Sennheiser’s pedigree when it comes to superior sound cannot be denied. Their Momentum 2 earbuds are still some of the best on the market, despite being released a few years ago. They’ve since started playing around on the lower end of the price spectrum, attempting to provide value that stretches beyond the price point. The CX 400BT is a great example of that, dropping the price to $300 but still managing high-end sound.
At $200, can the Sennheiser CX True Wireless continue the strong value proposition? Or are you better off saving a bit more and going for the 400BT?
The CX buds weigh the same as the 400BTs, lightweight and comfortable although blockier in appearance than I would have liked. They don’t quite have the sleek ergonomics of the Momentum 2s, with an almost square shape with a rather long neck to make the perfect fit a bit harder to achieve. Four pairs of ear tips are provided, but you might want to experiment a bit more than you usually would, since the neck might require you to go a size smaller than normal.
That much is fine. It’s still possible to get a perfect seal, which brings a reasonable degree of passive noise cancelling to make up for the lack of NC features.
Onboard controls are nice and the block surface responds well to any amount of touch. The logical one-two tap system is intuitive for anyone who has owned a pair of earbuds in the past few years, and Sennheiser don’t mess with what works. A welcome feature is the ability to map the controls based on your personal taste, but most users would be fine with the out-of-box standard.
There are two beamforming microphones in each earpiece to help with call clarity while blocking out external noise, and this works exceptionally well. In fact, I’d say these are the best earbuds – at this price point – for making and receiving calls that I can remember testing out. Unfortunately, the mics don’t mean that you’re getting active noise cancelling when listening to music, and as such, there’s no transparent mode either.
Sennheiser have also decided to slap on an IP rating here. Although it’s only IPX4, meaning you won’t really have to worry much about light sweat and rain.
It’s hard to see how Sennheiser could have dropped these buds anywhere below $200. Even though they are budget when compared with other Sennheiser offerings, there is still a lot of useful features which help with the overall experience. Sennheiser’s signature TrueResponse transducer features here alongside a nice and intuitive EQ system so you can dial in your ideal sound.
aptX support means these buds are decent when it comes to latency, but there are still some issues when streaming Netflix. A higher-end aptX codec would have probably pushed the price up, so you should manage expectations.
Connection is nice and stable with Bluetooth 5.2, although the pairing process can glitch out at times. There are plenty of times where I’ve had just one bud play sound and the other knock out, forcing me the re-pair the buds in order to get them to work properly. This is a problem I’ve had with older earbuds from other brands as well, but it certainly works strongly against Sennheiser that these buds are still giving those issues in 2021.
Once you do get past the connection issue, the Bluetooth signal is staple. The 5.2 standard continues to impress as its rolled out onto more earbuds, and it’s unlikely you’ll have any issue with stutters with a connected phone in your pocket.
Sound wise, you’ve got that gorgeously calibrated 7mm dynamic driver handling the performance, and it’s very strong for this price point. Sound does feel spatial and wide, with strong details at every stage and a tendency to remain balanced and textured at max volume. That’s more than good enough for me, even though the sub-bass can feel rather thin with styles like hip-hop and EDM. If you wanted a more dynamic bass response you’d need to save a bit more for one of Sennheiser’s more expensive options.
Even though Sennheiser have dropped the price, they’ve raised the battery time. In fact, you get 7 extra hours over the 400BTs, with a 27 hour total when coupled with the rather thick but well-designed charging case. That’s super competitive at this price point, and it’s easy to expect an all day performance from the buds even if you’re blasting them at max volume.
Verdict & Value
The CX True Wireless earbuds is another strong entry from Sennheiser as they continue to slide down the price scale. Being able to offer this much value at $200 is impressive, but there is a lot of compromises that comes with it as well. If you’re looking for a pair of active noise cancelling earbuds, obviously you’ll want to stay away. But at least the sound, ease of use, EQ, and battery life are all satisfying. I’d have no trouble recommending these, but only if you’re on a very strict budget.
If only the IP rating was higher, these would make great sports earbuds given the lack of noise cancelling.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Great sound for the price; no noise cancellation could get annoying on commutes; weak IP rating but a generous inclusion for the price.
Lowlights: Blocky design can take some getting used to; harder to find a good deal
Product supplied by Sennheiser for review.