Sennheiser CX 400BT Review: The Smallest Details Make These Wireless Earbuds Worth Your Money
The Sennheiser CX 400BT, with the price tag of Rs 16,990 competes with the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM3, the Jabra Elite Active 75t and Apple AirPods. It is very close to the flagship Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds in terms of the overall experience.
- Last Updated: October 21, 2020, 12:01 IST
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The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds came. They conquered. And they went back. Looked at the bank account, and the immediate realisation was that prudence was the best policy. Luckily, the Germans are back. Sennheiser has the new CX 400BT ready in the arsenal, and it didn’t really take long to understand and absorb that these comparatively more affordable wireless earbuds are actually more inspired from the significantly more expensive yet absolutely brilliant Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds, than you may imagine at first. That is a great foundation to build on for the Sennheiser CX 400BT that are priced at Rs 16,990 which is almost Rs 10,000 lesser than the more expensive sibling. At a time when everyone wants true wireless earbuds, or TWS as they are often referred to as, having earbuds options at multiple price points is a good strategy to have in this increasingly competitive space.
At this price of Rs 16,990 at this time, the Sennheiser CX 400BT competes with the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM3, the Jabra Elite Active 75t and Apple AirPods. The Sennheiser CX 400BT’s arsenal includes the same 7mm audio drivers as the Momentum True Wireless 2, support for aptX audio codecs, the long battery life and the typical Sennheiser sound signature. If you are going purely on the features list, then the Sony WF-1000XM3 does have an advantage of active noise cancellation as well as location-based features that can manage the ANC based on what you may be doing at the time. But if you don’t need noise cancellation or prefer the Sennheiser sound signature, the Sennheiser CX 400BT could very well be your port of call.
Design: Simplicity Makes All The Difference, Either Way
As far as the design goes, wear these the first time and you’ll know why Sennheiser didn’t have to integrate active noise cancellation in these buds. The fit, assuming you have picked the perfect ear tips size, provides close to leakage-free fit in the ear canal. This can pretty well block out most ambient noise around you, if you like to stay isolated from the ambient din. Do remember to twist-to-fit for these to sit snugly. It is not active noise cancellation, but in the real world, it is very close to that sort of end result. What you will miss is a listening mode or some sort of transparency options in case someone walks up to you to have a quick word, and you’ll have to take the earbuds out. At least one bud.
Not the smallest buds by any stretch of the imagination, and these stick out of the ear a bit. It isn’t a problem for me, but for some users, they may prefer something more discreet as the bean-shaped Samsung Galaxy Buds Live instead. The Sennheiser CX 400BT earbuds have plastic body, yet very good quality. These don’t feel lightweight in the quality sense, have a nice solidity to the build yet remain light enough to comfortably sit inside your ears for a while without any discomfort. The buds themselves have a dual tone finish, with matte on the sides and glossy black on the outside where the touch controls are—you can completely customize the controls. That’s where the Sennheiser logo also sits, something that you will absolutely not mind showing off to fellow human beings.
But it must be noted that the Sennheiser CX 400BT is most certainly not the best looking earbuds out there. It is understated, gets the fit aspect right but it isn't going to get any attention. The safer colour choice of black and white plays its role too. There is no aura that some other earbuds have, and these will most likely not have the sort of immediacy in recognition that the Apple AirPods do, for instance. None of these are drawback unless all you are going for is style, mind you.
The charging case itself has quite a bit of bulk. In a way as chunky as the Sony WF-1000XM3 in a slightly different form factor, but it shouldn’t be much of a problem carrying this in trouser pockets. Nevertheless, it has to be noted that the Jabra Elite Active 75t has a much smaller charging case.
Performance: You Will Love That The Sennheiser Sound Has Not Changed
Even though there are changes on the outside, what sits inside the Sennheiser CX 400BT are the same 7mm audio drivers in each ear. The same as the flagship Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds. It builds the sound experience with the typical neutral Sennheiser sound signature, similar tuning and the same sound processing to really up the game in a price segment that now the Sennheiser CX 400BT competing directly with the Sony WF-1000XM3 as far as the vibrant sound exprience is concerned.
What the Sennheiser CX 400BT builds from is a neutral sound signature. Absolutely neutral, no artificial boost for any frequency range on the EQ and no intention to add glitter where there is none as the track originally is. With this, what you get is the flexibility across content and music genres. The Sennheiser CX 400BT isn’t playing in the price band that should see a lot of buyers looking purely for bass. This is for the more discerning listeners who may not have the budget to splurge around Rs 25,000 on a Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 but still want to get as close to the experience as possible. With the CX 400BT, Sennheiser have done that. Very effectively. In the world of smartphones, we would perhaps refer to something like this as an “affordable flagship”. You get the drift.
In terms of content, there isn’t just music on the radar anymore. There are the more vocal intensive content consumption patterns as well, including podcasts and also lot of binge watching on streaming apps such as Netflix, Amazon Video and Disney+ Hotstar. All through, the Sennheiser CX 400BT effortlessly gets the job done. I had noted during my Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds review that everything is just so nicely rounded off, that you don’t feel anything is missing, any harshness or any sort of artificial tuning or boosting. The finer details really shine though, and you’ll notice that soon enough. All of that applies to the Sennheiser CX 400BT, as is. That being said, if you listen to lower quality audio files, you may notice some sharpness with the vocals at higher volumes.
And if and when you do want to make changes, the Sennheiser Smart Control app (available for Android and iPhone) will let you tweak the EQ as you like it. The good thing is, Sennheiser heard collective feedback and have added a traditional EQ interface in addition to the visually more appealing but also more complicated wave interface.
Battery life is a strong point of the Sennheiser CX 400BT. The claim is for 7 hours from the earbuds, and up to 20 hours more from the charging case. In my tests, and I usually keep the volume well in check, I actually clocked the 7-hour mark with ease. Dial up the volume, and this may reduce by a few minutes. Still, this will work well for travel, a day at work or even for the weekend binge watching sessions.
The Last Word: It Is A Big Battle With The Sony WF-1000XM3
We have already illustrated that the Sennheiser CX 400BT has tough competition. Straight up on the spec sheet, it misses active noise cancellation. You may feel it’s a big miss, but really, it isn’t. If you’d really want ANC still, the Sony WF-1000XM3 are yours to pick then. But for the rest who don’t really care much about noise cancellation, the Sennheiser CX 400BT is replicating the sort of premium audio experience that its significantly more expensive sibling earbuds offer. And through and through, the CX 400BT hold your hand with the welcoming Sennheiser sound signature of old. For much lesser amount on the price tag, compared with the flagship earbuds. Typical Sennheiser sound with versatility, great battery life, a very usable companion app and a fit that pretty much isolates you from the ambient noise. Let’s just say, you wouldn’t regret spending even a single penny, on the Sennheiser CX 400BT wireless earbuds.