Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 review: Redemption never sounded so good

With Sennheiser’s new Momentum True Wireless 4 earbuds, it only took a few days for it to become clear that they are a class above the company’s previous model in almost every respect. The design and overall sound signature have not undergone any major changes. But through a number of under-the-hood tweaks and other subtler improvements, Sennheiser has focused on the connectivity issues, software bugs and quality control issues that hampered the potential of its third-generation buds – to the point where some buyers had said, “Never again.”

At $299.95, they’re now $50 more expensive, but these remain one of the best-sounding wireless earbuds you can find. And they’re packed with forward-looking features that will keep them relevant for years to come. Intriguingly, the Momentum True Wireless 4 earbuds also buck a major trend in their category by shipping without any spatial audio tricks.

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This is Sennheiser, so let’s get straight to the sound. If you come from the Momentum True Wireless 3, the listening experience of these earbuds will seem familiar. The details, warmth and impressive soundstage that Sennheiser fans have come to expect are all taken into account. In Zach Bryan and Kacey Musgraves’ “I Remember Everything,” the acoustic guitar has just the right amount of crunch and timbre, and the MTW4 brings out the strengths in each of their voices. If you jump to the 2023 remix of the Beatles’ Red Album, you’ll find a lot of bass rumble during songs like “I Saw Her Standing There” – without any harsh highs on the early recordings.

In short, the sound profile is accurate, and you will rarely want more (or less) of something. I prefer these to Sony’s WF-1000XM5, Apple’s AirPods Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. They are neck and neck with Technics’ AZ80 earbuds, another favorite of mine. Sennheiser gives you full control over the EQ, and a ‘sound personalization’ feature can create a custom audio profile tailored to your unique hearing characteristics. I kept the earbuds in their default mode for the most part and wasn’t disappointed.

Sennheiser’s adaptive noise cancellation analyzes your surroundings to instantly apply the right level of ANC, and while it can’t match class leader Bose, it was more than enough to help me tune out a busy subway car and enjoy my music . Likewise, the company’s transparency mode isn’t at Apple’s level, but it sounds pleasantly natural and serves its purpose well. The company’s mobile app also lets you set location-specific ‘zone’ preferences, so if you want regular ANC at your favorite coffee shop but need some transparency in the office, you can do that.

Aside from a new copper color option, the Momentum True Wireless 4 look identical to the Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds. You now get a fourth (extra small) set of silicone eartips, and Sennheiser still includes three sets of stabilizer arches in the box for an extra secure fit. But there are much bigger changes to the earbuds themselves, including a redesigned antenna and a completely overhauled wireless/Bluetooth technology that, in my experience, has made them work reliably and reliably. consistently. They connect quickly to my phone and the frustrations I had when the Sennheiser Smart Control app on iOS and Android occasionally failed to recognize the earbuds have completely disappeared. Sennheiser also intelligently prioritizes the button closest to your phone to maintain the connection between the two, meaning there’s a much smaller chance of brief audio dropouts.

The company has made a significant effort to future-proof these $300 earbuds for years to come: they’re compatible with Bluetooth 5.4, and a firmware update expected in early spring will enable LE Audio and Auracast. More relevant for those looking for the best audio quality, the MTW4 features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound technology. That’ll prove useful if you own a recent flagship-level Android phone with a Qualcomm processor in it, as you’ll be able to stream what Sennheiser claims “error-free bit-for-bit” lossless audio from your phone to the earbuds – as long as you chosen music service offers this.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group estimates that “there will be more than three billion LE Audio-compatible devices on the market by 2027, which in turn will encourage nearly 2.5 million public locations to deploy Auracast broadcast transmitters worldwide by 2030.” ”

Even beyond that, Sennheiser supports a litany of Bluetooth codecs, including SBC, AAC, AptX, AptX Adaptive and LC3. There’s a dedicated settings screen where you can select what level of quality you want, with the trade-off being connection stability and faster battery drain as you level up. And gamers can activate a low-latency setting, making the MTW4 a good match for a Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck, in addition to the usual mobile gaming use cases.

Virtually none of this hi-fi listening applies to iPhone users, as Apple continues to stick with its long-preferred AAC codec. But these earbuds sound fantastic no matter what device you pair them with. I’ve come to believe that the tuning of an earbud and the drivers within it can be more important than supporting a grab bag of codecs, and Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 4 is a good example of that. They also conveniently have multipoint support, so you can pair them with two devices at the same time if you need to multitask between your phone and laptop.

Just as interesting are the features that have been deliberately left out: these earbuds do not place any emphasis on spatial audio. They don’t contain any head-tracking gimmicks. It seems like Sennheiser knows its audience well enough to have decided it can safely skip the spatial audio/Atmos trend for a new generation without disappointing too many people, and I’m willing to bet the company is right.

Battery life has been extended and can now handle up to seven hours of continuous playback with noise cancellation on or 7.5 hours with noise cancellation turned off. Add the case – yes, it supports wireless charging – and you get about 30 hours of listening time in total. If you want to ensure the longevity of your earbuds, I recommend a new battery protection setting, which only allows them to charge up to 80 percent. We’ve seen similar measures with smartphones, but given that it’s virtually impossible to replace the batteries on wireless earbuds, I’m glad Sennheiser is at least trying to extend their lifespan. They’re also built to be sturdier, now with an IP54 rating that gives them some protection against dust, in addition to continued water resistance.

Sennheiser has also worked to make these earbuds better for voice calls. They include a six-microphone array that runs through the company’s latest AI voice processing algorithms to separate your voice from background noise. My instinct is always to grab a wired set of earbuds (or just use the earpiece) for all the calls that really matter, but these definitely outperform the company’s previous efforts when it comes to voice isolation.

It’s too early to definitively say that Sennheiser got it right this time, but that’s what my gut told me while testing the Momentum True Wireless 4 earbuds. Their sound remains exceptional, the glitches and defects of previous models are nowhere to be seen, and they’re packed with the very latest Bluetooth capabilities you’ll find in 2024. I keep an eye on Reddit and other social channels to make sure nothing goes wrong hardware-wise. But if the MTW3 leaves a bad taste in your mouth, this feels like a redemption arc.

Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge

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