Review: The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Is a Top Contender in the ANC Headphones Market
If battery life is what you prize most in a pair of headphones, these might be for you
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I’ve tried about 15 headphones over the past two years but had yet to experience anything from Sennheiser. As such, I wasn’t sure what to expect when the Momentum 4’s landed on my desk a couple of weeks ago. But since then, I’ve been mostly impressed with the overall experience. The $350 Momentum 4 headphones sound great and have amazing battery life, but it’s clear there are a couple of areas that need work — or just flat out don’t work. Let’s dive in.
• 2 mics per side for beamforming noise reduction
• Hybrid Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation
• Touch controls on the right earcup
• Up to 60 hours of listening time with ANC
• 2 hours to recharge via USB-C
• Bluetooth 5.2
• 3.5mm to 2.5mm audio cable included
• The Momentum 4’s sound quality is good and maybe even close to great. Don’t get me wrong, there’s little to fault when it comes to the sound that the Momentum 4’s pump out, but they’re not the best wireless headphones I’ve tested. To my ears, that honor goes to the AirPods Max or Sony’s WH-1000XM5. There’s plenty of bass, while the treble and mids sound good. I have no overall complaints about the sound quality, and if you’re producing something close to the top competitors, as these do, it’s worth noting.
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• Support for Multipoint connectivity is something every pair of headphones and earbuds should have. Multipoint allows you to connect to two devices simultaneously, say a MacBook Pro and an iPhone. You can then listen to music streaming from your Mac, but when you get a phone call on your iPhone, you can answer it without having to worry about switching connections or taking the headphones off.
• Auto play/pause is one of my favorite features I’ve seen other device makers borrow from the original Apple AirPods, and I really enjoy the fact that the Momentum 4’s use it. Each ear cup can detect when it’s over your ear, and when it detects you’ve lifted it up, it’ll automatically pause whatever you’re listening to. And when you put the headphones back on, it’ll automatically start playing again, as long as your device and the headphones are still connected. Speaking of which, the headphones will automatically turn off after sitting idle for 15 minutes.
• Battery life is nothing short of amazing. Sennheiser estimates over 60 hours of use, and in my experience it’s definitely been close to that amount of time. The headphones use USB-C to charge, and can fully juice in about two hours.
What kind of works:
• The Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) provided by the Momentum 4 is good, but not as strong or aggressive as other headphones I’ve tested. To be clear, it’s not on par with the AirPods Pro Max or the Bose 700 in my experience.
I tested the Momentum 4’s mostly in my home office, which has a noisy heater/AC unit, a couple of dogs who bark at the door to let them in or out, and a mechanical keyboard that’s equipped with very loud clickity-clackity keys. Using the Smart Control companion app, you can make small adjustments to how aggressive ANC or Transparency mode is.
When ANC is cranked all the way up, I can still hear my keyboard as I type away (including on this very review) — something that’s normally drowned out. Transparency mode doesn’t quite work as well as it does on the likes of the latest AirPods Pro, but it’s good enough to let ambient sound through without overpowering whatever you’re listening to. Both features do their respective jobs, but at this price, I wanted more.
• The Sennheiser Smart Control app on the iPhone has a ton of controls and options to tailor and customize the listening experience on the Momentum 4’s, but I had a heck of a time getting the headphones paired with my iPhone to actually listen to music. Eventually, I discovered that connecting the headphones to the app before pairing the headphones in my iPhone’s Bluetooth menu meant I could control settings and make adjustments, but I couldn’t actually listen to music through the headphones. They simply didn’t show up as an audio source. Confusing and not at all how I expected the setup process to work.
Outside of the weird setup process, the app has quite a few features that are useful. For example, you can create custom locations — home, gym, office, for instance — where the app automatically applies your predefined settings. You can also adjust how your own voice sounds during a call, or turn on adaptive ANC based on the environment you’re currently in.
What needs work:
• Gesture controls are hit or miss. More specifically, the controls to enable ANC or Transparency mode — which is done by opening or closing two fingers in a pinching motion on the right ear cup — isn’t something I’ve had success with. The first time I went through the demo during the initial setup, I was able to get the hang of the gesture. In subsequent pairing processes, I’ve since lost the magic touch, er, gesture to properly trigger it every time. The app makes it easy to watch as the slider moves whenever the gesture is properly registered, incrementally changing the mode in whatever direction you’re requesting. I just wish it was more consistent and predictable.
• The Equalizer looks to be minimal, at best. I don’t often dig into the equalizer section of companion apps for headphones and earbuds and go through each adjustment and option. Instead, I rely on presets to fine-tune my listening experience. That said, the equalizer controls on the Smart Control app looks to be bare bones and not offer a lot of customization for audio aficionados who want more granular control.
At $350, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 definitely punches above its price range. The sound quality is nearly on par with more expensive headphones, and when you pair that with a battery life of over 60 hours, multipoint connectivity and auto play/pause, there’s a lot to like about the Momentum 4’s. However, the gesture controls are hit or miss and the setup process could be improved.
If you’re looking for a high-quality but relatively affordable pair of headphones and battery life is of the utmost concern for you (it’s ok if you don’t require the absolute best sound; these are plenty good), then the Momentum 4 might be your best option.
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