Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless vs. Sony WH-1000XM5

When we received the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, it seemed clear that they were aiming directly for Sony’s WH-1000XM5 and, by extension, the Sony WH-1000XM4. In fact, in our full review of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, it was impossible not to draw some comparisons between two of the best wireless ANC headphones you can buy right now.

Still, a direct comparison had to be made. So below you’ll find the two headphones ranked against each other in what we consider to be the most important categories to consider when shopping for a new set of headphones. In the end, we hope you find out which is best for your needs.

Comfort

Momentum 4 Wireless

Although they don’t have a particularly plush amount of padding on the underside of the headband, the Momentum 4 Wireless manages to feel extremely comfortable for long periods of use. Between well-cushioned earpads, well-measured clamping force, and generally light overall weight, the Momentum 4 Wireless should find favor with frequent travelers and anyone else who wears their headphones for long periods of time.

Sony XM5

The XM5s are Sony’s lightest XM-series headsets to date and are generally considered comfortable enough for heavy users, although they may not be as luxurious as the Bose ANC 700. However, we noticed that after several hours of use we started to feel a sore spot at the top of our head.

Winner: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless. Although both offer typical comfort levels for the product category, we consider the Momentum 4 to be slightly more comfortable than the Sony XM5.

Sennheiser momentum wireless 4
Zeke Jones/Digital Trends

Battery life

Momentum 4 Wireless

With approximately 60 hours of use with ANC per full charge, the Momentum 4 Wireless offers one of the best battery lives available in a full-size ANC wireless earbud set. We haven’t yet been able to fully test fast charging at the time of publication.

Sony XM5

The XM5 offers approximately 30 hours of battery life per full charge with ANC enabled. While this number was once best in class, it is starting to fall behind the competition. To their credit, however, the XM5 delivers around three hours of performance from just three minutes of charging, which is incredibly useful.

Winner: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless. Twice the total battery life made it an easy call for the Momentum 4 Wireless.

Portability

Since both have similarly sized cases and each folds up in roughly the same way, there’s no real differentiation when it comes to portability.

Winner: Draw. Pretty standard stuff here.

Wireless connection

Momentum 4 Wireless

Equipped with Bluetooth 5.2, the Momentum 4 Wireless claims a range of around 30 feet and supports AAC, AptX and AptX adaptive codecs. In our experience, however, the headphones can easily exceed their claimed range with a clear site line. We managed to walk about 50 feet with our source device’s line of sight before experiencing a loss of signal. It’s also worth mentioning that the Momentum Wireless 4 supports Bluetooth Multipoint to connect to multiple devices at once.

Sony XM5

The XM5s also feature Bluetooth 5.2 with a claimed range of around 30 feet. However, the XM5 only supports Sony’s AAC and LDAC codecs, no AptX or AptX Adaptive support is included. Like the Momentum 4 Wireless, the XM5 often exceeds its claimed range potential. They are also capable of Bluetooth Multipoint.

Winner: Draw. Although some may have preferences for codec support.

Sony wh-1000xm5 wireless headphones seen with a smartphone.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Bonus features

Momentum 4 Wireless

Unlike the Sony XM5, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless doesn’t try to pander to a bunch of bonus features. Instead, they seem focused on providing the most popular basic features while maintaining a clean interface.

Sony XM5

For the sake of brevity, we won’t list the XM5’s long list of bells and whistles. However, it’s worth calling the XM5’s automated transparency mode, which relies on detecting the user’s voice as the trigger. In most cases, this is a useful feature, although sometimes it can be a boring experience. Thankfully, it’s easily disabled in Sony’s accompanying mobile app. The XM5 also offers an auto-off mode and a slightly more reliable auto-pause/play function that engages when the headphones are removed or replaced on the user’s head.

Winner: Sony XM5. The XM5 has more bonus features. Whether this is a net benefit will depend on the user.

Mobile app/orders

Momentum 4 Wireless

Sennheiser’s Smart Control app is pretty straightforward, but it’s also necessary to access some pretty important features. For example, access to ANC controls is only available through the app. Otherwise, it offers a very basic 3-band EQ, rudimentary call quality adjustment, sound zones for automated EQ and ANC presets, and a connection manager.

Sony XM5

The Sony Headphones app offers a dizzying array of features and options. From battery level meters to customizable ANC settings, a deep bank of EQ presets plus custom EQ control and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio options, which analyze the shape of the ear to optimize performance, the XM5s are simply better enabled with more control over more features. While it may seem overwhelming for first-time users, it’s also easier to use the XM5 without ever downloading the app.

Winner: Sony XM5. The fact that you don’t actually need the Sony app to access all of the essential functions of the XM5 headset might seem like a weird reason why it wins. But that, coupled with a litany of features not found with any other app, gives Sony’s headphone app the edge.

noise cancellation

Momentum 4 Wireless

Sennheiser’s noise canceling technology has seen many improvements over the years and, as implemented in the Momentum 4 Wireless, you won’t hear much noise around you when listening to music, movies or podcasts at a reasonable volume. The exception to this is when the noise around you is particularly loud, such as the roar of an airplane engine or the noisy engine of a lawnmower. Even then, noise is significantly attenuated and effective enough to let the content you’re listening to take center stage.

Sony XM5

When noise canceling performance is isolated, the Sony XM5s are clearly superior. Without the aid of music, movies or podcast content, the Sony XM5 does a better job of canceling out a wider range of noise. If you want to get as close to total silence as possible, the XM5 is the headphones for you. Added bonus: Sony’s adaptive ANC feature is the most effective we’ve tested.

Winner: Sony XM5. Sony’s noise canceling technology is the best on the market. If ANC is a priority, the XM5 is simply unbeatable.

Sennheiser momentum wireless 4
Zeke Jones/Digital Trends

Call quality

Momentum 4 Wireless

The Momentum 4 Wireless are very good at taking calls, with quality microphones on board to transmit your voice very clearly to the other end of the call. The Momentum 4 Wireless is best for handling indoor calls or calls in quieter environments, as they don’t isolate your voice from surrounding noise as well as some competing headphones. That said, the Momentum 4 Wireless has the most impressive wind noise reduction system we’ve ever heard.

Sony XM5

The Sony XM5s are excellent for calls, with some of the best ambient noise reduction we’ve ever tested. If you want to trick the party on the other end of your call into thinking you’re somewhere quiet, even when you’re in the middle of a racket of noise, the Sony XM5 will get the job done.

Winner: Sony XM5. While the Momentum 4 is perfectly suited for calls and offers the best wind noise reduction we’ve ever heard, the Sony XM5 silences all the noise around the user, providing a professional use benefit that can’t be all just not be overwhelmed.

Sound quality

Momentum 4 Wireless

Sennheiser’s approach to sound quality is legendary and has generally won our favor. Nothing changes with the Momentum 4 Wireless. Although these are definitely advanced bass headphones, the bass response is deep, melodious and punchy without any swelling. The midrange is achieved with transparency, clarity and ease, while the treble region is delivered with remarkable detail and articulation, while still remaining a bit set back. The sound signature is a real pleasure to listen to.

Sony XM5

Sony’s approach to sound quality isn’t exactly clinical, but it’s a formula and it’s a formula that works. Most people will love the sound of the Sony Xm5, with a kind of ‘in your head’ presence that makes them fun to listen to.

Winner: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless. The Sony XM5 sounds great, but the Momentum 4 Wireless is simply better.

Front view of a man wearing sony wh-1000xm5 wireless headphones.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Price

Momentum 4 Wireless

The release price of the Momentum 4 Wireless is $350, equivalent to the Sony XM4 at the moment.

Sony XM5

The current price of the Sony XM5 is $400, giving them a $50 premium over the Momentum 4 Wireless.

Winner: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless. Although you get more with the Sony XM5, cheaper is cheaper.

final verdict

It was a tight competition, but in the end, we think the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless will probably be the best buy for most people. With superior battery life, better sound quality, and sufficient ANC and call quality, the Sennheiser Momentum 4s are already hard to pass up. Add a $50 price advantage and the deal is sealed.

Although the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless has won more categories and may make more sense to more people, the Sony XM5 is still one of the most sought-after premium ANC wireless headphones you can buy. They have the best noise canceling technology and the best call quality on the market and excellent sound. Plus, if you like bells and whistles, the Sony XM5 has more than any other brand. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless might make the most sense to most people, but the XM5 is the superior headset in many ways and will long be an enthusiast darling.

Winner: Momentum 4 Wireless. At the end of the day, the new kid on the block wins.

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