The high-end ANC wireless headphone category is starting to grow some real legs; Mark Levinson, Edifier, Master & Dynamic, T+A, Bowers & Wilkins, Focal (review forthcoming) and Sennheiser have delivered some excellent new products that have put some daylight between their models and the mid-tier wireless headphones offered by Sony, Bose, and Apple.
Where the Sennheiser Momentum 4 fit on that list is an interesting question that we’re going to try to answer.
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Over-the-Ear Wireless Headphones were released back in 2019 and became a huge hit for the company; the pandemic and acquisition of the consumer division of Sennheiser pushed back a number of new product introductions including the new Momentum Series.
Sennheiser teased the new model back in June but provided very few details and only let the media and consumers see some rather vague images of the forthcoming product.
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless Headphones are finally here; the initial reactions have been mixed about the industrial design but very enthusiastic about the sound quality. We’re not entirely sure what is so terrible about the overall design elements but beauty is the eye of the beholder.
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 are an important product for the company because they walk the tightrope between high-end models and the best-selling wireless headphones from Bose, Sony, and Apple and success here often trickles down into other categories.
Commuters and people who travel a lot for work look at this segment with great interest because all of these models offer category leading ANC, superior sound quality, and foldable designs.
- Design/Wearing Style: Full-size Headband
- Ear Coupling: Over-the-Ear
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 or 3.5 mm wired connection (cable included)
- Supported Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP
- Supported Audio Codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Adaptive
- Speaker Type: Dynamic
- Driver Size: 42mm (diameter)
- Frequency Response (speakers): 6Hz to 22kHz
- Speaker Sensitivity: 106dB SPL @ 1 kHz
- THD (Total Harmonic Distortion): <.3% @ 1 kHz
- Impedance: 470 ohms (Active), 60 ohms (Passive)
- Microphones: 2 mics per side, beamforming for noise reduction.
- Frequency Response (microphone): 50Hz to 10kHz
- Battery Time: Up to 60 hours
- Charge Time: 2 hours (full charge), 5 min = up to 4 hours
- Battery Type: Lithium-Ion 700mAh
- Power Supply: 5 Volts, USB charging via USB-C connection.
What’s in the Package
- Momentum 4 headphones
- USB-C charging cable
- Audio cable 3.5mm and 2.5mm jacks
- Airplane adapter
- Carry case
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 are a completely redesigned model and with that comes some risks; loyal customers will be so turned off by the change of direction that they will run to Apple or Sony, the new design doesn’t differentiate itself enough and gets swallowed up by the wave of new products just launched by the competition.
The industrial design changes are not very exciting. The Momentum 4 look slightly plain in comparison to the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 but this is definitely a headphone that delivers where it matters.
On a recent plane trip to watch my daughter play collegiate soccer, my eyes wandered around the various terminals and plane cabins to record what types of headphones travelers were listening to.
I travel around the country rather frequently for work and what is really starting to change are the brands that I’m seeing people wear; Bose is still the most popular, but Apple headphones are becoming less visible (as opposed to AirPods which are everywhere) and we’ve noticed far more high-end wireless headphones from Sennheiser, Bowers & Wilkins, and Master & Dynamic being used.
It’s a good trend for the industry. It also makes one more of a target for thieves in busy terminals. The rather utilitarian looking Momentum 4 don’t stand out in a way that screams “steal me!” and perhaps that’s not the worst thing in the world.
The plastic construction is not out of line for $350 ANC wireless headphones; some may bristle at that but the build quality is very high and it never felt like these were anything but high-end headphones.
I put these through a lot of bumps and bruises during my summer travel and they didn’t fall apart, get easily scratched, or feel less than solid after many months of usage.
The ear pads offer both excellent long term comfort and help to create a very good seal; passive isolation is often average on many ANC wireless headphones but the Sennheiser does an excellent job in that regard.
The headband is comfortable but could definitely use more padding on the underside because it is somewhat hard and unforgiving. The gray fabric used to finish the top of the headband doesn’t have the luxurious finish of the leather material used on the Master & Dynamic MW75 ANC Wireless Headphones, but it also gives you something to grip when placing them on your head and when you remove them.
The yoke and stanchion are constructed from high-quality plastic and we found that the operation was quite smooth ever after two months of daily usage.
After more 150 hours of listening, it is clear that the Sennheiser Momentum 4 were designed for durability and sound quality more than anything else.
Sennheiser are not the first manufacturer to use pinch control, but its implementation on the Momentum 4 is very effective; when activated, a pinch using your thumb and forefinger will turn the ANC on and allow you to increase or decrease it in small increments.
Stretching your fingers apart allows you to control the Transparency mode. The right ear cup features the touch surface and it worked without issues.
The app is required to turn on/off the Adaptive feature and it proved to be somewhat quirky in its operation until Sennheiser updated the firmware. Adaptive allows you to turn on the play/pause feature for those moments when you remove the Momentum 4 from your head during playback. When you put the headphones back on your head, music playback resumes.
You also need the app to activate the voice pass-through while in Transparency mode. Being able to pause playback when someone starts speaking to you is a huge plus.
It also allows you to have better situational awareness — please turn this feature on for yourself or children If they use ANC wireless headphones. Getting run over is not worth it to enjoy total isolation from the outside world.
Sennheiser has also integrated “nod and shake” recognition functionality which allow the user to play/pause playback using a sequence of head movements.
The standard controls built into the right ear cup allow you to play/pause music, initiate the phone assistant, power up/off, and turn on the pairing mode. The headphones will not automatically turn themselves off if they are not being used for a specific duration of time; you need to access the auto-off setting in the app and designate the amount of time or the battery will continue to drain.
The app offers a lot of features, but it is also somewhat clunky in its operation; it was my biggest area of concern over the months that I had the headphones under the review. Nothing feels very intuitive about the settings.
The supplied case is rather thin but provides enough protection and comes with internal pockets for the supplied cables, and adapters.
The Lithium-Ion 700mAh battery requires only 2 hours for a total recharge and that proved to be accurate around 90% of the time; the longest recharge took 2 hours and 20 minutes but the overall performance here was excellent.
The quick charge function was also quite effective; we averaged 3.5 to 4 hours after each 5 minute charge on the go in airport terminals and I never found myself with dead headphones.
The 60 hour battery claim on a full charge proved to be mostly accurate; 58 hours was the low end of the scale and we did manage to get 63 hours out of a single charge with ANC engaged which is very unusual performance.
The new battery and charging system is very good at holding a charge with ANC engaged and the playback times would have exceeded 60 hours with ANC turned off.
The Momentum 4 utilize four mics for ANC and phone calls; the call quality connected to my iPhone 13 Max Pro was very good but it did stumble somewhat on very busy streets with a lot of trucks and construction noise.
Some of those droning noises did bleed into my phone calls, but not enough to make calls unintelligible.
The wind noise cancellation was superb; we’ve yet to try a pair of wireless headphones that were as effective at blocking that out and it made an enormous difference while having a business call outside on the street.
The ANC is rather effective at blocking out droning noises, but not as good with high pitched sounds like car horns or someone yelling.
Sound quality does not suffer with ANC engaged and that’s a major plus with these headphones; there is a very slight reduction in overall transparency but the Sennheiser Momentum 4 don’t lose detail, bass impact, or any of their presence with it engaged.
Before I started my listening sessions with the Momentum 4, I spent some time listening to my Sennheiser/Drop HD6XX Headphones and Momentum 3 TWS Earbuds to see if the new wireless headphones had a similar tonal balance and presentation.
All 3 are very engaging headphones and earphones, and at times it felt like the Momentum 3 were the most neutral sounding with better imaging. My headphone collection includes some very expensive custom IEMs and it was surprising how well the closed-back Momentum 4s performed in comparison.
The bass response (with Bass Boost engaged) was well defined with just enough impact to keep albums like Green Day’s American Idiot from losing some its powerful bass lines and percussion.
The mid bass and upper bass were also very well controlled and defined and Mike Dirnt’s bass playing had the right amount of speed, control, and texture. There was also no bleed into the lower midrange; Billie Joe Armstrong’s vocals were clean and slightly richer sounding than through my other Sennheiser models.
Switching over to Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” bass lines were tight and rather punchy; the Momentum 4 is extremely capable with bass heavy tracks and always keeps a very tight lid on things.
The midrange performance also highlights a very high level of resolution and texture and I found myself increasingly impressed by the composure of the headphones even with the volume turned above conversation levels — not a healthy practice and should not be a daily thing for any listener.
The top end exhibited some mild compression while listening to higher strings and it became clear that the top end offers only so much extension before it pushes back. It is certainly not a hard sounding treble, but bad recordings will show it up if you push the volume too much.
Closed-back ANC wireless headphones rarely deliver an expansive sounding soundstage, but the Momentum 4 are an exception to the rule. Listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” I was quite surprised by the soundstage width and depth that seemingly moved beyond the physical edges of the ear cups and headband.
There was no guesswork required trying to place each instrument on the stage and the layering from front to back was one of the best I’ve heard on any pair of wireless headphones.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 are the current leader in the mid-tier ANC wireless category and Sennheiser has to remain competitive with it to be a success.
Some will point to the rather tepid industrial design and move on; that would be a huge mistake because the Sennheiser Momentum 4 deliver superior performance on a few levels.
The battery performance, sound quality, and call quality are all equal or superior to the Sony and Bose models that we recently reviewed.
The headband needs some additional padding, but this is not a headphone that many will find uncomfortable during long 2-3 hour listening sessions.
ANC performance is above average and clearly not better than either of the aforementioned headphones.
Does it make sense to spend $350 on these wireless headphones?
Once Sennheiser corrects some of the issues with the app, the Momentum 4 are one of the best ANC wireless headphones below $350 and superb travel companions.
For more information: sennheiser-hearing.com