Pros: Well-balanced neutral sound that works well for many audio applications; excellent iDevice integration; superb remote control
Cons: Not a headphone for those who want to hear the smallest details in recordings; replacement remote control/mic slightly pricey
I have been enjoyably appreciating the Sennheiser MOMENTUM since just before Christmas 2012 and continue to do so now as I type this.
The MOMENTUM is part of Sennheiser's Club Orpheus* flagship range of products - which also presently includes the HD 700, HD 800, RS 220, and IE 800 headphones as well as Sennheiser's newly released headphone amp the HDVD 800 / HDVD 600 - and is a beautifully-construced headphone with a high-quality sound that works well in a variety of listening settings.
The MOMENTUM's packaging is similar to that of the Amperior (another recent and well-made addition to Sennheiser's product line) and by brief comparison is a definite improvement. Whilst the cardboard documentation holder that came with the Amperior has a tendency to fall out each time I open the box, the documentation holder of the MOMENTUM is securely epoxied in place and stays put when I open the box. It's a subtle improvement and one that shows me how Sennheiser are committed to improving their product line in every way, right down to the smallest detail.
After writing the previous paragraph I read the Amperior documentation where it reflected my statement and spoke of Sennheiser's dedication to "perfection down to the smallest detail." Need I say more.
The MOMENTUM's packaging has a blue band at the bottom that is similar to the packaging design of Blu Ray discs, which to me are often desired over DVDs. In that respect MOMENTUM is aptly packaged, as for me it is a more desirable headphone that many of the other similarly priced headphones currently available.
The carry case for the brown/metallic MOMENTUM is a brown colour and is sturdily-constructed. It's wonderful to have a solid-yet-stylish case to match the modern-retro design of the MOMENTUM which contributes to my reassurance of the headphone staying in fine condition and my vision of an enjoyable duration of my experience with it.
The MOMENTUM's remote control cable is a thing of beauty. It is gorgeously-constructed and bends to terminate in either a straight or L-shaped jack plug. The buttons of the stylish and robust silver-coloured remote panel operate my iDevices with a satisfyingly subtle click.
I find that the spacing of the buttons allows for accurate functioning of the remote control. With other iDevice remotes I have found their buttons to be too closely spaced together and arranged in a way that sometimes my intention to adjust the volume would pause, fast-forward or rewind a track I'm listening to or even end a phone call, but every time I use the MOMENTUM's remote control, my intention for adjustment is met. The remote control is a joy to operate. It's a small detail and one that adds to the satisfaction of my listening experience.
The MOMENTUM fits snugly over my ears and feels great to wear. However since receiving it and listening with it in bed, sometimes to meditation audio programs, I have fallen asleep with it on a few times and afterwards noticed that my ears and scalp had a slightly dull ache from the clamping pressure. People using the MOMENTUM for shorter periods of time will most probably be happy with it, as I am, and for those using the MOMENTUM for many hours at a time they will most probably notice a subtle outward stretch of the MOMENTUM's headband to sufficiently to reduce the clamping pressure to a lesser level.
The MOMENTUM is available in two colour-schemes, brown/metallic and black/red, the latter being a similar colour scheme to the immensely popular black/red coloured Beats headphones. I have the brown/metallic colour and love that it complements the colour of my red hair and the clothes that I wear, so much so that I've already (and gladly) worn the MOMENTUM as a fashion accessory/ear warmer when not listening to audio with it.
Enough foreplay. Let's talk about the MOMENTUM's sound. The MOMENTUM has the highest quality sound I have yet heard from a portable headphone and all things considered, I find it to be very enjoyable.
"This is awesome" were the first words that came to mind about the sound when I listened with the MOMENTUM to a track from Donald Fagen's album Sunken Condos. Everything sounded well balanced and quite neutral, though compared to my HD800 there was a noticeable lack in treble extension. The sound of the MOMENTUM is slightly on the warm side of neutral and due to its closed-back design provides a great deal of bass resonance, ideal for people using it when outdoors or in a noisy environment.
With the Jimi Hendrix/Band of Gypsys track "Power to Love", the MOMENTUM works a treat. Jimi's guitar sounds warm and refreshingly analog, Buddy Miles' drums sound dry and punchy, and Billy Cox's bass sounds full and slightly boomy as it vibrates in the MOMENTUM's earcups. At times, and being used to the HD 800, I wished the sound of the MOMENTUM was slightly less resonant, but when I started to listen to the details of the bass part on this recording, I could hear all the detail I wanted to hear, so thumbs up there. When the band kick in at around 0:19, the sound from the MOMENTUM rocks whilst retaining great attention to detail. Brilliant!
I enjoy listening to ambient music and sometimes guided meditation CDs. For me the smoothness of the MOMENTUM's sound works very well for those purposes facilitating a subtly detailed sound that is pleasurable to listen with.
Comparison with other Sennheiser headphones
I'm writing this part of this review following a festive holiday in Germany where I also had the Sennheiser HD 800 and was editing some video footage of one of my recent musical performances** that I filmed with my portable digital video camcorder, which was positioned close to the drum kit I used in the video. The sound recording was quite clear overall but the sound of the hi-hats and cymbals was quite hot and slightly distorted. As I edited the footage I switched between the Amperior, the HD 800, and the MOMENTUM, and for the vast majority of my editing time preferred using the MOMENTUM due to how it softened the treble frequencies in a way that I found non-fatiguing and more palatable and enjoyable than with the Amperior or HD 800. The MOMENTUM's lesser ability to reveal as much micro detail as the other headphones was always more than enough and enjoyable. If there's one common factor true about my experience with the MOMENTUM so far, it's that I always find it very enjoyable.
The MOMENTUM and the HD 600, HD 650, and HD 800
When listening to some Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings I was curious to hear how the MOMENTUM compared with the Sennheiser HD series headphones. First I switched to the HD 600 and the sound felt a bit cold and flat by comparison though more neutral and revealing of instrumental textures and overall sonic detail. The HD 800, a much more revealing headphone that the HD 600, sounded fuller than the MOMENTUM and provided a much crisper and detailed sound, baring every nuance on the recording, especially in combination with the Lavry DA10 DAC/Amp. Considering the price of the MOMENTUM I found it held up very well with the HD 800, and whilst there's obviously no comparison between the technical capabilities of the MOMENTUM and the HD 800, I find the MOMENTUM every bit as enjoyable as the HD 800. I can imagine that there are many who may prefer the sound of the MOMENTUM over the HD 800, since the HD 800's ultra-revealing sound may not be to everyone's liking.
In terms of my listening preferences - and this may be because my default go-to headphone is the Sennheiser HD 800 - when I have used the MOMENTUM for practical and analytical close-listening purposes including when learning song arrangements and drum parts for a gig, I have found the sound of the MOMENTUM to be slightly lacking in treble emphasis in relation to what my ears would perceive as 'natural' e.g. if I am at a concert and listening to a musician play live. This can of course be corrected by applying EQ via an iDevice's treble boost setting or using a portable amp, but all things considered I would prefer it if the MOMENTUM's sound had slightly more treble emphasis than it does. However the MOMENTUM'S stock sound remains excellent and I've enjoyed it every time I've listened with it.
Having tried some of the finest flagship headphones currently on the planet and listened to them critically, I have enjoyed them and also discovered many faults and discrepencies in their sonic characteristics, usually to the point of hearing the headphones and not enjoying the music that much. Since receiving the MOMENTUM and mainly listening to audiobooks and a miscellaneous selection of music in many styles. I've mainly just been enjoying the listening experience with the MOMENTUM, happily able to hear all the details in the recording that I want to.
Overall, surprised at how well the MOMENTUM performed with the HD 800, I find that the MOMENTUM has a high performance/price ratio and fares as a high-quality headphone that, unlike the HD 800, excellently lends itself to portable use.
Compared to the Amperior, a similarly-priced headphone by Sennheiser also well-suited to portable use with iDevices, the MOMENTUM has less sub bass resonance and emphasis and less treble prominence. That reminds me of how the HD 650 compares to the HD 600 in those areas. The MOMENTUM is no slouch in the bass department though and can ably deliver a viscerally-impactful sound, which in combination with it's closed design are qualities I find work very well for a portable headphone. I find, though by a small margin, that the MOMENTUM isn't as effective in providing as much clarity as the Amperior in noisy environments. For example, when in Germany editing the video footage I previously spoke of, there was some Christmas music playing in the background. With the Amperior I heard all the details I needed to hear when editing over and above the music playing in the same room and without turning my headphones up to a painfully loud volume, but the bass wasn't as clear and impactful when I used the MOMENTUM, which is something that people who normally use their headphones in noisy environments may wish to consider if they are choosing between the Amperior and the MOMENTUM and looking for the option that provides the most sound isolation.
The sound of the MOMENTUM is less upfront and more laid back than the Amperior, which is very adept at revealing musical details as is the MOMENTUM, though the latter seems geared less towards analysis of mirco-detail and more towards enjoyably listening to music, and according to my ears, it very much succeeds in that. Another significant sound difference is that the MOMENTUM offers a more spacious and open window to peer into recordings than the Amperior which portrays recordings with a more compressed, upfront, and intense sound.
OUTRO / SUMMARY
The MOMENTUM has proven a very neutral-sounding headphone which I have found enjoyable with all audio I have fed it. I have only had a desire not to use it for listening when wanting to compare it to another headphone or when watching movies or gaming, for which I prefer a brighter-sounding headphone that enhances the crisp visual detail on screen, but that's just my preference. The MOMENTUM can of course be enjoyably-used for all listening purposes, though some users such as audio professionals may want a more soncially-revealing headphone.
I think that for most music lovers who listen to music using an iDevice and/or a laptop or desktop computer and want a veratile headphone suitable for both purposes, purchasing the MOMENTUM - and a great value USB DAC/Amp such as the FiiO E17, which I also highly recommend - could very well be the best of both worlds.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM is a fabulous choice for anyone wanting a stylish looking headphone that also sounds great overall. It works great with pretty much every audio I feed it, and with Sennheiser's readily available spare parts, could be a headphone than can be cherished for life. I highly recommend the Sennheiser MOMENTUM.
*More info on Sennheiser's Club Orpheus range of products can be found here: http://www.sennheiser.co.uk/uk/home_en.nsf/root/club_orpheus_club_orpheus_about
** Here is the video footage I edited with the MOMENTUM: Windsor with the Revelators - 2012 - part 1 - YouTube
P.S. here's my video review of the MOMENTUM