Sennheiser has released its CX 400BT True Wireless Headphones as a cheaper alternative to its exceptional but expensive Momentum True Wireless 2 model.
It offers an alternative in an increasingly crowded wireless earbud market that includes Apple's AirPods along with offerings from the likes of Bose, Samsung, Sony, Oppo and Microsoft.
After a week of using them, here are my thoughts on Sennheiser's latest offering.
Like a lot of the German audio company's products, the CX 400BT's most impressive feature lies in its commitment to top-level sound quality.
The listening experience with these is a joy - bass is deep and resonant, percussion is crisp, the full range of treble is captured - and all powered by a 7mm audiophile driver, internal equaliser and the latest in Bluetooth codecs.
Sennheiser gives you the ability to customise the audio through an equaliser on its Smart Control app, which is simple to use and lets you separately adjust bass, mids and treble.
The CX 400BTs boast a reasonably intuitive system allowing you, with a tap of the earbuds, to pause and play music, skip to the next song or pump the volume - a genuinely handy feature that stops you having to get your phone out every time you want to make a change.
It also enables the answering, ending and rejecting of phone calls with touch - a process I found simple enough to get the hang of after a trial run.
You can even make changes to the audio by speaking to the device connected to the earbuds, provided you use Apple's Siri or Google Assistant.
The battery life is another impressive feature. You get a decent seven hours with the CX 400BTs - the same as the Momentum True Wireless 2s, and superior to competitor products from the likes of Apple and Bose. This extends to 20 hours when they're placed in the case between listens.
Charging the case is simple and hassle-free as it takes a standard USB-C charging port, the same as Samsung and myriad other tech products.
The earphones can sense when they're not in use and will turn off after 15 minutes without audio - a great feature that retains battery life and means you don't have to rage every time you leave them out without placing them in their case.
Unfortunately, in Sennheiser fashion, these headphones aren't particularly aesthetically pleasing. While they're encased nicely enough in black plastic, the CX 400BTs just feel a bit chunky and utilitarian.
Where the AirPods or Microsoft's Surface Earbuds are delicate, inconspicuous and designed to disguise the advanced tech in each earbud, the Sennheisers have a heavy-looking base that houses the audiophile driver and Bluetooth tech.
The sturdy base looks and feels as though it's unbalanced - that more of the earbuds' weight lies on the outside my ear, rather than the inside - and that puts enough fear in me to make me second-guess whether or not to go for a run in them.
Another issue for those wanting the very best in audio quality is the lack of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). This is the main difference between these and Sennheiser's more expensive offering, the Momentum True Wireless 2s.
While for some audio snobs this technology may be unbearable to go without, I honestly didn't find it too different to my experiences listening on earbuds with ANC.
The CX 400BTs come with four sizes of ear tips, which allow you to choose one that slots snugly into your ear canal. Once they're locked into place, I found that they actually blocked external noise quite effectively - I would've had to take them out to hear someone speaking right next to me.
The touch controls can be another minor drawback; they're great when you're trying to use them, but can be niggly if you're just trying to take an earbud out to speak to someone or make a small adjustment to how they're sitting in your ears.
On several occasions I've found myself accidentally pausing music or skipping the song when I actually meant to twist the earbuds into a more comfortable position.
Thankfully this is addressed by the Smart Control app, which allows you to change or turn off touch controls should they get too annoying.
Overall, this is a great product for people who care about sound quality but aren't willing to splash out up to $550 to buy the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2s.
Available on the Sennhesier NZ website for $329.95, the CX 400BT True Wireless Headphones are a much more palatable alternative - and they still come with much of the same tech that makes the more expensive model so good.
While aesthetically they're a little clunky, the exceptional sound quality more than makes up for that. The audio is crisp and precise and the speakers showcase a great range of sounds, including deep bass.
The intuitive touch system, while a little difficult to get used to initially, is a genuine time-saver once you become accustomed to it and the battery life means you can get plenty of use out of them between charges.
Headphone snobs may balk at the lack of ANC but these are still top-drawer earbuds at a competitive price point, and will more than satisfy most headphone users.
Newshub was supplied a set of Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless Headphones for this review.