Pros: Gorgeous mids, great extended bass, no sibilance.
Cons: slighty lacking in treble "air", earcups won't comfortably fit larger ears, a little bit more definition in the bass would be nice.
The Sennheiser Momentums are my favorite pair of headphones that I own (including UE700's and the Senn HD650's). I started a quest last year after buying a pair of (at that time) Monster Beats Solos. Yeah, I bought into the hype. I'm not gonna start a Beats-hating review here; suffice to say I wasn't satisfied, sold them, and looked elsewhere. After weeks of reading reviews, going back and forth and hand-wringing over which pair to buy, I settled on the Ultrasone Pro-900's. While I loved the 900's ultra-high resolution bass and extended treble, the mids weren't doing it for me; voices and guitars sounded too distant for my taste. I listen primarily to rock (including prog, metal, etc.), and the Ultrasones held me at a distance. I decided to go back to my original first choice: the Momentums.
- Toshiba Satellite Laptop running Jriver Media Center
- Grant Fidelity Tubedac-11 w/headphone out
- Ipod classic (7th Gen)
- Fiio Mont Blanc (E12)
I love the look of these headphones: they're elegant without being flashy and plastic-y Love the leather earcups as they're really comfortable on my fairly average size ears. The non-resonant metal injected ear cups are lightweight, but very sturdy-no unwanted vibrations will occur there. The sliders stay in place and don't move unless I adjust them; they haven't loosened in the last year of heavy use. I've travelled extensively with them, and pack them in a backpack for work nearly every day. Very durable headphones (survived an attack by a five month old German Shepherd).
The treble response is almost perfect for me. Absolutely no sibilance with a very nice tonality to cymbals as well as a decent representation of the room sound while recording or the reverb applied during mixing. The last bit of "air" is missing from the Momentums, they're not going to emulate Beyer T1's or the Senn flagship 800's, but on their own merits sound great. Slayer's "War Ensemble" sounded clear and powerful through the Momentums, but in the drum fills during the opening riff, the room sounds slightly smaller compared to the Ultrasone Pro 900's which have quite extended treble. The Eagles "One of These Nights" sounded terrific and full, but again, the very top end of the spectrum seemed a bit muted, the reverb on Henley's lead vocal is slightly less prominent. Mind you, these are minor gripes, and if a listener is not coming from a more treble accentuated pair of cans, they would probably be perfectly content. Overall, really great sounding, non-eardrum abusing treble.
Simply Gorgeous. These are simply the best mids I've heard on a dynamic headset, open or closed, imo. Tone is the operating word: gorgeous tone. Now, the HD650's are known for their "liquid" midrange. I often listen to them myself through a Bottlehead Crack Amplifier, and I ultimately prefer the rendering on the Momentums. Compared to the mids on the 650's, which to me seem a little forward compared to both the bass and the treble, the Momentums seem to me a little better balanced. The new driver that was developed for these cans just sound so clean and "grain-less". On Simple Red's Greatest Hits, Sade Lover's Live, or No Doubt's Push and Shove, the vocals all sound incredibly real and immediate. Mick's voice on "Holding Back the Years" is warm and full; Sade's vocals on "Cherish the Day" and "No Ordinary Love" are superb: Gwen's voice on "One More Summer", "Easy" and "Gravity" sounds like you've got a direct connection to the mic. Just great stuff. I think the transducer Sennheiser developed for the momentum is better at producing realistic midrange than even the vaunted HD-6xx series drivers. Compared to the Momentums, the 650's seem to have a little bit of "glare" in comparison. Not a huge difference, mind you, I just prefer the slightly more natural rendering on the little bros.
Much has been made by the purists of the bass boost on these cans. It's very light. Imo, the bass is only there when it is called for in the mix; if a mix is bass-light, the Momentums will sound accordingly. If the mix is bass-heavy, there will be a nice, visceral impact that's fairly linear from 20-100 Hz. This is not one of those uncalled-for mid-bass bumps where the low freqs drop of precipitously after impact. Oh, yeah, the bass doesn't bleed into the lower mids, either. That is one of my pet peeves with lesser cans: the coloration of the entire spectrum to dark. These are definitely warm cans, but not overly so. Rather, they are sculpted by the Senn engineers to be both hi-fi and entertaining. Daft Punk's Tron: Legacy Soundtrack is a terrific example of low bass impact, and the Momentums deliver nicely. On "Derezzed", the impact is huge, and the sub bass resonates through your head. These are not so-called "basshead" cans, but any time I lend these to a coworker that listens to hip-hop or electronica, they're always impressed by the overall balance ( and I never seem to hear they're lacking in bass). If you'd like to check out a couple guitar-oriented tracks with tremendous low bass presence, check out Joe Satriani's "Tumble" single or the title track to "Is There Love in Space?"
A few quick words on Soundstage Imaging of these cans: to me, the difference between open and closed cans is relatively minimal when is comes to soundstage. To my ears, the Momentums don't sound terribly congested compared to the legendary 650's, rather the 650's feel more open because there is less air compression against the ear and side of the head due to the open design. The Momentums have greater sub-bass response due to their closed design. Both designs have rolled off upper treble response which for me makes more of a difference than the open/closed back issue. I know that closed back designs generally can have higher measured distortion in the bass, but in my experience it's not audible. These cans are seriously clean sounding.
These are easy to drive headphones with a nominal impedance of 32 ohms resistance. That being said, they benefit from quality amplification. Upon first listen they sound fine, but if even a modest amp like a Fiio E6 is added, there is a noticeable difference in quality and impact with the added headroom. I'm currently running my Momentums off a ipod Classic 7th Gen with Fiio E12 amp hooked up to the ipod line out. I have found instrument separation and bass impact to have benefitted greatly from the E12 compared to the standard ipod jack.
The Sennheiser Momentum Over-ear Headphones are a superb piece of design and a great value for head-fi enthusiasts who want a quality product that will compare favorably with more expensive headphones and in some ways, surpass them. I've been listening for a year now, and if anything were to happen to my Momentums, I wouldn't hesitate to go out and buy another pair. My Momentums are comfort food for my ears.