Sennheiser Momentum on-ear headphones
Sennheiser's stylish on-ear headphones look sensational and produce exceptional sound quality
- Excellent sound quality
- Good looking and well built
- Comfortable to wear
- Struggled a tiny bit with old music
It's hard for us not to love Sennheiser's Momentum on-ear headphones: they look great, sound great, and are comfortable to wear. If you're after a high-end, luxury pair of headphones then you should definitely give them a go.
Sennheiser has blended form with function very well in its Momentum headphones, which are not only stylish, they also produce clear and accurate sound quality. Indeed, what you get with the Momentum headphones is a luxury audio product that delivers excellent results on all fronts: looks, build quality, comfort, and performance.
It's a product that demands a relatively high price (AU$299 and NZ$399), but if you're prepared to part with that amount of cash, you'll be rewarded by a pair of headphones that will do justice to almost every musical style.
Sound quality is paramount
Immediately noticeable are the crystal clear high frequencies that the headphones produce, which means you'll be able to hear all of the intricacies in your music, from wavy flutes to lightly-tapped symbols. To use visual terms, the overall 'picture' of the sound is displayed in a very high resolution with these headphones, and you might even end up hearing things in your music that you'd never noticed before.
But it's not only the high frequencies that are impressive. You also get a deep low-end response that isn't overbearing, and which doesn't have a bias that will create an excessive 'thump'. However, if the music calls for it, then they will provide the 'thump' that's needed. What these headphones won't do is just add extra thump simply for the sake of it. The end result is a sound that is natural and pleasant to listen to, regardless of the music style.
The Momentum headphones are designed to run with a smartphone (and primarily an iPhone), so their loudness will be dependent on the device that drives them. They handled the maximum volume from our test phones with ease (we used a Nokia Lumia 925, a Samsung Galaxy Note II and an iPhone 5), and they didn't exhibit any distortion or uncomfortable peaking. The source of the music will play a part, though; for headphones like these, you will want to listen to locally stored music that's encoded at the highest quality, rather than low-quality streams or dodgy MP3s that have poor compression, otherwise you'll simply be depriving yourself of the aural pleasure the Momentum can provide.
We played trance, pop, hip-hop, electronica (big-beat), acoustic, heavy metal, and folk music. Most was ripped at 320Kbps from CDs or downloaded from the Google Play Music store, though some of our older files were 192Kbps. All of the genres that we played were heard with clearly audible details and plenty of richness. The sound wasn't coloured at all and, to our ears at least, sounded as natural as it should have. We think that unless you're after the excessive thump we talked about earlier, you won't be disappointed with the Momentum headphones. The only time they struggled a little was when playing back classic rock ripped from first issue CDs. For this type of music we could have used a little more 'oomph', but the overall results were still pleasing, and still better than most headphones can do with such material.
Design and build quality
It's important to note that the Momentum headphones are not of the noise cancelling variety. They are just regular headphones that sit on your ears rather than over them (or completely covering them); they will let in some outside noise, which can make listening in very loud environments a little hard, and they will also leak a little bit of sound at the highest volumes. We used them while commuting on buses and found that the sound from the headphones was only overshadowed by engine noise when the music that we were playing was of a quiet nature.
On some other models that we've tried, the on-ear style can be a tad uncomfortable, especially over long periods of time. However, the Sennheiser Momentum headphones use a soft, suede-like material called Alcantara on their cushion, which makes them feel as good as any pair of headphones that we've tried on in recent times. The headphones won't squish or pressure your ears, they won't slip, and they won't get overly hot if you wear them while moving around — that said, we did test them during winter.
A comfortable fit can be achieved easily with these headphones; they have long tracks in their sturdy. stainless steel bar that allows them to be adjusted so that they can fit most head sizes. The speakers sit firmly in these tracks without moving around on their own, yet they move very smoothly when you need to adjust them. The speaker cups, which are about 75mm tall and 60mm wide, sit on a ball-type joint that allows them to adapt to a wide variety of angles. This allows them to basically sit flush against your ears at all times.
The suede-like Alcantara material also covers the top half of the stainless steel bar, and it's only slightly cushioned, allowing the headphones to rest snugly on your noggin without feeling heavy — the overall weight of the headphones is about 160g. The detail on the material is very nice; you can see the stitching that holds the cushion in, and the whole piece is held firmly in place by four screws to the stainless steel bar (on both the left and right sides). The cables for the speakers run inside the material, and there is only some messiness where enough slack has been left on each end to cater for the size adjustments.
One secured cable protrudes from the left speaker cup, and Sennheiser provides two cables in the package: one is a standard stereo cable, while the other is designed for iPhones and has an inline remote control for track skipping and volume adjustments. The length of both the cables is just over 1.3m, which should be enough even for those of you who are built like basketball players. They aren't overly thick cables, and they do get affected by angled bends, so you'll have to be careful about how you store them.
The plug on the stereo cable is straight and sticks out from your phone, while the plug on the iPhone cable is a right angle. While walking around with these headphones, we didn't really notice any audible tapping or rustling from the cable hitting our jacket, not like we do with in-ear headphones.
Basically, the build quality and the design of these headphones is top notch, as it should be for such a premium product, and it's a bonus that they look so good. We tested the green version, which we think is an excellent colour choice, but you can also get blue, pink and brown. The colours are muted, rather than glossy, and the Sennheiser logo is subtly displayed on the round end of each headphone, with concentric circles around it that give off a pattern similar to a CD when light hits them.
The overall impression that these headphones gave us is that they are perfect if you want excellent sound quality in addition to classy and fashionable looks. As far as luxury headphones are concerned, with think the Momentum on-ears are among the best because of those traits.
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