An excellent pair of wireless headphones that deliver a balanced, neutral presentation, long battery life and very good noise cancellation. All-round performance is excellent – in some areas, even class-leading – but some may find the lack of style over the previous model disappointing.
- Great comfort
- Clear, precise, balanced audio
- Very good noise cancellation
- Massive battery life
- Excellent wireless performance
- Lacks the style of older models
- Not the best noise cancellation at this price
- Bass is a little reserved in tone
- UKRRP: £299.99
- USARRP: $349.95
- EuropeRRP: €349.90
- CanadaRRP: CA$528.94
- AustraliaRRP: AU$549.95
- Battery60 hours of battery with ANC
- Noise cancellingAdaptive noise cancellation with transparency mode
- Driver42mm transducer
The year 2022 has been the one of the flagship headphone launch. The likes of Sony, Master & Dynamic, Technics, Bowers & Wilkins have all brought their latest ideas to market, and with the Momentum 4 Wireless, we can add Sennheiser to that list, too.
The Momentum on-ear series has long been one of our favourites, from the wired models to the wireless version, the Momentum Wireless 3 was awarded five stars by us when they launched in 2019.
Three years later and, refreshingly, the fourth edition arrive at a cheaper price than the previous model. Aesthetically they’re simpler and less flashy, though: more about function and less about style.
Sennheiser hasn’t lost its touch for making impressive headphones, but can the Momentum 4 Wireless win out over their close competitors?
- Less fancy than previous generations
- Only fold flat
- Sensitive touch controls
What grabs the attention about the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless is that they’re actually not so attention-grabbing. The aesthetics of this latest set headphones has been streamlined for a simpler appearance.
In going for a plainer look, they lose a fair amount of style – aside from the metallic Sennheiser logo on both sides of the headband, these could be any other pair of Sennheiser headphones. If aesthetics are important to you, then there’s little here that steals the limelight – these aren’t the AirPods Max – but if we’re talking about ergonomics then Sennheiser has delivered.
The synthetic leather earpads are cushy, offering a supple contact area that makes wearing these headphones for both short and extended periods very comfortable. The oval-shaped earcups present a large space within for your ears – the Momentum 4 Wireless slip on like a comfortable pair of slippers.
Much like the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, these Sennheiser headphones can only be folded flat, with the simpler design aiming to prove the headphones’ noise-cancelling performance when dealing with wind noise.
To adjust the headphones on the head, the swivelling hinges offer a degree of movement, while the headband has an adjustable slider. The headband is also wider, absorbing pressure across the head. It’s covered in a nice fabric that mimics the case of the Momentum True Wireless 3. Its underside is finished in a silicone material, with a soft centre to accommodate that slight ridge on the top of people’s skulls – a thoughtful consideration. They weigh 293g, but feel lighter.
There’s only one button on the right earcup for power on/off, with playback, calls and voice assistants managed through the touch controls on the right earcup. In a clever use of the touch panel, pinching and then moving your fingers inwards or outwards increases the strength of the noise cancelling and Transparency modes.
It’s clever, if not the quickest mode of operation; unlike the slider on Microsoft’s Surface Headphones 2 or B&O’s H95. But the touch panel is super-sensitive to prods and pinches, and I prefer that to a lack of responsiveness any day.
Also on the right earcup is a LED indicator that shows current battery life along with USB-C charging port and a 3.5mm jack. The case for the headphones has a similar fabric cover as the headband and looks almost exactly like the WH-1000XM5, with an airplane adapter included alongside the rest of the accessories. The headphones are available in a choice of white or black.
- Very good noise cancellation
- Strong wireless performance
- Good call quality
I don’t have a pair of WH-1000XM5 against which to test the Sennheiser headphones directly, but I do have the WH-1000XM4 – and I’d rate both that pair and Bose’s QuietComfort 45 as better than the Sennheiser for noise cancellation.
The Bose’s levels of suppression are stronger than the Sennheiser, while the WH-1000XM4 conceal persistent sounds better as well; the sound of a fridge freezer at a train station was hushed better by the Sony headphones.
This isn’t to say that the Sennheiser headphones underwhelm – they’re strong when dealing with crowd noise, hushing voices, as well as handling traffic on a busy day in central London just fine. They impress in a variety of environments. But whether listening in their ANC or Adaptive modes, the Bose and the Sony deliver a quieter performance; there remains a degree of ambient noise that I can hear through the Sennheisers. The clarity of the Transparency mode is very clear and detailed, up there with the best, and doesn’t affect the quality of the audio.
Wind noise is also handled well, the design of the headphones reducing the effect of the turbulent air as it passes by (something that does affect the WH-1000XM4). The strength of the noise cancellation does tend to go up and down, though; initially, I thought this was as a result of the “adaptive” part of the noise cancellation. But it seems the headphones’ mics can be a little erratic, unexpectedly letting in noise and then closing up the seal.
Where the Momentum 4 Wireless are untouchable is their battery life. I received these headphones with 40% battery, and it took me a week to get them down to zero – and I was actively trying to drain the battery as fast as possible. These headphones can easily last around two weeks of general use. I thought the Technics were good in that department, but the Sennheisers take it a step further.
Charging these headphones from 0 to 100% takes just over two hours, which is in line with Sennheiser’s claims. Fast charging is supported, with five minutes delivering four hours of playback. There are a few features for preserving power: the headphones turn off after 15 minutes, if they’re not used; and the Smart Pause automatically stops and resumes music when the headphones are taken off the head. This worked most of the time on lifting up an earcup, but taking the headphones off and putting them back on again delivered mixed results.
In terms of Bluetooth, the headphones are compliant with the 5.2 standard with SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive. I’ve used these headphones at Victoria, Waterloo and London Bridge stations, plus in Piccadilly Circus and Soho, and I’ve found breakups in the connection to be rare, with only one real moment of instability at a packed Waterloo station. It’s been a very good performance, and better than the Sony WH-1000XM5’s wireless performance.
Call quality is decent, although not up to the WH-1000XM5’s levels. Noises were suppressed well and didn’t impact the clarity of my voice; the person on the other end of the line said traffic comes across as slight rumbles. A very good performance, and the type you’d expect from an over-ear pair at this price.
The revamped Sennheiser Smart Control app offers further means of customising noise cancelling with Wind ANC or pausing music automatically when the Transparency mode is activated. There’s a three-band setting to create a customised sound, Bass Boost and Podcast sound modes.
Sound Check creates a sound preset by asking the listener to play music and then providing an ABC choice of different presentations. At the end you get to check what you’ve done before it’s saved.
Sound Zone is the same as Sony’s Adaptive Sound Control, automatically changing ANC and equalizer presets when entering or leaving geo-ringfenced locations, with the ability to create up to 20 of these Sound Zones. Updates can still take a while to download. I didn’t time how long the first update took, but it certainly wasn’t quick.
- Balance approach to music
- Less emphasis on bass frequencies
- Clear, detailed mid-range
At normal volume levels the Momentum 4 Wireless can sound a little reserved and within themselves, but as seems to be case with many wireless headphones, raising the volume opens them up. Once a volume level has been found, the Sennheisers sound poised and precise.
As a point of comparison, they don’t have the richness of the WH-1000XM4 or WH-1000XM5 models, and their bass performance is more measured rather than punchy. There’s Bass Boost in the Smart Control app, which adds a little more punch and presence to the low-end frequencies, but the 42mm transducer used by these headphones isn’t tuned for a big bass performance. Reading our Momentum Wireless 3 review, those headphones seemed a tad more aggressive in this area.
What the Momentum 4 Wireless are tuned for is to furnish music with high levels of clarity and detail, adopting a neutral tone and expansive soundstage that’s slightly bigger and wider than the WH-1000XM4. The level of detail these headphones deliver is extensive from a broad sense to a more minute one, the cymbal crashes in Miles Davis’ So What (Tidal Master) are conveyed with impressive subtlety, the trumpets expressive in tone, the headphones producing a pleasant, cordial sound that’s easy on the ears.
The Sennheisers aren’t headphones that overplay their hand or seek to be eye (or ear) catching. They’re simply happy to relay all the detail they find to the listener’s ears without colouring the sound, taking on a more even-handed approach to presenting music.
Vocals are preserved well at the centre of the soundstage, given space to avoid other instruments and voices from encroaching on their turf. The lack of warmth grants them less of a richness that makes Chris Cornell’s voice on Black Hole Sun a little less soulful and far-reaching, but it is still smooth, controlled performance. The Sennheiser headphones treat all voices with a neutral approach, and that makes for a consistent performance across all the genres to which I listen, but offers less flavour than Sony’s approach.
Their idea of dynamism isn’t as strong as the Sony either; the beats of Kanye West’s Paranoid sound stronger and more expressive, which makes the Momentum 4 Wireless less energetic and vibrant in their performance. However, this doesn’t take away from their rhythmic ability – there might not be the same level of attack and forwardness on display, but these headphones deliver a pacy listen with high levels of clarity and detail leading to great timing and balance across the frequency range. Nothing feels lost in the mix or obscured.
Should you buy it?
For a precise, balanced sound The Sennheiser headphones don’t amp up sound in their default mode. They’re balanced, expressive and precise headphones that don’t look to add artificial emphasis to what you hear.
For best-in-class noise cancellation I think if noise cancellation is the priority then the Bose QuietComfort 45 and Sony WH-1000XM4 are better – and, at the time of review, both were available for less.
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless present an excellent sound; clear and neutral in their tone, and better than most headphones at their price. Noise cancellation is very good, blocking the majority of sounds with confidence, and wireless connectivity and battery life are high-quality for the former and class-leading for the latter.
There’s still that annoying spectre of Sony for the Sennheisers, not in the WH-1000XM5 but in the WH-1000XM4, which I regard as the more exciting listen of the two. However, if you desire a more neutral and balanced approach to audio quality, then these Sennheiser headphones deliver those qualities in spades.
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Battery drain/charge test
Tested with real world use
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The Momentum 4 Wireless go on sale August 23rd.
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