Sennheiser has been a true wireless heavy hitter for a long time, having released its 3rd iteration of the in-ear Momentum with great success. And for a long time, Bowers and Wilkins has lagged a little behind with its in-ear wireless technology. That is until now, with its latest release, the Pi7 S2. Selling for $150 more than the Momentum 3, how does the Pi7 S2 to compare in terms of skill and functionality? And is it worth the significant price difference?
Look and Feel
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 may be a little less snazzy than the more elegant and sophisticated design of the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2, but they are both equally well built. At the same time, the Momentum 3 sports a more solid, and perhaps more aesthetically pleasing charging case, though the PI7 S2’s case is slimmer and easier to slip into one’s pocket. The Momentum 3 and Pi7 S2 feel equally comfortable to wear and both offer a good seal. And this is unsurprising, as they share a similar interior shape, size and weight.
There are some notable differences in design between the Pi7 S2 and Momentum 3. In many respects, Pi7 S2 has the upper hand, able to deliver 24 bit resolution, thanks to its support of the aptX Adaptive codec, \a capability that’s missing on the Momentum 3.
The Pi7 also comes with a few more bells and whistles, including an audio retransmission feature, which allows you to adapt a wired source into a wireless connection, such as on an airplane onboard audio-video system. Another neat feature that sets the Pi7 S2 apart from the Momentum 3 is the wireless charging option.
Still, the Momentum 3 beats the Pi7 S2 with respect to the accompanying app, giving the listener some creative control over the equalizer, while the Pi7 S2 offers no equalizer at all.
The ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) on both, the Pi7 S2 and Momentum 3 is about equal in effectiveness, and both models offer a transparency mode that in adjustable in their respective apps.
But the Momentum 3 is a clear winner in terms of battery life, offering 28 hours of total charge, compared to the 20 hours of charge available on the Pi7. Additionally, the Momentum 3 delivers 8 hours of continuous play on one charge, while the Pi7 S2 only gives 5 hours at a time.
Although both earphone models offer a good amount of scale, the Pi7 S2 distances instruments a little further from the ear. The Pi7 S2 also tends to handle the imaging with more precision than the Momentum 3, offer more subtle degrees of instrument positioning. As a result, the Pi7 S2 reveals more engaging soundstage overall.
You’ll hear a more substantial bass on the Pi7 S2 with lower sub-bass extension. And this is saying a lot, given that the Sennheiser Momentum has always been known for its rich bass. The Momentum 3 is also dryer than the thick sound of the Pi7. That being said, the Pi7 S2 is equally if not more detailed when presenting string instruments in this range. Finally, the Momentum 3 has slightly more natural acoustics in the bass frequencies, while the Pi7 S2 offers a larger flavor to the timbre, giving cellos and double basses more gravitas.
The Momentum 3 reveals the low-mids more clearly and than does Pi7 S2, which seems a little upstaged by the bass frequencies in the lower half of this range. At the same, the upper-mids on the Momentum 3 also feel a little more prominent, while the Pi7 S2 takes a more moderate approach. As such, the Momentum 3 often feels more dynamic at times, giving more spotlight to vocals. In contrast, the Pi7 S2 tends to be easier on the ears in the upper-mids, taking a milder and smoother approach. And in general, the Pi7 S2 seems less aggressive and a little more refined in its handling of acoustic instruments in particular.
The Pi7 S2 offers smoother peaks in the highs than the Momentum 3. And again, it presents gentler, more tender sound overall. So, if you’re particularly sensitive to high frequencies, the Pi7 S2 would be the more suitable choice. Both models offer a solid level of detail in the highs, though the Momentum 3 feels a little shinier. But the Pi7 S2 arguably delivers a more natural sound with respect to strings and brass instruments in this range.
Both, the Pi7 S2 and Momentum 3 offer some of the best sound on the market. But putting its slight bass overkill aside, the Pi7 S2 tends to outperform the Momentum 3 in its delivery. It feels smoother and more controlled with a more skillful soundstage, and is generally more pleasing to the ear than the Momentum 3. That being said, the Momentum 3 is no slouch. And some would argue that the Pi7 S2 doesn’t sound superior enough to warrant the $150 jump in price. Furthermore, if you value a long battery life, the Pi7 S2 may give you cause to pause. But at the end of the day, the 24 bit aptX Adaptive support, along with the audio retransmission feature gives the Pi7 S2 may be worth the added expense, regardless of one’s taste for sound signature.
You can buy the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 at Audio 46.
You can buy the Sennheiser Momentum 3 at Audio 46.