On paper, there are many reasons to be excited about the Sennheiser CX True Wireless earbuds.
This pair of mid-range buds makes strategic cuts to certain features to give you the same drivers and tuning as their more expensive siblings, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 — giving up features like noise cancellation and premium construction. If you know about this famed German brand, then you’ll recognize how the specs and price alone could make this a contender in a crowded market.
But can they hang with these lofty expectations? Let’s find out.
Sennheiser CX True Wireless: Availability and price
They are available now in black only.
Sennheiser CX True Wireless: Design
These buds are all about function over form — there are no real design flourishes, no pops of color or flashes of different materials. This is a refined, all-black design that doesn’t draw attention to itself; the only hints to the brand are the glossy Sennheiser logos imprinted in the matte plastic.
As someone who prefers minimalist gadgets, this aesthetic speaks to me, but I can understand if you’d want something more flashy like the metallic surfaces on the NeoBuds Pro or the range of colorways available for the Liberty Air 2 Pros.
Going into the specifics, the case bucks the midrange earbud pebble trend with a short and stubby vertical style. It looks weird on first impressions, but it grew on me over time.
The CX True case is slightly thicker than most others, and will therefore create a bulge in your pocket. But because of the smaller height and width, the case won’t feel as bulky as the NeoBuds Pro case (2.6 x 1.9 x 1 inches). At 1.7 ounces, the CX True Wireless case is heavier than Edifier’s version (1.4 ounces) and slightly lighter than Soundcore’s (1.7 ounces).
Turning our attention to the buds themselves, Sennheiser got rid of the stem in favor of a bulkier casing. This is fine for giant ears like mine, which are so big they’d make Gary Lineker blush, but the sizable shell can get uncomfortable for those with smaller lugs.
Looking at the numbers, the CX True are markedly smaller than their competition at 0.6 inches. The NeoBuds Pro are 1.3 inches and the Liberty Air 2 Pro are 1.5 inches.
The selection of tip sizes in the box means you can ensure a secure fit which, when paired with IPX4 water resistance and their low weight, makes them good for exercise. This compares favorably to Soundcore’s pro buds (0.4 ounces) and matches Edifier’s heft.
Sennheiser CX True Wireless: Controls and digital assistant
Touch control options are expansive and customizable on the CX True Wireless, with single, double, and triple tap functions along with a press and hold for vast levels of interaction. Beeps can be heard to confirm when touches are received, which is a nice addition over hoping your buds register your commands.
Theoretically, this all sounds great, but in practice, the touch responsiveness seems to have a mind of its own — varying from accepting even the smallest hints of accidental taps to not responding whatsoever.
When it works, calling the smart assistant is an easy triple tap and, so long as you’re not surrounded by rush hour traffic, requests are picked up quickly.
Sennheiser CX True Wireless: Audio quality
Here it is — one of the make or break moments for these buds. Are Sennheiser’s sacrifices covered by great Momentum-level sound quality thanks to the 7mm TrueResponse Transducer drivers? Sort of, but not entirely.
For simpler songs with more compressed compositions, like “Get Out of my Head” by Four Year Strong, the CX True Wireless provide warmth to the thudding lower tones that eat into the chugging guitars in the mids, but let the higher vocal tones shine. It’s not a perfect representation of your music, but as I listened to more popular songs, I concluded that most people will be happy with the tuning choices made here. That was, until I found some interesting inconsistencies.
Taking these through my go-to test track, “A Day in The Life” by The Beatles, gives me a fleeting glimpse of the brilliant spacious clarity this brand is famous for. As you may know from my previous reviews, the cacophonic uprising section is where many mid-range earbuds fail, as the drivers struggle to stuff an entire orchestra into your ears. This was no problem for Sennheiser’s buds, as they even managed to challenge the likes of Apple’s AirPods Pro for offering a full-bodied soundstage with strong clarity to each of the 80+ instruments. Impressive stuff.
But the clarity does not carry over to every song. When listening to Beyonce’s “Déjà Vu,” the 808 bass hit overwhelmed the mids, took the sharpness out of the hi-hats, and caused Queen B’s vocals to distort significantly at certain points throughout the track. This is not a problem with theEdifier NeoBuds Pro, meaning Sennheiser could be falling victim to its Bass Boost technology — which makes the listening experience typically great but with some strange outliers.
And the bad news doesn’t stop there. You may have noticed that this review lacks a noise cancellation section. Yes, these do not have ANC. For a pair of earbuds at this price to not offer this crucial feature is a big disappointment. Not only do the Liberty Air 2 Pros give you ANC at this price, but they are regularly discounted to nearly half the price of the CX True Wireless.
For most people, the taste of signature Sennheiser sound is not enough to make up for overwhelming lows and the lack of what should just be a standard feature in mid-tier earbuds.
Sennheiser CX True Wireless: App
If you’ve read any of our previous Sennheiser reviews then you already know how this section goes. But to those uninitiated, the Smart Control companion app has a nice layout and plenty of options to fiddle with.
I particularly like the customizable EQ, which gives you free rein over creating your ideal sound profile, and an option to turn off the annoying voice that tells you when you’re connected.
The “find my earbuds” feature continues to be M.I.A, however. That’s a huge disappointment, given how it’s become a default feature for buds at this price. Anyone more prone to losing items, be warned!
Sennheiser CX True Wireless: Battery life
The lack of noise cancellation does have one benefit — a lengthy battery life that matches Sennheiser’s reported numbers.
With nine hours of listening time, extended to 27 hours with the charging case, the endurance of these buds far outstrips the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro (7 hours listening time with ANC off) and Edifier’s NeoBuds Pro (6 hours with ANC off).
So expect impressive longevity for all-day use without needing to pop them back in the charging case halfway through your day. This is great for my habitual Lo-Fi listening throughout my 9-5 workday.
Sennheiser CX True Wireless: Call quality and connectivity
Connectivity is handled with Bluetooth 5.2, which forms a secure connection that I had no problems with at up to 30 feet away from my iPhone 12 Pro, Realme GT and M1 MacBook Pro. Unlike the Edifier NeoBuds Pro, I didn’t suffer from any connectivity issues, meaning my music and podcasts remained undisturbed.
Call quality is a problem here, though. Sure, your voice is clear indoors and the microphones do a decent job of isolating your voice while walking down quiet streets. But the moment you put them under any kind of pressure, like around passing cars or in windy conditions, the four microphones get overwhelmed and you quickly disappear into the background noise.
The split between me getting through a call OK with the CX True Wireless and having to switch back to my phone midway through was around 50:50. Those are not good odds for a pair of true wireless earbuds at this price.
Sennheiser CX True Wireless: Verdict
I really want to love the Sennheiser CX True Wireless. They share a similar feature set and sound quality to the Momentum True Wireless 2. You get glimpses of this magic every now and again through flourishes of clear and spacious sound along with great battery life and a snug fit.
But these earbuds are very much diamonds in the rough — calls could be better, the touch controls have a mind of their own, and the lack of ANC in a pair of mid-range earbuds is a cardinal sin in 2021, which makes them hard to recommend when compared to the competition.
Next time, Sennheiser (if you’re reading this) don’t forget about the mids with that boosted bass, consider refreshing the design with a stem to move the mic closer to improve call quality, and please give us noise cancellation.