Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless Headphones Review
Matthew Jens auditions this new pair of compact over-ear headphones…
MOMENTUM 4 Wireless Headphones
It's a tough sell. In the age of rising prices, inflation, stock shortages and things just generally being expensive, it's more than a little suspicious when Sennheiser comes out of the gate saying, “hey, you know our flagship wireless headphones? We have a new one that's better, but also cheaper…”
That's an eyebrow raiser alright – but on paper, at least, it's hard to argue. The new Momentum 4 offers a claimed 60 hours of battery life compared to 17 hours previously – the longest I've ever seen on headphones – and that rating is with noise cancelling switched on! So let's have a closer look to see if this swanky new in-flight companion is a first-class audio experience, or should be in the cheap seats at the back of the aeroplane…
In a decisive swing, Sennheiser has moved away from the premium, fancy and flush materials of the older Momentum models and instead gone for the hardcore travel form factor instead. No more fancy stitched leather this time; instead, you find robust-yet-ridiculously lightweight plastics. Think less Mercedes, more Honda…
This is a clever move, as it's more practical. If you want a big, heavy, no-holds-barred Bluetooth headphone, you can mortgage your house for the Airpods Pro Max. But if you want something you can wear for 10 hours comfortably on a flight? Now your choice has become a bit more complicated. Coming in at 293 grams, this design is 43g heavier than the Sony XM5 (which is negligible) and 91g heavier than the AirPods Pro Max (which is not so negligible).
It's not just the overall weight though, it's how it's distributed. With an excellent sense of balance, super squishy pads, and just enough clamping force to stay snug, the earbuds sit so evenly and comfy on my head that I would have no issue wearing them for long-distance flights. The touch-sensitive controls work well enough, and with only one button on the side for powering the unit on/off, you'll have no choice but to use them. Frustratingly, the touch panel areas are also fingerprint magnets, so I regularly wiped the outside to keep them looking clean.
The carrying case is a fairly standard affair, comparable with current offerings from Bose and Bowers & Wilkins. It has custom holes and pockets for connectors and cables, so you can tell from a glance what's missing – a neat party trick that I'm a big fan of. These no longer fold; instead, you only have the option to swivel the cups inward for storage.
I could also write a novel about how incredible the Sennheiser Smart Control app has become. With it, you're able to customise a 3-band EQ, adjust noise cancelling settings, and even set zones for specific locations. For example, when I listen at home, it will turn on ambient noise mode, whereas when I'm at work, I get noise cancelling. Very clever.
Listening to Without You by Low Roar, it is difficult to ignore the depth and texture of the bass. It's not a cheap and cheerful slam; it's a detailed, energetic and controlled pounding that accompanies music with lots of low-end content wonderfully, even when fighting against the cabin noise of flying. Midrange response is natural, smooth and inoffensive; it makes you forget that you're listening to Bluetooth headphones. It's incredible how far this technology has come in the past few years, and the sound coming from these headphones is testament to this.
The proprietary 42mm drivers are angled inside the cups to give a wonderfully expansive soundstage. This is a significant departure from the Momentum 3, and takes a leaf from the Bowers playbook to provide a greater sense of space without impacting the sound in any negative way. If you find any part of the spectrum a bit much (I don't), you can use the 3-band EQ to tone it down. I do wish this were a 5-band to keep it a step above the offerings from Bowers & Wilkins or Bose, but I am happy it's here regardless.
Noise cancelling was always a 'cherry on top' with the Momentum line, rather than the headline feature. But Sennheiser has ramped up its efforts significantly here. These won't completely isolate you from the outside world like the Airpods Pro Max, but are roughly on a par with flagship offerings from other brands for the time being. This wasn't always the case with Sennheiser products, so kudos to the Germans for finally making it through the barrier.
The new Momentum 4 is a little cheaper than what came before, while sacrificing some of its premium finish and foldability in favour of comfort, balance, weight, and battery life. Is the tradeoff worth it? In this reviewer's opinion, yes. These new Sennheiser over-ear headphones are business class for your ears; it's just that this time they'll last you for the entire journey – and home again – without needing a charge.
Constantly keeping himself busy, Matthew is a production manager, Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt, Head-Fi fanatic, coffee enthusiast and all-round cool Dad.
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