.

Overall, I’m not dissatisfied with how these sound, assuming you tweak a few things here and there.

One standout feature is the mode that allows you to hear your environment while wearing them. (I forget what Sennheiser calls it, and I’m to lazy to find out.) It’s so freaky how natural it brings in outside sound. You can put these in, turn on that feature, and watch TV without having to raise the volume at all. Talking to people with this feature turned is absolutely not a problem, even in somewhat loud environments like stores or near a busy street. You can snap your fingers around your head and get auditory cues on direction just as you would without them in your ears. It’s crazy cool.

The ANC works. It’s not perfect. I have yet to met an ANC that was. This was decent though. I couldn’t hear people and noises around me while shopping for food in a major grocery store.

Ok, now here are some things (besides the EQ) that drove me crazy with the MTW2.

  1. Firmware updates take FOREVER. To add insult to injury, you have to wear them while new firmware pushes to the buds or they go into power save mode and the process stops. You cannot update them while they are in the charger. FURTHERMORE, playing music while they update guarantees the update will take 3 times longer. The application says it can take up to 50 minutes, but I have been through 3 firmware updates and each was well over an hour. More than an hour of listening to nothing.

  2. The Sennheiser application is just confused. I prefer function over fashion, and all I get here is fashion. They need to take away the fluff and make it quick and easy to use. I don’t want to use another app on my phone to begin with, but since I have to, at least make it sane and logical.

-+-

Sony WF-1000XM3

Ok, these are so much better to use. The application wasn’t created in a 4th grade art class. The EQ is functional. Firmware updates take about 20 min. All the usability issues with the Sennheiser just don’t exist here. Yes, they are bigger and stick out of your ears. They will be noticed. I don’t care.

I purchased the Sony along with the Comply tips which were designed specifically for the XM3. That was a mistake. Those sound awful. They kill all the good sounds. Purge these with fire.

Luckily, Sony includes silicone and foam tips, and they both sound great. I don’t even have to smoosh the foam before I put them in my ears. Well done Sony!

Out of the box, the XM3 sounds dull. Bass is definitely boosted. Mids seem boosted too. Treble seems lacking. It’s like listening to an Audioquest Nighthawk through a pillow. Luckily, Sony has a big toolbox of stuff to fix that. Their EQ doesn’t play drag-the-dot arts and crafts games with you. You get a 5 slider EQ + a ClearBass boost thing to play with. It works well enough I haven’t felt the need to use anything else. Sony also has this thing in the application where you take a photo of your ears, and it does some science-magic stuff, and suddenly they sound soooooo much better. One side of my brain is impressed by the technology, and the other side is frightened of whatever voodoo or black magic made this happen. Regardless, as much as I liked the EQ’d sound of the Senns, these sound much better once you dial in your EQ and snap a few photos. Winning!

Sound stage isn’t as wide, but it still presents a nicely cohesive image. It’s more a between-the-ears kind of presentation, not a behind the eyeballs kind of stage.

Detail is there. I can pick up the little studio sounds in Rebecca Pidgeon’s “Spanish Harlem”. SRV’s amplifier buzz is present in Tin Pan Alley. Now that I’ve got these dialed in to sound like my Auteurs, I am supremely happy with them.

ANC is better here. It’s Sony ANC. 'Nuff said.

The “hear your surroundings” feature isn’t nearly as good as the MTW2, but that’s literally the only thing about the Senns I miss.

One gripe: The sound cuts out - as in, the song stops playing - when your phone gets a notification. It only happens for a second, but it still bugs me. Luckily, I have a Oneplus 7Pro, and putting the phone on vibrate with the slider is easy and I don’t even have to look at the phone to do it. Problem solved. … until you realize you missed a text message. Oh well.

So… True Wireless Thunderdome. Two headphone enter, one headphone leaves. Who wins?

Sennheiser.

I’m just screwing with you. Sony pulls off a Mortal Kombat Fatality here and rips the Momentum’s spine out. Blood everywhere. Notify next of kin. There are some great features on the Momentum, and they are smaller and more comfortable by a small degree, but the over all usability and sound of the XM3 just wins.


In memory of my 4 legged fur child.

19 Likes

Hi!

I just wanted to share the EQ that I had done with Sony WF 1000XM3. For me the treble is a bit troublesome that is why it is a bit dialed back. Maybe because I am already full of treble stuff from my gears at home (LCD X and T1 2nd Gen) and usually Pop / Kpop Music are being played on these TWS.

:grinning:

1 Like

Thanks, I’ll give that a try

Wasn’t just me. I think it was oratory1990 who made a comment not that long ago about how Sennheiser has a very specific IEM target, and that it doesn’t make much sense. But anyway, graphs are not, and never will be, a listening-based review. I know crin loves the WFXM3 so I’ve put WFXM4 high on my list. That’s something I could actually use…if they can put LDAC or AptX HD into that next model finally.

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I would love to see that as well. Considering Sony invented LDAC, you’d figure they would put it in their products.

I think they sound fine for commutes and shopping. If I were doing a lot of flying, I’d look for over-ear ANC headphones. Anyway, point being, these just aren’t something I’m going to wear at home. If people are doing critical listening on either of these, they are fruitcakes and should be locked up.

Which brings me to something I thought of while doing this review, and after seeing the Senn graph.

These are not high end IEMs, and I don’t think they should be evaluated as such. Out in noisy areas, you may want odd FR peaks to combat what ANC can’t. The use case is different, but we see a FR graph and just evaluate it like we would any other IEM.

Also, you should drop a link to your Twitter thingy. Quite a bit of good stuff you put there.

3 Likes

I honestly cannot believe just how nice TWS is for just doing stuff around the house, being on group calls with friends, running on the treadmill, and walking around an office (when that opens back up), and not being tethered to a desk for “serious” listening, no matter how “not a real high-end product” these things are. Surprised myself on this after buying refurb gbuds. Really shocking just how often I use them despite the sound quality being crushed by not owning a Samsung phone. Oh, wireless charging on the XM4 case would also be nice, and maybe even essential since it’s 2020.

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Yea TWS is nice. Just hope it improves with technology. The Galaxy Buds are great. Im considering getting the AKG N400 too.

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Thanks for the review Prof and I am very sorry about your companion.

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Nice review, sorry for the loss of your friend.

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Thanks everyone.

20 char

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Love the review and the gaming theme really worked great. I really enjoyed reading it. Great stuff.

I am really sorry for the loss of your dog. I know they are more than pets and become close friends. Its a huge loss when you lose them. Wishing you all the best.

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Ouch. The Momentum are now on sale, $100 off. Surely not a coincidence?

1 Like