Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs Sony WH-1000XM5
The new Sennheiser Momentum 4 is looking to be one of the biggest releases of this year. Bluetooth headphones are a hotly contested market right now, with every audio company trying to dethrone the acclaimed Sony WH-1000XM5. The XM5 is known for its superb noise cancellation, great battery life, and overall great sound. At $350, the Momentum comes in at a slightly cheaper price than the XM5’s $400. Today, I’m going to compare the two and see which one comes out on top.
Sony WH-1000XM5 (left) and Sennheiser Momentum 4 (right)
Look and Feel
In terms of design, both the Momentum 4 and XM5 are very similar visually. Both are comfortable, minimal, and durable. The dimensions, weight, and carrying case are nearly interchangeable. Both also have a touch control on the right ear cup, ports for both wired connectivity and charging, and a small button for alternative commands. The only difference is that the Momentum 4 feels slightly better constructed and the ear cups have more swivel range. In terms of look and feel, the differences are so trivial that they wouldn’t affect my decision.
Under the hood is where things start to get interesting. Both headphones are great examples of high-quality design, but both have some pretty interesting differences. The XM5 has a 30mm composite fiber driver designed specially to get the same output as its predecessor, the XM4, while also being significantly smaller. The Momentum 4 has a 42mm dynamic driver specially designed by Sennheiser to deliver more headroom than the average Bluetooth headphone. Both versions support Bluetooth 5.2 and several optimized codecs, ensuring minimal loss of quality while using Bluetooth. The biggest difference is the battery life. The Momentum 4 can last up to 60 hours of continuous playback, whereas the XM5 can go for 30 hours. Both are impressive feats, but the Momentum 4’s 60-hour lifespan is unprecedented. Both are very well-designed products that excel in different areas.
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 has a frequency response of 6 Hz – 22 kHz and a maximum battery life of 60 hours.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 has a frequency response of 4 Hz – 40 kHz and a maximum battery life of 30 hours.
Both the Momentum 4 and the XM5 have their own control app. They have almost all of the same features, but with some differences. Both the XM5 and Momentum 4 have a location-based preferences function, which can automate your settings (ANC, EQ, etc) based on your smartphone’s approximate GPS location, which is an incredibly useful feature. While the XM5 is known for its superb noise cancellation, the Momentum 4 takes the edge because it has a slider where you can adjust the degree of ANC, as opposed to a simple on/off switch.
The XM5 has a 5-band EQ which makes it more customizable than the Momentum 4’s 3-band EQ. That being said, Sennheiser’s Sound Check is an incredibly useful feature that creates custom EQ presets based on a short listening test, something that the XM5 doesn’t have. The XM5 is compatible with Sony’s 360 Reality Audio, which is a Spatial Audio format. While this gives it more features, Spatial Audio is currently little more than a gimmick (albeit one with potential). I wouldn’t base my decision on this.
Overall, I preferred Sennheiser’s app to Sony’s, but both are close in function and you can achieve similar results.
Admit it, this is what you really came here for. Sony’s noise-canceling headphones are considered some of the best in the industry. They’ve continually pioneered noise cancellation technology and have set the standard for Bluetooth ANC technology. With that being said, both the Momentum 4 and XM5 have fantastic ANC capabilities, so much so that it’s hard to say which I like more. Both sound great, however, the XM5 sounds slightly more natural than the Momentum 4 when set to maximum noise cancellation. The advantage the Momentum 4 has over the XM5 is its sliding ANC feature, which allows for significantly more freedom when adjusting ANC to your liking. Personally, I prefer the Momentum 4 for that reason, since this feature can be very powerful when combined with the location-based settings adjustments.
Both the Momentum 4 and the XM5 sound great but have slightly different sound characters. Due to its larger driver, the Momentum 4 has much more present lows. That being said, both headphones have a considerable thump to them, but the XM5’s is a bit tamer. Because of this, the XM5 has much more room in the mix to let other elements come through. I would say the XM5 is slightly more detailed in some areas of the midrange but doesn’t have the same high-range detail as the Momentum 4.
Both headphones also have fantastic soundstages. The XM5’s is a bit less exaggerated than the Momentum 4’s and is much more subtle in its imaging and layering. This ultimately comes down to preference. If you want a more unified soundstage that can still achieve depth when the mix calls for it, then go with the XM5. If you want something that’s a bit more extreme in the width and separation imaging, then the Momentum 4 is the right call. The XM5 and Momentum 4 are greatly assisted by their superb ANC and its ability to almost completely isolate you from environmental noise. Both headphones sound fantastic, but one might suit your preference more than the other.
Let’s be clear: the Sony XM5 and the Sennheiser Momentum 4 are both fantastic pairs of headphones. You can’t go wrong with either pair. If I had to pick, I’d say that I prefer the Momentum 4 for its accessibility, battery, and price. That being said, the XM5 had aspects that outdo the momentum 5, such as its midrange and other features like 360 audio. If you want a more subtle sound and more natural-sounding ANC, then I’d go with the XM5. If you want something with a bit more energy and contrast, I would go with the Momentum 4. Either way, you’re going to get one of the best Bluetooth listening experiences out there right now.
Sennheiser Momentum 4