This isn't what I expected. The new headphones from Sennheiser are different from previous models. The leather headband and ear cup sliders that were used to represent the Momentum line are no longer in existence. The fourth- generation headphones take an unmistakable design turn into Sony and Bose territory with a lightweight build that puts greater emphasis on extended comfort.

Almost all of the physical buttons have been removed. There are at least a few reasons to be excited about the new cans from the company. Better noise cancellation and 60 hours of promised battery life are some of the improvements.

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I won't argue that the preceding Momentum 3s are the best headphones on the market. If you're not careful, the metal hinge's folding point can be dangerous. The headphones automatically power on whenever they're unfolded, a shortcut that seems clever in concept but is frustrating when they unexpectedly pair to your phone or laptop after being bumped on a desk or in a soft carrying case. The Momentum 3s sound great, have easy-to-use controls, and are good looking.

They’re plasticky and nowhere near as classy-looking but way more pleasant to wear.

The sound of the Momentum 4s is good and they are pleasant to wear. The headphones have no fabric material on top of them. The Momentum 3s look like they're right at home next to the vintage stereo equipment that the Momentum 4s don't. The direction of this product line has been changed by them coming off as generic. It's all deliberate. Christian Ern said that most people prefer a design that blends in rather than stand out.

It looks like a mash-up of the company's cheaper cans and something like the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2, because there is plastic everywhere. These headphones don't look like the part of a flagship noise-canceling headphones in the way their predecessors did.

They feel good on your head. It is no small feat for Sennheiser to match Sony's WH-1000XM5 in this area. Artificial PU leather is used for the replaceable ear pads and headband padding, and both have plenty of cushion. They should be comfortable when you use them all day long at the office because there is not much force to speak of.

The Momentum 4s don’t fold up, but they can lie flat in the case (or around your neck).

They sound great. If you like the Momentum 3s, you will be just as happy with these. The drivers are tilted toward your ears to make for an improved sound stage, and they are a tad less bassy out of the box. The same trick is performed by Apple's AirPods Max. They are warm, smooth, and detailed across any genre you explore with them. Better still, the Momentum 4s don't make as much noise as their predecessors.

The previous model consistently won out to my ears even over pricier competition like Apple's AirPods Max. I have a hard time choosing between these and the PX7 S2 as the best noise canceling headphones on the market. The Momentum 4s are compatible with a wide range of audio and video formats. There is either a 2.5mm-to- 3.5mm cable in the case, or you can use ausb-c cable.

The deep-cushioned ear pads now use artificial PU leather.
The new headband has better padding, adding to the overall comfort.

The noise cancellation division of Sennheiser has made gains. It is not as good as Bose or Sony, but the active noise cancellation in the 4s is more effective than the 3s were. The transparency mode is adequate and provides a good sense of what is going on around you.

The genuine leather and stainless steel of the Momentum 3s helped them stand out.
Previous Sennheiser Momentum headphones also had plenty of physical buttons.

Controls are the biggest downside apart from the boring design, and I haven't been happy with them. The volume and multifunction buttons that were on the 3s have been removed by Sennheiser. Depending on how long you press it, the only physical button on these headphones is for power andBluetooth pairs. Track controls, volume adjustment, and ANC are all handled with taps on the ears. One of the easiest ways to get down is to tap the right ear cup once to play, pause, or change songs, or drag your finger up or down the surface for volume control. You can move between transparency and noise canceling with two taps.

A pinch gesture that can be used for more control over the balance between noise cancellation and ambient sound was added by the company.

There is a pinch gesture. Did you use headphones? We may be pushing this too far.

It’s not often you see this big of a design change from one headphone generation to the next.

I had to remember the controls in the thick of summer but I haven't had any problems with them. The winter is the most important time of the year for potential issues. Ern said that they have tested the functions excessively. There are some cases where the sensitivity of the touchpad is affected. According to the company, if your gloves are phone friendly, they should work with the Momentum 4s.

I still miss the traditional buttons even though the gestures aren't bothering me. They were easy to spot and didn't require much thought.

Fewer buttons but now you get a battery meter. And at least there’s still a (2.5mm) headphone connector.

The headphones have a tendency to turn on when inside the case. This time, the case is shaped like a Goomba from Super Mario Bros., and it offers better protection than the soft, collapsible case of the previous iteration. That is not the issue. Maybe the power button is rubbing up against the case's ear cup divider, or maybe they're just sleepy when I move the case. My phone connects to them at times when it wasn't my intent. That makes me annoyed.

Yes, I did forget to remove the silica gel packet from the new and improved case.

The headphones can last for up to 60 hours on a single charge. It surpasses Sony, Bose, Apple, and almost all other competitors. Some of that endurance is achieved with power-saving features; the headphones will enter sleep mode after going unused for fifteen minutes, and they include on-head detection to conserve juice.

I haven't been able to clock a total running time or exhaust the battery more than once or twice because of the battery life. Even if they don't hit the 60-hour mark in all cases or at louder volume levels, I can confirm that they have more endurance than anyone could possibly need. I don't think anyone would need this kind of battery life, but it means you can go longer without having to worry about plugging in.

Every smart device has a set of terms and conditions that you have to agree to before you can use it. It is not possible for us to read and analyze all of them. We started counting the number of times you have to agree to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people can't negotiate.

Without agreeing to anything, you can use the headphones. You need to agree to install the companion Smart Control app if you want to modify how it works.

You can share your usage data if you so choose. If you want to use features like Smart Zones you need to register for a Sennheiser account.

There are several optional agreements that can be used with the app.

The voice call performance is better than the Momentum 3s. If you're on a call at home, the newer headphones do a better job than the older ones. It is clear that you are talking to people through headphones. The Momentum 4s juggles two simultaneous connections with ease and reliably play audio from the device you're using.

You can adjust settings like wind reduction and sidetone, or set up sound zones where sound settings automatically adjust based on where you are. It requires setting up an account in order to use the feature, but it works well for both Sony and Sennheiser.

Sennheiser’s small logo is the only outward-facing branding on these headphones. “Momentum 4” is printed inside the ear cups.

The headphones are good by any stretch of the imagination. In a design that is more comfortable than past models, they still deliver top-rate sound. The company went in a dull direction.

The new aesthetic and buttonless controls are what Sennheiser is trying to emulate. The 60-hour battery sets a new bar for the field and the audio department is better than the WH-1000XM5s. The noise-canceling powers of Bose and Sony still trail the Momentum 4s, and I don't think they made the right decision in adopting touch gestures.

The sound is the same, both headphones have convenience features, and there are elements of the older headphones that I prefer. Even if the company's customers see this as a sudden, unforeseen shift, the fourth- generation Momentums might end up being the most successful pair yet.

Chris Welch is a photographer.