Review: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless – Flying Under the Radar

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 adopt a brand new design language.
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 adopt a brand new design language.

Sennheiser’s flagship Bluetooth headphones focus more on lifestyle features than their sound.

General Usage 72.1
Audiophile Usage 59.4

Score Breakdown

For more information, click on each category.

General Usage

What We Like
  • Excellent battery life
  • Classy design, solid build
  • Easy to use and reliable controls
  • Good microphone performance
  • Comfortable to wear for longer periods
  • Sennheiser Smart Control app offers some useful features
  • The sound is decent with EQ
What We Don't Like
  • The stock sound signature has several tuning issues
  • Below-average technicalities
  • Controls cannot be customized
  • Only 3-band EQ makes fixing the flawed tuning a challenge

Where to Buy

Introduction

Sennheiser’s wired headphones lineup is the stuff of legends. The likes of the HD650 or the more recent HD560S have earned glowing recommendations and enjoy sustained popularity.

On the flip side, their wireless headphones have had mostly mixed reception. The Momentum Wireless series has been in production for almost ten years now, and while they have always been a solid alternative, they have never set the bar.

Do the Momentum 4 Wireless change that trend, or are they merely the continuation of Sennheiser’s “almost there” wireless tendencies? Read on.

Packaging

Sennheiser opted for traditional cardboard packaging that does the job without looking flashy.

The Momentum 4 come with all the basic accessories.
The Momentum 4 come with all the basic accessories.

In the box

  • Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless headphones
  • 2.5mm to 3.5mm analog interconnect cable
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Carrying case
  • Airplane adapter

One thing I like about the carry case is the separate compartments for the supplied accessories. This way, you do not have to leave anything at home and can pack it all together.

All supplied accessories can be neatly laid in the carrying case.
All supplied accessories can be neatly laid in the carrying case.

The case has a fabric finish, similar to the case included with the Sony WH-1000XM5. The finish on the Momentum 4 case is better, though, with more robust construction.

The carrying case has an understated-yet-classy design.
The carrying case has an understated-yet-classy design.

Battery

  • Battery Life: 60 hrs
  • Charge Time (15 mins): up to 600 mins playback time

At around 60 hrs, the battery life of the Momentum 4 Wireless is excellent.

The standby battery drain is very low as well, resulting in high endurance even when not used for a while. If battery life is a priority, the Stax Spirit S3 are perhaps the only alternative, although they lack ANC and many lifestyle features.

The cherry on top: the quick charge function is as good as the competition, with 5 mins of charge providing up to 4 hours of playback. You need a suitable USB-PD adapter and cable for that to work, however.

All the ports on the Momentum 4 Wireless are located on the right side.
All the ports on the Momentum 4 Wireless are located on the right side.

UX

  • Control Mechanism: Mechanical and touch
  • Touch Accuracy: Very reliable
  • Control Symmetry on both ear-cups: No
  • Mono Use: No
  • The right earcup hosts the mechanical button and touch surface.

Sennheiser opts for a hybrid of buttons and touch-based control systems. The good thing about this is that the controls are straightforward to use once you memorize them. The bad thing is the lack of flexibility, as you cannot re-assign any controls.

The touch controls on the Momentum 4 Wireless are reliable, but they lack customization.
The touch controls on the Momentum 4 Wireless are reliable, but they lack customization.

The solitary “multi-function button” on the right side can be used to turn the device on or off and put it in pairing mode by holding it for longer than 5 seconds.

A short rundown of the touch controls is as follows:

  • Single tap: Plays and pauses music, answers or ends a call.
  • Double tap: Cycles between ANC modes, accepts an incoming call, and puts the caller on hold during a call.
  • Hold center for two seconds: Reject call.
  • Swipe forward: Fast forward music and accept calls.
  • Swipe backward: Skip to the previous track and end a call.
  • Swipe up: Increases volume.
  • Swipe down: Decreases volume.
A series of five LED lights indicate device status and remaining charge.
A series of five LED lights indicate device status and remaining charge.

The left side is bereft of any controls or ports, although two of the four mics are located on this side. The left earcup can be identified by the raised nubs on the inner side of the left hinge.

The right earcup is very busy in comparison, housing the type-C port (with fast-charging support), activity LEDs, 2.5mm analog input, and the power/pair button. It also has the remaining two mics.

Design

  • Profile: Over-ear
  • Material: ABS plastic
  • Fit and Comfort: Good.

The all-plastic construction has two advantages: lightweight and RF transparency. The default earpad and headband are padded with pleather, with soft memory foam underneath. The headband has a fabric top that is premium to the touch.

Sennheiser moved away from their signature metal headband design on the earlier Momentum models in this new release. While the design has a more industrial look now, it lacks the character of the previous models.

There is no folding mechanism. The earcups rotate 90 degrees to face downwards to fit them in the case. The hinge mechanism is solid, albeit nothing extraordinary.

The hinge is solid with no noticeable creaks.
The hinge is solid with no noticeable creaks.

Adjustments can be made by sliding the earcups up or down. This is a stepless system, so you do not know the exact position of the earcups. I am not a fan of this design, but it has become common.

The fabric covered headband makes the Momentum 4 Wireless stand out amidst the competition.
The fabric covered headband makes the Momentum 4 Wireless stand out amidst the competition.

There is ample movement across the Y-axis to better seal against the user’s face. The clamping force is somewhat strong but does not cause discomfort during long sessions.

The pleather pads are plush and comfortable.
The pleather pads are plush and comfortable.

Mic

  • Noise Cancellation: Good
  • Voice Pick-up: Good

There are four mics in total: two underneath each earcup for voice pickup, and two above the earcups to aid in noise cancellation. The sound pickup is excellent in quieter environments, while some crowd noise seeps in when on busy streets.

A handy feature called “Sidetone” allows you to listen to your voice during calls, making the phone call feel more like a real-life conversation.
There are a total of four microphones between the two ear cups.
There are a total of four microphones between the two ear cups.

Mic demo

Sound

  • Driver: 42mm dynamic driver
  • Sound Signature: Bass-boosted V-shape
  • Bass: Average
  • Mids: Average
  • Treble: Average
  • Soundstage: Average
  • Imaging: Average
  • Dynamics: Average

Unfortunately, the headphones sound utterly terrible in analog-only mode. Avoid this mode unless necessary.

The app has six presets: Rock, Pop, Classical, Dance, Hip-Hop, and Movie, plus a ‘neutral’ mode. I stuck with the default neutral preset as the other presets further botched the sound.

I also played a bit with the very limited 3-band equalizer. It manages to fix some midrange, bass, and treble issues. However, without fine-grained control, the tuning is beyond a complete fix.

Bass

Bass has a noticeable sub-bass emphasis, with the rise beginning from 350Hz. This adds impact to the sub-bass and introduces some mid-bass bleed. The bass lacks articulation, as fast-flowing bass sections lose their sense of dexterity.

Mids

The midrange has some strange peaks and dips. It peaks around 1kHz slightly, then dips a bit, then again picks up the pace from 1.6kHz onward and climbs straight up to 3kHz. Then, there is another peak around 3.6kHz

The strange tuning choices lead to a honky midrange that sounds subdued in tracks with higher-pitched vocals.

Male vocals sound husky, while female vocals fare better but still exhibit some hollowness. Strings have a sharpened leading edge to their notes, but the sense of hollowness never goes away.

Treble

Lower-treble peaks around 5kHz, but does not go overboard as the upper-mids remain in focus. Then another pair of peaks near 7kHz and 9kHz add some metallic sheen to cymbals and hi-hats. Finally, there is an upper-treble peak near 14kHz.

The mid-treble peaks make guitar riffs and the leading edge of acoustic guitars sound metallic, as is noticeable on the guitar strums of Damien Rice’s Canonball.

Cymbal hits have a “sizzled” undertone, as the lack of proper extension focuses too much on the initial hit of the cymbal and the ensuing resonance is muted abruptly. Cymbals sound thin and sharp as a result, often leading to fatigue in tracks such as As I Lay Dying’s Forever.

The general sound signature of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless is bassy V-shaped, with some noticeable unevenness in the mids and treble.

Dynamics

Macrodynamic punch is decent, with sudden bass drops having a noticeable “kick.” However, you do not get the guttural feeling that some headphones can provide. Orchestral pieces lack the sense of grandiosity during crescendos.

Microdynamics are not portrayed well, as subtle shifts in the volume are barely perceptible.

Soundstage

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless have a narrow soundstage in terms of stage width. Stage depth and height are also merely average, making this one of the weak aspects of these headphones.

Imaging

Spatial cues are also average, with good left and right delineation but poor ordinal imaging (top-left, bottom-right).

Active noise cancellation

Sennheiser offers three stages of “Active Noise Cancellation” on the Momentum 4 Wireless: full ANC, ANC off, and Transparency mode.

In general, the ANC works well, though human voices in the background appear somewhat strangely muted and offset from the center of the head. It’s a strange sensation that I have not heard elsewhere.

The filtering of high frequencies is another shortcoming of the ANC, which is not as good as the category leaders.

Nonetheless, Sennheiser’s implementation of ANC and transparency mode works well for the most part, especially their “Comfort Call” mode that allows you to hear your own voice.

Connectivity

  • Audio Codec: SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.2
  • Auto-connect when: After turning on or when picking up the headphones
  • Average drop-outs in an hour: 0 – 2 times
  • Multi-point connection: Yes

The connection is rock-solid, and pairing is fairly simple once the headphones are put in pairing mode. Bluetooth multi-point function works seamlessly, as you can connect to multiple devices simultaneously and easily switch between them.

Waterproof

  • IP Rating: IPX4.

Basic splash protection is available thanks to the IPX4 rating, but no dust or ingress protection here.

Software

  • Available on: iOS, Android
  • 6 preset EQs
  • Ability to save and import profiles across devices
  • 3-band EQ
  • Auto Pause: available.

The wear detection works seamlessly, while the auto power-off feature is handy to save battery.

The Sennheiser Smart Control app offers some basic customizations.
The Sennheiser Smart Control app offers some basic customizations.

Comparisons

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless Vs. Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony’s WH-1000XM5 are class leaders in terms of ANC performance. The Momentum 4 Wireless fall behind slightly, as human voices are better filtered out on the Sony headphones.

The build is similar, but I like the fabric headband on the Momentum 4 Wireless more.

As for the sound, in stock form, the WH-1000XM5 sound bassier and smoother. You can easily control the amount of bass via the app and make them sound cleaner and clearer. However, the bass quality is better than the Momentum 4 Wireless.

The Sonys have wider and deeper staging and superior imaging. Dynamics are similar between both.

The Sony headphones have better EQ and DSP support. On the other hand, battery life is far superior on the Momentum 4 Wireless.

Another consideration is the price gap. While the MSRP is similar, the Momentum 4 Wireless are often on sale and can be had for a significantly reduced price.

The Momentum 4 Wireless have better battery life, while the Sony WH-1000XM5 are better in all other aspects.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 are a more well-rounded alternative to the Momentum 4 Wireless.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 are a more well-rounded alternative to the Momentum 4 Wireless.

Conclusion

Sennheiser tries to follow the competition with the Momentum 4 Wireless rather than going down its own route. The result is pair of fairly generic Bluetooth headphones that blend in with the crowd but offer a competitive feature set.

Sadly, the most important aspect of any headphones, the sound, remains an afterthought. The honky mids, somewhat muddy bass, and peaky treble do not provide the sound that the Momentum 4 Wireless need to stand out.

So, the Momentum 4 Wireless will fly under the radar. I can only recommend them if, for you, their features outweigh their sound, and you get a pair for a significant discount during sales.

2 comments

  1. Sure it offers ANC off? That would be fairly new than via a software update because people were missing this feature so far. What I know of being there is the adaptive ANC toggle, but not completely switching of ANC.

  2. Please… Another review that puts Sony on a pedestal… Ok, anc is undeniably good in it, but the sound quality? I don’t remember, but Sony has a function that artificially improves imaging. More and more people are appreciating the sound quality of the Momentum 4 after adjusting it in eq based on measurements. The latest Sony already has transducers with a diameter of 30 mm … The previous ones were probably 40 mm … Well, but Sony is so great, what would they do … 😀

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