Sennheiser Momentum 4: Can these headphones beat the Sony 1000XM5?

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Summary

We had the opportunity to try the latest Sennheiser wireless headphones, the Momentum 4 Wireless. Here are their impressions of the new competitor to the formidable Sony WH-1000XM5.

Sennheiser's Momentum 3 Wireless has always had a distinct look, both retro and modern. For better or worse, that's all gone now, and the new Momentum 4 Wireless, Sennheiser's flagship noise-cancelling headphones, adopts a slightly more subdued look that's also closer to some of its competitors. Available for pre-order on 9 August for £349.90, the Momentum 4 will start shipping on 23 August in two colours: black and white.

The white model in its case. Image credit: Sennheiser
The white model in its case. Image credit: Sennheiser

Although we haven't had the opportunity to test the Momentum 4 Wireless long enough to publish a full review, we did get the chance to play with it for a few days and really enjoyed the listening experience, although we're still undecided in terms of audio quality between it, the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the slightly more expensive Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2. The Bose QuietComfort 45 is another model we like in this price range and will also be one of our benchmarks during our Momentum 4 test.

Swivels but no longer bends

The main design regret we had with the Momentum 3 Wireless (2019 version) was that the ear cups did not swivel flat. The Momentum 4 Wireless now swivels (although it doesn't bend anymore, like its Sony competitor), and most people will appreciate that.

Their ear cups are similar in size to those of the Sony 1000XM5 and, thanks to their memory foam cushions, the headphones are quite comfortable, although not as comfortable as their Sony competitor. The latter weighs 250 grams, while the Sennheiser weighs 293 grams.

Superior performance  

The Momentum 4 Wireless outperforms the Momentum 3 Wireless in every respect, although the biggest gains are in noise reduction and voice call performance, as well as battery life, which is remarkable with up to 60 hours at moderate volume levels.

There's also in Momentum 4 the usual transparency mode that lets ambient sound through and the ability to create a personalised sound profile in the Smart Control app for iOS and Android using the built-in equaliser, sound modes or a new sound customisation feature that "assesses the user's listening preferences and adjusts the listening experience to suit their tastes."

Image credit: Sennheiser
Image credit: Sennheiser

In addition, we liked how the headphones automatically turn on when you pick them up and put them on. It also automatically turns off after 15 minutes if you stop using them. 

Finally, Sennheiser says its newborn offers multipoint Bluetooth pairing (it uses Bluetooth 5.2), which allows you to pair two devices simultaneously, such as a smartphone and a PC. (We didn't get a chance to test the multipoint, but we'll evaluate how it works in our test).

Better sound than the others? Not sure

Equipped with 42mm drivers, Sennheiser claims that the Momentum 4 Wireless offers "the best sound" in its class, which is debatable, of course. In any case, the Momentum 4's sound quality is on a par with other models in this price range - that is, it's excellent, with well-defined, punchy bass, a relatively wide soundstage and smooth highs that bring out some of the finer details of well-recorded tracks. It's a pleasure to listen to. However, it doesn't seem to us to beat the competition on the audio front.

We had some trouble connecting our test sample to our iPhone 13 Pro, so we mainly used Android smartphones that support the aptX Adaptive codec for wireless streaming of high-definition tracks from the Qobuz music streaming service. In theory, this configuration offers an optimal listening experience. (In addition to aptX Adaptive, the Sennheisers support AAC and SBC.)

We'll be spending more time with the Momentum 4 Wireless in the near future and will be able to expand on and compare these initial observations, test it fully for voice calls (it has two microphones on each earcup dedicated to voice calls) and active noise reduction, which we feel has been significantly improved and is at least in the same range as Sony and Bose's noise reduction, though perhaps not quite up to their level (the Momentum 3 Wireless was significantly worse in this respect).

Conclusion 

While some people may be a little disappointed about Momentum 4 that design has become a little too simple and less distinctive (with less high-end materials), it essentially ticks all the boxes of what you'd expect from a high-end noise-cancelling headset in terms of comfort, features and performance. 

And while they don't necessarily sound any better than their direct competitors, they're also priced £50-100 cheaper. A significant advantage. We'll see how the price evolves along the way, but stay tuned for the full review.

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