Sennheiser CX plus true wireless earbuds: Everything we love about the originals, but with noise cancellation

The Independent
The Independent

If you thought the entry-level true wireless earbuds market wasn’t already crowded enough, get ready for it to get even bigger. High-quality audio company Sennheiser is throwing yet another CX model into the ring, pitting itself in direct competition with the Samsung Galaxy buds 2 .

For the third time in just 12 months, Sennheiser is coming out with yet another new pair of wireless earbuds. Each time, the earbuds have just got better and better, like we’re watching Sennheiser physically develop earbuds in real-time, starting with the CX 400BT.

The brand ditched the 400BT earbuds earlier this year in favour of the cheaper, more simply-named CX true wireless (which have a bigger battery and better waterproofing). And now the audio company has released a pair in the CX series with active noise cancellation – the CX plus. We’ve been listening to the buds for a good few weeks now and are ready to give our verdict.

How we tested

We’ve been testing Sennheiser’s new buds in different environments to see how they stack up against other wireless headphones on the market. We’ve been particularly comparing them to those around the same price tag with similar specs, like the Galaxy buds 2 (£139, ).

We’ve listened to them with a wide range of music; tested the quality of the CX plus’s active noise cancellation; looked at their overall design, and, of course, how easy they were to control.

Read more:

Sennheiser CX plus: £129.99,
  • Driver: Dynamic 7mm TrueResponse drivers
  • Waterproofing: IPX4 (water and sweat resistant)
  • Charging case dimensions: 59mm x 42.3mm x 33.8mm
  • Weight: 6 g (each earbud), 35g (charging case)
  • Battery life: Up to 8 hours, 1.5 hours recharge time, 10 minutes quick charge for 1 hour
  • Rating: 8/10

If you’re buying a Sennheiser product, you’re usually in it for the sound, as the brand isn’t the most well-known company for creating the most stylish of headphones. But, that’s not a real surprise considering the low cost of these buds, however.

The box that the CX plus come in aren’t flashy at all, with Sennheiser continuing to leave the ornately-designed wrapping faff to companies like Apple and Bang & Olufsen . Inside the box sits a fairly chunky, almost matchbox-like plastic charging case, which is surprisingly lightweight despite its size. It’s practically the same as the original CX case, except with a silver Sennheiser insignia on the top of it, rather than a black one.

Read more: 15 best wireless earbuds for quality sound and noise cancellation at every budget

If you liked the look of the normal CX true wireless earbuds, you’ll like the plus earbuds too, because they look practically identical. They’re a pair of sleek-looking squarish buds with a matte finish and a shiny exterior. It all makes the buds look more premium than both its charging case and teensy price tag would have you think.

You also get three different eartips in the box (XS, S and L) for you to swap out and in – that’s four if you include the medium already attached, as well as a USB-C charging cable. And despite the slightly awkward shape of the exterior head, the buds are surprisingly comfy, but they do jut out of your ears fairly considerably, taking a hefty amount of ear real estate.

The second you slide them into your luggers, the automatic ear-detection kicks into gear and you get a little “Power on” audio alert. That does also mean that when you take a bud out of your ear, it will also automatically pause – a feature that Sennheiser calls “smart pause”. This is a feature missing on the original CX buds, and it’s probably one of our favourite overall additions of next-gen true wireless earphones in general.

Everything can be controlled with a series of taps on either side of the CX plus, including the volume, skipping and pausing tracks, transparency mode, noise cancellation and your phone’s native voice assistant. It’s all pretty seamless, with nice little audio prompts to tell you that your tap has been registered. These controls can all be changed in the Sennheiser smart control app as well, if you’d rather your double tap did something else, for example.

Read more: Beoplay’s EQ have premium Bang & Olufsen audio in a stylish pair of noise-cancelling earbuds

And what about active noise cancellation? It performed pretty well in our tests. Living next to a train track, where roaring freights pass by every five minutes, the Sennheisers were able to turn the distracting sound into a low rumble. The buds also managed to cut out higher frequency police sirens completely.

We kept activating and deactivating transparency mode, marvelling at the return and departure of the siren. That said, there are better ANC earbuds out there, like the AirPods pro (£199, ), but take into account that they also cost a lot more.

If you’re familiar with Sennheiser’s sound, you won’t be shocked by what we have to say about the audio. Unsurprisingly, the CX plus sound pretty darn good for wireless earbuds at this price point, especially if you’re a fan of low-end, bassier tracks. The audio is delivered courtesy of the company’s 7mm trueresponse transducer. While the driver is the same size as the base CX model, the transducer gives it that wider soundstage.

That broader soundstage ensures that all the elements in the mix come across crisp and clear, with everything being easily identifiable. Vocals are well-defined, without the other parts of the track getting in the way when listening to songs like Grimes’s 4ÆM.

We actually think the sound is very slightly better and more refined than the Samsung Galaxy buds 2 £139, ). Of course, you can always fiddle with the sound using the equaliser in the Smart Control app.

Read more: We review Samsung’s Galaxy buds 2

We also appreciate the fact that the CX plus support a smorgasbord of Bluetooth codecs, including AAC, SBC, aptX and even aptX Adaptive, giving you a lower latency experience, with fewer annoying Bluetooth cutouts when listening to music.

In terms of battery life, you get around eight-hours of playback on a charge – that is pretty good for a pair of wireless earbuds. The only downside is that it doesn’t support wireless charging, meaning you’re always going to have to plug it in. It’s a feature that a lot of earbud manufacturers are starting to put in as standard.

The verdict: Sennheiser CX plus

It’s taken a year to get here, but we’ve finally got the earbuds that the Sennheiser CX 400BT should have been. They sound great, feel premium to wear and hold, and now they’ve got active noise cancellation to boot.

The ANC might not be as good as other more premium earbuds, but with the budget-friendly price tag, we can’t really fault these beauties. Next stop, wireless charging?

Sennheiser CX plus

Buy now £129.99,

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