An experiment for comprehensible headphone tests
by David Lee
A completely new design, better noise cancelling, great sound, plenty of battery and reliable operation. That's the new Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless - I tested it.
In terms of design, Sennheiser is making a new kind of one-size-fits-all. The Momentum 4 Wireless look like almost all over-ear headphones. The typical retro design of the ear cups is no longer present in the fourth generation, Sennheiser is taking a different approach. The headphones thus look average, but chic at the same time.
Sennheiser has also made some technical changes to the new headphones: The battery runs for 60 hours, the active noise cancelling is better and the app has got new functions - and the sound leaves hardly anything to be desired. Find out below how the headphones performed in my everyday test.
. Like the models from Sony and Bose, the Momentum 4 are made of plastic. Only the headband is covered with grey fabric. On the inside, the headband is padded much softer than its predecessor. In addition, the padding of the predecessor was divided with a seam in the middle, which is why the headphones pressed on my head after wearing them for a long time. This is no longer the case, I can wear the Momentum 4 for hours and hardly notice it. The ear cups are also very softly padded, comfortable and fit my ears like a glove. When I wear glasses, nothing presses on me and the pads still seal almost equally.
Only the material of the inner padding takes some getting used to - it feels like the soft silicone of a sex toy. Everyone I put the headphones in the hand to test this thesis finds the texture of the synthetic leather special. On the other hand, the padding is soft, fine and non-slip. Also, despite the plastic, I don't get hot ears. . However, the new Sennheiser design has one obvious disadvantage: the ear cups can no longer be folded in. The new Momentum takes up more space in the backpack than the old one. Sennheiser is thus doing the same to Sony, Bose and Bang & Olufsen, all of which are launching models that no longer fold.
The size adjustment of the headband is now done with a pull-out plastic part. This is the same size all over, which looks smart. For people with a small head, the new, stepless system is more advantageous, as nothing sticks out any more.
The earpieces are now adjustable.
The ear cups can be twisted in for transport. This allows you to wear the Momentum 4 comfortably around your neck. With the predecessor, the ear cups pressed on my collarbone, which was painful.
. From the neck back to the head, the Momentum 4's good sound is striking. When the Swiss Sonova group took over Sennheiser's headphone division, Sennheiser fans wondered if the sound quality would remain the same. The Sennheiser Momentum range is known for its good sound.
To my ears, the Momentum 4 does not sound significantly different from its predecessor. But I like the sound a little better. In direct comparison, I find the new model a little clearer with more bass. The low frequencies are always controlled and don't get out of hand. The mids sound precise and, unlike other headphones, they are present. The treble is clear and detailed - just the way I like it.
Colleague David Lee will soon be measuring the Momentum 3 and Momentum 4 with his new measuring device, the MiniDSP Ears - then we'll see in black and white whether the new one really is better than the old one.
For those who want even more bass, mids or treble with the Momentum 4, the equaliser in the Sennheiser app can be used to tweak the sound and make audible changes. The specially created preset can be saved. There is also a preset that boosts the bass and a podcast mode for better speech intelligibility.
In summary, the Momentum 4 Wireless sounds very good. People who want good sound from Bluetooth headphones will most likely be happy with it.
The battery life of the new headphones is very good: a full 60 hours at medium volume. By comparison, most over-ear headphones have 20 to 30 hours of battery life. The Momentum 3 offers 17 hours, Sony's new WH-1000XM5 30 hours. In my test, Sennheiser's stated battery life comes close; I only had to charge the Momentum 4 once. And if you do run out of battery: You can also listen to music while charging.
. Even the predecessor had active noise cancellation. This did not work as well as with the competition. Sennheiser has clearly improved on this: I can hardly hear the hum on the train any more and in an open-plan office the Momentum 4 can filter out most of the chatter. Only high-pitched sounds - for example the squeaking of a door or high-pitched voices - still come through.
The sound does not change when active noise cancellation (ANC) is switched on, and without music, hardly any background noise is audible. This did not bother me when listening to podcasts. In the Sennheiser Connect app you can adjust the strength of the ANC according to location. You can also adjust the ANC on the earpiece itself.
If you want the opposite of Active Noise Cancelling, i.e. Transparency mode, you can also switch this on at the headphones. In this mode, outside noise is picked up by the microphones and emitted through the earpieces, so that you can hear it even though they are passively sealed.
I've used the headphones for years.
I went cycling in the city with the transparency mode on. I heard just enough to avoid becoming a safety hazard, but I wasn't comfortable. Especially lower frequencies come through more quietly in transparency mode - for example, an approaching car. That is not advantageous with a bicycle. On the other hand, I hear high-pitched noises - like the squeaking of my old bicycle chain - louder. If you want to break the prevailing etiquette, you can also leave the Momentum 4 on your head during a conversation; in transparency mode, you will hear the person you are talking to clearly enough. .
Some love it, others hate it: operation by means of touch gestures. The predecessor still had five haptic buttons on the ear cups, now there is only one on/off button. Sennheiser has completely revised the rest of the controls, which now use gestures on the earphones.
I like touch controls when they work reliably and without delays. Otherwise, they drive me crazy. With the Momentum 4, the controls work accurately and reliably. What's more, you can adjust everything important on the headphones themselves: Tapping once stops and starts the music, swiping up and down adjusts the volume. Swiping forwards or backwards takes you to the previous or next song. Double-tap to switch between active noise cancelling and transparency mode. "Zoom in and out with two fingers to adjust the strength of the ANC.
Only that the headphones acknowledge every touch with a beep bothers me. This lets me know that the headphones have received the command, but the beeps annoy me. At the time this review was published, the tones could not be deactivated in the app. The same applies to the voice that gives you additional information about the headphone status. That's a shame, because when the Sennheiser voice announces to me in the middle of a song that I've reached the maximum volume, my toenails almost roll up every time. .
Sennheiser is known for good sound quality, but voice quality has been lacking in the past. When talking on the phone, how well you are understood depends not only on the headphones themselves, but also on other influences. The reception can strongly influence the quality. I therefore record locally on a laptop with Windows 11 via Bluetooth in various settings. First you can convince yourself of the voice quality in a quiet environment.
Environmental noise affects call quality. I therefore run a techno track in the background at medium volume. The Momentum 4 has particular difficulty filtering out the low frequencies, which can be heard throughout the recording.
The third comparison is the recording with the previous model. The quality is not really convincing, but the difference to the new model is audible.
Sennheiser has not only revised the headphones with the launch, but also the Smart Control app. New features include the aforementioned sound zones, in which the strength of the ANC can be adjusted, and the "Sound Check" function, in which the app suggests the best presets for you. An account must be created for both functions. Otherwise, you can use the app without registering.
At the top of the app, you can manage the active connections. Thanks to Multipoint, the headphones maintain an active Bluetooth connection with two devices simultaneously. If a third device is added, you can switch it on and off in the app.
One annoying thing about the app is that it sometimes doesn't recognise the headphones even though they are already connected via Bluetooth. I then had to disconnect the headphones or close the app and restart it. Apart from that, however, it works well.
The headphones are connected via Bluetooth 5.2 and the codecs SBC, AAC, aptX and aptX Adaptive. Unlike Sennheiser's older true-wireless models, I had no connection problems. The connection is stable and reaches about 25 metres.
The connection to the laptop under Windows 11 also works quickly and reliably. After a team call, I can simply switch back to the mobile phone. The only thing is: if the computer is not muted, all the notification sounds also come on the headphones. They stop the music for a few seconds each time - even if the music is playing from the mobile phone. It is not possible to turn off the notification sounds on the headphones.
The headphones come with a smart hard case in a new shape - the case of the Momentum 3 always reminds me of a hatbox. Instead, the older case is a little smaller, as the predecessor headphones can be folded to fit inside the case.
Sennheiser has changed and improved many things in the fourth Momentum model. To mention the most important again: the design, the controls, the battery life, the active noise cancelling and the app. The design is debatable - I liked the retro flair. One clear disadvantage, however, is that the new Momentum is no longer foldable. It needs more space.
Compared to Sony's WH-1000XM5, the ANC doesn't feel quite as good and Sony's app works more reliably. What sets the Momentum 4 apart from other over-ear headphones is its excellent sound and exceptional battery life - two very important qualities in a headphone.
Testing devices and gadgets is my thing. Some experiments lead to interesting insights, others to demolished phones. I’m hooked on series and can’t imagine life without Netflix. In summer, you’ll find me soaking up the sun by the lake or at a music festival.