I’ve written a lot about Sennheiser products of late, and for decades they’ve been my go-to source for audio reproduction, from the cans I use when recording right through to my high-end reference pair for critical listening. I was anxious to try out their top line wireless circumaural model, a.k.a. the traditional “headphone” form factor, to see what this storied company could do with that form factor. The Momentum 4 headphones have high expectations to live up to, so how did they fare? Read on to find out!
Specifications for the Sennheiser Momentum 4 headphones
- Bluetooth 5.2 – SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX adaptive
- Noise cancellation – hybrid adaptive
- Frequency range – 6Hz to 22 kHz
- Transducer – 42mm dynamic
- Battery life – 700 mAh, 60 hrs playback (ANC on, mid-volume level)
- Microphones – 2 per side, beamformed for noise reduction
- Includes carry case, USB-C charge cable, 2.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable, airline adapter
- Weight – 0.65 lbs
Look and feel of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Headphones
There’s a fine line between appearing “premium” and being pragmatic about real world usage, and while on first blush this model may appear a bit downmarket it’s clear that design decisions were made with performance in mind. From the sides of the headphones to the structural elements, it’s almost entirely constructed out of plastic. Sure, it’s sturdy, but other manufacturers have crammed more metal parts to provide a bit more shininess to the look. Of course, the advantage here is weight and stability, a perfect “compromise” of function over needless form. The headband itself is wrapped in a cloth-like material which is quite attractive and functional in equal measure, while the cups themselves are comfortably padded. Overall there’s no particular “wow” factor externally, and most of the magic of this model is found when you actually place them on your head.
Using the Sennheiser Momentum 4 headphones
With the soft earpads and well designed headband the Sennheiser Momentum 4 will provide many hours of comfortable listening without some of the fatigue that befalls other circumaural models or even in-ear solutions. For those with a big head or lots of hair (like this reviewer) there is a bit of excessive clutch pressure applied even when fully extended, and depending on your ear shape you may find them touching against the soft material within the earcups. Each earcup is handily marked with left and right, making it hardly a chore to know which way to doff the cans.
The touch sensitive outer area of each cup provides best-in-class gesture based navigation, from pinch-to-set noise cancellation vs. transparency levels (provided that adaptive ANC is off in the app), to the usual play/pause/next track gestures. As with any model I sometimes find myself accidentally stopping playback when adjusting them on my head, but with quick response and a wide area to select, getting things going again was no problem.
Sound quality of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 headphones
Listening to a wide variety of sounds showed that these are powerful, musical, and slightly bass-forward headphones, perfect for the vast majority of listeners that will be taking them on the go. In fact, compared to their similarly situated competitors, it’s fair to say the Momentum 4 are at least as capable sound-wise, with a price that’s actually even more economical. It’s a real treat to see that these more consumer-friendly models borrow much of the DNA from Sennheiser’s professional/audiophile lines, and they’ve done nothing to betray their reputation for exceptional quality. For those on the go, call quality was excellent, and the beamformed mics did well to cut through all but the most egregious of wind noise.
Kudos yet again to Sennheiser for continuing to support wired options, a benefit not only to those wishing to get the most out of their drivers while bypassing the DAC, but for those on planes or other situations where a wired option is simply the best solution. Being able to quickly switch back and forth is ideal, and long may this be an integral part of this kind of headphone solution. That said, it seems rather than a full bypass the wired option still goes through the internal amplification—I would have preferred a “pure” mode that allows all audio control to be set from my external device. While this is a small check against them if used as a reference pair of ‘phones’, it’s still a very happy thing indeed that we’ve got the option of wired when desired.
Audio refining technology
Even with deep lower frequencies playback was smooth and never brittle or crackly. While the previous model of Momentums included a “fine tune” feature, that’s replaced here with a simpler but less robust 3-band EQ, allowing for some personalization of the sound to taste if desired. It’s clear from listening that they are tuned for rich mids and detailed highs—an expected sound signature from this storied brand that emphasizes clarity over messing too much with the source material.
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 use the latest aptX Adaptive codec which unfortunately only runs on certain playback devices, not including the most popular mobile phones from Samsung, Apple, and so on. Still, given the advantages of Qualcomm’s latest solution it’s acceptable they’ve selected this higher-end solution that provides both excellent sound and low latency for compatible devices. For some the previous aptX HD implementation can be extracted from the adaptive signal, though here the latency while watching video playback, particularly off a PC, makes it a poor solution. For regular users with either vanilla aptX or even SBC/AAC and requiring a wireless connection these are still fine sounding phones.
Noise cancellation on the Sennheiser Momentum 4
The implementation of ANC on this model is quite sophisticated, even if the construction of the over-the-ear drivers does somewhat exacerbate that awkward “sucking” feeling on your ear canals that noise cancellation engenders in some listeners. The positive is that the implementation is more nuanced than most, allowing to you to easily dial in between full transparency mode or full immersion.
Unfortunately, at of time of this writing the biggest drawback of the model is by far the fact that despite numerous capabilities of both gesture based control and the robust app there’s no way to simply disengage ANC fully. The lack of ANC bypass mode is an absolute blunder, and given that it’s likely an easy fix with a software update it’s something that the Sennheiser engineers should be dedicated to resolving quickly. Given that other models from the manufacturer include this capability this is a major downfall with this particular set.
Final thoughts on the Sennheiser Momentum 4 headphones
There are quibbles to be sure with these headphones. The lack of bypass both for analogue input and (most critically) to be able to disable ANC are strikes against the model. Yet these issues pale in comparison to just how much Sennheiser got right about the Momentum 4s. They’re comfortable, robust, exceptionally musical headphones with class-leading gesture control. Sure, they’re not the flashiest, they don’t collapse into the smallest package, and they lack some of the shininess of their competitors. But when it comes down to what they need to do—provide hours and hours of listening enjoyment without fatigue or compromise, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 headphones are at the top of the heap.
Explore the full range of Sennheiser’s headphones available on bestbuy.ca.