Two of the biggest wireless headphones releases are finally here. Sony and Sennheiser, two of the most well-known names in the headphone market, both have new highly anticipated wireless products. The Momentum 4 and WH-1000XM5 are continuations of the mainline Bluetooth series of their respective brands, coming with a certain amount of hype behind them. These headphones have been reviewed here already, and now it is time to pit them against each other to help you figure out which one is the best fit for you.
What You Get
|Sennheiser Momentum 4
Look and Feel
A sizable design change came from both headphones for their latest models. A similar build is shown on the XM5 and Momentum 4, with their solid headbands and larger earcups. They both offer a ton of comfort, leaving no fatigue throughout multiple hours of listening, with soft ear pads and non-pressuring headbands. I find the XM5 particularly lighter than the Momentum 4, but it uses a thinner plastic as a trade-off. The Momentum 5 feels a bit more durable in that regard but only marginally.
Design and Functionality
Sony and Sennheiser both give their best wireless headphones their best drivers. In Sony’s case, the XM5 comes equipped with a new driver that aims to bolster the sound quality more than its past iterations. Of course, both the XM5 and Momentum 4 come packed with features, and also have similar press functions that activate different controls. Both headphones respond well to their touch gestures, but the Momentum 4’s actions feel more immediate and satisfying to operate. For instance, raising the volume using the Momentum 4’s touch controls is so much easier to use, and is far more reactive than the XM5.
Companion apps are also provided for both headphones, giving you a good way to access all of the headphone’s features. Sony has a bit more variety than the Momentum 4, with DSEE and a stronger EQ, but the Momentum 4 has some unique features as well, like sound zones. One of the biggest comparisons that you’re going to make though, is both headphones’ ANC capabilities. Sony is normally the master of ANC, with the 1000X series having some of the biggest innovations in the industry. Hearing the Momentum 4’s ANC, I don’t think a Bluetooth headphone has come as close to reaching Sony’s noise-canceling standard. Both headphones have incredibly effective ANC, making them two of the best on the market for noise-canceling. The XM5 is still slightly better, especially taking how well the adaptive ANC continues to work.
The XM5 and Momentum 4 both have incredibly stable and fast connections using Bluetooth 5.2 They use a variety of CODECs, including Sony’s LDAC which is still considered one of the best.
While the XM5 has a fine battery life at around 30 hours, the Momentum 4 is a powerhouse in comparison. It doubles that of the XM5 coming in at around 60 hours. That is the most playback time I have seen on Bluetooth headphones.
The last time I did a comparison with the XM5, I mentioned how Sony’s 360 Reality Audio gives its soundstage a major advantage over other Bluetooth headphones that rely on their natural stereo field. Up against the Momentum 4, a similar conclusion can be made. However, I believe Sennheiser’s model offers an even better field of sound. It treats the imaging with as much realism as possible, focusing on layering and breathability. One the XM5 in its spatial and native forms, it can only appear so wide. With the Momentum 4, you get more width and the sound elements within the stage are far more identifiable. Greater height is also granted to the stage, feeling more complete than the XM5. If it weren’t for Sony’s excellent spatial audio capabilities, the XM5 would be completely outclassed, but even with it the Momentum 4 shows so much more grace for a wireless headphone.
Both headphones contain a ton of bass but approach their timbres differently. For the XM5, the tone of its bass heavily relies on boominess and EQ. Their Clear Bass setting gives the region an aggressive and dominant response that resonates throughout many regions of frequency. For a bass-head, it is quite gripping, but depending on the genre it can definitely overwhelm the sound signature if you’re not doing some major clean-up with EQ. In comparison, the Momentum 4 is not only significantly cleaner but also adds a lot more depth. Its tone is a lot less direct and instead more textured, with buttery smooth details that appear richer than the XM5. The bass on the Momentum 4 comes up from underneath and provides a tighter grip on the timbre as a whole, resulting in a more realistic response that also has some meat on its bone.
Although some of the fidelity has a slightly veiled tone in the XM5’s midrange, there are some fine elements to it that keep its sound signature consistently gripping. However, when compared to the extended detail and more realistic tone of the Momentum 4, Sony’s headphone doesn’t stack up as well. Especially when it comes to vocals, the Momentum 4 just has so much more to bite on, with its crisper upper-midrange and exceptionally aggressive drive.
Both headphones actually have some good high-end shine to their timbre. EQ helps both headphones’ treble elements come out even more, but the XM5 has more options to work within its app. Neither headphone has any harshness to it either, showcasing an easily digestible tone. I think when it comes to texture, the Momentum 4 has some more considerable sizzle to it, with a timbre that is a bit more revealing and full. The XM5 has a nice tone to it, but still appears slightly veiled in comparison to the Momentum 4.
Being two of the best wireless headphones in this price range, you really can’t go wrong with either choice, but there is a lot to think about when it comes to pure sound quality. Sony delivers on all of its many features, but Sennheiser brings its best wireless sound signature yet. It all depends on what you’re looking for in a Bluetooth headphone, but both are totally the best at what they do.