Sennheiser’s reputation precedes itself in the audio community, and for good reason. The company has consistently launched some of the absolute best mixing headphones, microphones, consumer headphones, and TWS earphones in the industry over the years. However, price has almost always been a restraining factor in users adopting these products widely, especially consumer-grade ones. Let’s take true wireless earphones as an example – Sennheiser’s last-gen flagship product still costs a whopping ₹24,990 while you can get last-gen flagship Sonys for a respectable ₹9,990 on Amazon. However, with the company’s current-gen flagship, they have brought down the asking price to ₹21,990, which is a step in the right direction. Speaking of bringing out lower-priced audio products, Sennheiser has recently launched the SPORT True Wireless earphones priced pretty competitively at ₹10,990. It is the company’s very first sporty pair of truly wireless earbuds.
While it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles you get on TWS earphones under 10K from competitive Chinese brands such as Oppo and OnePlus, what you do get is a promise of excellent sound quality paired with supreme comfort and fit. And of course, you get Sennheiser’s well-liked app support which opens the door for some novelty features. However, does it translate well enough in real life and is the sound quality and fit indeed that good that it tips the scales in its favour compared to the feature-rich Active Noise Cancelling TWS buds you get at this price point? Let’s unravel that and more in this review.
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless: Build, design, and fit
The Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless earbuds bear immense resemblance to the Sennheiser CX 400BT that the company launched in 2020. Save for the copper-coloured accents provided by the Sennheiser logo on the top of the earbuds and the case, the design elements are almost identical. You have a pretty prosaic matte black design with boxy edges on both the charging case and the earbuds. The plastic build lacks a premium air, especially when juxtaposed with similarly-priced earbuds such as the Sony WF-1000XM3, OnePlus Buds Pro or the Jabra Elite Active 75t.
The charging case’s lid is decently built, however, it feels slightly flimsy due to the lack of metal reinforcements. The front of the case houses an LED battery indicator while the back houses the USB Type-C charging port tucked under a rubber flap. On the left side, you have a hole that you can loop a strap through, which is pretty handy. The case is definitely bulky and will bulge out of pockets considerably. It’s a massive contrast when compared to TWS cases from Realme, Oppo, Jabra, and Samsung.
The earbuds, quoting our 2020 review of the CX 400BT, have “a rounded-rectangle shape, kind of like a ‘squircle’”. Being the very first ‘Sports’ earbuds from Sennheiser, there’s a noticeable push towards making the buds as well-fitted as possible. To that end, not only do you get an array of differently-sized ear tips, but you also get an assortment of silicone wings to choose from.
The combination of ear tips and silicone wings makes for a fantastic, snug fit, rivalled only by a few on the market; one example is the Jabra Elite Active 75t. The earbuds can easily be used when gymming, running or running an errand, and they will provide most users with an exceptional fit. However, if you have smaller ears, the wings can start to hurt your inner ear after extended periods of use. But for the most part, these are extremely comfortable to wear and will possibly fit most users like a glove.
Sennheiser has also provided two different types of ear tips – Closed and Open ear adapters. We will get to the difference between the two in the features section below.
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless: Features
Since the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless is the lower-priced model in Sennheiser’s 2022 truly wireless lineup, they naturally come with some handicaps in the features department. Whether you compare these earphones to the Sennheiser MTW 3 or some similarly-priced earphones, you will find features such as Active Noise Cancellation, multipoint connectivity, Qi wireless charging, on-ear detection, and more have been skipped out. Nevertheless, you still do get a fair number of features which we will talk about.
Firstly, Sennheiser has come up with a feature dubbed Adaptable Acoustic which attempts to supplement noise cancellation and transparency modes. As we mentioned in the section earlier, you get two different types of ear tips – Closed ear adapters that attempt to minimise ambient sound and Open ear adapters that should let you stay aware of your surroundings while minimising body-borne movements such as your own footsteps or breathing. This is coupled with specific EQ modes within the app to get the intended experience with the ear tips – Focus for the Close ear adapters and Aware for the Open ear adapters.
In our experience, both modes didn’t give stellar results – the Aware mode still didn’t bring in ambient sounds as thoroughly as earphones with actual, digitally-achieved transparency mode. The Focus mode, on the other hand, didn’t show a massive difference in comparison to Aware mode, leaving us disappointed. We wish Sennheiser provided actual Transparency Mode at this price point, even if that meant skipping out on ANC since it would provide much more tangible results.
Now, let’s move on to the Sennheiser Smart Control app that allows users to leverage some additional features. There’s a customisable EQ where users can tweak the sound according to their preferences, however, it is only a 3-band EQ which limits how much you can fiddle around with the sound. You can also choose to activate a Podcast preset, whenever needed. The app also provides a Sound Check feature. It creates a custom EQ preset for you depending on the sound profile you pick out of the options provided.
Next, you can use the app to customise touch controls as you desire or turn them off altogether. You can customise actions including single tap, double tap, triple tap and touch and hold. Choices for the actions include play/pause, next track, previous track, voice assistant, volume up/down, or no function at all. It’s an exhaustive, versatile list that really lets users tweak earbud controls to their heart’s desire. Additionally, the presence of volume controls is not something to be taken for granted since many companies skip out on this altogether.
Lastly, you can also choose Sidetone levels, perform firmware upgrades and check battery levels within the Smart Control app. Our only gripe with the app is the underwhelming customisable EQ.
Apart from the features listed above, the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless also come packing an IP54 dust and water resistance rating that protects them against environmental elements. This is especially useful if you go gymming or hiking with your earbuds – keeping them safe from sweat and dust. You also get Bluetooth v5.2 connectivity and up to 40 feet of wireless range.
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless: Performance
Equipped with the very same 7mm TrueResponse transducers present on the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless sounds divine. The earphones also support the SBC, AAC and aptX audio codecs, with aptX injecting oodles of detail in the sound when compared to AAC or SBC. This is especially apparent when listening to FLAC audio files where you can hear almost every tiny detail in a recording to near perfection. The frequency response of the SPORT True Wireless is almost identical to that of the MTW 3 which explains the similarity in sound quality.
Uncompensated frequency response of Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless (Cyan) vs In-House Curve (Dark Green)
You get an extremely detailed representation of sound which is extremely rare at the 10K price point. While they aren’t as open-sounding as MTW 3, they’re definitely every bit as refined and detailed across the frequency spectrum. The Lypertek Z3 PurePlay does provide slightly more neutral sound, but the SPORT True Wireless adds some oomph to the bass without ever sounding muddy.
Uncompensated frequency response of Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless (Cyan) vs Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 (Purple) vs In-House Curve (Dark Green)
The bass is slightly boosted on the SPORT True Wireless, but not as much as on competitors such as the OnePlus Buds Pro or even the Sony WF-1000XM3. While purists may be turned off by the slightly exaggerated bass response, it is tight, controlled and detailed. There’s no sign of muddiness or boominess, which is excellent in the mid-range true wireless segment. The mids are almost close to neutral causing them to sound excellent in the mix; so expect pristine vocals and lead instruments’ representation.
The highs, in typical Sennheiser fashion, are under-emphasised after 4 kHz, but Sennheiser does this to minimise the frequency of sound that causes fatigue when listening. The soundstage, while not as wide as its older sibling, is pretty decent still for the price. The imaging is also par excellence with objects within the stage being placed very accurately.
Moving on to the microphone performance, the earphones come packing two beamforming microphones per earbud. The caller’s voice sounds crisp with minimal distortion. However, when you are in a noisy area, ambient sounds aren’t suppressed enough so we’d recommend using these for calls indoors as much as possible. As for latency, there is no low latency mode on offer but using aptX, the latency drops below noticeable levels. There’s still some level of noticeable latency using AAC but it’s minimal.
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless: Battery life
The Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless earphones are imposing earphones with imposing battery life to match. You get a whopping 9 hours of playtime on a single charge from the earbuds and 27 hours in total with the charging case. So, the charging case provides about two additional charges to the earbuds before you have to power up the case. In our testing, with the volume levels set to around 60 per cent, we got 8 hours and 20 minutes of runtime, which is excellent.
The earphones also feature fast charging where simply plugging the earphones in for an hour provides an hour’s worth of playtime, which is decent. The Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless does not support Qi wireless charging though.
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless: Verdict
The Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless is an excellent pair of sporty true wireless earphones for audiophiles or those who love balanced and detailed sound. The Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless is an impressive introduction for Sennheiser in the highly-contested sports TWS category. You’ve got stellar sound quality, impressive battery life and great battery life to boot. Add to that customisable controls and excellent fit, and you’ve got a pretty solid pair of earphones under 10K. The only deterrent to Sennheiser’s success here could be the competition that provides a plethora of appealing features such as ANC, Qi wireless charging, Transparency Mode, and multipoint connectivity at this price point.