Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3: Which should you buy?

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4 (Image credit: Sony)

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony's new WH-1000XM4 headphones excel in just about every category you could want. With 30 hours of battery life, along with a lighter, yet dated, design and multi-device connection, the WH-1000XM4s are a home run.

Sony WH-1000XM4

Better almost everywhere

Fantastic battery life
Industry-leading noise cancelation
Multi-device connection
Improved ear cup and headband padding
Dated design
Assistant / Alexa support works through your phone

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 render

There's a reason why Sennheiser's Momentum Wireless 3 don't have a huge consumer base. They're targeted more towards audiophiles, but fall short in many other categories. That's not to say they're not a great purchase — they just don't hold up for most people.

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3

Showing its age

Excellent sound quality
Great ANC
USB-C & fast charging
Support for improved Bluetooth audio codecs
Battery life is too short
More expensive

Sony's had another year to survey the market and has launched its successor to the WH-1000XM3s with the WH-1000XM4s, which were already competing against Sennheiser for the best noise canceling headphones. This could be a battle of the headphones with bad names, but how well do these new cans stand up against the Momentum Wireless 3s?

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 The battle is closer than you may think

There has been a lot of fanfare around the release of the WH-1000XM4 headphones since their predecessor was so strong. However, if you're in the market for some new over-the-ear cans, there are a lot of great options. That includes the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 headphones, which launched late in 2019.

To be clear, this is not the first foray into Bluetooth wireless headphones that Sennheiser has made, although it's the most iterative of the series. Sennheiser's primary focus has been on the sound quality of its headphones, but that means other features have lagged behind. Sony has always checked off more boxes than Sennheiser, and that remains true with the WH-1000XM4.

However, let's dig in to what they both have in common. They both of these headphones have active noise cancelation, quick charge capabilities, a foldable design, NFC, and an ambient sound mode.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Sony WH-1000XM4Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3
Weight8.95 oz10.72 oz
Wearing Detection
Active Noise Cancelation
Battery Life30 hours (ANC on), 38 hours (ANC off)17 hours
Quick Charge10 minutes provides 5 hours of playback10 minutes provides 1.5 hours of playback
Bluetooth Version5.05.0
Audio CodecsSBC, AAC, LDACSBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Low Latency
Foldable Design
Ambient Sound Mode
Multi Device Connection
Charging PortUSB-CUSB-C

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Review

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Both Sennheiser and Sony have released accompanying apps for your mobile devices, giving users more control over things like the noise cancelation, EQ levels, and more. The awesome thing about both of these apps is that they will make sure you are properly wearing the headphones to ensure maximum comfort along with getting the best noise cancelation possible.

The Momentum Wireless 3s did beat Sony to the market by offering a built-in wear detection sensor. However, this is one of the new features on the WH-1000XM4s, making it so you can just take off one of the ear-cups and pause whatever you're listening to.

With either the WH-1000XM4s or Momentum Wireless 3s, you won't have to worry about much when it comes to being dated. NFC is onboard with each option, making the pairing process extremely easy — just tap your the back of your phone and get paired up. There's also USB-C for charging on both, which should just be the standard at this point.

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 Lighter with new features, or better overall sound quality?

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Review

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Sony has already arguably been holding the crown for being the best headphones with active noise cancelation (ANC). So it would only make sense for the Sony WH-1000XM4s to see this improved, as Sony focused more on higher frequencies. But Sony also attempted to improve the general audio quality of its Bluetooth cans with slight improvements to the audio processor. Pairing up with the DSEE Extreme engine, Sony aims to provide better audio quality for audio that tends to get digitally compressed too much.

Audio quality is where the Momentum Wireless 3 excel, even almost a year later after its release. Sennheiser has always been one of the industry leaders for hi-fi headphones, and with the company's latest Bluetooth offering, it seems that it has almost caught up to its wired brethren. While it's true that Sony included support for the LDAC audio codec, this is something that Sennheiser already had. But the biggest benefit in audio fidelity are the included aptX, aptX HD, and aptX Low Latency codecs. Sure, these are proprietary codecs, but if you just want the best of the best, Sennheiser takes the cake here.

Sennheiser packs all the right audio codecs to provide a superior listening experience.

One facet that gives Sony another nod is the price. The WH-1000XM4s retail for $350, while the Momentum Wireless 3 retail for $400. This is not a lot of money when you're looking for some headphones that will be used practically every day, but the truth of the matter is that it's enough of a difference to make you take a step back and think again before making a final decision.

Battery life when it comes to the Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 is pretty much a no-contest. Sony's offering provides up to 30 hours with ANC enabled or 38 hours hours without ANC. Sennheiser, on the other hand, comes in at just 17 hours, which is rather dismal.

Sony WH-1000XM4

Source: Sony (Image credit: Source: Sony)

Another big benefit of the WH-1000XM4s vs Momentum Wireless 3 is the multi-device connection support from Sony. Users will finally be able to pair the WH-1000XM4s to two devices at the same time, and have the audio switch seamlessly between the two. If you're listening to music on your computer during the day, and a phone call comes through, the WH-1000XM4s automatically switch to your phone and then switch back after the call has been completed. This is a game-changer and should be a feature for every major Bluetooth headphone released in the future.

The weight difference alone could make the WH-1000XM4s the best pick.

Finally, and this is potentially the most important aspect outside of noise cancelation and extra features, is weight. The WH-1000XM4s are much lighter than the Momentum Wireless 3s. On paper, it may not seem like a big deal that Sony's headphones are almost 2 ounces lighter, but after wearing headphones that weigh almost 11 ounces and then switching, you may forget the WH-1000XM4s are even there. This has to do with the primarily-plastic build from Sony, while the Sennheiser has a more industrial design. Nonetheless, if you're working from home or just wear your headphones for long periods of time, this is definitely something you'll notice.

At the end of the day, it comes down to the feature-set and noise cancelation prowess of Sony's WH-1000XM4s or the superior audio quality and codec support from Sennheiser. Sony has just done too much with the WH-1000XM4s , even for a seemingly-iterative update to make this a clear win versus Sennheiser.

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks, tablets, and wearables

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.