Review: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless headphones dial down the style for top performance

Sennheiser's Momentum 4 Wireless headphones
Top quality audio and a 60-hour battery? Can they really be that good? Photo credit: Newshub

Sennheiser has long been a favourite of mine, from its wired buds for true audiophiles to headphones that are so expensive they're practically bucket list items.

Along with the likes of Sony's WH-1000XM range and Bose's QuietComfort, the German company Sennheiser's Momentum Wireless releases are considered very good mid-priced headphones that offer strong performance and comfort galore.

Sennheiser unveiled this year's edition, the Momentum 4, earlier this month and I was delighted to get to try a set before they go on sale to the general public.

So how do they stack up against the competition? Does the massive 60-hour battery promise make these a must-buy?

I've been using the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless headphones for a week now and here are my thoughts.

The good

The first obvious change with the Momentum 4s is the design, with the more retro look of previous models replaced to make them virtually indistinguishable from the likes of Sony and Bose. 

I don't mind that - particularly as I tend to use most of my headphones outdoors. I'd much rather the plainer look than the metallic sliders of the last generation.

Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It doesn't matter one way or the other if they aren't good headphones.

Unsurprisingly there are very few flaws when it comes to the most important things. Insert your own joke about German engineering here.

Sennheiser's Momentum 4 Wireless headphones
Photo credit: Newshub

To start with, these are incredibly comfortable to wear, despite a tight fit. There's no undue pressure on your ears or the side of your head with a polyurethane finish as opposed to leather. As a vegan, this is great news.

The tight fit also helps with the adaptive noise cancellation (ANC). The ANC has often been considered one of Sennheiser's poorer features, but I found it totally fine and comparable to that of my Apple Airpod Max headphones.

On an early morning wander in a blustery and wet Auckland, I was able to hear my content just fine, the occasional extreme wind gust aside.

And so to the content and how it sounds. Could it justify the upper mid-range price point? 

I have absolutely no complaints here. As usual, I used a variety of my current favourites to ensure different types of music were given a test.

One of my current binge listens is Harry Styles and his emo-pop cracker 'Sign of the Times' was clear and crisp, with the Former One Direction star sounding fantastic.

Sennheiser's Momentum 4 Wireless headphones
Photo credit: Newshub

I decided Rage Against The Machine would be another good test and used a live 'Killing In The Name Of' recording to hear how some more industrial music sounded.

Despite some muffling of the guitars - which I'll argue is the band's choice and not the headphones - singer Zack de la Rocha's vocals were distinguishable from the noise and the overall balance was faultless.

Finally I turned to an old classic that always makes me cry. It's been a while since I've listened to Dire Straits' 'Brothers In Arms' with headphones and my eyes shut. It won't be so long until I do it again.

From Mark Knopfler's vocals, to his guitar playing and Omar Hakim's drumming, I was there for every bar. By the time Knopfler growled "We're fools to make war on our brothers in arms," the tears were flowing.

One of the big boosts this year is the battery life, with Sennheiser saying the Momentum 4s are good for 60 hours on a full charge. You read that right - 60 hours!

That's around double what you might expect from Sony's equivalent and almost unbelievable. I can't verify exactly 60 hours, but blasting the review pair for too many hours to count still left me with over 70 percent of battery.

Sennheiser's Momentum 4 Wireless headphones
Photo credit: Newshub

As if that wasn't impressive enough, they're also pretty quick to charge using USB-C.

A five minute charge will give you up to three hours of audio, more than enough for one of my long walks. Just two hours will juice it up to give you the full 60 hours.

That is, undeniably, absolutely fantastic performance.

The bad

There's very little wrong with the Momentum 4s, but unfortunately there are some annoying aspects to them.

The first is the Bluetooth auto-connection which went all kinds of haywire for me. It was connected to both my phone and my laptop, with a YouTube video playing on the latter.

When I received a phone call, the YouTube video paused and the headphones seemed to switch over to the phone. However, when I answered the phone I was unable to hear the person on the other end and they couldn't hear me. This happened a few times.

Sennheiser's Momentum 4 Wireless headphones
Photo credit: Newshub

I may be doing something wrong, but I eventually gave up and used the Sennheiser app on my phone to ensure only one device was paired at any time.

The sensors are also incredibly sensitive. Depending on how they're put down (or packed in their case), they kept connecting to my phone.

I couldn't work out why I could hear the Foo Fighters at a low volume in my car when I was listening to the radio - I thought I was going crazy. It turns out they had connected to my phone without me wanting them to and started playing a Spotify playlist.

I thought I'd turned them off, but maybe I'd left them on some auto mode instead? There are times when I have definitely turned them off using the button and then picked them up and they've come on again, as shown by the white lights indicating battery life.

It's worth noting that some other reviews have also seen headphones power on unexpectedly, so perhaps there's a firmware fix somewhere down the line that can resolve it.

I was also ready to get angry with the lack of physical buttons (except for the on/off switch), particularly as the instructions didn't say you could control the volume by touch. However I'm pleased to report you CAN adjust the volume my holding and dragging up or down on the right cup.

Sennheiser's Momentum 4 Wireless headphones
Photo credit: Newshub

Once you've learned what the gestures do, they're relatively easy to use too.

The only thing I'd like is some ability to change the gesture controls to suit me better, but it could be much worse.

The verdict

Sennheiser's Momentum 4 Wireless headphones may have lost some of the individuality that made previous iterations stand out against competitors, but the performance certainly is not lacking.

I actually like the styling - it's simple and it allows me to assume my favourite spot, anonymous in the crowd and not being looked at by everyone.

At NZ$599.95 in Aotearoa they aren't exactly impulse purchases, but if I was asked whether they were worth $600, I'd have to say unequivocally yes.

From the comfort of wearing them for extended periods to the beautiful sound of my favourite songs to that outstanding battery life, Sennheiser are throwing the gauntlet down.

Of course they're not perfect - the annoying connection thing is bizarre, but I've decided the overall quality is worth me keeping only one device paired at any time.

Sennheiser's Momentum 4 Wireless headphones
Photo credit: Newshub

I've tried many different wireless headphones in my time at Newshub and it might be somewhat trite, but it's only fair I invoke Vanessa Williams' classic for my final headphones review:

"You go and save the best for last."

The Momentum 4s go on sale this coming week in Aotearoa, just in time for Father's Day. I hope my kids love me enough to spend all their money on a set for me!

Newshub was supplied with a pair of Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless headphones for this review.