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An incredible value that's better than the original Momentum for some tastes - just let them burn-in

A Review On: Sennheiser MOMENTUM On-Ear Headphone

Sennheiser MOMENTUM On-Ear Headphone

Rated # 10 in On-Ear
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Audio Quality
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Design
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Price paid: $104.00
Napilopez
Posted · 60800 Views · 10 Comments

Pros: Great soundstage, realistic bass impact and extension with little bloat, build quality, comfort, timbre and texture, great looks

Cons: Leak more and isolate less compared to the over-ears, don't fold for storage, need substantial burn-in to mellow bass bloat

At the price these guys are currently going at, I think there are few better values around. I did a lot of research before buying, and going by the impressions many folk have posted, one would think these sound massively different to the original Momentums. This is not the case at all - I owned both at the same time, and unlike most who have posted comparisons, I had the on-ears first. Compared to anything else, you can tell these come from the same family - indeed they should share an essentially identical 40mm driver that's simply tuned differently.

I find the on ear as comfortable as the over-ears, if not more so. The alcantara pads are super soft, and only get softer with use. Clamping force is a little high out of the box, but that's a super easy fix with a little stretching or simple breaking-in. The pads on the over-ears are often too small for users, something you don't have to worry about with the on-ears. I have no issues wearing them for hours on end, and their small size even makes it easy to lie in bed while listening to some music with them. They're also very easy to wear around the neck and the lighter weight makes them less likely to mess up your hair.

 

Isolation is subpar on these though. I don't generally want too much isolation because I like being somewhat aware of my surroundings, but you can hardly tell there's any difference when you have them on - isolation is very subtle. That said, once you have some music playing, even at low volumes, it's not that bad. A bigger concern for me is that these seem to leak more than your average closed headphone - not ideal for listening at moderate volumes in quiet places.

 

As for sound - they captivated me right away, but the bass definitely sounded bloated and slow. It's worth noting that I bought mine used. Like new, but still used, so I don't know how much they'd already been burned in. That said, it still took several days of listening to music to get them to sound their best - there was a noticeable difference in the quality of the bass after extended use. I'd assume this is because of a combination of the usual dynamic driver burn in, as well as breaking in the pad and metal band to achieve a proper level of clamping force. Definitely don't allow first impressions to sway you if you don't like them immediately. 
 

Once broken in the bass is quite wonderful. I find low end response on the original momentums to be a bit boring.This is not for a lack of quantity - the VSONIC GR07 Classic has less bass but is more engaging. It just feels a little soft, and slow. Too gentle. This is not the case with the on ear. The bass hits hard and fast, and extends easily into the sub-bass. 

 

The mids came as a huge surprise to me. I expected them to sound distanced and recessed and bloated by the bass, but didn't find this to be true at all. Listening to the over ear and on ear back and forth with the same tracks, there is hardly a difference between the two. The originals are a tiny bit more forward, but that's it. I actually think I prefer the texture on these too - cellos sound better with the on-ears to me.

 

The highs are the one area the on-ear noticeably lose to the over ear. Overall treble amounts are very, very similar between the two, but the over ear seems to eek out just a little more detail. Cymbals sound more realistic on the over-ears, for instance.

 

As for soundstage and presentation, the on-ears excel here too. Soundstage width is just as good as on the over-ears, perhaps even a little better. They lack a little depth and height compared to the over ears, but then compensate for this by having clearer positioning and separation. Instruments blend into one another more on the over ears than on-ears, where I feel I'm able to tell where everything is just a little more easily, particularly in congested tracks. This is made all the more impressive by the fact that the on-ears are, well, on-ears. I suspect this has to do a bit with the sound leakage and weak isolation.

 

The on ears have often been described as only really being good for bass heavy modern music, but I completely disagree. There isn't a single genre of music I've listened to that sounds bad with the on-ears, whereas I find myself a bit bored with EDM and some hip hop tunes on the originals. I get surprising enjoyment out of classical with these. Perhaps that's because I'm partial to making cellos sound good, something I find these do superbly well. But it's also because of their great instrument separation and texture.

On sensitivity and amping, both of these need a little more power than you'd think from 18ohms headphones to get particularly loud. When I'm on the go, I find myself often having to crank both Momentums to max volume - something worsened by the lack of isolation on the smaller model. As for amping, I thought the larger Momentum would take a clear lead when they were powered up, but I found the opposite to be true - the bass becomes tighter and more textured, and the treble improved to a point where it became difficult to tell if the over-ears were actually performing better than the on ears 

One final note: both of these sound better when you use the cable without the microphone. I've never been much of a believer in the power of cables... but it was noticeable here. It's not a huge difference, and it's less pronounced on the over-ear, but notes are more defined, with better instrument separation and overall clarity improvements. That said, the microphones themselves sound clear on a call.

I've spent two weeks with both the on-ear and over-ear, and I still can't decide which one I want to keep. Truth is, I'd probably keep the on-ear for sure if it weren't for the fact the over-ears isolate better and leak less. But on sound alone, there isn't a clear victor. What is clear, however, is that the on-ear are the better value, especially now that they can be purchased refurbished for about $100. 

10 Comments:

yeah
they need little amping to sound better
Great review! I could not agree with you more in regards to letting the MOE burn-in. I have tried to mention it in other Momentum threads, but people are quick to judge right out of the box and end up selling/returning the MOE. It is really unfortunate because after a good burn-in the MOE really open up, to the point where they actually surpass the full sized Momentums in certain areas.
Thanks for your review, nicely done.
Thanks for this review! It sums up my experience as well.
 
I got the display model at London Drugs, since they were out of stock, so I expect these have already been burned-in, since the bass is nice and clear; not overwhelming at all. I'm a fairly new budding audiophile, and I don't have an amp that I can use with these yet, but I can tell they could use more juice to get some higher volume. I think the only down-side for me is I feel the highs tended to blend a bit compared to the Marshall Monitor FX headphones I was comparing them to in the store. I think the MOE out-preformed the FX in its soundstage and bass clarity, though. But, again, no amp here; I'm just using my iPhone.
 
I'm definitely looking forward to hearing what these sound like through a better DAC/Amp. If anyone has affordable suggestions for some good listening equipment (DAP, DAC, Amp) to start with, I'd appreciate it!
Thanks for your review, Napilopez!
Just an FYI, I decided to keep the on-ears =] The original momentums simply weren't worth the price hike, even at a heavily discounted $187. Not to say the Momentum's aren't worth that price, they certainly are, but when you spend two weeks listening and still can't decide which headphone you like more and one of them costs $80 dollars less... well, going for the cheaper one seems reasonable =]
That amp recommended? I use it with FiiO x1 and was thinking of getting a e11k or jds c5.
So you guys would recommend me to burn them in?
I'm about to return them... The bass is too much and treble is sharp in one region but on closer look treble is badly rolled off, when I equalize them with Accudio iPhone app.
So burning in or returning?
My first impression is that the UE4000 and the CAL! put them to shame...
I just wanted to have some decent looking headphones which sound descend too. The UE4000 is OK but has too few treble for my taste. And something like Beats Solo 2 or the Momentum are lot more stylish and well known by people. Logitech for most people makes compute stuff, it's not hip
... Sorry but cant geht the positive reviews here, it just sounds awful... Putting a Creative Aurvana Live! On my ears right after the MOE shows how bad this cans are... Beautiful looking but they have to sound at least ok..
Napilopez,
If yours don't fold, i think that means they are the first gen of the on ears, i think the 2nd gen does fold for transport. I like my gen 1 on ears, but i guess they are no creative aurvana lives. Who knew?
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