The biggest differences between the two headphones are battery life and how they sound out of the box. The Sony WH-1000XM3 have more than double the battery life of the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3, which is ideal for those who travel a lot, but both sound vastly different out of the box.
Sound quality vs. battery life
The biggest difference between the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 and the Sony WH-1000XM3 is battery life. Sennheiser says the Momentum Wireless 3 will get you up to 17 hours of battery life on a single charge with ANC enabled while the Sony WH-1000XM3 are capable of 30 hours of battery life on a single charge.
The WH-1000XM3 also feature fast charging, which nets you five hours of listening time on a 10-1minute charge. It does come at an expense though, as the the WH-1000XM3 can't simultaneously charge and output audio. This means that as soon as you plug them in to charge, audio playback is disabled whether you listen over Bluetooth or wire them in over the 3.5mm jack. On the other hand, the Momentum Wireless 3 are not capable of fast charging in any form but you won't be restricted to listening to your headphones when you plug them in to charge.
Obviously, sound quality plays a big role between the two headphones. The Sony WH-1000XM3 has the classic Sony sound signature where the bass is boosted quite a bit and the mids and the treble suffer as a consequence. The amount of bass boost in the WH-1000XM3 causes them to occasionally rattle on your head, especially when listening to more bass-heavy music.
Meanwhile, the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 has a much more tame sound signature. The low- and mid-bass is neutral and flat while the upper-bass and lower-mids are slightly recessed. The same goes for the rest of the midrange and treble, giving the Momentum Wireless 3s an overall darker sound signature.
Both headphones have a companion smartphone app (available on both iOS and Android) that let you modify the sound with an EQ. The equalizer is fairly basic on either headphone and if you're looking to fine tune the sound, you'll be disappointed here. It's also worth noting that the EQ on the WH-1000XM3 won't apply if you have high-quality Bluetooth codecs enabled. You'll need to bump it down to "stable connection" to enable the EQ. You have no such restrictions on the Momentum Wireless 3.
|Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3||Sony WH-1000XM3|
|Battery Life||17 hours||30 hours|
|Audio codecs||SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX-LL||SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX-HD, LDAC|
|Ambient sound mode||Yes||Yes|
|Simultaneous charging and listening||Yes||No|
We usually don't talk about Bluetooth audio codecs because it's mostly irrelevant, but the Momentum Wireless 3 has aptX-LL and that means low latency. This is crucial because some Bluetooth headphones can have really poor latency, which causes your audio to be out of sync with whatever you're doing on your device. AptX-LL allows the Momentum Wireless 3 to achieve super low latency. However, high-end Bluetooth headphones such as the WH-1000XM3 achieve decently low latency but may have issues with live TV, video, or gaming.
There are a ton of overlapping smart feayures between the Momentum Wireless 3 and WH-1000XM3. While I won't mention them all, there are a few standouts. For one, both headphones feature ambient sound modes but the Momentum Wireless 3 completely annihilates the WH-1000XM3. The Momentum Wireless 3 sound true to life as if you don't have headphones on in the first place. The WH-1000XM3 definitely sound a bit more muffled and it can sometimes be hard to hear others talking around you with the ambient mode enabled. In terms of activating the ambient mode itself, the Momentum Wireless 3 does it better in the form of a toggle on the left ear cup. This allows you to keep it on indefinitely, while the WH-1000XM3 requires you to cover the right ear cup the entire time you want to keep the ambient sound mode on.
Overall, aside from battery life being nearly half of the WH-1000XM3, the Momentum Wireless 3 are the better option. Both offer great comfort, whether you're on a 30 minute daily commute or flying for 18 hours straight. The ANC differences between the two are minimal, and both classify as excellent so it really just boils down to whether or not you want better battery life or a better, well rounded sound.
Superior sound quality
Best all around minus battery life
If you're okay with 17 hours of battery life, the Momentum Wireless 3 are a solid choice with great sound quality, comfort, and superb ANC performance.
Long battery life
Bass heavy sound with long battery life
The WH-1000XM3 features class-leading ANC, solid bass-heavy sound, and excellent comfort. It'll even last you over a week with light usage.
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