Sennheiser CX Plus Review: Among the best sounding TWS around!
TWS with outstanding mainstream sound and good ANC
- The Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless are the latest TWS from Sennheiser and at Rs 14,990, are in the premium segment.
- These TWS are targeted at those who want high-quality audio with a slightly mainstream, bass accented flavor – something the Sennheiser CX series is known for.
- They face a lot of competition from slightly older TWS flagships that have now got price cuts, but the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless could prove to be a great option for those who want great sound with good ANC.
Sennheiser has been one of the brands in the truly wireless earbuds (TWS) market that has been fighting mainly on audio quality. The brand does come out with TWS that have a number of smart features and eye-catching designs (remember the canvas-like cover of the Momentum TWS), but at the end of the day, a Sennheiser TWS is really more about sound than smarts. The CX Plus True Wireless (hereafter referred to as ‘CX Plus’ for the sake of simplicity) are the latest from the brand and come with a premium price tag. But can their sound carve a niche for them in a super competitive and price-sensitive TWS market?
Super Sennheiser sound (with just a hint of bass)
While its high-profile Momentum series has been targeted at audiophiles who prefer a balanced sound, Sennheiser’s CX series has always been a little more “mainstream” and warm sounding in terms of its audio profile. You do not get the kind of bass that a Jabra Elite or a Sony TWS delivers, but you do get more bass than usual by Sennheiser standards. That is the kind of audio you get from the CX Plus as well. The clarity levels are fantastic, and there is just a subtle flavoring of bass that makes the drums rumble a bit more or adds a little more ‘feel’ to those loud explosions. But unlike in many other TWS, the bass never even comes close to overwhelming other frequencies. Vocals remain crystal clear in the best Sennheiser tradition, and the treble is decent without being sharp (which sometimes happens in the Momentum series).
In simple terms, the CX Plus are among the best TWS for anyone who seeks pleasant and clear sound, thanks to the “bespoke TrueResponse transducer” in them. They are great for techno and club music, have the perfect clarity for pop and rock, and are even good enough for classical music. Audiophiles might prefer a slightly sharper sound for those sweeping orchestras or tinkling jazz numbers, but take it from us: most users will just love the sound on the CX Plus. In our opinion, it is the best you can get on a TWS below Rs 15,000 unless you are an out and out audio purist, in which case you should perhaps head to in-ear monitors (IEMs) rather than TWS. The CX Plus are great for music, gaming, and shows. Without any audio compromises.
Smart and compact
The CX Plus fit well in the ear too. They are very solidly built and come in a compact charging case, which is small enough to slip into a trouser pocket. The buds themselves are very typically Sennheiser – there is no stem, and the buds are designed to fit inside your ears rather than hang from them. We got the black color variant, and the design was minimalistic with the shiny, silver Sennheiser logo on top of both the case and the buds inside. On the buds, the logo seems as if placed below a glossy transparent surface, which also acts as a touch interface for the buds. Interestingly, there are no buttons either on the earbuds or on the case itself. Apart from the top of the buds, which is glossy, the case and buds are both made of matte plastic.
There are different-sized tips available in the box, so you can customize them to fit your ear better. The buds just weigh 6 grams each and are comfortable to wear right through the day if need be. The case is 35 grams and is again light enough to carry around. There is no eartip fit test, though, so you will have to try and test which tips fit your ears the best. The buds’ design and the case are understated and are unlikely to scream for attention. We would call the CX Plus smart enough without being spectacularly good-looking. They come with IPX4 splash resistance, so they can be taken to the gym but are not meant for swimming.
Playing with control and interface blues
Sennheiser’s Bluetooth earphones and headphones often deliver great audio, but their interfaces can be confusing. The CX Plus, unfortunately, follows this tradition. Connecting them is simple enough – you place the buds in your ear and press them both to enter pairing mode. We are told the buds start flashing blue and red when this happens, but of course, we have no way of knowing this as they are in our ears! More importantly, a voice prompt says “pairing,” letting us know that the TWS are pairing. You can pair the buds simply over Bluetooth or do it through the Sennheiser app. We recommend doing the latter, as it gives you a number of options, including an equalizer and also the ability to customize controls. Incidentally, the CX Plus can be paired only with one device at a time, but you can switch between devices with which it has been already paired using the app.
It is in the matter of controls that things get really confusing. As we said, there are no buttons on the case or the buds, and all the controls are through the touch panels on each of the buds. Getting used to them could take a while, as both have different controls mapped onto them. So tapping the left bud once activates Transparent Hearing Mode, while tapping the right one pauses or plays audio. Similarly, triple tapping on the left activates active noise cancellation, while doing the same on the right one brings up the voice assistant. Fortunately, taking and rejecting calls is the same for both buds (a single and double-tap, respectively), but things get confusing apart.
The fact that the entire top of the bud is a touch panel also means there are a lot of “accidental’ touches. We found ourselves activating features just because we wanted just to adjust the fit of the bud. In addition, each touch on the bud is registered with a tiny beep, which sometimes gets missed when we try to give commands while listening to music or following a show. One does get used to it in due course, but it is not really an elegant solution and is always prone to accidental taps. However, one feature we love is the ability to control volume from the buds – a long press on the left decreases volume, while a similar one on the right increases it.
The app lets you tweak settings for bass, treble, and mids and also lets you create your own presets, which you can use for different kinds of music. You can also set sound zones and allot sound settings to them. This is kind of cool, although you have to sign in to a Sennheiser account (which is free but still has to be set up) to be able to use them.
Good ANC, middling calls, good enough battery
The ANC on the Sennheiser CX Plus is very good. In fact, we would easily rate it close to as good as that on the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. The ANC is good enough to remove a fair deal of background noise. We found it made cafes a lot quieter and even took a fair deal of the sting out of the motor’s noise while riding an auto-rickshaw in Delhi. The triple tap on the left bud to activate and deactivate ANC is a little hit and miss at times, but the ANC itself is very good and does not interfere with the audio quality.
The earbuds also come with Transparent Hearing which lets you hear the sounds around you and can be activated or turned off with a single tap of the left bud. You can also customize it on the app so that the audio on the earbuds pauses or continues when you turn it on.
Calling is not the forte of the CX Plus. We were able to receive and make calls easily enough, but the call quality was not the greatest, and some of the people we were speaking to said they could not hear us very clearly. But, again, this is a bit of a staple of Sennheiser TWS and one we really hope the brand sorts out. Another issue that cropped up often was that calls got disconnected if we touched the buds, even if we did so accidentally. Often when we actually were placing the buds in our ear to take a call, the call itself got disconnected because we touched the panel on them while putting the buds in our ear. What’s worse, this setting cannot be changed.
Battery life on the buds was between five to seven hours, depending on the volume levels and amount of ANC used. The case claims to provide two full recharges, giving you about 24 hours of battery in all. That is good enough for most people but is not really in line with what we have been seeing from the likes of the OnePlus Buds Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. Rather surprisingly, there is no support for wireless charging, although the USB type-C port gets both buds and case charged in about an hour and a half.
A sound investment if you want to invest in sound
The Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless is priced at Rs 14,990. That puts it squarely in the premium TWS segment and against some very tough competition, especially slightly older TWS that are now available at much lower prices. There is the Sony WF-1000XM3, which come with a more bass-heavy sound signature, good ANC, and are now available at under Rs 10,000. There is also Sennheiser’s own original Momentum TWS, which are also frequently available for under Rs 10,000. They have no ANC and their battery life is not the greatest, but their audio quality remains among the best in the TWS zone. Then there are Samsung’s excellent Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds Pro, which serve up very good sound, and reasonable ANC at prices below Rs 10,000, and the Jabra Elite 75T, which are very good for bass lovers and also have much better call quality at close to Rs 12,000.
And, of course, the AirPods (2nd generation) are still around. They start at Rs 14,100, and might not match the CX Plus in terms of audio quality, but they are much easier to use, especially if you have an iPhone. There are also the likes of the lower-priced OnePlus Buds Pro and the Amazon Echo (2nd generation), which deliver a very good performance.
Buy Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless
So should you consider investing in the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless? If you are someone who values audio quality, then the answer is definitely yes. Purists might find the CX Plus a little too bass-centric and prefer the slightly more open sound of the Momentum series. Smart “hearable” fans might complain about the absence of wireless charging and the average call quality. But if what you are looking for is a pleasant, easy-on-the-ear sound signature, the Sennheiser CX Plus are among the best at their price point. They are perhaps a little on the expensive side, but they really are an investment in sound. Making them a sound investment.
- Very good audio quality
- Compact design
- Good ANC
- Complicated controls
- Middling battery life
- Iffy call quality
They face a lot of competition from slightly older TWS flagships that have now got price cuts, but the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless could prove to be a great option for those who want great sound with good ANC.