The Momentum True Wireless (MTW) was one of my favourite options in the first generation of TWS in-ears and the Momentum True Wireless 2 (MTW2) usurped it by appending some critical flaws while introducing a host of additional features. However, though much refined, the sound tuning changes did cause some contention amongst the user base in addition to the efficacy of its noise cancelling. Specifically, though the MTW2 brought a more overall balanced sound, the upper-midrange was denser/more laid-back which sapped energy from its sound. Simply put, the first generational model was less balanced but also more engaging and it appears that such an engaging tuning is more appealing in an in-ear designed for portable use. The 4.80 firmware poses not only as an update but an upgrade for the MTW2. It was just recently released a few days ago with early user impressions reporting distinct changes to sound and ANC performance. Here are my impressions.
How to Update –
The earphones must be on and paired to the source device. This enables the user to use the Sennheiser Smart Control app to alter settings and, in this instance, upgrade the firmware. Upon entering the settings within the app, tap on the firmware version. The app will enter a new screen and check online for available firmware updates and notify the user of the changelog if one is available. You’ll notice that the changelog here is very vague, performance enhancements are often noted in many revisions with no palpable changes, let’s hope this case is different. Pressing the Install button initiates the process. Note that the process takes quite a while so ensure the earphones and source device have plenty of charge. Also, ensure that you’re doing this at a time where you won’t need to use your phone or the earphones for at least 30 minutes.
Readers are best to refer to my initial review where I detailed in-depth the ANC performance. I persist that this writeup is fair and realistic and, frankly, I was quite shocked by how inaccurate most reviews were on the web. The MTW2’s ANC implementation is not nearly as good as that on Apple and Sony’s competitors despite what many say. However, as the earphone blocks substantially more noise than either with passive noise isolation, the total amount of noise blocked is similar. The 4.80 update actually did give me a noticeable boost in ANC performance, it was a bit more noticeable than before when toggling on and off.
In particular, it appears a touch more aggressive, not to the extent that there’s any sense of pressure or added noise. However, during a recent run along the highway, I definitely noticed a bit more attenuation of traffic noise when compared to previous firmware versions. Does it transform the MTW2 into a WF-1000XM3? I think that would be asking too much from a basic firmware revision, but it does refine the noise attenuating abilities of the earphone an extra 10%. Though not night and day, it’s good to see that Sennheiser is continuing to work on this feature and I would hope to see further refinement later down the line.
Aware Mode –
Actually, a small difference I noticed was that there was a bit less clipping than before when using the aware mode. The jangling of my house keys would cause some uncomfortable artefacts when using aware mode, however, post-update no artefacts could be heard. They still ran into issues with louder noises, such as dropping my keys onto my tiled floor or loud noises at the gym. This is a physical limitation of the microphone setup used but it seems that Sennheiser has lowered the dynamic range available here to reduce artefacts. I found the original to perform better here in my original review, but post-update the performance is quite similar.
Sound Preamble –
Continuing my past statements, you can refer to my full review for a more in-depth sound breakdown of the MTW2 on launch firmware. In summary, as compared to the original, the MTW2 has less mid-bass bloat and a slightly more balanced presentation overall but also a more laid-back upper-midrange which can cause it to sound a little more closed in and less energetic than the original. Especially, when the reduction of bass is taken into account, the MTW2 simply sounds less dynamic overall. Personally, I did still prefer the MTW2, it was more balanced and I felt vocals, though presented with less clarity, were more balanced with the bass in terms of presence. This made them better for mixed uses such as videos, rewarding with higher vocal intelligibility. The cleaner bass was also very welcome to my ears. I clearly do not reflect the norm here, consult Reddit and you’ll find many users complaining about the flatter and less vivid sound. Enter firmware version 4.80.
Sound Changes –
I was surprised when initial users reported that the update made the MTW2 sound exactly like the MTW, while others stated that it made no difference whatsoever. I did notice some changes, but a recreation of the MTW this is not. Notably, the MTW2 became slightly bassier and more v-shaped than before. The mid-bass is fuller and the low-end, assumes a warmer tone overall. Notes are enlarged with greater impact, however, as with many things, nothing comes free as some bloat is introduced alongside a subjective loss of definition. In turn, vocals are more recessed relative to the larger bass, especially male. However, it appears that the lower-midrange has been slightly attenuated. So despite being bassier and more v-shaped, male vocals sound a bit cleaner than before, boasting greater definition as a result. Female vocals sit a touch in front though also remain laid-back relative to the low-end. I hear similar density in the upper-midrange, meaning that the presentation is essentially as full and smooth as before, and not quite as open as the MTW. Perhaps the reduction in midrange body is being interpreted as greater clarity by some listeners but there definitely isn’t greater openness on display. This is a small tweak that brings the MTW2’s lower-frequencies more in line with the original while leaving the top-end mostly untouched.
It’s always exciting when a firmware update such as this comes. It represents a kind of free upgrade for owners and an incentive for those with reservations to purchase the new model with greater peace of mind. Unfortunately, Sennheiser hasn’t recreated the original here, but what we’re left with is still a warm, smooth and powerful voicing that sounds pretty great when out and about. The original still has a bit more midrange clarity and a brighter top-end with greater energy, it also has a slightly larger soundstage to my ears. Whether the 2 will reach the same heights is debatable given its altered physical design. Regarding ANC performance, we also observe a small bump here. It goes from subtle to appreciable and less disputable whether it is providing benefit to overall noise attenuation. To my ears, the 4.80 firmware update definitely doesn’t transform Sennheiser’s popular TWS in-ear, I also don’t think it will allure fans disappointed by the sound changes. What it does do is tastefully augment a convincing package at no additional cost for current owners.