Bose was beaten by Sony. Then Sony became the one and only. But now, a famous German brand is gaining momentum. Danke schoen! I’ll be here all night. The world’s most established headphone company has finally stepped up its game with the release of the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless. It promises better noise-cancellation, higher quality sound and more functionality. So, how does it stack up against the market’s most popular wireless ANC model, the Sony WH-1000XM3? Let’s find out in this Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless vs Sony WH-1000XM3 Review.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless vs Sony WH-1000XM3 Review
If you feel easily suffocated by headphones, then you’ll probably prefer the looser fit of the Sony WH-1000XM3. In terms of comfort, even though the earpads are thicker on the Momentum 3 Wireless, the earpads on the Sony WH-1000XM3 feel softer and more forgiving around the ears. But if you appreciate a snug fit and great sound isolation (without ANC) or you plan on using your headphones for sports activities, the Momentum 3 Wireless is a better bet. And if you have freakishly large ears, the slightly wider circumference of the Momentum 3’s earpads might be more suitable.
Noise-Cancellation and Ambient Mode
I was sure that the Sony WH-1000XM3 would offer more powerful noise-cancellation. But to be honest, it’s hard to tell. They’re about equal in this respect. Anyway, strong ANC isn’t always a good thing. For some, the ear pressure created by noise-cancelling frequencies can be uncomfortable. And though the ANC on both models can be switched off, the Momentum 3 Wireless allows you to choose between three different levels of noise cancellation, using Sennheiser’s Smart Control app. Sony’s accompanying app also allows for some adjustment. It optimizes the level of noise-cancellation depending on the atmospheric pressure and surrounding environment. But we didn’t have enough money in the budget to test this app on an airplane. And I couldn’t be bothered schlepping up a mountain. Also, I first optimized the WH-1000XM3’s ANC inside, and then went outside to re-optimize it. But I didn’t notice much of a difference.
ANC can also have an effect on sound. For example, you’ll hear a little more detail in your sound with the ANC switched off. And especially with the Sony, the bass becomes more pronounced when the ANC is switched on.
Finally, both models offer an ambient mode, which invites in sound from the outside environment.
Controls and Functionality
We’ve got Sennheiser’s buttons versus Sony’s touchpad. (Sony does use a couple of buttons too). At first, having a touchpad on the earcup seems like a cool idea. Afterall, in this day and age, who can resist the temptation to swipe and tap? The only problem is that the touchpad is quite sensitive. And all too often, I would inadvertently activate Siri, who we all know is a #$*&!$^ pain in the ass.
Speaking of Siri, both headphones allow you to employ your voice assistant, including Google Assistant. So, yes, hands free calling is available on both models. In addition, both headphones offer the standard functionality from the earcups, including play/pause, track skipping, volume control and call answering/ending. But Sennhesier has thrown in a couple more bells and whistles with respect to calls. The Momentum Wireless 3 allows you to put the caller on hold and mute your voice. This is handy for when your wife calls while you’re out with your girlfriend. And your girlfriend can’t stop talking about how great the lobster is. And then you realize she’s allergic to shellfish. Anyway, why are you wearing your headphones at dinner?
Another nice feature offered by the Momentum 3 Wireless is Smart Pause. When you take off the headphones, the music will pause. And when you fold the headphones, they will turn off. They also turn on automatically when you unfold them. But this feature can be switched off in the Smart Control app.
Sony wins in this category. The WH-1000XM3 offers 30 hours of battery life, while the Momentum 3 Wireless only offers 17.
Sennheiser is the clear winner in this department. Ugh, that pun was unintentional. Not only did the caller’s voice sound cleaner on the Momentum 3 Wireless, but the microphone on the Momentum 3 was also superior.
Included Apps and Equalizer
Both headphones come with apps that provide a host of features, some of which I’ve already mentioned. But the important thing to note here is that an equalizer is available on both models.
To all my friends with tinnitus, let it be known that the Momentum 3 Wireless gets louder.
Depends on how much you like to carry.
Included Cables and Adapters
In addition to the charging cables, both headphones come with audio cables (3.5mm terminations). So yes, both headphones give you option of a wired connection.
Sony also throws in an airplane adapter. Sennhesier doesn’t. But the Momentum 3 Wireless does include a USB-A adapter to go along with its USB-C to USB-C charging cable.
For the purposes of this review, I tested the headphones without any equalizer adjustments. And ANC was activated on both models.
In terms of relative balance, both headphones display a similar level of bass presence. But the Momentum 3 Wireless provides extra power and more sub-bass response. So the bass on pop tracks have more oomph or gravitas on the Momentum 3 Wireless. And listening to hip-hop, you’ll definitely feel your love handles vibrating more on the Momentum 3. Overall, it’s just more well endowed. But what about detail? It’s a close call. But listening to cellos in this range, the WH-1000XM3 reveals a touch more texture, while the Momentum 3 Wireless takes on a smoother, more fluid character. And with respect to classical music in general, the Momentum 3 Wireless offers a more majestic sound in this range.
Both headphones show a similar level of midrange presence in the mix. And both headphones deliver a good amount of body. (Perhaps vocals shine through a little more on the Momentum 3 Wireless). But if you’re looking for the most expansive sound, you just can’t beat the admittedly pricier Momentum 3 Wireless. And we’ll talk more about this below, in the soundstage department. But again, in terms of transparency, both headphones will give you a solid amount of detail. Still, going back to strings in this range, the timbre felt a bit more realistic and certainly more graceful on the Momentum 3 Wireless. And acoustic instruments, in general, were just more absolute or crystallized in their presentation. So, at the end of the day, the Momentum 3 Wireless delivers better resolution.
Again, there’s little difference in the overall balance between these two headphones. So, the highs have a similar amount of extension. Listening to percussion in pop tracks, both models offered some snap and crispness. But neither feel too sparkly or bright. And they’re equally suitable for long listening sessions.
I think this is where the Sennheiser engineers are enjoying some serious schadenfreude. What is soundstage? Say you’re given a ticket to a Rolling Stones concert. But you have to go blindfolded. And you have the option of listening to them on stage or in a Target fitting room. Relax, you won’t see them naked. It’s a tough choice, and this may not be the best analogy. But if you want to hear them on stage (front row), choose the Momentum 3 Wireless. If you prefer a more intimate setting, choose the Sony WH-1000XM3. The Momentum 3 offers a much more spacious and multidimensional sound than the Sony WH-1000XM3. More height, more depth, more width. The placement of instruments along these axes is more precise as well. This means that the Momentum 3 wireless delivers a much more holographic listening experience overall. (Sony’s app does give you the option of changing soundstage settings, such as outside stage or concert hall, but it’s just not the same).
These two headphone models offer virtually the same level of ANC effectiveness. But for the best resolution, biggest sound, and highest call quality, go for the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless. For longest battery life and most comfortable fit, go for the Sony. And if you like to swipe, the WH-1000XM3 should be your choice. But if you can’t live without the reliability and simplicity of buttons, then the Momentum 3 Wireless is your headphone. For ultimate portability, go for the Sony…Listen, I can’t do this anymore. Spend the extra fifty bucks on the Momentum 3 Wireless, and move on. It’s worth it.
You can buy both headphones for the best price here: