Testing the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: New Strengths, Old Weaknesses, Great Popularity
With the CX Plus True Wireless, Sennheiser has launched its own “middle class” in the TWS range. The CX Plus is positioned right between the Momentum True Wireless 2 and CX True Wireless. In many areas, however, it not only draws level with the MTW2, it even surpasses it in some areas.
Sennheiser has fundamentally revised the TWS portfolio. While the market started with the Momentum True Wireless and Momentum True Wireless 2 (test), the segment was further developed with the minimalist and feature-reduced CX 400BT (test). In the meantime, the CX True Wireless is the entry into Sennheiser’s world of TWS and, in view of the list of features, succeeds the CX 400BT. The CX Plus True Wireless uses the same design as the CX 400BT, but has better features. Accordingly, it currently costs a little more at 159.90 euros*.
First, let’s look at the specifications in the table.
|TWS||CX 400BT True Wireless||CX True Wireless||CX Plus True Wireless||Momentum True Wireless 2|
|Frequency||5 Hz bis 21 kHz|
|Transmission Tech||Bluetooth 5.1||Bluetooth 5.2||Bluetooth 5.1|
|ANC / Tranparent Hearing||no||yes|
|Profile||A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP||A2DP, AVRCP, HFP||A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP|
|IP-Certification||–||Sweat & Water Resistant (IPX4)|
|Voice Assistants||Siri, Google Assistant|
|Wear Detect/Smart Pause||no||yes|
|Battery Life||Headphones: 7 hours
Cradle : 13 hours
Overall: 20 hours
|Headphones: 9 hours
Cradle: 18 hours
Overall: 27 hours
|Headphones: 8 hours
Cradle: 16 hours
Overall: 24 hours
|Headphones: 7 hours
Cradle: 21 hours
Overall: 28 hours
|Dimensions (Case)||5,9 x 4,2 x 3,4 cm||7,7 x 4,4 x 3,5 cm|
|Weight||Earpeace: 6g each
Charging cradle: 37g
|Earpeace: 6g each
Charging cradle: 35g
|Earpeace: 6g each
Charging cradle: 58g
Silicone attachments, charging cable, hardly any plastic
True wireless headphones are not known for their lavish scope of delivery. This also applies to the CX Plus True Wireless. Notes, a short USB Type-A to Type-C charging cable and four different silicone attachments in the four sizes XS, S, M and L are included. As with all headphones, Sennheiser uses relatively environmentally friendly packaging with lots of cardboard. However, the attachments remain packed in individual bags, so it can be done a little more consistently.
By the way: If you install the Smart Control app on your smartphone, you save yourself having to look at the instructions for the initial setup. More on this in the initial setup chapter.
Minimalist design, small case
Since the CX Plus True Wireless look identical to the CX 400BT, I also really like their design. Compared to the MTW2, they are a bit more angular and the touch surfaces on the outside are shiny black. Like all glossy surfaces, they’re prone to fingerprints, but since the edge protrudes a little, you don’t have to worry about scratches. The TWS is also available in white, with the logo on the touch surfaces always being silver. They are slightly larger than the MTW2 headphones.
The case is relatively small and the design is somewhat reminiscent of the charging case of Apple’s AirPods, but it is larger in comparison. The case still fits well in your pocket. It’s matte black, so it’s not as prone to scratches, but fingerprints aren’t. Exceptions are the silver Sennheiser logo on the top and the shiny edges between the lid and body. The charging cradle is closed magnetically and the headphones sit firmly and stably in the holder thanks to magnets. At 35g, the case is significantly lighter than the MTW2.
There is an LED on the front of the charging cradle that shows you whether the case or the headphones need to be charged. Sennheiser placed the USB-C connection in the middle on the back. However, the case still cannot be charged wirelessly.
Very good workmanship incl. IPX4
The processing of the charging cradle and the earphones is – typically Sennheiser – flawless. The few gaps are even and very narrow. In addition, the headphones and the case make a durable and robust impression. I’m generally a fan of matte black finishes as they are very easy to maintain and durable.
The CX Plus True Wireless are also protected against splash water and sweat according to IPX4. You can also use them for strength training or running without any problems.
High wearing comfort meets firm hold
You can easily adjust the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless to your ear size with the respective silicone attachments. It sits comfortably, but still firmly in the ear, but without pressing for a long time. As with the MTW 2, it is advisable to twist the in-ear headphones slightly into the ear canal when putting them on. In my opinion, the design is also convincing when worn, because the minimalist buttons look much more pleasant compared to the toothbrush look of various competitors.
Thanks to the wide side surfaces and the clear demarcation from the touch surfaces, the headphones can be easily adjusted in the ear without accidentally triggering commands.
Flawless initial setup with Smart Control
Sennheiser handles the setup and control of all TWS and headphones via the in-house Smart Control app, which is available to you on both Google Play and the Apple AppStore. The best way is to put on the headphones and press and hold both sides for three seconds so that they go into pairing mode. You can then pair the CX Plus True Wireless with your smartphone via Bluetooth. Once this has happened, you can find them in the Smart Control app.
So you can save yourself a look at the paperwork and do everything directly in the app – of course after the first firmware update, which took about 20 minutes for me. The TWS should not be used. Once that’s behind you, you can use an equalizer, adapt the extensive touch controls to your preferences or check the battery level. The functions for transparent hearing, smart pause or ANC can also be set.
I can’t understand the app’s bad ratings, because it works perfectly for me with all Sennheiser headphones. Once set up, they connect to the smartphone automatically and the app also starts quickly. Once you have set up the headphones, internalized the operation and are satisfied with the sound settings, you should only need them rarely. Unfortunately, the TWS can only be paired with one end device at a time.
Reliable control with audible feedback tone
The Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless have touch control surfaces on both sides, which are provided with different commands ex works. You can adjust the controls in the Smart Control app according to your personal preferences and thus also adjust them for both earphones, although this does not leave enough gestures for all features. If the CX Plus are your first TWS, then you will probably need some time to get used to them before the different commands become second nature. After that it should work.
The control in everyday life is not a problem because the headphones have an acoustic feedback when typing. Each pressure is acknowledged by a tone that gets a little higher with repeated inputs. So you can quickly recognize successful entries and tapping three times in a row works smoothly. It helped my accuracy, especially when running fast, to put my hand on my cheek and then tap the control surface with my index finger.
Language assistants such as Google Assistant can also be started by pressing the right earphone three times and controlled thanks to the integrated microphones.
Good sound with aptX Adaptive
Like all TWS from Sennheiser, the CX Plus True Wireless use 7mm neodymium drivers. However, there are a few small differences in the tuning. The CX Plus hit the lows and mids pretty well, but they don’t go into as much detail ex works with the highs. The MTW2, on the other hand, offer a somewhat more neutral vote. Instruments can be precisely localized with both headphones, but the stage seems narrow, as with all TWS. That’s because TWS bypasses the ear cups, so it can’t build a real sound space.
If you want, you can adjust the sound on your own at any time with the extensive equalizer or use the presets or create your own. The new Bass Boost feature is also included. However, you shouldn’t expect a rich bass boost, it’s more of a slight contouring of the lows. Incidentally, the person you are talking to on the phone is easy to understand.
Some users may wonder if gaming is completely lag-free thanks to aptX Adaptive on the smartphone? Unfortunately not, but the sound delay is significantly lower than with the normal aptX (HD). Racing games in particular are more fun this way, but TWS are still not the best option for shooters. With videos and music, on the other hand, there are no noticeable delays. You can find out more about Bluetooth codecs and gaming in our latency comparison.
Useful ANC, single use possible with right earpiece
The CX Plus also have ANC, which I find convincing in everyday life. However, it also depends on using the right silicone attachments. The ANC filters out mids and highs particularly well, but is not quite as powerful in the low range. With a steam vacuum cleaner, for example, only the wiping noise over the floor can be heard, while the hissing noise of the steam is faded out. Since working from home is still popular, the monotonous noise of airplanes or trains could only be simulated via “ambient sound”. Annoying noise is then almost completely swallowed up and only the deep shaking of the wagons is still perceptible.
If you want to hear an announcement, Transparent Hearing can be activated/deactivated quickly and easily. Smart Pause or Wear Detect works just as reliably in daily use. Playback pauses when the left or right handset is picked up and resumes immediately when the handset is reinserted.
By the way: The headphones cannot be connected individually to the smartphone, but the right earpiece can still be used alone. However, if you only want to be on the road with one earpiece for a longer period of time, you should adjust the controls accordingly.
Average voice quality remains
Of course, the sound plays an important role, but good sound quality is essential, especially for meetings and the like. This is where true wireless headphones are at a disadvantage compared to regular headsets, as the microphones are quite far from the mouth.
Long battery life
One of the biggest weaknesses of the Momentum True Wireless 2 is the rather moderate battery life. It mainly depends on the playback volume, but also on features such as ANC and all the sensors. Of course, this also applies to the CX Plus, which, however, lasts much longer than the MTW 2. Although they don’t quite reach the manufacturer’s specification of 8 hours with approx. 7 hours, the compact case offers two additional charges.
Overall, you get a good 20 hours of battery life. That should be enough for about two weeks with an exemplary commute of one hour each time you use the headphones. The battery is fully charged in less than 1.5 hours. The LED on the front gives a rough indication of the charge level, but it can be seen more precisely in the app. Unfortunately, wireless charging is still not supported.
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Conclusion: Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless
At currently 160 euros*, the CX Plus are certainly not cheap TWS, but they also offer a lot for their money. I particularly like the simple look, the matt black and therefore durable surface and the very robust workmanship. The True Wireless headphones also impress with their comfortable fit and are also suitable for sports thanks to the IPX4 certification. The app is very useful in everyday life and offers you a variety of setting options as well as a complex equalizer with which you can adapt the relatively neutral sound to your personal preferences.
Also worth mentioning is the good battery life of around 20 hours including the case and the adjustable control of the touch surfaces on both sides. In general, the operation is well solved thanks to different feedback tones. The ANC is also convincing in everyday use and significantly weakens the mids and highs in particular. The Smart Pause and Transparent Hearing features work reliably. If you want, you can also access Siri or the Google Assistant at any time.
However, some of the weaknesses that already existed in the CX 400BT remain. The CX Plus still leaves springs when it comes to the recording quality of the microphone. The charging cradle still cannot be charged wirelessly either. A nice extra would have been the support of Bluetooth multipoint, but at least you can use the right earphone individually.