TLDR: Sennheiser nailed it with these headphones.
Pros: longest battery life in its class, excellent audio quality, multipoint device switching
Cons: ANC modes can be frustrating
The premium noise-cancelling headphone segment has three or four big players: Sony, Bose, Beats and, more recently, Apple. Compared to these offerings, Sennheiser’s latest Momentum 4 wireless headphones are generally very attractive – they cost less than Sony (XM5, see recent review on Independent.ie), far less than Apple (AirPods Max, see review on Independent.ie) have longer battery life than Bose (QuietComfort 45) and more advanced than Beats (Studio 3 Wireless).
I’ve been using them for work and play for over two weeks and have had the opportunity to compare them to some of the best headphones in the competition. Here’s what’s “really good,” “fairly good,” and “bad” about them.
1. The really good
(i) Battery Life: That is sensational. Sennheiser claims it has up to 60 hours with active noise cancellation technology. I didn’t measure it exactly because I haven’t really had to charge them in two weeks of use. This includes parts of the day on Zoom calls, music, and some general wear in the buffer zone just to give my head a little extra rest while I go about my business.
(ii) Comfort: With headphones like these, comfort and fit are absolutely crucial – just as important to me as audio quality considering how long I sometimes wear them. The Momentum 4 headphones excel here, with an extra-wide headband that effectively distributes weight more evenly and creates less pressure on your head. This headband also has a small “fontanelle” cut-out on the inside of the headband which adds to that extra comfortable effect. Sennheiser has also struck a really nice balance between ANC-friendly pressure from the cups around your ear (which blocks more noise) and something that doesn’t cause any discomfort.
(iii) Multipoint Connections: While I’d expect it from a premium set of wireless headphones, Sennheiser’s Multipoint is the quickest and most painless implementation of multipoint device switching I’ve seen to date. You can automatically switch from a phone to a tablet or laptop (or any other phone) without having to fiddle with manual connections in Bluetooth settings. This is especially useful if you’re using the headphones with a laptop and a call comes in on your phone where the Momentum 4 will automatically switch to your handset. It works between any two devices it is connected to at the same time.
(iv) The audio quality: This is one of the best wireless noise-cancelling headphones that rivals Sony’s excellent (and more expensive) WH-1000XM5. These include aptX Adaptive, which lets you listen to “high definition” music from services like Tidal; Try going from Chemical Brothers “Under The Influence” to Beck’s “Turn Away” to Hans Zimmer’s “Time” and you’ll see what I mean. This is a real, soul-stirring tool. (Coincidentally, the 42mm drivers are built in Ireland.)
2. Its pretty good
(i) The price: these are €50 cheaper than their predecessors, an unusual and welcome development in such an inflationary age. This means that they are very reasonably priced compared to almost all of their direct competitors.
(ii) Active Noise Cancellation: This is what you’d expect from a premium set of headphones, with one small quibble (see below).
(iii) Better than usual touch controls: Touch controls on the external panels of wireless headphones can be tedious and unpredictable. The Momentum 4’s controls are a bit better, and include a handy “pinch-to-zoom” feature to control the balance between maximum noise-cancellation and ambient or transparent modes.
(iv) Call quality: wireless headphones are at the bottom of the list in my experience when it comes to wireless call quality. But they do an exceptionally good job.
3. The bad
(i) Switching ANC mode can be annoying: The default setting on these headphones sometimes toggles between ANC and “transparent” (let other sounds in) when the wind blows. It’s supposed to help with phone calls, but it’s pretty annoying when you’re just trying to concentrate outside and there’s traffic whistling in the wind over and over again. You can turn it off in the app, but it takes a bit of discovery to figure out why it’s happening in the first place. And even when you’ve got the right setting, the noise-cancelling level still varies slightly depending on what it thinks is right, rather than what you prefer. I hope Sennheiser will fix this in a future firmware update.
(ii) you do not fit: While most premium headphones are now reverting to non-foldable formats, it’s still a shame to see. That means you need more space in your bag to carry them.
(iii) A little bland looking: While these headphones are exceptionally comfortable, the design is otherwise a bit unimpressive. While that might come as a relief to people who aren’t trying to make a fashion statement with their headphones, it also makes them a little boring to look at.
These are great. Sony’s WH-1000XM5 are slightly better at noise cancellation, but these are slightly more comfortable, have better multipoint connectivity and match the best for audio quality.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/review-sennheiser-ups-its-headphones-game-with-momentum-4-wireless-41960458.html Review: Sennheiser ups its headphone game with Momentum 4 Wireless