“Superb Sennheiser sound sets these wireless cans apart.”
- Amazing battery life
- Outstanding sound
- Effective wind noise reduction
- Effective ANC
- No auto-off function
Sennheiser has been making premium headphones for decades. As technology has evolved, its headphones have kept pace by including that new technology. But when it comes to style, Sennheiser has always stuck to its guns. Its headphones have always had a distinctive, classy designer look to them — case in point are the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless.
With the new Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless — up for preorder on August 9 and available in full on August 23 — Sennheiser has taken a more conventional approach. In fact, looking at the Momentum 4 Wireless, it’s impossible not to think that Sennheiser is taking direct aim at Sony’s wildly popular XM-series headphones.
That was a smart move, and I think Sennheiser has done a terrific job with the Momentum 4 wireless. These headphones have all the latest features, incredible battery life, and sound better than the Sony XM-series headphones. But should you buy them?
Let’s see if we can figure that out together.
As these photos make clear, Sennheiser has pivoted from a design made for headphone enthusiasts to a design that will appeal to a massive audience spanning those who work from home to those who work on airplanes. The Momentum 4 Wireless look like they mean business when it comes to doing business. They won’t call too much attention while taking a Zoom call, and they’ll fit right among all the Sony and Bose headphones you see folks wearing on airline flights these days.
The Momentum 4 Wireless are remarkably comfortable. I initially was worried about the scant amount of padding underneath the headband. But after wearing the Momentum 4 Wireless for over 100 hours at this point, I can tell you that between the cushy earcups, perfect clamping force, and generally light weight, the Momentum 4 Wireless are a pleasure to wear for long periods of time. No pinched crown, no ear sweats, no other fatigue-inducing elements, just all-day (or all-flight) comfort.
The Momentum 4 Wireless case is exactly what you’d expect: a zippered, reinforced soft-sided affair that cradles the headphones, a USB-C charging cable, headphone cable, and my old, increasingly irrelevant friend, the airline adapter. The case material matches the exterior of the headband
The Momentum 4 Wireless do not collapse completely down. Like the Sony WH1000-XM5, the earcups simply rotate in for a flatter profile, and that’s it. As such, the case is a bit larger than those that accompanies more compact headphones, though I have not found this to be an annoyance.
The Momentum 4 Wireless have just one button. A short press calls up your phone’s digital assistant. Press for three seconds to turn the headphones on or off, or press for five seconds to put them in pairing mode. Even though I think it’s silly that two commands are separated by two seconds of pressing, it ended up being a nonissue thanks to the headphones’ Bluetooth auto-pairing feature.
The rest of the controls for music and calls are found on the surface of the right earcup. Tap the earcup to play/pause, swipe back and forth to advance or go back a track, and swipe up and down for volume control. The gestures relevant to phone calls kick in when you receive or are on a call.
The Momentum 4 Wireless have industry-leading battery life.
The left earcup does nothing but produce excellent sound.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the Momentum 4 Wireless have an auto-off feature that triggers after, say, 15 minutes of being them not being worn. I know this because I packed them up in my backpack, tossed the backpack in the back of my car, drove home, and had constant Bluetooth connection issues with my car stereo because the Momentum 4 Wireless kept trying to connect to my phone during the drive. When I arrived at my destination, I noticed that my phone was still connected to the headphones. And when I pulled my backpack out of the trunk, I heard the headphones blaring away from within. I found this odd because the headphones have an excellent sensor inside the earcups that prompts them to pause music when they are removed from the head.
It turns out the sensor is so sensitive that it can be fooled into thinking the headphones are pressed against a head when they are sandwiched in their case. As such, it is probably a good idea to turn them off manually, though it’s not the end of the world if you don’t because the Momentum 4 Wireless have industry-leading battery life.
As you might expect, there is an app you can use with the Momentum Wireless 4, and it offers decent functionality. Set the ANC to automatically adjust to your environment, or manually control how effective the ANC is, from block-it-all-out mode all the way to transparency mode. You can also create and name “zones,” so the headphones adopt a custom ANC and/or EQ setting based on areas you frequent. As for that EQ control? It’s a very basic, three-band affair, with basic bass, midrange, and treble adjustments. Frankly, I never felt a need to adjust the EQ.
The Momentum 4 wireless use Bluetooth version 5.2 with AAC, AptX and Aptx Adaptive codec support. I found the Bluetooth connection to be both remarkably stable and impressively long-range. I was able to walk about 100 feet from my phone without so much as a blip in the music I was listening to. It was only after I took a turn around a corner and placed several walls between myself and the headphones that I experienced any signal dropout. In other words, the Momentum 4 Wireless’ connection strength is best in class.
What about battery life? Dig this: 60 hours — and that’s with ANC turned on. With ANC off, they’ll go even longer. To put things in perspective, that’s double the battery life of the Sony XM5. I’ve been putting that battery life claim to the test, and after 63 hours of listening with active noise-canceling engaged, I still have battery to spare. Frankly, I think that’s incredible. Well done, Sennheiser.
While Sony and Bose still offer the most effective noise reduction available in headphones today, Sennheiser is catching up quickly. The Momentum 4 Wireless’ ANC is so good that, when playing music, I was unable to detect a difference between them and the Sony XM5 in a head-t0-head comparison. It wasn’t until I turned my music off and used the ANC on its own that I was able to hear the Sony XM5 cutting down a broader spectrum of noise to a slightly quieter level than the Momentum 4 Wireless.
Still, while the Sony XM5 (as well as the XM4) may technically have slightly superior noise canceling, I think the Momentum 4 Wireless’ ANC is, in practice, good enough to make most listeners extremely happy.
I would characterize the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless’ call quality as very good. During my testing, the person on the other end of my phone calls reported that my voice came through very clearly. That is until I walked onto a busy street with noisy cars and buses passing by. At that point, some of the noise around me did bleed into the call. This is typical of most headphones, however, though it is worth noting that the Sony XM5, Bose NC 700, and Apple AirPods Max all do a slightly better job of filtering out noise around you when making calls.
Another area of improvement for call quality would be the manner in which the user’s voice is piped into the headphones. When I made calls, I struggled to hear my own voice as well as I do with the aforementioned competing headphones, so I had to monitor how loudly I was speaking.
One area in which the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are unmatched for call quality, though, is wind-noise reduction. I’ve never heard wind noise so effectively canceled by any of the other headphones I have tested over the past few years.
Let’s not mince words here: The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless have better overall sound quality than the Sony XM5, Bose QC45. Bose NC 700, and Apple AirPods Max. Granted, appreciation for sound quality is highly subjective, but for my money, the Momentum Wireless 4 offer a level of refinement, detail, and bass presence that I feel is unmatched by the competition.
More bass? Yes. But also better bass.
Bass performance is what stood out most prominently when I first started listening to music on the Momentum 4 Wireless. Now, to be clear, the Momentum brand has always had more pronounced bass than most of Sennheiser’s other headphone offerings; however, the bass in the Momentum Wireless 4 isn’t just pronounced (aka, bass-forward) it is deep, tuneful, and poignant in a way that outclasses competing models from Sony, Bose, and Apple. It’s more bass, yes, but it’s also better bass.
Once I got past my delight at the bass performance, I noticed a very open, spacious soundstage. With the Sony Xm5, the audio image seems to manifest inside your head. With the Momentum 4 Wireless, though, the soundstage seems to be set up all around you. There is depth, precise instrumental placement, and other elements of sonic holography that I’ve typically heard only in the most high-end wired headphones I’ve tested.
Also, I feel the treble is better refined than most competing headphones, with detail, articulation, and texture that is sure to please audiophiles. I also enjoyed the clarity of vocals a great deal, with transparency that is more akin to an open-backed headphone than a closed-back design, never mind one which is employing active noise canceling and digital sound processing to achieve its sonic signature. To me, this is especially remarkable.
More broadly speaking, I simply have more fun listening to music on the Momentum 4 Wireless. There’s more to dig into. More to notice. If you’re more of a passive listener, some of the depth and detail may not register, but it doesn’t take an audiophile to hear how superb the Momentum 4 Wireless headphones sound.
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are a fantastic set of headphones with very effective noise canceling, solid call quality, and tremendous sound quality. If Sennheiser’s mission was to make a model competitive with the features of Sony’s vaunted XM4 and XM5 headphones, but with better sound fidelity, then I’d say: mission accomplished.
Is there a better alternative?
The Sony XM4 and XM5, Bose QC45 and NC 700, and Apple AirPods Max all offer marginally superior noise canceling and call quality. Those for whom headphones are as much a tool for business as they are for enjoyment may find one of those alternatives to be more suitable. However, for anyone who places sound quality and battery life at the top of their priorities list, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless will be the better choice.
How long will it last?
Given their build quality and ability to receive updates, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless should last well into the future.
Sennheiser offers at two-year warranty on the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless.
Should you buy them?
Yes. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are among the best-featured and best-sounding headphones on the market and are sure to delight anyone looking for the best combination of modern features and excellent sound quality.
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