Sennheiser's previous-generation Momentum Wireless headphones have always had a pretty distinct look that was part retro, part modern, and stood out for the exposed metal on their headband. For better or worse, that's all gone now, and the new, Sennheiser's flagship noise-canceling headphones, look a bit more subdued and also a bit more like some of its competitors. Available for preorder Aug. 9 for $350 (£250, AU$500), the Momentum 4 ship on Aug. 23 in two colors -- black and white.
While I haven't had a chance to test the Momentum 4 Wireless long enough to post a full review, I did get a chance to play around with them for a few days and have been generally impressed with the listening experience, though I'm still trying to figure out whether they actually rise above competitors like the($400) and ($400) -- or not. The ($279 to $329) is another model we like in his price range.
The one big design issue with the earlier(2019 release) was that the headphones folded up but not flat. The Momentum 4 Wireless do fold flat (though now they don't also fold up like some models do), and most people will appreciate that. The case is similar in size to that of the Sony XM5 and thanks to their plush memory foam ear pads, I found the headphones quite comfortable to wear, though maybe not quite as comfortable as the Sony. That Sony model weighs in at 250 grams, while this Sennheiser tips the scales at 293 grams.
The Momentum 4 Wireless offers superior performance over the Momentum 3 Wireless in every regard, though the biggest gains are with noise canceling and voice-calling performance as well as battery life, which is outstanding at up to 60 hours at moderate volume levels. There's also a transparency mode that allows ambient sound in and the ability to create a custom sound profile in the Smart Control app for iOS and Android using the built-in EQ, sound modes and a new Sound Personalization feature that "assesses the user's listening preferences and adjusts the listening experience according to their taste."
Additionally, I liked how the headphones automatically turn on when you pick them up and put them on and automatically turn off after 15 minutes if you stop using them. And last but not least, Sennheiser says these offer multipoint Bluetooth pairing (they utilize Bluetooth 5.2), which allows you to pair two devices simultaneously to the headphones, such as a smartphone and PC. (I didn't get a chance to test the multipoint but will confirm that it works once I do.)
Equipped with 42mm drivers, Sennheiser says the Momentum 4 Wireless offer "best-in-class" sound, which is debatable, of course. I'd say the Momentum 4's sound quality is right there with other models in this price range -- they sound excellent, with the requisite well-defined, punchy bass, relatively wide soundstage (they sound pretty open) and smooth treble that brings out some of the finer details in well-recorded tracks. They're a pleasure to listen to. However, my initial reaction was that they didn't necessarily beat the competition on the sound-quality front.
I had some trouble connecting my early review sample to my iPhone 13 Pro, so I mainly tested the headphones with a couple of Android smartphones using the aptX Adaptive codec for wirelessly streaming high-resolution tracks from the Qobuz music streaming service. In theory, that setup should offer a pretty optimal listening experience. (In addition to aptX Adaptive, the Sennheisers support AAC and SBC.)
I'll be spending some more time with the Momentum 4 Wireless headphones in the coming days and will be able to add more depth and comparisons to my initial observations and fully test them for voice calls (they have two beam-forming microphones on each ear cup dedicated to voice calls) and noise canceling, which I thought was significantly improved and is at least in the same ballpark as Sony's and Bose's noise canceling, though maybe not quite up to their playing level (the Momentum 3 Wireless didn't offer particularly good noise canceling).
While some people may be a little disappointed that their design has become a bit too straightforward and less distinctive (with less premium materials), they essentially check all the boxes for what you want in a premium noise-canceling headphone from the standpoint of comfort, features and performance. We'll see how their price shakes out down the road, but stay tuned for the full review before the headphones ship on Aug. 23.