Sennheiser Momentum 4 review: great noise canceling headphones | Listeners

JThe fourth generation of the Momentum Bluetooth headphones from renowned German audio maker Sennheiser are a wholesale overhaul, ditching their previous retro style for something simpler and much more comfortable. All this with 60 hours of battery life.

Undeniably expensive at £299 ($349.99 / AU$549.99), the Momentum 4 Wireless is still £50 cheaper than its predecessors and undercuts major competitors from Sony, Bose and Apple.

Extremely comfortable to wear

The new headphones have some nice design touches, like a fabric headband and metallic logos, but are much less flashy than their eye-catching predecessors. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Momentum 4s are designed from the ground up to be much more comfortable and functional than previous versions, with a more understated look. The earcups have plenty of adjustability and super soft, plush cushions for a pressure-free fit on the sides of your head. The headband’s wide, soft-touch plastic lining keeps it from slipping on your hair, while an extra-soft bit just at its top relieves pressure on the ridge at the top of your head.

They’re well-balanced and the most comfortable headphones I’ve worn in a very long time, even for eight-hour listening sessions.

Controls and Connectivity

An iPhone showing the Sennheiser Connect app controlling the settings of the Momentum 4 Wireless headphones.
The Sennheiser Connect app manages switching between devices, equalizer and noise canceling modes, firmware updates and other settings. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The headphones support Bluetooth 5.2 with universal SBC and AAC audio formats for Apple and other devices. But they also support the latest aptX Adaptive format, which offers better audio quality, lower latency, and is backward compatible with the older aptX standard, which is common on Windows PCs and Android devices.

Multipoint connects two devices at the same time, such as your phone for music and your laptop for video calls, and works extremely well. They come with a 2.5mm to 3.5mm analog headphone cable and can play audio via USB-C while charging, similar to the B&W PX7, giving you plenty of connectivity options.

The touchscreen on the right ear cup supports a set of excellent gesture controls. Swipe forward or back to skip tracks, swipe up or down for volume, tap once to pause music or twice to enter ambient sound mode. Unusually, you can also use a smartphone-like pinch-to-zoom gesture to slowly reduce noise cancellation and increase ambient sound, or vice versa, much like raising or lowering the volume on the outside world.

The music pauses when you remove the headphones while a single button activates your phone’s voice assistant or turns the headphones on and off. Press the button five times and you can mute Bluetooth while using noise cancellation, a mode designed for use on an airplane without having to listen to music.

Features

  • Lester: 293g

  • Drivers: 42mm

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 with multipoint, 2.5/3.5mm, USB-C (charging and audio)

  • Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX adaptive

  • Battery life: 60 hours (ANC on)

Crisp sound and effective noise cancellation

A photo of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless headphones lying flat on a wooden table showing ear pads and headband.
The cushions are super soft and do a good job of blocking out the world, allowing big 42mm riders to shine. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Momentum 4 continues Sennheiser’s long tradition of fantastic sound. It’s the kind of quality headphones that will have you hearing new elements in your favorite tunes, just like Sony, Apple and B&W. They have a pleasing balance of powerful, deep bass, warm mids, and sparkling highs, with no one element overpowering the others. They maintain tonal separation and preserve detail even in the most complex tracks.

The headphones do a great job with all musical genres, making them extremely adaptable while handling action-packed movie soundtracks with proper explosion and immersion. The Control app has an equalizer, bass boost, podcast mode, and a system that helps you tailor the sound of the headphones to your liking.

They have effective noise cancellation that can significantly reduce rumble, fan and road noise, and do a reasonable job on higher-pitched tones such as voices or keystrokes in an office. They can’t quite match the best from Sony or Bose, but they’re not too far off. The adaptive system automatically disables noise cancellation when in quieter locations and it handles wind noise very well, which tripped up some competitors.

You can also manually adjust the amount of outside sound let in with an in-app slider or the pinch-to-zoom gesture on the earbuds from maximum noise cancellation to full transparency, so you can have as little or as much awareness of the outside world as you prefer.

The transparency mode is also very good, although at maximum it is louder than not wearing headphones. Finally, call quality is excellent, matching the best headphones without a boom mic, even in noisy environments.

Extremely long battery life

The end of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless headset ear cups showing the USB-C charging and analog cable sockets.
They take around two hours to fully charge, with a five-minute quick charge adding up to four hours of playback when low. The headphones can be used while charging or when fully discharged via the analog cable. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Momentum 4 lasts a full 60 hours of playback with noise cancellation on, which is double that of its nearest competitors and long enough that you don’t have to worry about recharging it very often. They turn off automatically after 15 minutes of standby or when placed in the case, but I found it more convenient to turn them off manually with the power button.

Sustainability

The headphones’ battery is not replaceable, but Sennheiser estimates that it will retain at least 80% of its original capacity after 30,000 hours of listening time, or 27 years of three-hour-a-day listening, meaning that ‘it will probably never need to be replaced.

Replacement parts including cushions and cables are available. The headphones do not contain any recycled material. Sennheiser Consumer’s parent company, Sonova, publishes sustainability reports but does not operate a take-back program in the UK.

Price

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless costs £299.99 ($349.99 / A$549.99) in black or white and will ship on 23rd August.

For comparison, the Bose QuietComfort 45 costs £319.95, the Sony WH-1000XM5 costs £379 and Apple AirPods Max costs £549.

Verdict

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are some of the best performing, longest lasting and most comfortable noise canceling headphones available.

What they lack in the visual flair of their predecessors, they make up for in performance. The battery lasts for a full 60 hours of playback, with effective noise cancellation. They’re well-balanced with thoughtful adjustments to make them super comfortable even for really long listening sessions.

They support the latest aptX Adaptive standard and can connect to two Bluetooth devices at the same time. You can even use them for audio as well as charging via USB-C, and they still have an analog headphone cable. Even the controls and voice call performance are top-notch.

Best of all is the way they sound, producing the kind of sparkling audio that few big rivals match in a set of wireless headphones.

There is little to complain about. The design might not excite. They don’t fold up as compact as the best ones. You can’t replace the battery, but it will likely outlast the headphones. At £299 they’re competitively priced, if not exactly cheap.

If you want premium noise-canceling headphones, the Momentum 4s are worth every penny.

Advantages: fantastic sound, effective noise cancellation, 60 hour battery life, super comfortable, Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX Adaptive and multipoint, USB-C charging and audio, 2.5/3.5mm analog cable, excellent controls, voice quality superior, good cross-platform application.

The inconvenients: expensive, doesn’t fold up as compact as the best, less remarkable design than predecessors.

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless headphones presented in their travel case.
The Momentum 4 folds flat into a good hard case, but doesn’t collapse completely, making them slightly larger than the best when packed away for travel. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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