Amia DalveyJan 20, 2023 19:49:15 IST
– Excellent sound quality
Great backup battery
– Compatible with aptX and aptX adaptive codecs
– Stylish design and comfortable to wear
The call quality is good
– Smart controls, wear and tear detection
– Average ANC for the sector
– My mood companion app
– No ingress protection
price: 34,990 rupees
The Sony WH-1000XM4 has been pretty much undisputed in the roughly Rs 30,000 segment of wireless headphones in India for the past couple of years. Whether it was the sound quality or the industry-leading Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), it was an excellent product. Sony recently launched its successor, the WH-1000XM5, and has stepped up the game further in almost every department. Longtime competitor, Sennheiser didn’t want to sit idly by and let Sony run out of the game. Enter the Momentum 4 Wireless, and we’ve got a great contest on our hands. Read on to see the results.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless – Build, Design, and Comfort: 8.5/10
Momentum 4’s design is simple yet elegant. It is available in black and white. We got the latter for review and it looks attractive. It’s largely made of plastic with a textured brown fabric-covered headband with a metallic Sennheiser logo. The inside of the headband as well as the earcups have a faux leather finish with premium padding, possibly memory foam. The right and left annotation are inside the earcups, which is smart.
The headset is made of high quality materials overall and the build quality is very solid. It doesn’t feel heavy, though, and weighs pretty much in the same ballpark as the Sony WH-1000XM5. The weight distribution is excellent and you don’t feel any burden when wearing it. The headband is well padded and offers smooth height adjustments. The earmuff cushion is just perfect.
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless has a pair of 42mm drivers, and the ear cups are large enough to go over the ears. Soft pillows apply minimal pressure to stay in place without causing discomfort, yet never feel cramped. Overall comfort is marginally better than that of the Sony, which in itself was very good. There was no ear fatigue even after hours of continuous listening. But it’s always a good idea to give your ears a break every hour or two. The earcups provide a good seal and cut out some ambient noise even without ANC turned on.
The back of the right earcup accepts touch gestures. It also has a USB-C port for charging, along with five small LED lights, a power button that doubles as a Bluetooth pairing button, and a headphone jack. A necessary aux cable is included to use as a wired headphone if the battery is dead. There’s also an airline adapter, USB-A to USB-C charging cable, and instruction manual in the rather stylish carrying case that matches the fabric on top of the headband.
Just like the Sony XM5, the earcups can be turned over and flattened but not folded. As a result, it may take up more space in the suitcase. But I wouldn’t worry about that as much as you can just tuck it away in the bundled case and store it vertically in your bag. You get wear-detecting sensors on the headset to automatically pause the sound when you remove the headset and resume it when you put it back on.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless – Key Features: 8.5 / 10
This Bluetooth 5.2 headset supports SBC, AAC, aptX and aptX adaptive codecs, which is good. You also get multipoint support to pair this product with two devices simultaneously. The wireless range is good with the headphones easily maintaining a strong connection at 10m with clear line of sight and they don’t perform badly even with a concrete wall between them. You get four microphones in total for communication and ANC. You don’t get any IP rated ingress protection, so we don’t suggest wearing them while working out and definitely not in the rain.
You need to install the Smart Control companion app to access certain settings of this product and also to modify the sound profile. You get a 3-band equalizer for that, which is a few bands lower than you get with most brands, but I’m not going to complain. The reason is that this headset is so well-tuned out of the box that you might not need to use the equalizer at all, although it’s nice to have that option. To access some of the advanced features in the app, you need to register, but most of the main settings can be accessed without registration.
The app is a bit moody though. It kept crashing on a couple of phones running Android 13 but it worked fine on an older Android phone. One thing you can’t change in the app is the default controls, but they are there and don’t need any modification. A single tap on the back of the right ear cup can be used to play/pause audio, while swiping horizontally or vertically lets you go to previous/next tracks or adjust volume respectively. Double tap lets you answer or end a call or simply switch between ANC and Transparency modes.
There is something cooler. You can quickly set the level of noise that should be blocked or allowed to pass by using the pinch gesture. Using a gesture similar to the one you use to zoom in and out of images on your phone screen, you can decide how much you need to cut out from the surrounding noise or stay connected. Or simply let the Momentum 4 Wireless decide it for you with Adaptive Noise Cancellation. It automatically adjusts the ANC level according to the decibel levels around you. You also have location-based audio presets and noise cancellation options if you sign up and choose to provide your location data to the app.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless – Performance: (8.5/10)
When it comes to ANC, it’s hard to beat Sony in this segment. And like the rest of the competition, this Sennheiser headset doesn’t even come close. Keep in mind that the ANC on the Momentum 4 Wireless isn’t bad at all, but Sony is standing pretty high at the moment. This headphone does a good job of eliminating low-frequency sounds like the hum of an air conditioner or certain traffic noises when you’re outdoors. But it is not effective when it comes to mid and high frequency sounds.
The aforementioned adaptive noise cancellation software does a decent job, but I preferred to go with ANC or not at all. When you want to be aware of your surroundings, just switch to transparency mode with a double tap to let ambient sounds pass through. Ambient sounds normal but could have done with a little bit of amplification, especially for vocals. But more often than not, you don’t need to take off your headphones for a quick chat when Transparency Mode is enabled.
As for sound quality, it’s up there with the XM5, and actually marginally better if you prefer your sound closer to neutral. The sound signature is not quite neutral as one can feel a hint of boost in the low frequencies to add a bit of extra warmth to the sound. The boost isn’t as much as you’d get from its Sony counterpart, which wasn’t excessive in itself. The output is quite pleasing across different genres of music with a great balance between the three main frequency bands. However, you only get the best results when you crank up the volume beyond 70%.
The bass is tight and punchy and doesn’t overwhelm the mids. The mids are very well produced with good vocal clarity and instrument separation. The highs are sharp and show no wheezing. The imaging is spot on and the detail in the audio is excellent. The sound stage is remarkably wide for closed-back headphones, which adds to the overall quality of the output. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless is great for music, and watching movies or web series is fun with very good dialogue clarity. There was no delay between audio and video either.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless – Call quality: (8/10)
Call quality on this headset is very good but not the best I’ve come across. Your voice is transmitted clearly enough to the person on the line. There were no complaints whatsoever when inside. When you’re outdoors, it doesn’t filter out all the ambient noise but it pretty much keeps it under control without affecting conversation too much. Overall performance in this department is more than decent.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless – Battery Life: (9.5 / 10)
This is another area where the Momentum 4 Wireless really shines, and how! Sennheiser promises an insane 60 hour battery backup, that too with ANC on. During my test run, I was able to get something over 50 hours with 75% volume using aptX codec and ANC 90% of the time. At around three to four hours of daily listening and very few calls, this headset easily lasted two weeks before I had to hunt for a charger. I didn’t even bother checking how long the battery lasted without ANC.
This is twice the battery life offered by the Sony WH-1000XM5 on a full charge. But to be fair, Sony includes more powerful ANC circuitry which obviously consumes more power and delivers better results. Despite this, more than 50 hours with ANC is pretty impressive. The Momentum 4 supports fast charging as well with just 5 minutes of charging, giving you nearly 4 hours of playtime, which is enough to watch an entire movie and some. A full charge takes only 2 hours, which isn’t bad given the long battery life.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless – Price and verdict
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless is priced at Rs 34,990 with a two-year warranty. This is the exact official Sony WH-1000XM5 price in India, though it is always available for purchase under 30K. Interestingly, the Momentum 4 Wireless is the cheaper of the two in many overseas markets, but not here. However, the 35K is a decent price for what it offers, especially its balanced audio output and good battery backup. So should you buy the Momentum 4 Wireless or the XM5?
Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no clear winner between the two because they both look great. If you prefer a more balanced sound, you’ll like Sennheiser more, and if you like more thumping in the bass, Sony will suit you better. In terms of aesthetics, convenience, and features, they are evenly matched, and the competition is one-sided when it comes to battery backup and ANC. While Sennheiser takes the battery crown with ease, Sony pulls one back with far superior ANC. So choose one based on the features that interest you the most.