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Not AirPods Max, but the next best thing

Earlier in the spring we covered a discount on AirPods Max, to which readers chimed in that despite being $100 off, there are better options out there. One of the cited options at the top of everyone’s list is the Sennheiser Momentum 4, a recently-released pair of over ear headphones from one of the more beloved brands on the market. I’ve been daily driving these for the past month, and have to say that I agree. But just how well do they stack up against Apple’s flagship headphones?

Hands-on with the new Sennheiser Momentum 4

To take a step back, Sennheiser’s Momentum 4 deserve to be talked about in a greater context than just how they compare to Apple’s flagship listening experience. Having first hit the scene back in August of last fall, the new releases stood out from not just other models on the market, but also previous headphones from the brand. There’s still a very signature style, but much of the aesthetic that the brand cultivated over the years was cast aside from a more typical design.

Putting function over form is the name of the game this time around for Sennheiser, and the form-factor is the best indicator of this. Gone are the old leather stylings from previous models that shoppers may be familar with, and instead welcome the lightweight build that offers a far more comfortable listening experience.

I’ve been using the Momentum 4 over the past month or so and have largely found these to be some of the most enjoyable over-ears on the market. Everything from the looks, build quality, and comfort to sound quality and ANC capabilities met my expectations and then some. The long and short of this review is that these might not be the first headphones that come into your head, but that Sennheiser isn’t playing around with its latest releases.

As far as the build quality goes, Sennheiser is backing its more consumer-grade Momentum 4 with the kind of materials and premium that you’ll find on its studio gear. The plastic shell is lightweight, but still has a solid feel to it. This is hardly a cheap pair of cans, and the tight tolerances on the package all fit together so nicely to really show that. I personally have been rocking out to the white pair, which is a little more beige-y in person. I love the fabric lining on the headstrap above the actual drivers, which has a matching finish to the plush ear pads.

All of that means I can easily go hours listening to them without the headphones pinching my ears or fatiguing my head. It’s something I’ve found with some of the heavier models out there, and Sennheiser’s commitment to redesigning the latest pair of Momentums means that these are ready for all-day wear.

Speaking of hours of use, the battery life is also one of the real stars of the show this time around. Back when the Sennheiser Momentum 4 first hit the scene last fall, the 60-hour battery life was already as impressive as it comes. And now all these months later, that position as being a leader in usage remains untouched. I simply afore just how little I actually have to charge these in practice, with there being enough juice to get through several days without having to even think about recharging. Even days after I have used them for the last time, I can reliably pick them up and start jamming without having to worry about a dead battery interrupting the tunes.

The actual listening experience is just as notable, too. The internal 42mm drivers haven’t been updated from the previous generation, but now after listening to the headphones for a while, there really does seem to be no need to have updated. The instrument separation isn’t quite as solid as some higher-end options I have used, but it blends the mids and highs quite well without being overwhelmed by the bass. ANC is also quite notable, and easily one of my favorite elements of the headphones.

Though the real highlight for the Momentum 4 is the price. Sennheiser is certainly known as a premium audio brand, and there’s no getting around the high-end cost of its latest releases. Despite that, these do in fact clock in for less than AirPods Max, but also the likes of other direct competitors like Sony and its shiny new XM5s. All of that is to say that I can easily recommend these at full price, which is $379.95 these days, but the real value comes from any sales.

Like really any other piece of tech that we features here at 9to5Toys, you’ll be able to find Sennheiser’s latest on sale from time to time. So if that $380 price tag is still a bit too rich, we have routinely seen the headphones drop in the $300 range or below, which makes these an even better value and the clear winner in value compared to the likes of Apple and Sony’s latest.

But the original question still remains. Just how good are the Sennheiser Momentum 4 compared to the likes of AirPods Max? To be concise, it’s close, but really there’s really no taking on what many consider to be the best pair of headphones on the market. Entering the arena with the Cupertino behemoth almost certainly always means certain death, and the audio quality competition isn’t going to be one that Sennheiser can walk away from victorious.

That isn’t the entire story, though. The Momentum 4 are still fantastic headphones, meaning Sennheiser’s latest should still be considered despite not being the very best money can buy. Though for your cash, these very well be just might be the best options around. At the price point, there’s really no competition. These are easily the best bang for your buck, even if they aren’t the best that a higher budget could buy.

Another thing that the Momentum 4 have over AirPods Max is a wider appeal. While Apple’s flagship cans would likely be a tough sell to those in the Android realm, Sennheiser’s recent debuts shed that ecosystem dependency and arrive as a great pair of headphones whether you’re connecting them to an iPhone, Pixel 7a, computer, or even a Nintendo Switch.

9to5Toys’ Take

All told, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 have so much going for them aside from just being sold alternatives to AirPods Max. They’re ultra comfortable, have some of the best battery life on the market for a pair of over-ears, and manage to block out enough sound to audio on the subway, in coffee shops, or just at home.

I would still recommend trying to score these on sale. But even if you can’t wait around for a discount, there’s so much value in the $380 going rate right now that you’ll be hard pressed to find as good of a pair of earbuds for the price. Sure $20 more gets you the Sony XM5s, but even with a similar experience between the two, I am reaching for the signature stylings of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 every time. Compared to AirPods Max, I’ll still prefer Apple’s higher-end solution when it comes down to it. But if you’re in the market for the next best thing, Sennheiser’s latest should be the first option to consider.

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