Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM5: Which noise-cancelling headphones win?

We’ve got a doozy for you – the Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs. the Sony WH-1000XM5.

In one corner is the latest flagship model from the heritage audio staple known as Sennheiser. Redesigned and reengineered, the Momentum 4 is a marvelous-sounding model that harnesses powerful active noise cancellation (ANC), battery life, and call quality in a streamlined package. Adaptive sound features and strong codec support elevate its ranking among the category’s best.

In the opposite corner is Sony’s sonic powerhouse: the WH-1000XM5. This updated version of last year’s remarkable WH-1000XM4 introduces many upgrades, including dual processors, more microphones, and a carbon-fiber 30mm driver. It also brings back proprietary technologies (360 Reality Audio, Digital Sound Enhancement Engine, LDAC) and Sony Headphones Connect app support to personalize what is already a well-defined sound signature.

What we have here is a battle between two of the best noise-cancelling headphones. Which is the better purchase? Let’s have a look.

Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM5: Price

Neither model comes cheap at $399. Other noteworthy rivals come in at various price points, from the fantastic Cleer Enduro ANC ($129) to the near-perfect Bose 700 ($379) to the solid Master & Dynamic MW75 ($599).

Performance and features are aplenty on these two sets of headphones, making the Momentum 4 and WH-1000XM5 equally valuable.

Be sure to bookmark our headphone deals page for the latest sales.

Winner: Tie

Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM5: Specs compared

Sennheiser Momentum 4Sony WH-1000XM5Price$399.99$399.99Size and weight7 x 7.67 x 1.82 inches, 10.3 ounces10.36 x 3.03 x 8.85 inches, 8.8 ouncesBattery life60 hours30 hours (ANC on); 40 hours (ANC off)ProcessorUnknownSony HD Noise-Canceling Processor QN1ConnectivityBluetooth 5.2 Bluetooth 5.2Special features Adaptive active noise cancellation, transparency mode, adaptive sound settings, equalizer settings, smart controls, digital assistant support, Google Fast Pair, multipoint technology, aptX AdaptiveAdaptive active noise cancellation, adjustable transparency mode, smart controls, equalizer settings, tri-digital assistant support, 360 Reality Audio, Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) Extreme, LDAC, Spotify Tap, Google Fast Pair, multipoint technology

Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM5: Design

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Aesthetically, both are downgrades from their predecessors.

The Momentum 4 all-new design with nylon fabric headband feels premium. However, ditching the Momentum 3’s distinctive yokes that connected to the front of each earcup drastically changes the headphones’ appearance, and not in a good way. We’re not fond of the stock-looking earcups that resemble some cheap noise-cancelling headphones out there (reference the Treblab Z7 Pro (opens in new tab)). The extra weight doesn’t make wearing the Momentum 4 pleasant either. 

As for the WH-1000XM5, Sony took an eco-friendlier approach to construction that is admirable, but less attractive and sturdy than past Mark Series entries. Despite the use of materials like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), which is more flexible than plastic, these headphones feel very flimsy. The lack of details (e.g., embossed rose gold logo, imprinted model number) give them zero flash as well. At least comfort and fit are on point.

Sennheiser’s carry case is superior and has more slots to store accessories. Sony’s revamped carry case isn’t as luxurious as previous versions; doing away with the interwoven design for what looks and feels like cardboard was a poor decision.

Winner: Sennheiser Momentum 4

Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM5: Controls

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Sennheiser and Sony equipped their noise-cancellers with extensive control schemes. Each model carries motion detection, physical buttons, touch sensors, and voice-activated features. Everything operates flawlessly on the WH-1000XM5. Sony’s smart features also present more innovative ways to control the headphones by automatically pausing playback when hearing your voice (Speak-to-Chat) and lowering volume to 10% when placing your hand over the right earcup (Quick Attention).

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Most of the Momentum 4’s controls work without a hitch, though the touch panel acts up at times and goes to sleep after short stretches of inactivity.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM5

Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM5: Active noise cancellation

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

For a moment, we had the WH-1000XM5’s noise cancellation a close second to the Bose 700. Sony’s QN1 ANC and V1 processors, along with intelligible modes like Adaptive Sound Control to adjust ANC based on your wearing conditions, allow these headphones to reduce incidental sounds at an extremely high level. Low- and mid-frequency sounds rarely ever make it onto the soundscape. Some high-frequency sounds do, but nothing too alarming that will break your concentration. The 20-level Ambient Sound feature might be the WH-1000XM5’s unsung feature because of its ability to make voices and noises identifiable from afar.

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The Momentum 4 shoves the WH-1000XM5 to the side to become the Bose 700’s biggest noise neutralizing threat. Sennheiser’s technology practically does the same as Sony’s, except it boasts stronger wind resistance and handles high-frequency sounds better. Transparency Mode gives you widespread control over the amount of noise you want to let in or block out. The results are superb, no matter which mode you enable.

Winner: Sennheiser Momentum 4

Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM5: Audio Quality

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Sony’s Mark Series is considered the standard for sound on noise-cancelling headphones. The WH-1000XM5 builds on excellence, employing a more-balanced 30mm driver that retains Sony’s signature bass and supports customization settings to tweak performance. There’s a five-band EQ and several well-engineered presets that complement all music genres. DSEE helps to upscale lo-fi recordings, LDAC streams hi-res audio at CD-like quality, and 360 Reality creates immersive 3D sound for select tracks. Safe Listening is another sweet addition that reduces hearing impairment by measuring the decibel level and sound of what’s playing.

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

How can anyone compete against that, right? Well, the Momentum 4 manages to, and without spatial audio or upscaling technology. Sennheiser engineered their headphones with a dynamic 42mm transducer system, Hi-Res playback, intuitive features, and multiple EQ settings. What comes out is beautiful, accurately reproduced sound that can be optimized through features like Sound Check and Sound Zones, which are both designed to automatically adjust the EQ to your hearing, but with the latter doing so based on your location. The inclusion of aptX Adaptive to enjoy near-lossless sound on hi-fi streaming services (e.g., Tidal, Qobuz) can’t be ignored either.

Winner: Tie

Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM5: App and special features

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Sony remains the king of features on wireless headphones. Their Headphones Connect app provides access to aforementioned hallmarks like Adaptive Sound Control (ANC/Ambient), DSEE, Equalizer, LDAC, Speak-to-Chat, Spotify Tap, Safe Listening, and 360 Reality Audio. Rounding out the app are a home screen widget to enable the EQ, automatic power off, battery level indicators, firmware updates, a music player, visual guides, and the ability to prioritize sound quality or connectivity.

Then come the additional perks out outside of the app. You get Bluetooth multipoint (pair to two devices simultaneously), one-tap Google Fast Pair, Find My Device app support, and Sony wireless TV adapter compatibility to enjoy Dolby Atmos sound on a Bravia XR TV. We just wish that Sony hadn’t gotten rid of NFC tap-to-pair functionality.

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Sennheiser did their best stocking the Smart Control app with lots of heavy-duty features. We’ve already touched on several, including ANC/Adaptive/Transparency mode, Equalizer, Sound Zones, and Sound Check. There are also toggle controls for enabling/disabling certain functions (On-Head Detection, Smart Pause, Auto Power Off), and a Comfort Call feature that reduces listening fatigue during calls.

Two other features worth keeping in mind are Connection Management, which is one way to manage Bluetooth multipoint (pair to two devices simultaneously), and Sidetone for adjusting vocal clarity on calls. Bluetooth 5.2 runs smoothly, and Google Fast Pair comes part of the package.

Winner: Sony WH-1000XM5

Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM5: Battery life

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The Momentum 4 crushes the competition with up to 60 hours of battery life, outlasting the WH-1000XM5 (30 to 40 hours) on a full charge. Sennheiser does not offer the option to turn off ANC. Their headphones also come with stronger quick charging technology, achieving 4 hours of runtime on a 5-minute charge versus the WH-1000XM5’s 5 hours on a 10-minute charge. Sony claims that their headphones can achieve 3 hours in 3 minutes, but it requires a USB-PD compatible AC adapter (sold separately).

Winner: Sennheiser Momentum 4

Sennheiser Momentum 4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM5: Call quality

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Only two noise-cancelling models achieve perfect call quality: the Bose 700 and Momentum 4. Indoors or outdoors, Sennheiser’s headphones allow for loud, crystal-clear voice and video chats. They also demonstrate impeccable noise reduction in rowdy and windy conditions.

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Different levels of noise are noticeable on the WH-1000XM5, which is an adequate calling headset, but a few notches below the Momentum 4.

Winner: Sennheiser Momentum 4

Winner: Tie

We’ve got a tie on our hands, folks. It’s incredibly tough to choose between the two, and since they are equally great for music listening and noise cancellation, it all comes down to preference.

Sennheiser Momentum 4Sony WH-1000XM5Value (5)44Design (15)1110Controls (10)710Active noise cancellation (20)1918Audio quality (15)1515App and special features (15)1315Battery Life (10)109Call quality (10)108Total Score (100)8989

If you’re the type that fancies adaptive, hi-fi sound with never-ending playtimes and terrific call quality, then the Sennheiser Momentum 4 is a must-buy. If you’re someone that loves immersive audio, seamless useability, and limitless features, place the Sony WH-1000XM5 at the top of your wish list.

Simply put, neither is the wrong choice.


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