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Why I run with these Sennheiser earbuds instead of bone conduction headphones

The Sennheiser Momentum Sport earbuds provide reliable heart rate and body temperature metrics in a comfortable design.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Matthew Miller/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Sennheiser Momentum Sport earbuds are available now in three colors for $329.95.
  • The earbuds provide accurate heart rate and temperature sensors, sports watch connectivity, amazing sound, and a secure fit.
  • They're on the expensive side, and the six-hour battery life is not the best on the market.

Wrist-based heart rate sensors have advanced significantly over the past few years, but active movement of your arms, cold weather, and other factors can reduce their accuracy in reporting biological metrics. Chest straps and arm bands offer an improved level of performance for heart rate monitoring, but also require that you wear an extra piece of gear and keep it charged up and connected.

Also: The best noise-canceling earbuds you can buy

Sennheiser has created a third option with the Momentum Sport earbuds, offering a stunning audio experience while enhancing your workout with integrated heart rate and body temperature sensors, both of which are positioned in the left earbud.

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The inner ear is an optimal location for the heart rate sensor with minimal light pollution and good stability. It is very important to also ensure a secure fit and Sennheiser provides that with silicone tips and silicone wings in several sizes. I tried the earbuds out with just the silicone tips and they were not secure enough for me to run with because the earbuds are rather large in size.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Positioning the large-size wings over the earbuds was the key to success for me, though, and now the earbuds fit snugly without moving at all while running, jumping, and tossing my head around. I also have two different-sized ear tips for my left and right ears so make sure to try out the available options and perform the fit test in the Sennheiser Smart Control smartphone application.

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Sennheiser also provides an in-ear thermometer and states that these sensors are more accurate than wrist-based sensors within 0.3 degrees Celsius accuracy. Heat-related fatigue can be managed if an athlete knows their body temperature and these earbuds help provide a viable source of that data.

While Polar powers the heart rate and temperature sensors, you can also add the earbuds as a heart rate monitor with your Garmin, Apple Watch, Suunto, or other device/service for an accurate ear-based heart rate reading. In order to get the optimal experience out of the Sennheiser Momentum Sport earbuds, it's recommended to use the Polar Flow smartphone application. 

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With this app, you can access important data such as performance tracking, training analytics, smart coaching, as well as voice guidance. Also, keep in mind that while the Sennheiser Smart Control app displays your heart rate and body temperature, you have to have a compatible Polar GPS sports watch to track the history of that data. At this time, the Vantage V3 and new Grit X2 Pro are supported.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

I was able to test out the Sennheiser Momentum Sport earbuds with a Polar Vantage V3 that supports full integration with these earbuds and sports sensors. Real-time data was streamed directly to the watch and captured for analysis in the Polar Flow app and website. Make sure to connect the earbuds to your watch as a sensor and after that initial setup the heart rate sensor in the earbuds will be used for capturing this data while you exercise rather than using the heart rate data from the sensor mounted on the watch.

Also: The best bone conduction headphones you can buy: Expert tested

The Momentum Sport earbuds are available in Polar Black, Burned Olive, and Metallic Graphite for $329.95. I tested the Burned Olive model, and it looks great with orange highlights on the earbuds and charging case. The earbuds should provide audio for up to 5.5 hours with active noise cancellation and 6 hours without it enabled. The case can provide another 18 hours (three charges) of battery life with support for USB-C charging and wireless Qi charging of the case.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Thankfully, I can use these earbuds in Washington state where I often run into rain, since they have IP55 sweat and water resistance. The earbuds themselves and case are also covered in a soft-touch silicone material that provides a solid grip. Sennheiser also designed these earbuds with an acoustic relief channel for air ventilation so that the noise from your footsteps, and breathing, for example, are minimized while they're in.

Bluetooth 5.2 provides the connection with support for aptX Adaptive, AAC, and SBC codecs. I was thinking these might just be another typical earbud, but I was blown away by the crystal-clear audio with excellent bass and wonderful volume. During my testing, I ran with them and then mowed the lawn for an hour and the earbuds easily beat out every other earbud I've used while up against my noisy gas-powered lawn mower.

Also: The best earbuds of 2024: Expert tested and reviewed

The earbuds support various modes of operation, including transparency, anti-wind, and adaptive noise cancellation. These modes can be changed with touches on the earbuds and through the Smart Control smartphone software. The Smart Control software also provides settings for the equalizer, a sound check, sound zones, and customizing the double tap, triple tap, and tap-hold settings of each earbud.

Screenshot by Matthew Miller/ZDNET

For the past couple of years, I've been using bone conduction headsets for running, but the Sennheiser Momentum Sport earbuds provide an impressive audio experience and stay securely in place, while also providing a reliable and accurate heart rate sensor without a chest or arm strap, so these will definitely be my preferred earbuds going forward.

ZDNET's buying advice

There seems to be an unlimited number of earbuds on the market today, and it's tough to distinguish one from the other. Sennheiser, however, stands out from the pack with the heart rate and temperature sensors that will appeal to athletes and casual runners alike looking for a way to capture accurate heart rate and body temperature readings. With the Momentum Sport earbuds, Polar and Sennheiser partnered up to create an amazing pair of earbuds that sound fantastic, integrate well with other wearables, and provide hours of media support.

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