Entertainment Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless review: better than the Sony WH-1000XM5
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless review: better than the Sony WH-1000XM5
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless: two-minute review
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are the newest wireless over-ear headphones from Sennheiser and if Sony isn’t worried, it should be. These cans have an incredible battery life, a likeable app, an extensive feature set, easy on-ear controls, talented adaptive noise cancellation and a zealous sound that’ll have you nodding your head happily wherever you go.
Will the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless head straight to the top of our best over-ear headphones buying guide? You betcha they will. And while the slightly quirky anchored aluminium headband aesthetic of the third-generation Sennheiser Momentum Wireless cans has gone in favor of a more business-like (can we say ‘boring’? I suppose we just have) black plastic and fabric aesthetic, as soon as you put them on you’ll forgive it – the sound is that good, we’d wear them even if they only came in slime green and had a big shaky bug eye on each ear cup.
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are an evolution of the November 2019-issue Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless – even if the familial resemblance has been scrapped. We rated the older cans, commending them for their excellent sound, feature set, built-in Tile tracking (so you needn’t lose them) and active noise-cancellation (ANC) but we were disappointed by the 17-hour battery life.
Well, that has certainly changed – and not just because two years and nine months is an awfully long time in audio tech. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless now boast a whopping 60-hour battery life even with ANC deployed, and to save you the bother of checking, we’ll tell you right now that you only get 30 hours from the Sony WH-1000XM5, which launched in May 2022.
If you’re not put off by the slightly commonplace design (and we do miss the slightly more rock ‘n’ roll Momentum 3 Wireless aesthetic) the sound quality for the money here is unbeatable. On top of this, the tweakable ANC works a treat (you can actually control it by ‘pinching’ the right ear cup in the same way you would to pan in and out of photos on your smartphone), the app sports a clear and intuitive interface, the auto-off works consistently, calls are dramatically improved by Sennheiser’s unique and delightfully-named Sidetone (which sounds as if you’ll be dialling up the sarcasm, but actually helps you hear your own voice during phone calls) and the immersive detail here will last actual, whole days.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless review: price and release date
- Released on August 9, 2022
- $349.95 / £300 / AU$549.95
Sennheiser’s fourth generation cans are available now, priced $349.95 / £300 / AU$549.95.
The keen-eyed will note that Sennheiser has priced its newest over-ear wireless noise-cancelling headphones at $50 (or £80) cheaper than the class-leading Sony WH-1000XM5 cans, which retail for $399 / £380 / AU$550.
And considering the Sennheiser over-ears boast double the stamina of the Sony proposition, things start to get really interesting…
Although $350 is hardly cheap for a set of headphones, the Momentum 4 Wireless actually launched at a more palatable price than their 2019-issue predecessors. Sennheiser is clearly happy to compete against the likes of Bose (the Bose QC 45 launched September 23, 2021 and cost $329 / £329 / AU$499.95) and Sony in a price war, and it’s safe to say that the gamble has paid off and then some.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless review: features
- Excellent, fully-featured app
- Simple, dependable on-ear controls
- Useful sound zones and EQ presets
Sennheiser has packed everything and the kitchen sink into the Momentum 4 Wireless’s spec sheet. Aside from that remarkable 60-hour battery life (which, before you ask, is at normal volume levels and with active noise cancellation engaged) that’s twice the stamina of many rivals, including the Sony WH-1000XM4 and XM5, which both offer 30 hours, and the Bose QC 45 and Bose Noise Cancelling 700 which offer between 24 and 30 hours.
Rarely have we only had to juice up our cans once and once only during testing, but here the Sennheiser just went on and on… and on, aided by wearer-detection to pause playback if you remove them and an automatic function which powers them off if they’ve been inactive for 15 minutes, to be roused by another touch. But if you do find yourself low on juice, wired listening is also an option, either using the bundled 2.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable or a USB-C to USB-C one (not supplied, although you do get a flight adapter and a USB-C to USB-A charging cable in the stylish hardshell fabric case).
The Momentum 4 Wireless come bearing Bluetooth 5.2, which means they can simultaneously connect to multiple Bluetooth devices and switch between them more easily – there’s a nice connection management tab in the app to see your devices. There’s also support for aptX Adaptive as well as aptX, aka one of the newest and best Bluetooth codecs around.
The Sennheiser Smart Control app is your useful, clean, easy-to-use gateway to EQ tweaks and presets (Sennheiser can guide you through a ‘Sound Check’, which involves listening to your favorite music to create custom presets), as well as Adaptive ANC, which includes a slider to tweak how much extraneous noise you want to eliminate all the way into Transparency, which lets ambient sounds in to keep you aware of traffic, say.
One of the most novel inclusions here is ‘Sound Zones’. You can create up to 20 profiles (think home, the office, the gym, the train station) featuring specific EQ and noise isolation levels – which will magically activate or deactivate when you enter or leave a specific ‘zone’ wearing the Momentum 4 Wireless. Want maximum ANC and a thumping bass to kick in as soon as you get within throwing distance of the office? Sound Zones will make it happen.
And another likeable Sennheiser feature is back here: Sidetone. It makes call-handling much easier because you can actually choose to hear a little (or a lot) of your own voice. As such, you won’t find yourself shouting over even the enviable levels of passive noise isolation here, to the recipient of your calls.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless review: design
- Big oval ear cups
- One physical button, excellent on-ear controls
- Ear cups lie flat but do not fold into the headband
What the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless design lacks in physical flair, it atones for in functionality. For example, the fact that the ear cups are no longer anchored in the middle, to the headband, means firstly that adjusting them is a silent experience, and secondly that the entirety of the right ear cup’s top surface is now a touchpad.
This can be tapped once for playback/pause, swiped from near your cheek towards your crown or vice versa for track skipping, swiped up/down for volume adjustment or ‘pinched’ (in the same way as you might zoom in on your phone when looking at photos) for increasing or minimizing ANC. This touchpad is accurate and refreshingly dependable, to the point that we often forego our phone entirely when cueing up music on our commute.
Physical buttons are limited to one: the combined power and pairing button, also on the right earcup, alongside a USB-C charging port and five battery LED indicators. The ear cups can swivel flat to fit in their case or sit flush around your neck, and although they echo the current trend for ear cups that rotate to lie flat but do not fold up – just see the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 over the older, foldable Sony WH-1000XM4 for reference – the design is well conceived.
In terms of comfort, this new design doesn’t initially look that well padded, but what cushioning there is is more than sufficient because the relatively wide headband does a great job of distributing pressure across your crown so that nothing wears heavily or pinches, even after several hours of wear. And the clamping force is good, but not aggressively so.
The only real design flourishes here are the fabric on the external aspect of the headband (available in two colorways) and Sennheiser’s trademark S-in-a-rectangle branding at the base of the headband. It’s demure to a fault, especially when those ear cups are devoid of any accent whatsoever – and it’s the reason we removed half a star from the rating here. But if you’ll only glance at the overall star-rating we awarded these excellent Sennheiser noise-cancelling over-ears, you’ll see we forgave it all…
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless review: sound quality
- Excellent adaptive ANC
- Improved neutrality, crispness and detail
- Full-bodied, zealous, expansive sound
First off: the noise cancellation in the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless is very good indeed. Taking to the streets, we find cars, barking dogs and the general thrum of everyday life largely absent from our now unimpeded music. Occasionally, we find Sony’s XM5 proposition able to nix just a tiny bit more when it comes to constant low-level noise (a bus engine as we sit on the top deck; the AC unit in the office) but it’s a very closely run race and, unless you’re switching quickly between each set of headphones it’s impossible to call. Even now we hesitate to offer this judgement, since both sets of over-ears offer great levels of ANC – but it is our job to do so and we said what we said.
Now, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless sound. Oh, what a sound! Cueing up Somos Nada by Christina Aguilera, we hear all of the texture and emotion in Aguilera’s more mature, considered and yet still effortless belt. The keys also feel three-dimensional in an expressive and dynamically agile mix that’s capable of intense and supremely musical rise and fall – the kind that creates space for us to hear musical instruments playing and intakes of breath between vocal licks. The album continues to Santo and the placement of casual diners in a cafe and a soft shaker before the track starts proper are all delicately handled and expertly relayed.
The foreboding guttural vocal stylings alongside whispered close-up utterances throughout Mudvayne’s Dig are some of the most challenging ways to test these cans’ sense of timing through the low end, and the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless never shy away from the task.
In fact, whatever genre we throw at the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, we find ourselves remarking at the open, detailed, expansive, neutral and crisp performance. Never is it overly warm; never is it congested or muddied through the bass. The intro to FKA Twigs’ Two Weeks has never sounded so deep and uninhibited through the low-end, and as her bell-like vocal starts, we notice inflections within it and throughout the engaging treble other headphones simply cannot unearth.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless review: value
- High-end sound for a shade under premium prices
- ANC is bang on for the level
- Incredible battery life adds value
Although these prices can hardly be considered budget-friendly and we appreciate that, given their talent, (remember, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 cost $399 / £379 / approx. AU$575 – aka a $50 premium) we’d still have awarded them five stars for value at $50 more expensive.
Why? The adaptive noise cancellation is strong, the feature set is as exhaustive as you’ll find at the level, the design is minimalist but carefully considered, and the sound is supremely talented. Simply put, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are an excellent pair of headphones – truly some of the best noise cancelling headphones you can buy.
Should you buy them Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless?
|Features||A suite of novel yet useful perks and enjoyable app support||5/5|
|Design||Functional rather than flamboyant, but well finished||4.5/5|
|Sound quality||Detailed, energetic; a joy to listen to||5/5|
|Value||Forgive the slightly underwhelming aesthetic and the Momentum 4 Wireless represent excellent value as a sonic proposition||5/5|
Buy them if…
Don’t buy them if…
If our Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless review has you considering whether to buy them or to scope out other wireless over-ear headphones, take a glance at these three competing cans at the level.