Sennheiser has finally entered the arena, and by “arena” I’m referring to the obvious sports metaphor associated with the company releasing a pair of earbuds for those planning to sweat in them. Sports earbuds are a growing sub-category with more competition these days.
That’s the face of the Sport True Wireless, and Sennheiser took an interesting approach to giving the active audience different ways to get what they’re looking for. Some of this leads to surprising results.
Sennheiser Sport True Wireless: Price and Availability
Sennheiser launched the Sport True Wireless in May 2022 with fairly wide retail availability, so they shouldn’t be hard to find. They start at $130, and while Sennheiser doesn’t often drop prices early, you may find that after a while they do get an occasional discount. They only come in black.
Sennheiser Sport True Wireless: Which is good
They’re not in the same line, but the Sport True Wireless shares a similar look to the CX Plus and CX True Wireless, previous earbuds from Sennheiser that focused more on sound quality at a better price. They differ when you take a closer look at the design and how the earbuds play a more prominent role here.
For example, there are seven pairs of wings and six pairs of earbuds, except they don’t all serve the same purpose. The tips are divided into what Sennheiser calls “Focus” and “Aware”. The blue-rimmed tips are designed to let through more ambient noise to hear your surroundings, which you might want when you’re out for a jog. The all-black mesh-opening tips are designed to provide passive noise-cancellation for when you want to hear less of the outside world.
All of that doesn’t necessarily apply to the wings, some of which don’t even have wings – great for those who prefer not to have them.
That means there’s no active noise-cancellation (ANC) or an ambient mode to cycle through, as is now so common with other earbuds. Sennheiser’s passive approach to both is interesting and will require some trial and error and forward planning. For example, if you want to hide things more in the gym in order to open them again on the way home, you would theoretically have to change your earplugs.
Sennheiser’s Smart Control app also toggles between the two modes, but actually changes the equalizer to suit the physics of each peak. Basically, when switching between the two modes, the music sounds different, increasing the bass in Aware to compensate for the inevitable loss of sound that comes with it. Focus delivers a more balanced soundstage, in line with what you’ve come to expect from Sennheiser.
I wasn’t immediately impressed with the sound signature out of the box, as I felt it lacked punch, particularly in the low end. The EQ helped a lot, and I imagine you’d get something that works well for your ears in the same scenario.
The Sport True Wireless supports both AAC and aptX to cover important codecs and deliver good quality from an Android device. With all that, the app offers an EQ with a handful of presets, as well as the ability to create your own. It’s hardly an extensive EQ since you only have to adjust three bands, but it’s at least something you can use to get an even better sound.
There’s nothing stopping you from switching between the Focus and Aware once you’ve got the opposing earbuds in place, but you can feel the sound a certain way. I’ve sometimes opted for Aware when wearing Focus tips because I wanted the bass boost. Sometimes I felt like switching between them, looking for something that wasn’t there. These earbuds require quite a bit of experimentation to gauge what works best wherever you take them, and that’s why they can be difficult to read at first.
When it comes to workouts and general sweaty action, the Sport True Wireless deserve their keep. The fit is nice and snug, and they probably won’t move much while you’re working out or running, but I felt they might be a little itchy on the go.
The touch controls are effective and efficient, although I do wonder why Sennheiser never bothered to include a simple switch between Focus and Aware in the mix. You can also turn off the controls if you prefer, or even turn them off entirely if you’d rather not have them.
The Sport True Wireless have an IP54 rating for dust and water resistance, making them the sturdiest earbuds Sennheiser has made to date. And they prove tough enough for sweaty workouts, but it’s important to wipe them down and clean them right away so moisture and salt don’t cause problems. While I would have liked a higher IP rating, I can’t say they worried me that much.
The case doesn’t have the same level of protection, but it does have a slot for the included lanyard to snake through should you want to attach it to something. While it’s larger than the other Sennheiser CX earphones’ cases, I wouldn’t have minded if this one had more room for additional earbuds.
Sennheiser Sport True Wireless: Which is not good
If you use earbuds for listening to audio with your earbuds, it might be a good idea to make room in your bag for an extra pair. That’s what I thought every time I wanted to switch between Focus and Aware, reminding myself I had a tip or two just for the others at home.
This poses as a usability issue unless you plan to only use the Sport True Wireless for one specific purpose at a time. Most earbuds don’t require that kind of forethought, and I suspect not everyone would be keen either.
Overall sound also affects battery life in a very important way, which is volume. Sennheiser under-tuned the 7mm drivers out of the box, forcing me to crank the volume up to 90% in places where background noise penetrates too easily. That’s a battery killer, so the company’s estimate of nine hours per charge is closer to six hours or less if you need to do it routinely. Thankfully it’s not as necessary in quieter situations, but cranking up the volume just isn’t natural or normal for a pair of earbuds.
The case has room for two extra charges, and when it’s time to charge you’ll need to connect it via USB-C. The Sport True Wireless doesn’t support wireless charging, which takes away a really handy feature that’s a lot more common in earbuds at this price point.
Various other features are also missing. The Sport True Wireless don’t have wear sensors, so they won’t play/pause automatically when you remove them or put them in your ears. This can be problematic when you need to speak to someone, however briefly, without first interrupting the audio playback.
Forget about pairing them with two devices at the same time as they don’t multipoint either. If Sennheiser was interested in using ear tips to better passively block out ambient noise, they might have considered foam tips instead. These deform to create a really tight seal and are (in my opinion) the best available for passive isolation.
Sennheiser Sport True Wireless: Competition
The options for the best workout earbuds continue to increase in both number and sophistication. The Jaybird Vista 2’s are hard to overlook simply because they’re sturdier, fit well and offer amazingly deep audio EQ adjustment. For a similar price, the Jabra Elite 4 Active also offers a really comfortable fit, with great app support and key features like ANC and ambient mode.
If you’d rather have more stability around your ears, the JLab Audio Epic Air Sport ANC can give you that along with plenty of bass and noise cancellation. You would just have to be okay with the mediocre call quality.
Sennheiser Sport True Wireless: Should you buy it?
You should buy it if…
- You want sporty earplugs
- You care about fit and comfort
- You want sound that you can customize
- They like customizable controls
You shouldn’t buy it if…
- They want ANC support
- They don’t like the idea of always changing earbuds
- You want more bass
- They prefer wireless charging
The Sennheiser Sport True Wireless might not be the company’s premium earbuds, but they’re a major foray into an emerging category. The best wireless earbuds are likely to be more durable over time as the top brands realize that balance isn’t just about audio quality.
That also makes these earbuds an experiment, especially when you consider how they use the different earbuds. If you like the idea of less tech and a more pragmatic approach, plus good balance and customization of the sound, you might like Sennheiser’s combination put together here. If you’re not sure, you have other options you can take instead.
Testing Sennheiser Sport True Wireless
Sennheiser treats its first pair of sporty earbuds tough, although the Sport True Wireless also offer the audio finesse you’ve come to expect from the brand, albeit in some ways an acquired taste.