Pros: Rich, exciting bassy sound. Elegant looks. Removable ear-cups and wire.
Cons: Very poor isolation. Ear-cups could be slightly more comfortable.
This review will be split into a number of sections, namely
-On Ears, Yay or Nay?
1. Short Summary
There are a few reasons why I thoroughly enjoy Sennheiser's products. The company is known for having a meticulous attention to detail and for their strong line-up of products such as the HD280/HD380, HD 598 and most recently a couple of wireless models in the Urbanite/Momentum series. They also have very good customer support for claiming warranties and for enquiries. These are a couple of simple reasons why I would pick Sennheiser and their reliable products over a one-hit wonder product. Sure, other products can be cheaper and have great sound but when the precious piece of equipment breaks down, I still want to have peace of mind getting a replacement.
2. On Ears, Yay or Nay?
The more serious audiophiles may bash the smaller form factor of on-ears. Smaller drivers, poor seal and isolation, diminished sound quality. Those are all valid concerns. But for those reading this and are more casual listeners like myself, audiophile headphones are poor choices due to their lack of portability and impedance. They are also not a very convenient choice, as some full-sized headphones are open back type and are virtually unlistenable in any location that isn't a sealed room in the comfort of your home. I use the Momentum On-ear in the office plugged into a MacBook, at home in bed from a HTC Desire 820 or on the commute to school/work with the same phone. I don't use an amp because it's bulky and requires charging.
I live in a hot country, and can be easily put off by headphones that cause my ears to sweat and make the overall listening experience terrible. On-ears are a good compromise between the full-sized headphone and the IEM. I personally do not enjoy IEM's for anything other than a run or hitting the gym due to the intrusive nature of shoving something inside my ear. And it has been much harder for me to find a good IEM within the same cost bracket of the on-ear. Same price, but the audio quality you pay for IEM's more often than not, cannot match the on-ear. Case in point: The On-ear Momentum goes for around SGD $180 whereas the Shure SE215 goes for around $199 and the Audio Technica IM-02 goes for around $288. It's not an apples to apples comparison per se, but in my own listening I've compared the three products together for their audio quality and I prefer the On-ear overall.
With a small on-ear, the inside of the ear cup doesn't get as toasty as there isn't a full seal around the ears, just a earcup resting on the ear. It can take a bit of getting used to, particularly if you have more sensitive ears. They are slightly more cooling and the sweat that gets soaked into the earcup of the on-ear can be removed and washed, then reattached. Tah-dahhh.
3. Build Quality
The build quality on the Momentum on-ear is superb. The band is made of stainless steel and can be bent almost into a straight line. It's light and flexible and doesn't loose its shape. The clamping force is also rather tender, I don't feel like I'm wear a pair of vernier calipers which is a plus.
The package contains a nice carrying case and a little carry bag. The plus side of this case is I don't have to re-adjust the headband to the smallest size before putting it in, I just plop it in, wires and all and shove it in my bookbag. I own the V-Moda M80 True Blood headphone and while the case on the V-Moda is slightly more compact and packs a nice carbiner for convenience, I don't like taking off and wrapping the wire up again.
Between the V-Moda M80 and the Sennheiser Momentum on-ear, I would say the build quality is comparable. The similarities between the two are quite stark, the size of the ear-cups is around the same, the clamping force on both headphones is also very tender. They also both come with hard carrying cases and 2 sets of wires each. Both also favor a bassy sound. However, the Momentum on-ear has a slightly better treble.
The Sennheiser can take drops pretty well. In my opinion nothing short of sitting on them with your full weight or physically stomping on the ear cups will damage them. Anything else like drops from your head or throwing them across the room against a wall wouldn't faze the pair.
4. Sound Quality
For anyone reading this, I will use the V-Moda M80, Sennheiser Urbanite On-ear and ATH-IM02 as benchmarks. Those audio products are the ones I am familiar with. I also own the Creative Aurvana Live 2 but will leave it out as it is a full sized headphone in a different price bracket.
The Sennheiser Momentum On-ear definitely has a very v-shaped, bass focused sound. The bass also happens to be my favourite part about it. For tracks like Tech N9ne's 'Loud', 'Sut Mig', the bass tones have a very addictive, rhythmic sound to them which had me bumping my head to them. The sound is also clear without any audible muddying or distortion. It's a clear sound, not the absolute clearest or airiest, but definitely a very balanced mix with heavy emphasis on bass and sub-bass.
For something like The Click Five, Chris Brown, Tech N9ne, Eminem or even Michael Buble, the Sennheiser sounds superb and fun! It's obviously been tuned for modern music so if your playlist has rich bass like EDM music or electronic type sounds in hip hop or pop, these are a perfect fit. Vocals are good, but occasionally take a step back compared to that deep bass. Treble is definitely present which is a plus. Think of it as a completely balanced sound with the treble turned up slightly and the bass turned up substantially.
Against the Sennheiser Urbanite On-ear, I felt the Urbanite was bland sounding and had a foggier bass. The vocals on the Urbanite were also not as clear. In all, the Urbanite is a slightly amped headphone with supposedly better bass, but it just doesn't translate to a balanced sound or even better bass than the Sennheiser Momentum. The bass is there, there's more of it, but it just doesn't sound rich or sharp. Just fat and bloated.
Against the V-Moda M80, I thoroughly enjoyed both headphones. The Momentum has slightly more sss type sounds due to the strong treble, sounds a little more metallic and lighter than the M80. It is clearer with certain tracks as well, mildly so, I do not think it would affect the buying decision. The true distinction comes in the treble differences. The M80 downplays the vocals and the higher frequencies but its bass is just slightly richer and more "chocolatey" if that makes sense.
One thing to add, between the M80 and Sennheiser Momentum, I feel the M80 is slightly more comfortable for commutes, the leather takes sweat more comfortably.
The Sennheiser is a very nice sound for those who listen to modern music. The little things like the extra wire, the carrying case all sweeten the deal but the main focus of sound and comfort are met well. It's very very close to a perfect headphone, and I prefer the First Gen over the Second. A folding mechanism can get loose over time, and I am okay with the size of the First. Definitely recommend to the more casual audience as it can be easily powered by a phone or PC.