Even though Sennheiser sometimes has trouble putting together a complete package, the company almost always nails the sound quality of its headphones. I'm happy to report the streak continues here. The Momentum Wireless has a nice, warm tone and a stellar clarity where even the subtlest notes and noises are clearly heard. Across a range of genres, snare and kick drums are punchy instead of muffled and muted, and overall, the sound has an immersive quality -- it's not just flat, compressed noise being blasted into your ears.
This is evident on Tool's Fear Inoculum. On "Pneuma," in particular, grungy prog-metal guitar riffs envelope you, but the drums retain their punch just underneath and a driving bass line has plenty of depth. The spatial quality is also apparent on The Appleseed Cast's The Fleeting Light of Impermanence. With songs like "Time The Destroyer," droning synths and keyboards create a soundscape with a sense of space and dimension that the Momentum Wireless handles very well. When the strings come in over the top for another layer, and the drums, guitars and vocals all pick up steam a few minutes in, the headphones handle the intricate indie rock ambience admirably. No, we're not talking Ambeo levels of immersion here, but it's still quite good.
If bass heavy genres are more your style, the Momentum Wireless does a solid job with those too. There's tons of thump in the bass line to Phantogram's "Mister Impossible" that doesn't overpower or become muddy. Even that kick drum itself has some dimension to it, complimenting the bass guitar perfectly.
With noise-cancelling headphones in 2019, somewhere around 30 hours is the mark most companies have set for battery life. Some manage to eek out more, and some offer slightly less. Sennheiser only promises 17 hours, a little over half of what Sony offers on the WH-1000XM3. Again, that's a major disappointment for a set of headphones that cost $50 more. I could've lived with 25 hours, but just 17 is a bit of a head scratcher. That being said, I used these on the flight back from IFA in Berlin (around nine hours) and for a few days after (one to two hours at a time) before I needed to plug in. A quick-charge feature gives you 1.5 hours of battery in 10 minutes when you can't wait three hours for a full tank.
The Momentum Wireless also packs in Tile object tracking. With the Tile app, you can hunt for where you left your headphones if you forget. We've seen this from other companies before, and I'm sure it will be useful for some people. However, I think it would be much better served for things that are easier to lose -- like true wireless earbuds.
While there's a lot to like here, the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Bose 700 remain my top two noise-cancelling headphones picks right now. The WH-1000XM3 is $50 cheaper (at $348) than the Momentum Wireless and outperforms it at every turn. The 700's ANC chops are better than Sennheiser's at the same price ($399). Despite sounding good and being super comfortable, it's hard to recommend these over the current best from Sony, especially with the difference in cost.