Last week, I compared Apple AirPods to the new RHA TrueConnet true wireless earphones. Today, I’m stacking Apple’s wireless earphone up against the Sennheiser True Wireless earphones. Selling for $159 and $299 respectively, these earphones sit in different price brackets. But if money is no concern, which sounds better?
Apple AirPods vs Sennheiser True Wireless Comparison Review
In terms of fit, the Apple AirPods may have the Sennheiser beat – at least in terms of ease-of-use. Hinging on a one-size-fits-all approach, the AirPods either fit well or they don’t. Simply place them in your ear and you’ll know. Once situated, my ears do get used to them, but it’s not as tight or comfortable of a fit as the Sennheiser.
In comparison, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless offers removable eartips, and a tighter, more secure fit. However, the size and bulk of the Sennheisers can prove a little daunting for folks who have tiny ears. Thanks to my giant saucer-like ears, this isn’t a problem for me…but I’ve seen some folks struggle to get these babies situated.
AirPods feature that classic Apple design. White, sterile, and pretentious. These earphones look great sitting next to my iPhone and other iJunk. But, let’s be honest: the functionality ain’t half bad, either. Battery life comes in at 5 hours for the earpieces and an additional 20 hours via the charging case. And while Apple is big on touting certain virtues of the AirPods, specs or internal mechanisms remain under wraps.
The Sennheiser True Wirless, on the other hand, offers a paired-down design lacking the AirPods elongated stems. Instead, these earphones feature a silver faceplate with the Sennheiser logo, blanketing touch sensors for music playback. Battery life measures a fair 14 hours, with 6 hours available on the earpieces and another 8 hours available with the charging case.
With more bass, the AirPods will definitely appeal to casual listeners – at least on the surface, that is. But longer listening sessions reveal a low end that lacks real detail. Instead, this sound comes across as shallow, with an uncontrolled, sloppy bass bleeding into surrounding notes.
Contrasting with this, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless offers a more tempered and natural-sounding listening experience. While less oppressive in general, the sound still manages to remain fun and engaging – but with a snappier, more precise bass that delivers better clarity and fidelity.
In the midrange, the Apple AirPods get a little complicated. Vocals sound stretched and thin, due to some compression and distortion in this part of the frequency range. Instrumentation fares slightly better, which seems odd, because the distortion and compression are still there…but instrumentation seems overshadowed by the overblown low end, so maybe it’s harder to hear those effects in the instrumentation.
The Sennheiser True Wireless offers more detail overall, with the result being a more lifelike sound. Vocals and instrumentation sound precise, but never as sharp or artificial as those heard in the AirPods. Instead, notes appear as distinct as they should, but with all the information or nuance retained.
The Apple AirPods feature a rolled off high end. Vocals sound smooth and never become to harsh or grating, but the downside to this is a loss of detail for instrumentation. Certain notes in the high end vanish from the sound altogether, leading to a lackluster performance. Certain tracks show this more than others, and some folks will probably never notice the missing data. However, for anyone already used to relatively decent audio, this kind of experience won’t be that welcome.
Diametrically opposed to this, we have the Momentum True Wireless. Detail sparkles with clarity, but remains well-balanced. The result is a sound that delivers waaaay more detail, but without getting too bright or uncomfortable. Music sounds accurate and full, a hallmark of the Momentum Lineup and Sennheiser’s signature sound profile. Compared to the AirPods, it feels like hearing your music in color as opposed to black and white; there’s breadth and space to the Sennheiser earphones, leaving me with the impression that the AirPods are nothing but an obscene cop-out.
Cramped in terms of placement, the Apple AirPods still give an impression of depth (thanks to that extreme low end). That being said, things sound a bit cramped and confused – an unfortunate result of the compressed sound. Honestly, though, this seems pretty par for the course, as most in-ear wireless headphones will struggle to deliver a true sense of soundstage.
Proving this point, the Sennheiser sounds only marginally better here – despite a more robust sound in general. Placement seems slightly better, but the depth is a little off, and the result feels just as disappointing: a shallow soundstage that sounds fine with most tracks, but fails to capture the grandeur of more intricate recordings.
If price point doesn’t matter, my recommendation would easily go to the Sennheiser. In addition to a more optimized fit, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless offers a richer, more lifelike sound without a ton of compression like the AirPods.
However, for folks who can’t afford the Sennheiser, should the AirPods still be in the running? Probably not. You can get a better sound from almost any other true wireless earphone now – including JBL.