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Fitness headphones that lack finesse

Sennheiser could have launched a set of IP55-rated wireless headphones and called them “ momentum motion ($330), but it goes a step further by adding heart rate and body temperature sensors to earbuds designed for exercise. These new features give you greater insight into your workouts while also feeding data into your existing third-party activity apps. Of course, the Momentum Sport also have to perform well as regular earbuds, offering ergonomic design, active noise cancellation (ANC), touch controls, and other common features. Sennheiser has a good track record when it comes to sound quality, but now it has to balance that with the Momentum Sport’s expanded functionality.

Sennheiser

While the Momentum Sport is better designed than the Momentum 4, it falls short in key areas. The biometric sensor works well, but the sound quality is inconsistent, and the onboard controls are frustrating.

advantage

  • Improved design compared to Momentum 4
  • Reliable heart rate and body temperature readings
  • Full set of earbud functions
  • Adding bass is good for exercise
shortcoming

  • expensive
  • The ANC sometimes gets into trouble
  • Inconsistent sound quality
  • Touch controls need an overhaul

Amazon $330

The overall shape of the Momentum Sport is what I wish Sennheiser used for Momentum True Wireless 4. The former’s rounded profile fits my ears better and feels more comfortable, although they are slightly larger. Without the proper wings, the Sport version still sits nicely on my ears, although the extra section definitely helps keep them in place during workouts. Simply put, the design feels more refined, and I’d like to see the company take a similar direction with its flagship model.

Sennheiser says it aimed for “vivid sound and impressive bass” that would help enhance your workout, and it delivers. Stock correction hits lower end for justice significantly more Super dramatic, Support electronic music with a thicker tone. This will definitely help boost your energy levels during physical activity. But, as I’ll discuss later, extra bass isn’t always a good thing.

The Momentum Sport’s main feature is heart rate and body temperature tracking, which works well. Thanks to the earbuds’ secure fit, you get consistent, reliable readings in Sennheiser’s Smart Control app. The heart rate data matched the data on my Apple Watch, and I confirmed my temperature via a forehead scan. The Momentum Sport’s readings are consistent with other devices every time, meaning the earbuds are just as reliable as other at-home alternatives.

The Momentum Sport headphones feature body temperature and heart rate sensors.

Billy Steele for Engadget

What’s more, it’s tightly integrated with apps like Polar, Peloton, Strava, and Zwift, so you can use Momentum Sport on their devices, rather than just Sennheier’s app, which is primarily for adjusting settings. However, only Polar’s Flow supports Momentum Sport’s body temperature tracking. Sennheiser says this is because Polar is the only company that owns ecosystem Pay close attention to this metric and support the appropriate sensors. No matter which third-party app you prefer, you’ll probably want to sync Momentum Sport to one of them, as the Smart Control software only displays instant readings and doesn’t keep an eye on trends or monitor statistics during your workout.

Even though the Momentum Sport has to power more sensors, its battery life remains solid. Sennheiser says it can get five and a half hours of playback on a single charge, and that claim holds true. During testing with audio looped at around 65-70% volume, I didn’t encounter any issues reaching that number. This is when the ANC is in normal mode and the heart rate and body temperature sensors are active. The company says you can extend the Momentum Sport’s battery by 30 minutes if you enable Eco Mode in its app. This feature disables aptX audio and both body tracking sensors.

Momentum Sport gives you tap-to-cheek playback and call controls. This is convenient when running, for example, as you don’t have to find the exact location of the touch screen while moving or wearing gloves. The downside is that it can be activated by chewing. This is very annoying. In my testing, chewing gum or food often triggered the control.

Sennheiser says this is because my jaw muscles are strong (yeah?) and close to the sensor, but that doesn’t make it any less insane. I chew gum while running and weight training, so this is a big issue. Just clenching your jaw doesn’t trigger it, so at least that’s it. The only way to fix the problem is to turn off the onboard controls entirely, which disables the cheek tap and the more common earbud tap gesture.

The Momentum True Wireless 4’s ANC performance is solid but not amazing, and the same goes for the Momentum Sport. Both sets of earbuds performed similarly under constant noise sources, reducing the volume of external roar rather than blocking it outright. Like many of its competitors (and the True Wireless 4), the Momentum Sport struggles with vocals. Overall, none of them offer the world-silencing power of Bose and Sony.

The Momentum Sport's outer panel provides onboard controls with a click.

Billy Steele for Engadget

The Momentum Sport’s transparency mode, while useful, is far from great. The earbuds picked up my surroundings well, but couldn’t absorb enough sound, and I found myself getting shouty on a few calls. There’s also a wind protection mode, which comes in handy when exercising outdoors, but almost all new earbuds come with this tool these days.

Unfortunately, good audio performance isn’t common on the Momentum Sport. While some albums are detailed and crisp despite the added bass, others lack punchy highs and punchy mids. The sound profile compresses things like grungy, distorted guitars and bass lines. Vocals are present throughout, but the more prominent kick drum on songs like Knocked Loose’s chaotic “Suffocate” relegates the guitar to a backseat. In fact, guitars of all styles – including alternative, rock and country – lack the depth and detail that Momentum 4 offers. By cranking up the low-end, Sennheiser sacrifices some of the power that usually gives earbuds great sound quality. That’s a shame for a set of headphones that cost over $300.

Finally, we come to the case, which is less complex than Sennheiser’s previous designs. These earbuds cost $330, and the charging case shouldn’t feel so flimsy. The lid closes securely most of the time, but the hinge is just a piece of rubber, so the case won’t stay open unless you lay it completely flat. The soft-touch coating feels nice, but compared to the accessories that come with the Momentum series, the case is exactly what I’d expect from a set of earbuds that cost half the price. The good news is that it supports wireless charging and the case is IPX4 rated, so it’s not all a loss.

this momentum motion Presenting a dichotomy. On the one hand, they’re excellent workout earbuds that reliably track biometric data to provide insight into your training regime. On the other hand, they lack the overall sound quality I’ve come to expect from the Sennheiser Momentum series, and the overly sensitive controls are downright annoying. The earbuds could improve with some software tweaks, but as of right now, they’re too expensive to buy just for working out and don’t even perform well enough to be your go-to headphones.

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