2022-Sennheiser Momentum 4 headphones review: less cool, more comfortable

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It’s honest to say this isn’t what I anticipated. Sennheiser’s new Momentum 4 Wi-fi headphones mark a dramatic pivot away from the retro stylings of earlier fashions. The real leather-based headband and chrome steel ear cup sliders that got here to symbolize the Momentum line are actually historical past. As an alternative, the $349.95 fourth-generation headphones take an unmistakable design flip into Sony and Bose territory, with a light-weight construct that places larger emphasis on prolonged consolation.

Moreover, almost all the bodily buttons have been eliminated in favor of faucet and swipe gesture controls. And whereas among the firm’s followers will likely be repulsed by what I can solely describe as a boring, uninspired look, there are at the very least some causes to be enthusiastic about Sennheiser’s newest cans. Topping that record are improved noise cancellation and a outstanding 60 hours of promised battery life.

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You gained’t hear me argue that the previous Momentum 3s are good headphones. The steel hinge’s folding level can generally snag hair or pinch a finger for those who’re not cautious. The headphones routinely energy on every time they’re unfolded, a shortcut that appears intelligent in idea however proves irritating after they unexpectedly pair to your cellphone or laptop computer after being jostled on a desk or within the overly delicate carrying case. However the Momentum 3s sound nice, have easy-to-use controls, and exude character and panache.

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They’re plasticky and nowhere close to as classy-looking however far more nice to put on.

The Momentum 4s nonetheless make good on the sound side (as I’d count on of Sennheiser), they usually’re objectively extra nice to put on. However other than some material materials on prime of the headscarf, these headphones have been drained of any character. The Momentum 3s look proper at dwelling subsequent to classic stereo tools, whereas the Momentum 4s really feel soulless by comparability. They arrive off as generic, which is a jarring change in route for this product line. And it’s all intentional. “We perceive from our suggestions that most individuals choose a headphone design that quite blends in quite than stands out,” Sennheiser product supervisor Christian Ern instructed me.

There’s plastic in all places — Sennheiser says there’s nonetheless steel reinforcing the headscarf — they usually appear to be a mash-up of the company’s cheaper cans and one thing just like the Microsoft Floor Headphones 2. With outer ear cups that promptly acquire smudges and finger oils, these don’t look the a part of premium, flagship noise-canceling headphones in the identical method their direct predecessors did.

However they at the very least really feel nice in your noggin’. Sennheiser has matched Sony’s WH-1000XM5 on this division, which isn’t any small feat. The Momentum 4s use synthetic PU leather-based for the replaceable ear pads and headband padding, and each have ample cushioning. There’s not a lot clamping power to talk of, so they need to stay comfy on lengthy flights or once you’re utilizing all of them day lengthy on the workplace.

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The Momentum 4s don’t fold up, however they will lie flat within the case (or round your neck).

They usually nonetheless sound great. Sennheiser hasn’t tinkered a lot with the audio signature, so for those who favored the Momentum 3s, you’ll be simply as glad with these. They’re a smidge much less bassy out of the field — one thing you may override with EQ — and the drivers are actually tilted towards your ears to make for an improved sound stage. (Apple’s AirPods Max carry out an analogous trick.) The Momentum 4s stay heat, easy, and detailed throughout any style you discover with them. Higher nonetheless, the Momentum 4s leak much less noise to close by co-workers or espresso store patrons than their predecessors.

The prior mannequin persistently gained out to my ears even over pricier competitors like Apple’s AirPods Max, and the Momentum 4s are proper on the identical stage. I’ve a a lot tougher time choosing between these and the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 because the best-sounding noise-canceling headphones in the marketplace in 2022. The Momentum 4s assist a variety of Bluetooth codecs together with SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Adaptive. In case you choose to go wired, there’s a 2.5mm-to-3.5mm cable within the case, or you may merely use a USB-C cable.

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The deep-cushioned ear pads now use synthetic PU leather-based.

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The brand new headband has higher padding, including to the general consolation.

Talking of noise cancellation, Sennheiser has additionally made inroads there. It’s nonetheless not on par with Sony or Bose, however the lively noise cancellation within the Momentum 4s is noticeably simpler than what the Momentum 3s had been able to, which was barely satisfactory. The transparency mode is completely sufficient and gives a superb sense of what’s occurring round you — although it doesn’t match the “it’s such as you’re not sporting headphones in any respect” sensation of the AirPods Max.

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The real leather-based and chrome steel of the Momentum 3s helped them stand out.

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Earlier Sennheiser Momentum headphones additionally had loads of bodily buttons.

Sadly, I haven’t been thrilled with controls on the Momentum 4, and to me, they’re the most important draw back aside from the humdrum design. Sennheiser has excised the amount and multifunction buttons that had been current on the 3s — and the identical goes for the slider that switched between ANC and ambient sound modes. The one bodily button on these headphones is for each energy and Bluetooth pairing, relying on how lengthy you press it. Monitor controls, quantity adjustment, and ANC are all dealt with with faucets and swipes on the ear cups. A few of these are straightforward to get down since they’re considerably logical: faucet the precise ear cup as soon as to play / pause, swipe ahead or again to vary songs, or drag your finger up or down the floor for quantity management. You possibly can faucet twice to rapidly transfer between noise canceling and transparency.

Sennheiser wasn’t content material to cease there and determined it wanted so as to add a pinch gesture that can be utilized for extra granular management over the stability between noise cancellation and ambient sound.

A pinch gesture? On headphones? I feel we is perhaps pushing this a little bit too far.

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It’s not usually you see this large of a design change from one headphone era to the subsequent.

Now, I haven’t had any actual bother with these controls within the thick of summer season other than having to recollect them. However winter is at all times the actual take a look at for potential points. “Now we have excessively examined the touchpad features below many local weather situations,” Ern mentioned. “After all, there could also be some excessive circumstances the place the sensitivity of the touchpad is affected.” The corporate says that in case your chilly climate gloves are phone-friendly, they need to work nice with the Momentum 4s.

Regardless of the gestures not proving bothersome but, I nonetheless miss the standard buttons. They had been foolproof and required much less considering.

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Fewer buttons however now you get a battery meter. And at the very least there’s nonetheless a (2.5mm) headphone connector.

I’ve additionally observed that these headphones have a tendency for turning on whereas contained in the case. The case itself is way improved this time round: it’s a correct hardshell design — formed like a Goomba from Tremendous Mario Bros. — that gives higher safety than the very delicate, collapsible case that accompanied the Momentum 3s. In order that’s not the issue. Perhaps the facility button is rubbing up towards the case’s ear cup divider or maybe they’re simply waking from sleep every time I transfer the case. However both method, my cellphone is continually connecting to them at occasions when it wasn’t my intent. And that will get annoying.

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Sure, I did overlook to take away the silica gel packet from the brand new and improved case.

Sennheiser claims the Momentum 4s can final for as much as 60 hours on a single cost. That’s a daft quantity and handily surpasses Sony, Bose, Apple, and virtually all different rivals. A few of that endurance is achieved with power-saving options; the headphones will enter sleep mode after going unused for quarter-hour, they usually embody on-head detection to preserve juice as properly.

With battery life that lengthy, I haven’t been capable of clock a complete working time or exhaust the battery greater than a couple of times in my time testing them. Even when they don’t find yourself hitting that 60-hour mark in all circumstances or at louder quantity ranges, I can verify that they’ve obtained extra stamina than anybody might probably want for journey or frequent use circumstances. I can’t think about anybody would require this type of marathon battery life, nevertheless it means you may go longer than ever earlier than with out worrying about plugging within the Momentum 4s.

Voice name efficiency is superior to the Momentum 3s however nonetheless nothing to jot down dwelling about. The newer headphones fare higher at voice pickup and separation, and every part sounds nice for those who’re on a name at dwelling. However in noisy environments, it’s nonetheless evident that you just’re speaking to folks by means of headphones. Sennheiser continues to assist multipoint Bluetooth, and the Momentum 4s juggle two simultaneous connections with ease and reliably play audio from the machine you’re actively utilizing.

Rounding issues out, Sennheiser’s Good Management app for Android and iOS enables you to personalize EQ, alter settings like wind discount and sidetone (which helps you to hear your individual voice extra naturally on calls), or arrange “sound zones” the place sound settings routinely alter based mostly in your frequent places. Sony has lengthy supplied an analogous characteristic with its headphones, and Sennheiser’s works equally properly — although it requires organising an account, which I’m by no means a fan of in headphone apps.

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Sennheiser’s small emblem is the one outward-facing branding on these headphones. “Momentum 4” is printed contained in the ear cups.

The Sennheiser Momentum 4s aren’t dangerous headphones by any stretch. They nonetheless ship top-rate sound and now achieve this in a design that’s appreciably extra comfy than previous fashions. It’s unlucky that the corporate went in such a colorless route with the fashion.

Between the brand new aesthetic and revamped buttonless controls, Sennheiser is clearly enjoying comply with the chief with Sony. It little question bests the WH-1000XM5s within the audio division, and the 60-hour battery units a brand new bar for the sphere. However the Momentum 4s nonetheless path the noise-canceling powers of Sony and Bose, and I’m not satisfied Sennheiser made the precise determination in adopting contact gestures identical to everybody else.

Apart from the improved consolation, there’s little incentive to improve for those who’ve obtained a pair of Momentum 3s: the sound is analogous, each headphones have comfort options like multipoint, and there are components of the older headphones that I choose — construct high quality for certain. However I think that even when the corporate’s longtime prospects view this as a sudden, unexpected shift, Sennheiser’s reshuffled priorities may find yourself making the fourth-generation Momentums essentially the most profitable pair but.

Images by Chris Welch / The Verge

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