The Apple AirPods have some new rivals in the form of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earphones – and it looks like they're going to give Apple some serious competition, too. Sennheiser took the wraps off the new buds at IFA 2018 in Berlin, and New Atlas was there to take a listen.

These are the first Sennheiser earbuds to completely ditch wires, including any kind of neck cable around the back, and the company promises that the set "redefines the audio benchmark for true wireless earbuds" thanks to some 7-mm dynamic drivers.

As well as Bluetooth support, the True Wireless pair bring with them support for the lossless AAC codec and Qualcomm's high-end aptX streaming technology. On paper at least, these should be worth checking out for serious audiophiles.

A neat feature Sennheiser is calling Transparent Hearing can be enabled to blend the sounds of the environment in with your music or podcasts, so you won't get caught out unawares by passing cars, and don't have to take the earbuds out to carry on a conversation.

There's also direct voice access to your choice of Siri or Google Assistant, as is the norm on the latest wave of wireless headphones. You can make and receive calls on the Momentum True Wireless earbuds as well, as you would expect.

All of which is well and good, but what are they actually like to listen to? We popped a pair into our ears on the show floor in Berlin and found them worthy of the hype: they produce a full, rich sound, with plenty of bass at just the right level.

The sound quality is certainly a better reason to buy these than the method of putting them on, which takes some careful twisting – but once they were in we were happily tapping away on them to start and stop the music.

They don't feel like the most discreet earbuds to wear though, and do protrude a little way from your ears, so they're perhaps not the pair for people who want to blend into the background on the street.

Sennheiser says the Momentum True Wireless are good for four hours between charges, which seems a little short to us – but the supplied carry case does pack in the equivalent of 12 hours of battery use, so you can charge them up on the go at least. They're also built to be sweat- and splash-resistant.

The final comparison with the AirPods comes with the price – the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds are yours for US$299 (with pre-orders open now), while AirPods go for $159. Shipping is scheduled to start in the middle of November.

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