Sennheiser launched its brand new CX 400BT True Wireless (TW) earbuds earlier this month, which aims to deliver the same audio performance as the high-end MOMENTUM TW 2. One major difference that sets it apart from the latter is the lack of Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) and its somewhat more “affordable” price.
So how similar are the CX 400BT TW earbuds to the MOMENTUM TW 2 in terms of sound quality, and how much is actually taken away? Here’s what I gathered after spending a good time with it as my daily driver.
What Is It?
To elaborate further, the new Sennheiser earbuds features the same 7mm “dynamic drivers” as the MOMENTUM TW 2. Like most of the brand’s true wireless devices, the audio settings on the CX 400BT TW can be further customised by utilising Sennheiser’s Smart Control app on mobile phones. Due to the lack of ANC, it relies on passive noise cancelling with help from the eartips to filter out ambient noise. In terms of battery life, the CX 400BT TW lasts up to seven hours on average, including continuous playback with an additional 12 hours via its charging case.
Design-wise, the earbuds feature a rectangular shape to its left and right touch panels which also sports a glossy black finish. At first glance, it looks bulky and uncomfortable, but that thought diminishes after I actually put them on. In use, the earbuds fit comfortably and are snug, but I recommend choosing the right pair of included tips to get the most out of it.
As for its casing; if you’re hoping for something similar to the one included with the MOMENTUM TW 2, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Like the CX 400BT’s earbuds themselves, the case lacks the premium finish of its more premium cousin and is mostly decked out in matte black plastic. It is also compact and slightly taller than the one with the TW 2, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Is It Any Good?
Out of the box, the audio experience with the CX 400BT TW earbuds is decent at best. Audio clarity and sound-staging at default settings are good, but it lacks the “oomph” in terms of bass feedback. Also, the earbuds can sound slightly muffled at times and this becomes quite apparent for vocals and certain instruments.
Thankfully, the audio quality can easily be improved by tweaking the EQ via the Sennheiser app, which is one of the first things I recommend you to do when you pick up these earbuds. Since it is up to the user’s personal preference in terms of audio appreciation, I’ll leave it up to you on how you’d customise the earbuds’ EQ. That said, the Smart Control app is very intuitive when it comes to customising the device’s audio settings.
I managed to get the right sweet spot after adjusting the bass, treble and mid accordingly, where vocals are now clearer with deeper clarity, sharper trebles and more intensity in the bass. This is evident when listening to well-rounded tracks such as BNL’s Odds Are, where the bass is prominent, vocals are clear, and the other instruments are distinguishable when played together. The same can be said for ACDC’s Shook Me Up All Night Long, especially when Malcolm Young’s guitar riffs enter the song to the left shortly after Angus’ starts off from the right.
Hands-free calls with the CX 400BT CW are surprisingly impressive. This is thanks to the built-in “ambient noise reduction” microphones that help filter out background audio, even in loud environments. So much so that whoever I call while using the earbuds were convinced that I was speaking to them directly via my phone even though I was walking around in what I think is a heavily congested part of Midvalley.
The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.
As I mentioned earlier, I advise you to try out all of the provided eartips for the CX 400BT TW and see which fits you best. The original pair that was attached to the earbuds (which were shorter and wider) aren’t enough to provide optimum passive noise cancelling. Fortunately, this is easily remedied by swapping to a different pair altogether.
Then there’s the earbuds’ volume. As my colleague pointed out in his review of the MOMENTUM TW 2, the volume ceiling of both Sennheiser models aren’t exactly ideal. If anything, I find myself pumping it up close to the recommended volume levels on mine to get the most out of the experience. This is likely a determined choice by the brand rather than an actual flaw, and mileage may vary between users.
You’ll also want to familiarise yourself with the touch controls on the CX 400BT TW after first taking them out from the box. At default, playing a song requires you to tap the left earbud while the right activates your phone’s voice assistant instead. It’s weird for a right-handed person such as myself but this is easily solved by, again, utilising the Smart Control app.
Should I Buy It?
The CX 400BT TW retails at RM999, which can be an intimidating price point for many. And with plenty of competition in the mid-range earbuds market, the new Sennheiser earbuds are not exactly within the affordable range.
However, it is a worthwhile recommendation if you are hoping to achieve the same level of audio quality as the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 without having to fork out extra. The lack of ANC is a bummer for some, but it is something that most of us can live without.