Android Central Verdict
Bottom line: Sennheiser's CX Plus True Wireless aren't about size, but rather about features and performance relative to the company's other CX earbuds. You can expect great sound coming out of these, and assuming they fit you right, you may find the features and comfort go well together.
Good audio quality
Lighter and thinner
Excellent codec support
Companion app is key
Solid battery life with ANC off
Improved touch controls
May not fit all ears equally
No wireless charging
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For a company that took its time getting into the true wireless earbuds space, Sennheiser has been busy lately. The CX Plus True Wireless are the third pair of earbuds the company has released in just 12 months. First came the CX 400BT True Wireless, which brought the company closer to the rest of the field on price. Then, only months ago, came the CX True Wireless, the company's first foray into budget territory.
So, what does that make the CX Plus True Wireless? These earbuds are now the head of Sennheiser's CX lineup and mainly focus on delivering features that the other two never had. Comparing all three and seeing how they perform, it's clear these new earbuds are taking the lead.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: Price and availability
Sennheiser launched the CX Wireless in September 2021, making them available for $179.99. After launching a more inexpensive CX pair earlier in the year, Sennheiser situates these earbuds somewhere in the space between pricier and more budget-friendly options. Given where the CX Plus sit, you can expect to see these earbuds stay relevant for a while.
They come in black or white versions.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: What's good
Three pairs of earbuds in 12 months is a lot for any company, but for Sennheiser, it's downright unusual. Even with the CX Plus True Wireless now out in the wild, the Momentum True Wireless 2 remain the company's flagship pair. Those deliver some of the best audio quality you can find on any true wireless pair right now.
The CX Plus True Wireless aren't supposed to change that, though they are looking to deliver a happy medium at a much lower price. These now lead the CX pack, with the other two being more budget-conscious choices. It's just clear that keeping it all in the family means retaining so much of what the other two True buds already brought to the table. Looking at the CX Plus on the surface is like looking at the CX and CX 400BT all over again. The only real difference on the outside is a more muted Sennheiser logo on the surface and a trimmer frame for the buds themselves.
Otherwise, they come with the same four ear tips sizes as the CX, including an x-small. The CX 400BT had gone the other way with an x-large ear tip as the fourth option. The case is a carbon copy of the other two, where even the magnetic charging connectors are situated the same way. As with the others, there is no wireless charging here.
It's the inner workings that tell the real story here. While the 7mm drivers are the same size, they aren't of the same caliber because the CX Plus are equipped with Sennheiser's TrueResponse transducer drivers. They're more effective at producing a wider soundstage, and it shows when listening to music with more complex elements. Again, they won't match the depth of the Momentums, but they are an audible upgrade over the other two CX pairs from the start.
What makes the sound good is a nice balance along the spectrum, which doesn't lean too far either way. It's the kind of audio consistency I've expected from Sennheiser, so I can't say I was surprised. With the Smart Control app, the onboard EQ also lets you customize it further so you get the kind of output you prefer. The other two CX earbuds have the same access, so nothing exclusive is happening here; it's just that the EQ has something better to work with with the CX Plus.
It also has the advantage of active noise cancelation (ANC) onboard. These are the first CX earbuds to include that, and it does make a difference in how much you can enjoy audio content, regardless of whether it's quiet or loud around you. It's not good enough to snuff out background noise the way more expensive pairs can, but they are more than adequate for what they cost. They'll do fine with low-frequency noises, like a bus, train, or plane, while struggling a little to fully deafen the higher frequency ones.
What's a bit odd is that the Smart Control app hides ANC under the settings menu, rather than putting it front and center on the main page. You can always toggle it on and off using the onboard touch controls, but it's a strange choice, especially since the Transparent Hearing ambient mode is the first thing you see pop up on the app. That mode works pretty much exactly the same as the previous CX models.
Then there are the codecs, of which you can expect superb support. Not only do you get AAC, but also aptX and aptX Adaptive, meaning you should find fewer disruptions with Bluetooth audio streaming — and no reduction in quality, either. The variable bitrate keeps audio playing, but also adjusts the sound based on where the audio is coming from; that's why I noticed a difference listening to a show on Netflix and listening to music on Tidal. It also has the ability to mimic the low latency of aptX Low Latency, so that mobile gaming might be possible wearing the CX Plus.
I'm not sure I noticed a real discernible difference in call quality from the previous CX and CX 400BT to the CX Plus. With microphones already there to block out background noise, they should ostensibly be better at call quality, but I found calls were about the same. That's not a knock against them, just an observation that bringing in ANC hasn't had a buoyant effect on calls.
I mentioned onboard touch controls earlier, and while those have remained the same, they continue to be excellent. The Smart Control maintains a great customizable method to arrange and assign the controls however you want on the CX Plus. So, if you prefer to prioritize ANC over Transparent Hearing on the left earbud, you have every recourse to do it. Same with however you want to lay out playback controls. None of this would matter if the earbuds themselves were too sensitive or not responsive, but Sennheiser has found the right middle ground, and that's why they are among the best in that particular aspect.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: What's not good
BIzarrely, Sennheiser only rates battery life based on what the case can deliver, which is 24 hours total. That's with ANC turned off, so the overall number goes down when you leave it on. WIth such a generalized figure, it was hard for me to gauge what the battery expectations would be. How many charges is the case supposed to provide?
Once I confirmed that it was three charges, doing the math was easy. At up to eight hours per charge with ANC off and volume at 50%, the CX Plus hold up well. Raise the volume and use ANC or Transparent Hearing all the time, and that number drops down closer to six hours. Not terrible, by any means, but a precipitous drop, nonetheless.
It's also disappointing the case has no wireless charging support. That's become pretty standard for earbuds at this price, and it's even more noticeable when a brand like Sennheiser leaves it out. Not like there isn't room to do it; like the previous CX models' cases, this one has an industry-average size that should leave enough room to accommodate such a thing.
It's always nice to make earbuds look trimmer, as that would help with fit and comfort, but I suspect the CX Plus won't feel snug for all ears. Their thicker base may be tougher to maintain for smaller ears, even if there is an x-small size tip. They also retain the previous IPX4 water resistance, so there is a measure of durability, but not enough to fully trust. Wipe them clean and dry after getting them wet or breaking a sweat in them.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: Competition
Sennheiser is putting out the CX Plus right into the thick of a tough lot. The best wireless earbuds are filled with options in a similar range. Take the Jabra Elite Active 75t as an example of getting the fundamentals right at the right price, even if they are over a year old. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are also in the same ballpark, offering better ANC and durability. You also couldn't go wrong with the Jaybird Vista 2, where you not only get serious durability, but also one of the most expansive EQs you can find on any earbuds to date.
Needless to say, it's a full sandbox, and the only way to stand out is to do at least one thing better than the others. Sennheiser's acclaim has always come from the sound it produces, and that's what makes the CX Plus compelling. Not to mention they're so much cheaper than the Momentum True Wireless 2 while sporting the same logo.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless Should you buy it?
You should buy this if...
- You want reliable onboard controls
- You care about audio fidelity
- You want active noise cancelation
- You're a fan of aptX Adaptive
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want something smaller to fit in your ears
- You don't care about wireless charging
- You prefer something more durable
- You're looking to spend less
In a sense, the CX Plus is what the CX 400BT probably should've been, though it's understandable when taking into account that the transducer drivers weren't ready yet. Those are key to making these earbuds what they are as far as sound quality goes. Sennheiser added ANC and extra codec support to affirm its point on where the priorities are. It's how these earbuds sound that will largely determine how much you enjoy them.
4 out of 5
That's assuming they'll fit you well enough to enjoy all that. If they do, it's hard not to overlook the other CX models and head straight for these.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless
It's easier to forget Sennheiser's other earbuds when you consider the value the CX Plus True Wireless have to offer. They have great sound, amplified by better drivers, along with active noise cancelation, aptX Adaptive codec support, and solid app support to tingle in your ears the right way.
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar. Often times, that will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds playing tunes. When he's not testing something, he's working on the next episode of his podcast, Tednologic.
Unless the street price is way lower than $179 for these, paying an extra $20 for the Momentum True Wireless 2 model seems like a no-brainer. Of course there is probably a True Wireless 3 on the horizon that will return to the original $299 launch price.
I'd rather hold onto my $50 and get the regular CX and an extra few hours of charge.
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