During the media launch of CX True Wireless in July, questions raised from the launch attendees included whether the Sidetone feature could be extended out side voice calls, effectively turning it into Transparent Hearing mode. 3 months later, the answer is revealed. Sennheiser has released the CX Plus True Wireless, which includes ANC and Transparent mode. Retailing at S$259, the CX Plus True Wireless compares favourably against the Momentum True Wireless 2.
Design and Operations
At the first look, the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless appears identical to the CX True Wireless. The differences are minor: the logo is in silver instead of black, and the earbuds charging connectors are different, and on the CX Plus, there are additional mic vents for active noise-cancelling.
The CX Plus also features several more functions – ANC, Transparent Hearing, Smart Pause when earbuds are removed from the ears, aptX Adaptive codec. Similar to the CX True Wireless, the Plus version is IPX4 water rated, supports Side Tone when making phone calls, and through the SmartConnect app, you can customise the touch controls, custom EQ. Due to the ANC function, the CX Plus has a slightly lower battery life of 24 hours combined compared to 27 hours on the CX True Wireless.
Pairing is easy: just press and hold both earbuds for 3 seconds to enter pairing. The earbuds can remember last paired devices but can only connect one at a time. I like that I am able to adjust tracks (double tap) and volume (tap-hold). Adjusting EQ is also rather intuitive: just move the pointer to any part of the quadrant, or switch to a 3-band EQ. The ear tips are also soft and comfortable, capable of achieving excellent passive noise isolation. They are so good that I could not tell any difference when I enabled ANC in quiet environments.
Sound Quality and Comparison
I was expecting the CX Plus True Wireless to sound similar to CX True Wireless, but that was further from the truth. I was surprised at this, since both are positioned as the same product line, shouldn’t the sound character be identical? I would think that this tuning is intentional to serve a different target audience. Logically-speaking, ANC removes lower frequencies better, and since the CX True Wireless does not have ANC, they boost the bass to overpower the low frequency noises in the open.
Indeed, the CX Plus has a less bloated bass presentation compared to the CX True Wireless, while the treble is prominently airier. Whichever works for you depends on your listening preference and the genre. I liked the CX True Wireless when listening to EDMs and 70s disco tunes with infectious bass lines, while I get the goosebumps when listening to jazz and vocals on CX Plus. But when doing A-B comparison between the two, I would prefer the CX Plus which sounds a little cleaner, the bass does not bleed towards the midrange and the treble is more expressive.
Another feature that pivots me from the CX True Wireless to the Plus model is the Transparent Hearing mode. In this mode, the ambient noise is mixed into the audio which allows me to be aware of the surroundings. The mix is subtle to be aware but does not overpower the audio source, so effectively it feels like listening on open-fit earbuds.
And how about comparing the CX Plus with the Momentum TW2? Both have very similar technical features like ANC and Transparent Hearing. Even the ANC quality are generally similar in strength. I find the MTW2 sounds more polished, more neutral across the frequency, compared to the CX Plus and CX True Wireless. The MTW2 bass maintain a more musical tonality, clean and detailed, while the treble is less shouty and harsh. I would definitely pay more for the MTW2 given its more refined tuning, while the CX Plus is tuned for the mass consumers, with more bass emphasis (not as bloated as CX True Wireless) and airy pushy treble.
- Bass – 8/10. Slightly elevated tight bass.
- Midrange – 7.8/10. Clean, neutral, detailed without intrusive
- Treble – 8/10. Airy, more prominent presentation.
The CX Plus True Wireless sits comfortably between the CX True Wireless and Momentum True Wireless 2, at a price point that is reasonable for a Sennheiser. While the MTW2 delivers a more refined sound, the CX Plus provides all the bells and whistles at S$100 lower. This price range is not often found among the established audio brands, where it comes with good-quality ANC, smartphone app, with customisable controls and EQ. I would also pick the CX Plus over the CX True Wireless, paying S$60 more for ANC and Transparent Hearing, because I find Transparent mode essential.