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Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
August 8, 2022
1.2m (3.5mm cable)
In the world of active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones, Sennheiser has been a mainstay for quite a few years now. So it should be no surprise that it’s looking to muscle in on the current crop of popular active noise cancelling headphones. However, Sennheiser doesn’t release new products as often as its competitors, instead electing to make fewer, but more significant refreshes. The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 Wireless is several years old, and its replacement has big shoes to fill. We spent a week with Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless to find out everything you need to know.
Editor’s note: this review was updated on January 24, 2023, to include more information on air travel, and to clear up some language.
The MOMENTUM 4 Wireless is aimed at serving the needs of commuters or people who want one set of headphones for many different listening environments.
What’s it like to use Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless?
Sennheiser’s MOMENTUM Wireless line of ANC headphones represents the company’s efforts to make a consumer-oriented set of headphones for frequent commuters with deeper pockets than your average headphone buyer. The latest iteration of this line, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, has a lot of stiff competition in its category from Bose, Sony, and Apple. However, Sennheiser has a good track record of offering things others won’t—and the same is true here.
Inside the packaging of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless is a fabric case with rigid plastic, an airplane adapter, a USB-A to USB-C cable, and a 2.5mm to 3.5mm TRS cable to use with sources that don’t have Bluetooth. While that’s quite a lot in the way of accessories, the carrying case has a mesh pocket, flexible loops, and ample room to store these comfortably.
Getting a good fit with the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless is pretty straightforward, and the somewhat thick padding with soft leatherette material has enough give to it to accommodate glasses—something I definitely appreciate. As these headphones use a plastic band instead of metal like its predecessors, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless isn’t heavy enough to cause significant strain over a period of several hours. The top part of the band is also padded with a soft material, though be careful not to over-tighten the headphones, as that band can dig into your skull if you’re careless.
When you use the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless for the first time, you’ll want to install the Sennheiser Smart Control app to ensure you have the latest firmware installed. Once you’ve powered up and put the headphones on your noggin, you’ll be able to start listening pretty much straight away. Several creature comforts only work when you turn them on with the app, so be sure to mess around with Smart Control a bit before you uninstall it if that’s your intention.
By default, the headphones have a feature called “Smart Pause” enabled, which will automatically pause your music and put the headphones into standby mode when you take them off your head. Additionally, you can also tell your headphones to automatically hold any calls you have going on with the same action. Finally, you can also alter the level of ANC to your liking, enable Adaptive ANC to automatically adjust it based on your environment, or even define up to 20 geotags to toggle different ANC modes. Of course, this all requires some data collection, so weigh how much these features mean to you if you’re squeamish about sharing that sort of thing.
These features all work as advertised, which is less common than you might think. It’s definitely a risk to cram so much into the app, but it’s definitely valuable for the right kind of consumer. If you don’t care about these features, you can simply disable them in the app, and then uninstall the app.
The Smart Control app is more worth using than most headphones apps. It has a lot more granular features and settings than the ones we mentioned above, and they’re pretty useful— stuff like being able to change the level of noise cancelling applied, getting firmware updates, or equalizing the sound. Though you may be concerned by the level of data collection going on in the background, the truth is that some of the permissions requested are necessary for these features to function.
If you’re satisfied with how the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless works out of the box, you’ll still probably want to install the app on your phone anyway, just to the headphones’ firmware up to date. However, it won’t stop working without the app. Smart Control is mainly there to be a value-add rather than an added frustration—even if you view companion apps negatively.
How do you control Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless?
Much like the Sony WH-1000X series of headphones, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless uses touch gestures to control playback and answer calls. Even if you don’t have the chart below handy, it should be easy to figure out and operate on your own.
Toggle ANC mode
Additionally, there is one button on the right side of the headphones that allows you to turn on or turn off the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, but it is also used for a few other functions. When the headphones are off, hold this button down until the lights flash and you’ll enter pairing mode. While in a call, tap it once to mute your microphone.
Hold / cycle
Multifunction button tap
How does the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless connect?
Much like any other wireless headphones, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless connects to your phone, computer, or other sources via Bluetooth. Additionally, you can use the 3.5mm jack or the USB cable to listen to music from a computer. If you elect to stick with Bluetooth, you have the option of using SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, or aptX Adaptive codecs.
We typically suggest listeners with this array of options choose the AAC or aptX HD codecs, depending on their phone. AAC is better on iPhone, while aptX and aptX HD is much more consistent on Android devices (despite aptX Adaptive offering a lot on paper). Really though, this is an extremely minor point now that phones have come so far—however, please use AAC or aptX Adaptive if latency is an issue when you use the headphones, as that will cut latency from about a quarter of a second to close to nothing (in theory). Android phone users may not always see this benefit, as these phones tend to vary a bit with their latencies.
How long does the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless battery last?
Back at the lab, we set the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless to run our standardized battery test of continuous music playback peaking at 75dB(SPL). The headphones last 56 hours and 21 minutes (with ANC on)—an exceptionally good result! As always, your mileage may vary depending on your use, but this result puts the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless far ahead of the closest competing ANC headphones, as shown:
- Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: 37 hours
- Sony WH-1000XM5: 31 hours
- Bose QuietComfort 45: 25 hours
- Apple AirPods Max: 20 hours.
What’s not often discussed is that longer battery life can mean longer life-of-battery. The fewer charge cycles you subject the cell to over a longer period of time, the longer the battery will be able to hold its charge. It’s worth thinking about if you’re particularly ecologically or economically minded. Still, for that crowd no battery is the best battery.
As well as a physical power switch (something the AirPods Max is sorely lacking), there’s an Auto On/Off feature that automatically turns the headphones on or off based on their position. If you set them down after listening, the headphones will turn off. When you put them back on your head, they will turn on.
How well does the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless cancel noise?
Like the other frontrunners in the ANC headphone category, the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless does a commendable job at preventing outside noise from reaching your eardrums. Although it doesn’t outperform its nearest competitors, keep in mind the decibel scale used for attenuation isn’t linear, so the relative difference between attenuating 30 to 40 decibels (equating to one-eighth to one-sixteenth of the perceived loudness) is much less than 0 to 10dB (no reduction to half as loud). In that light, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless hangs tight—though it is behind the pack by a little bit.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless can reduce the loudness of high-pitched noise by about 75-95%, and cancel lower-pitched noise by about 75%. That’s not quite as good as the other leading ANC headphones, but again: we’re talking about the difference between lowering outside noise by only a few percentage points more. You may notice the difference coming from something like the Sony WH-1000XM5, but it won’t be a dealbreaker. If you’d like to compare the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless to other leading ANC headphones, be sure to check out our guide on the best ANC headphones.
Commuters, students, and office workers will see the most benefit from ANC performance like this, but ANC headphones work well just about anywhere. Just make sure you’re not putting yourself in a position to miss an important announcement or inviting danger by missing the sound of an oncoming vehicle.
How does the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless sound?
Regarding the sound of the MOMENTUM Wireless headphones, Sennheiser’s main strategy has been to appeal to the mass market. The headphones typically don’t veer off into wild overemphasis of the bass or highs, though there is a little added bass. That’s definitely an improvement on the choices made by many competing headphones, but it may not always be something you specifically want in your cans. The measured response of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless is extremely close to our target curve, and that doesn’t seem accidental: most people will like the sound a lot.
Like most of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless’ competition, the headphones boost bass a little beyond what we’d like to see. You may want to tamp down the bass a little bit in the app, and that’s okay. Even before doing that, you shouldn’t have any trouble hearing low-level details in your music, or with speech intelligibility, as the highs are very well represented.
This doesn’t mean the headphones aren’t suited to critical listening, but audiophiles who are a little more particular about their tunes may want to use Sennheiser’s app to control things a little bit. In a vacuum, this product has a very good sound out of the box. The ranges where discrepancies exist between our target and the sound of the headphones are generally places where fit will determine your experience much more dramatically than any other factor, so you shouldn’t notice anything amiss day to day.
However, that’s not the whole story regarding sound quality, though I wish it were.
What our frequency response chart doesn’t show you is the fact that the two sides of this headphone sample don’t exactly function identically. The chart above shows the variation in the measurement between the left and right sides. In our testing, this always gets a cursory check, and here the variation from side to side is noteworthy. Casual listeners or people just jamming to their tunes on transit might not care about this, but when you get home and listen to your favorite songs, a tracking error like this means you may notice a slightly skewed stereo image. Here, this is caused by a narrow area of midrange sounds (around 2kHz) coming in louder on the left side than on the right. Note that variations above 10kHz are primarily caused by placement on the head, and are very hard to match perfectly due to the tiny wavelengths involved—they’re also generally a lot less noticeable than imbalances in the bass and midrange, like the one we have here.
Can you use the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless for phone calls?
Like most headphones nowadays, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless has a microphone array allowing you to take calls. While not all microphones are created equal, Sennheiser is one of a handful of companies that generally hits a certain level of quality here, considering small microphones mounted in headphones are never going to sound perfect. If you absolutely must have microphone quality better than this, you may want to add a dedicated microphone to your computer setup instead.
Take a listen to the following demo recordings from our standardized test setup for microphones. This will give you a basic idea of how well the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless handles phone calls in typical environments.
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Wind conditions):
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Street conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Overall, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless does pretty well, however it does seem to have some issues with noise rejection. This is quite common, and something you’ll run into with other headsets. It’s conceivable this may improve with updates, or it may not.
Should you buy the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless?
Sitting at a competitive price in the ANC headphones category, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless is good enough to make many people very happy, and has some tradeoffs that may make other headphones a more appropriate fit for others. Still, the fact that the headphones come in at $350 USD means consumers looking to Apple, Bose, and Sony may want to save some money by checking out Sennheiser’s latest instead (unless you’re looking at these for air travel).
The ANC is slightly behind the rest of the high-end pack, but the battery life blows every other competitor out of the water. Additionally, the sound is more pleasing than that of the Sony WH-1000XM5, even if those headphones are more suited for commuting than the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless. To learn more about how the two headsets compare, read our in-depth Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless vs Sony WH-1000XM5 article.
Most people don’t really think of Sennheiser as the “affordable” option, but the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless competes with the other bigs at a price that undercuts the pack by about $50. That alone may be enough to convince those looking for a clear answer when the tradeoffs are relatively minor.
What should you get instead of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless?
While the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless does check a lot of boxes for a lot of people, there are a couple of situations where you’ll want something else. Mainly, these reasons center around the performance of the headphones varying slightly against others.
Frequent commuters may want the Sony WH-1000XM5 instead
If you find yourself listening to your headphones out in the world exclusively, then you’ll be much better off with the Sony WH-1000XM5 instead. For one thing, it attenuates a bit more noise. For another, its microphone does a stellar job at rejecting sounds from your environment—meaning people being noisy around you won’t annoy the people you’re talking to on calls as much.
Sony WH-1000XM5 microphone sample (Office):
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Office conditions):
On top of that, the sound of the Sony WH-1000XM5 is more suited for commuters as well, even if that means it performs “worse” in our sound quality tests. By boosting the bass and low mids, the headphones increase their odds of being heard over the engine noise. On the other hand, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless attempts to keep its sound a little more even—meaning that low-pitched outside noise will have a higher chance of annoying you over the sound of your music.
If you mostly listen to music in friendlier environments like at home, it’s probably a much better idea to pick the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless. Not only is the sound of higher quality, but the battery life is also superior. Absent the concern of loud noise, the pros and cons are strongly in favor of the Sennheiser headphones here.
The Bose QuietComfort 45 is a great alternative to the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, as the QC 45 has better ANC. Noise canceling isn’t the only factor that matters when buying headphones: most people care about sound too. Out of the box, Sennheiser’s headphones are sure to please more listeners, which is great news for people who don’t like to EQ their headphones. If you’re interested in learning more, read our Bose QuietComfort 45 review.
Those looking to save money will sacrifice a lot to get the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 or Monoprice BT-600 ANC
If you just can’t spend $350 on ANC headphones right now (and let’s be honest, that’s a lot bit of money), you could trade down a bit and grab the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 or Monoprice BT-600 instead. We won’t lie, it’s a sizeable step down: but that also comes at a severely reduced price tag.
Both of these headphones offer comparable ANC to the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, but at the expense of sound quality and extra features. Sure, not everyone needs great sound quality or bells and whistles, but it’s not a small tradeoff. Each of these headsets has a sound that’s very much of the “entry-level” variety, even if they’re decent enough for the sub-$150 range. If you need ANC at a low price, these are going to be your best options. Not really competing with the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, just a reality of the budget.
Frequently asked questions
Yes. However, the difference is not as stark as it appears on a chart. In general, the Sony WH-1000XM5 offers about 5dB more noise reduction than the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, which is only a few percentage points better in terms of how much outside noise gets through.
Yes. Company materials claim you can get 6 hours of listening with a 10-minute charge, though this may not be a perfect estimate.
The headset comes in at just over 290 grams, which is on the heavier side for ultra-long listening sessions. However, it’s more than fine enough for commuting between 1-2 hours.