CES 2024 might have been dominated by transparent TV launches, but there were a couple of huge audio announcements too, including a surprise new pair of flagship wireless earbuds from Sennheiser.
The Momentum True Wireless 4 look to continue where the third-generation model left off, with high praise and a five-star review. We managed to grab a pair for a closer look at the show, and here are our first impressions of these Bose and Sony rivals.
The Momentum True Wireless 4 are a premium pair of true wireless earbuds and are priced accordingly. They come in at £260 (€300 / $299.95 / AU$499.95) which is a slight jump in price compared with their predecessors, the Momentum True Wireless 3 (£219 / $249.95 / AU$399.95) but is still in the same ballpark as their closest competition, including the Sony WF-1000XM5 (£259 / $299 / AU$419), Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds (£300 / $299 / AU$450) and the Apple AirPods Pro 2 (£249 / $249 / AU$399).
Interested? The Sennheisers are available to pre-order from the 15th February and are due to go on sale worldwide on the 1st March.
Aesthetically, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 look virtually identical to the current Momentum True Wireless 3. The ovular shape returns, as do the touch-sensitive surfaces. The biggest news externally is that the earbuds now come in three new colours: metallic silver, graphite, or the striking black copper finish you see here.
Inside each earpiece, though, there are plenty of changes. The antennae have been redesigned to improve stability, while the headphones now use something called dynamic-load switching which is designed to improve the consistency of sound quality. The closest bud to your smartphone is always connected to it and the pair will switch during use to maintain the best sound quality.
The drivers found in the Momentum True Wireless 4 are similar to those used in Sennheiser’s IE600 and IE900 in-ear headphones although they have undergone some extra tuning for this wireless model.
There is also a slight change to the eartips for 2024. They are now washable and feature a new plastic guard at the end to keep the ear tubes clear of unwanted debris.
Sennheiser’s now trademark fabric-wrapped charging casing returns with Momentum True Wireless 4, looking identical to the previous iteration; both wireless and USB-C charging are supported. There are a couple of new interesting features on the charging front, which we shall discuss later.
The headline news for the new Sennheiser Momentum 4 True Wireless is that they feature Qualcomm's S5 Sound Gen 2 processor and Snapdragon Sound Technology. These will allow you to stream losslessly not only 16-bit/44kHz audio but also (following an update) 24-bit/48kHz.
It’s claimed the new chip extends Bluetooth range and improves stability, so theoretically you should experience fewer dropouts in crowded areas.
The Sennheisers also support Bluetooth 5.4, aptX Lossless and LE Audio should you own a compatible device, while Auracast support will also be added via a firmware update which should be available a few weeks after the earbuds go on sale. Auracast will allow users to receive audio simultaneously through separate channels or stream to two pairs of compatible earbuds from one device.
While they are not being pitched specifically as gaming headphones, Sennheiser also points out that latency as low as 20ms is possible with the earbuds via a Bluetooth dongle and you can listen in stereo while chatting in mono to players online.
For those of us who like to use our earbuds out and about, Sennheiser is promising improved active noise-canceling (ANC) and call quality for the Momentum True Wireless 4. To start with, the three microphones on each earbud have been upgraded from the previous model. Also, built-in AI from the Qualcomm chip will not only help with noise-cancelling but also learn how your voice sounds and be able to reduce background noise and lower background voices while keeping your audible.
Battery life is a claimed seven and a half hours per charge, with the case providing three extra charges and extending the life to 30 hours.
The big news for these buds and the way they charge is that, for the first time, Sennheiser has introduced intelligent charging to its premium earbuds. In a bid to extend the life of the headphones, the case will slow down the speed of charge the closer it gets to maximum capacity.
There’s also a new battery-protect mode which you can enable or disable through Sennheiser’s control app - this can optimise charging to extend the lifespan of the battery. The trade-off is that charging times get a little longer and maximum battery life is reduced a little, although we weren’t able to test this out during our time with them.
We had time to spin a couple of tunes through the earbuds and first impressions are extremely promising. First, there was a good amount of background noise in the demonstration room, and the Momentum’s ANC seemed to be able to keep most of it subdued. We didn’t have time to experiment with all the various audio settings, though so this will be reserved for when we get the headphones in to test.
With the biggest eartips in place, we were able to get a good seal and the Sennehisers appeared to show a familiar character and tone.
We started with J.Cole’s Power Trip - and the Momentum True Wireless 4 seemed to time well, aided by weighty, solid bass. The buds seemed to have a firm grasp of the track’s rhythm, which crossed over when we played Spacehog’s In the Meantime, taken from the soundtrack to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Guitars and drums seemed composed, while each strum or thwack also seemed full of detail and intent.
There seems to be a sense of refinement there that we have heard in Sennheiser’s previous flagship pairs which we anticipate will make for a very easy listen.
It’s fair to say our brief time with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 was a generally positive one. Comfort levels seem similar to what we have experienced before and the general flavour of sound was to our liking although we need to get a pair in to test and put up against the big rivals at the money from Bose and Sony. It could be an interesting contest…
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