If you can’t afford Sennheiser’s newearbuds ($250), both its and step-up , which includes active noise canceling, are good midrange earbuds options. They’re once again being discounted by $50, with the CX Wireless available at $80 and the CX Plus down to $130. (The black version of the CX Plus is actually $124, while the white version is $130.)
The models look nearly identical and are bit chunky (they stick out of your ears a bit) but both deliver excellent sound for their price, with good clarity and well-defined bass.
Compared to the previous-generation CX400BT, the CX adds an extra microphone on each bud, which does improve the voice-calling experience and makes it easier for callers to hear your voice, even in noisy environments. The earphones do a good job muffling background noise, though some of it leaks in when you speak during calls (there’s a sidetone feature that lets you hear your voice in the buds). To be clear, however, these aren’t active noise-canceling earbuds, they simply offer noise reduction for calls.
The buds are equipped with Bluetooth 5.2. Battery life is up to 9 hours at moderate volume levels (the slightly bulky charging case stores an additional three charges) versus 7 hours for the previous model. These are splash-proof, with an IPX4 water-resistance rating. And along with the SBC and AAC audio codecs, the buds also support AptX streaming for AptX-enabled devices, which include certain Android smartphones.
I personally use the step-upa fair amount. The Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds offer some small performance improvements, including slightly better sound, voice calling and noise canceling, as well as a slightly smaller design. But they do cost almost twice as much.
This story was previously published and has been updated to reflect new pricing and availability.