Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4: Which wireless earbuds win?

Listing image showing Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 vs Sony WF-1000XM5 on stones
(Image credit: Future)

The competition to be champion of the best wireless earbuds market is heating up, as Sennheiser's next-gen noise-canceling earbuds arrive and enter the ring. Just when the Sony WF-1000XM5 looked like they were sitting at the top of the sector by a comfortable margin, along comes the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 buds with improved Bluetooth specs and reliability, and a re-tuned sound signature to miraculously move performance and features on beyond expectations and challenge Sony's crown.  

Both are flagship models packed with adaptive noise-cancelation and top-tier audio performance in practical designs. It's no secret that I've been using the Sony flagship earbuds since I carried out my review. I have found that the earbuds are nothing short of excellent, particularly with LDAC streams from compatible devices.

Although the Sennheiser Momentum TW4 wireless earbuds don't support LDAC, they do have aptX Lossless and aptX Adaptive support for higher-quality streams and Bluetooth 5.4 with LE Audio. Plus, Auracast support is coming in a future firmware update. Both models are priced at $299 and are top options for Android users. But which model is better? Read on to find out.  

Listing image showing Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 vs Sony WF-1000XM5 on stones

(Image credit: Future)

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4: Specs compared

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Header Cell - Column 0 Sony WF-1000XM5Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4
Price$299 / £259 / AU$499$299 / £259 / AU$499
ColorsBlack, silverBlack copper, metallic silver, graphite
Size2 x 0.21 inches Not specified
Weight0.2 ounces (per bud); 1.7 ounces (charging case)0.21 ounces (per bud); 2.33 ounces (charging case)
Battery life (rated)8 hours (ANC on), 24 hours (with charging case), Quick charge provides up to 1 hour of playback from a 3-minute charge7.5 hours (ANC off); 30 hours (charging case with ANC off)
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC and LDACBluetooth 5.4 with SBC, AAC, aptX Lossless, aptX Adaptive Audio, Bluetooth LE Audio, LC3

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4: Price and availability

Both models are priced at $299 / £259 / AU$499 and sit towards the top of the market's pricing structure. Some of the best wireless earbuds I recommend for audiophile sound push prices even further, but there are two closely matched flagship models stacked with features and high-level performance to showcase the makers' prowess. 

It's surely no coincidence that Sennheiser priced the Momentum TW4 the same as the Sony, but it's a considerable increase compared to the MSRP of the Momentum TW3 predecessor that originally launched at ($249 / £219 / AU$399). Whichever model you go for, you'll get a big-brand experience.  

Winner: Tie

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4: Design and fit

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 copper color option placed on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Sony made the WF-1000XM5 25% smaller than the previous-gen XM4 earbuds, and as such some users may find the fit a bit tricky. They retain their traditional form, donning a simple rounded shape with a protruding ear tip. There are four foam tips supplied including a new XS size to ensure smaller ears can find the best seal. The WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds come in black and silver options only.

Sennheiser's TW3 showcased a redesign that was 16% smaller than the model they replaced, and the TW4 follow the same design. In comparison to the Sony buds, the styling feels a bit bulky, although I do like the new black copper finish — silver and graphite options are also available. Like the Sony, they come with four sizes of ear tips, and the chunky outer casing makes them easier to get the right fit the first time. 

Winner: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4: Features

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

Both models have adaptive modes to dynamically control the level of active noise cancelation in your surroundings. Sony's ANC is more effective and gets close to the pool of silence achieved by the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds — the best noise-canceling earbuds overall.

Sony has 20 different Ambient Sound mode levels in its Headphones Connect app, while the Sennheiser Momentum TW4 has Low, Mid, and High transparency settings. Both models are effective.  

In terms of spatial audio support, the Sony earbuds offer Sony 360 Reality Audio support, while the Sennheiser doesn't appear to support any kind of spatial audio tech. 

There are reliable ear-detection sensors fitted to both models to automatically pause playback when a bud is removed from your ear. Playback resumes once the earbuds are re-inserted. The Sony supports single-bud mode playback and appears to detect and enable single-mode automatically with just one bud inserted in the ear. The Sennheiser doesn't appear to support single-bud use, but this could easily be addressed in a future firmware update.

While the XM5s have LDAC support for high-quality streams over Bluetooth from compatible devices, the Sennheiser Momentum TW4 have aptX Lossless, aptX Adaptive, and Bluetooth LE Audio. They'll also be able to support Auracast audio-sharing in a future firmware update. This will make the TW4 one of the first wireless earbuds to enable listeners to hear announcements at train stations and airports beamed straight to their earbuds from Auracast-powered public transmitters.

Winner: Tie

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4: Controls

Sony WF-1000XM5 tips

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In terms of touch controls, these two models are very closely matched. Both have excellent tap commands to navigate playback, change volume, and activate noise-canceling modes. Controls can be assigned to individual buds and have the familiar single, double, and triple taps or long-press methods. Both have audible feedback to acknowledge commands, but somehow I felt that the Sennheiser gave clearer confirmation of my actions.

Both models enable users to activate a device's native voice assistant, while the Sony's are also compatible with Alexa.

Winner: Tie

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4: Sound quality

Listing image showing girl wearing Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 earbuds

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

I love the sound of the Sony WF-1000XM5, but my listening test comparisons with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 make choosing a winner tough to call. I've consistently found the Sony WF-1000XM5 one of the most rewarding listening experiences when it comes to audio over Bluetooth. Thanks to their LDAC support with compatible playback devices, they deliver the most engaging listening experiences I've heard from a compatible Android phone, but the Sennheiser's sound is remarkably close and in some ways is even better. 

Sennheiser says that the TW4's internal design features a new acoustical system and a redesigned sound signature. They sounded remarkably balanced across the entire frequency range straight out of the box. The factory-set sound signature was very enjoyable, but I found I was able to improve things even further via the sophisticated Sound Personalization mode.

Sony WF-1000XM5 worn by Tom's Guide Audio Editor Lee Dunkley

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Then there are the Sennheiser's aptX Lossless audio capabilities, which improve on LDAC to deliver close to CD-quality over Bluetooth, but the hardware that supports it is pretty limited so far. 

Overall, the Sony still edges it for me in terms of high-quality sound over Bluetooth, but the Sennheiser comes remarkably close.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM5

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4: ANC

Competition for the best noise-canceling earbuds is extremely tough. Sony's WF-1000XM5 achieve remarkably strong noise-canceling tech that sees them rank close to the class-leading Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds. Sony claims they reduce ambient noise significantly more than their predecessor. That's difficult to measure, but the combination of Sony's more powerful V2 chipset and HD Noise Canceling processor certainly seem to deliver remarkably effective results.

Sennheiser doesn't make any similar claim, but they hold their own even if they don't quite block out external sounds to the same level. With Adaptive Noise Canceling enabled, it was still possible to pick out occasional sounds from the Sonos speaker playing along in my home office, and the Sennheiser's sonic signature has a slightly altered presentation when ANC mode is switched off.

One useful feature is the Anti-Wind setting that’s available in the Sennheiser Smart Control app. The earbuds protrude slightly from each ear, and the outer casing seems prone to catching gusts of wind. But with the Anti-Wind mode enabled while standing on an exposed and blowy train station platform, it was effective at making the sound of the wind disappear.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM5 

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4: Battery life

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 on stones outside

(Image credit: Future)

While the battery life of earbuds will vary depending on how you use them, the Sony WF-1000XM5 averages 8 hours of listening with ANC on and 12 hours off. The charging case can hold up to 24 hours of total charge.

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 offers 7.5 hours, and users will get 30 hours from the charging case with ANC off. A quick charge is said to provide up to 1 hour of additional listening from just 8 minutes of charging. The USB-C charging case has Qi wireless support.

The battery life on Sennheiser's wireless earbuds falls short compared to the Sony WF-1000XM5, which lasts longer with ANC enabled.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM5

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4: Verdict

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Header Cell - Column 0 Sony WF-1000XM5Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4
Price and value (5)44
Design (15)1211
Controls (10)99
Sound quality (25)2424
Active noise cancelation (20)1916
Call quality (10)88
Connectivity (5)45
Battery life (10)97
Total score (100)8984

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 earbuds are shaking up the best wireless earbuds market. While the TW3 buds were good, I wasn't anticipating Sennheiser's next-gen version giving the Sony WF-1000XM5 a run for the money. But they do! 

These are two of the best flagship wireless earbuds around right now. It's a close-run thing on features and performance, and while I'd be happy to listen to either model for hours on end playing my Tidal playlist, the Sony's continue to have the edge thanks to their extensive feature capabilities and stronger battery life.  

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Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.