A promising pair of sports focused earphones, the Momentum Sport come packed full of interesting tech. Here’s hoping they’ll be able to produce a performance worthy of the Sennheiser Momentum branding.
- IP ratingIP55 for the earbuds, IP54 for the case
- Biometric trackingKeeps track of body temperature and heart rate
- 10mm TrueResponseBigger drivers for bigger bass
Perhaps the least expected announcement at Sennheiser’s CES 2024 conference was that of the Momentum Sport wireless earbuds.
It isn’t Sennheiser’s first foray into the sports headphones market, but this is the first that I can recall with the Momentum brand attached. That usually means ‘flagship’, ‘advanced’, and ‘pricey’.
- Semi-open design
- IP55 rating
- Ear-tips and stabilizing ear-fins
The key element of the Momentum Sport’s design is that it follows a semi-open concept. It nestles in the ear but isn’t going for a super-snug fit, partly because of comfort reasons and also because Sennheiser wants to leave some room for being aware of your surroundings.
I found them comfortable enough in the ten minutes I used them. They did shift a little but not to the point where they ever felt as if they were going to fall out. Then again, it’s not as if I was jogging on the spot.
Build quality is solid, though the Momentum Sport don’t give off a premium feel – they have the look of the Conversation Clear Plus Sennheiser launched. They look a little simple, feel a little basic when rolling them about in the hand. They are, however, durable – an IP55 rating ensures they’re resistant to water and dust, but don’t take that to mean they can be fully submerged in water. A rinse, or even wearing them in the shower should be fine enough.
The Momentum Sport also uses touch controls, which took me a little while to figure out how to use them. It’s not necessarily obvious where the touch controls are on the Sport’s smooth, oval-shaped surface but I did begin to figure it out towards the end of my time with the buds. I did find that shifting them about in my ear did activate volume control from time to time. Like Sony’s LinkBuds, you can tap in front of your ear to control, and that aspect works well enough. I do wonder whether that’ll still be the case with sweaty hands.
Speaking of cases, the charging case feels flimsy at first as it can be extended to lay horizontally flat (the reason given escapes me now). I do know that the case has an IP54 rating to protect it from water, moisture, and dirt; and that it comes with a ‘finger’ lanyard to carry the case around. A selection of ear-tips and stabilizing ear-fins, plus a choice of olive green, black, graphite colours complete this round-up of the Momentum Sport’s design.
- Biometric tracking
- Adaptive Noise-Cancellation
- aptX Adaptive Bluetooth
The most interesting aspect of the Momentum Sport’s feature set is its support for Biometric tracking. The earbuds can track body temperature and heart rate, the latter through a photoplethysmography (PPG) heart rate sensor. Trying to say photoplethysmography multiple times and quickly.
And Sennheiser believes that rather than a smart watch or strap around your chest, that a true wireless offers more accurate results because they’re positioned closer to the brain, and the temperature in your head is closely regulated to avoid overheating (I feel as if I’ve completely made that up).
The Sennheiser Momentum Sport can be integrated with several fitness apps – Apple Watch, Strava, Garmin, Peloton, Zwift, Nordic Track, and Samsung Health. There’s audio and heart-rate support with each those apps, but there’s only one app compatible with body temperature and that’s the Polar app. Sennheiser and Polar have worked closely on the Momentum Sport to offer full native integration with the app and Polar smart watches too.
In fact, I witnessed a demonstration of a Polar employee riding a bike at the press conference and watched as the body temperature and heart-rate went up. The earbuds appear to be sensitive and responsive to any changes, so here’s hoping this is the kind of feature that fitness bods have been hankering for. Sennheiser and Polar seem confident it is.
Otherwise, there’s Bluetooth 5.2 support with SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Adaptive streaming. There’s also Hybrid Adaptive Noise-Cancellation, a slightly surprising inclusion considering the semi-open design.
The ANC doesn’t block out sounds completely, but if you’re in an environment that is noisy like a gym, then it does knock the noise down by a few decibels. Listening to audio with the noise-cancellation off and at normal volumes, it becomes a mesh of music and the environment. With ANC that sways it a little more to a focus on audio.
You also get an Anti-Wind mode and an adjustable Transparency mode to customise how much noise you can hear at any given time.
Battery life is 5.5 hours and 24 hours in total – perhaps not as much as some might have expected given the price tag. Fast-charging provides 45 minutes of playback from a 10-minute top-up, again maybe not as much as some would have hoped. There is the convenience of wireless charging via the case.
- Big, open sound
- Decent bass response
There’s a 10mm dynamic TrueResponse driver in the Momentum Sport, and that’s bigger than the 7mm that has featured in most, if not all, of Sennheiser’s wireless earbuds from the last few years. Why? Primarily it’s down to the semi-open design, and the need to push more air to create a bigger bass performance.
I found that the Momentum Sport offered good bass with weight, though I didn’t feel as if the size and scale of the bass would be the same as you’d get from a sealed design when listening to Mos Def’s Ms. Fat Booty.
With Peter Gabriel’s Live and Let Live, the Momentum sport offers a big, wide soundstage that’s plenty loud and energetic – the kind of performance you’d want from a sport true wireless. It also featured satisfying levels of clarity with vocals. It’s a good performance, though as always with these brief hands-ons, it’s only a fraction of its potential.
I suppose the question some will be posing is whether the Momentum Sport sounds as good as the Momentum True Wireless 4, and I would say no, not because it tries to be but because this is a different design, a different driver, and a different use case.
The price tag seems to be more reflective of the biometric tracking that’s integrated into these headphones, and for fitness fanatics I can see the appeal of having this real-time data at your disposal. The cost is significant at £259.99 / €329.99 / $329.95. We’ll have to wait until April to see if they’re worth the price.