I took a stroll to the TWS market. And I came back with 2 new buddies. The first, which I hope you’ve made yourselves familiar with already; the Galaxy Buds Pro. This, the Sennheiser Momentum version 1, is the 2nd. I shall use this article to gently critique between the 2. Although the Sennheiser has been superseded by a version 2, it remains popular and is still being sold at most good stores everywhere. That being said… your intrepid adventurer took a chance and bought these on eBay for the bargain price of £49. The Buds Pro cost was £50, so we have a fair contest in my opinion.
TWS stands for truly wireless. It’s a relatively new design for portable audio. A clever person found a niche in the market. Lots and lots are being sold, or given away with new smartphones. A bluetooth headset has a cable going between the left and right driver, often with a small weight in the middle. This goes in the middle of the shoulders and keeps the whole thing more stable. TWS still uses bluetooth but needs no cable. The controls on the cable of the bluetooth headset are contained within one of the TWS Buds. This Bud sends the info to the other bud to create a stereo signal. One bud can be used on it’s own, as long as it’s the master and not the slave.
No wires means no cable snag, no sweat on your skin from the cable, no fear of the cable pulling out the bud, no microphonics from the cable, a more discrete look and, hopefully, a little more comfort. All functionality is accessed via a series of gestures, or taps on either left or right bud, as opposed to finding them on your cable. It also means less codecs are available, because there is no wire to bung any extra electronics on. This means, in most cases, lossy codecs only are available. The Momentum supports aptX, a reasonable codec which will give a near CD quality frequency response.
The Sennheiser Momentum look nice, feel nice, work well and sound nice. The current retail price of £100+ I’d fight shy of – I am not sure whether they’re that good. Let me tell you a little more on what I found. The gesture controls – volume up/down/play/pause/next/previous track/receive/end call/ambient sound on/off/voice control, are plentiful, but fairly easy to learn and responded well to my command. The ambient sound function -whereby you can hear outside noises by using the external mics, was good, but not as clever at the Galaxy Buds Pro.
I suspect the version 2 Momentum has better ambience, but I have not heard them to qualify this statement. The look of both case and the bud has met with some success. The box is a fabric design and a little different from the standard affair. The Buds have a brushed stainless steel faceplate which doesn’t show up smudges from your fingers. Yes, the drivers are larger than the norm. They are an older design and have squashed in enough tech to deal with the aptX codec. But they have got the shape just right. These feel substantial, and heavier than normal, in the inner ear. 95% of the fit problem has already been resolved by this alone; the shape is that good. The tips are a good quality and probably won’t reap much better results from being changed to aftermarket ones.
The sound quality is more linear than the Buds Pro. There is slightly less bass, but enough to hear even when on a run. There is a clarity in the mids and highs that makes vocals easier to follow without there being any harshness present. Obviously, these are not the last words in sonics, yes, you’ll find a wired equivalent will edge these, but on the run, doing a workout, commuting on a noisy bus, walking the streets; this is where the TWS comes into it’s own.
I have had several hours of use with the Momentum now. That means getting on for 100 miles of running. They have lasted me well, the bluetooth 5.0 keeps a decent signal, the aptX codec delivers a quality frequency response; the fit and the drivers output a decent sound. When in ambient mode, any wind becomes hard to deal with and this safety feature ends up being switched off. I have done some research and it seems there isn’t a huge difference in SQ between version 1 and 2; my most important criteria was for value for money. This is why I went for version 1. For £49 I am pleased with my purchase. Given a head to head with the Buds Pro, they’d lose out on sound quality, but win on features. All in all, a well fought contest with no real loser.