Sennheiser was busy. The company’s headphones Momentum 4 – the fourth generation, as the name suggests – comes with a completely new design and some additional technologies that make it an excellent contender in the wireless headphones market.
But they’re a little on the expensive side, which in the current era of caution and economic uncertainty may be a deal-breaker for savvy shoppers.
What is the cost? Well, it’s not quite as expensive as the Apple AirPods Max, but it’s not for a budget buy. And don’t expect them to be. You get a lot for your hard-earned money, especially if your audio standards are more demanding.
They hit the right notes on several fronts. First, it is very comfortable to wear. Even some better designed headphones can compress a bit, leaving you with a bit of a headache after a while. There’s a decent amount of cushioning on the Momentum 4, around the strap where it rests on your head and in the ear cups, with one of the aesthetic changes meaning Sennheiser has ditched the metal sliders from the Momentum 4. Those who loved the retro vibe of previous Momentum models will be disappointed by the change But it does make headphones a better fit, and perhaps more suitable for a wider range of head types.
This padding around the ear cups can also be useful for blocking out background noise, before using the highly effective noise canceling technology. There is a good fit on the ear – the right amount of pressure and padding – and no obvious pressure points that make them uncomfortable.
The right ear cup has some touch gestures to control music and volume, or to further cancel out noise or ambient noise. The gestures feel more intuitive than other previous gestures, especially the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) dial control.
Another area in which it excels is battery life. For a very long time, I’m used to the five- and six-hour battery life of the ANC-enabled earphones, which is fine for everyday use but not so much for long days of travel. Momentum 4 will last up to 60 hours with ANC turned on.
It charges via USB C, which is handy as you are bound to have a few cables on hand. And you can also use this wired connection to play audio and charge at the same time, if you connect it to your computer, for example. It’s a convenient feature and means you don’t have to reach for a 2.5mm/3.5mm jack cable to connect it to your computer.
Needless to say, the sound quality is top notch. Sennheiser has included support for a range of codecs, including SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX, so all your bases should be covered. It was hard to find a genre that the Momentum 4 didn’t handle easily. The bass sounded rich and deep, the music was detailed and the vocals were clear. In general, there was little to complain about.
The ANC is doing a decent amount of leverage here too. It adjusts background noise very effectively, even in environments where there are a lot of people or on a road with heavy traffic. It won’t cut everything at all, but the ANC is above average here. Since it is so adaptable, if you plan to return to the office soon, this can be a useful tool for commuting and for blocking busy office chatter.
Adaptive noise cancellation will automatically switch up and down, depending on the environment you live in. But with the Smart Control app, you can also create your own ‘sound zones’, such as the gym or office, where the audio settings can be customized automatically when you enter or leave. You’ll need to sign up for a Sennheiser account for this particular feature, or to be able to build a library of custom equalizer presets across all your devices. But the app can also be used to control various communications, or make voice calls more natural with a “side tone”.
If you plan to use the Momentum 4 for hands-free calling, there is a built-in microphone, and the audio at both ends of the call is clear.
Overall, the Momentum 4 is a worthy contender to the likes of Sony and Apple in the headphone noise-canceling stakes.
Very comfortable to wear for extended periods, and the battery life is excellent. The touch controls are more intuitive than some, especially the pinch gesture to control the level of active noise cancellation. You can delegate full control of the adaptive system, or set up your own custom sound zones.
not so good
The design is more in line with the standard over-ear headphone, missing some of what set previous Momentum headphones apart. They don’t fold up like my Sony headphones do, but they do come with their own box, so packing them away for travel isn’t difficult.
The headphones support a number of different codecs and have options for connecting to audio, both wireless and wired.
As you’d expect from Sennheiser, the Momentum 4 sounds great even if the design is minimal.