Sennheiser Momentum Review
This year the portable headphone market has really started to boom and the amount of new designs from all the leading brands really is crazy, even Ultimate Ears got involved! I personally think the reason for all of this is because the success of Beats is clearly noticeable, I mean who has not got a pair on the streets. When Sennheiser showed off what they were getting involved with people really did like what they saw because these really are one beautiful headphone and they really do make your jaw drop with the metal headband slider and beautiful leather infused styling. I always also pleased to see these are a circumaural design because I am personally not a huge fan of superaural designs due to seal issues and it looks like it will offer a nice sibling with in there range next to the Amperior with this being designed for a clearly more luxurious audience. With a price of £260 it is not cheap but the price shows good competition with what the other manufactures are offering.
I am really grateful to Rosmadi at Sennheiser for giving me the chance to review this headphone.
The set-up I have used is the normal, as I have started using a new portable rig, which is the Hippo CriCri amplifier connected through a LOD to an iPod Nano 3G with Apple Lossless and MP3 on it.
I also used my old set-ups of my iPhone 4, Cowon J3 (with FLAC) and my iMac with my Objective 2 amplifier. I also have paired these with a few other amps such as the MiuAudio MRB.
What to say about the design, hey? It is magnificent and sophisticated. The color they have chosen to go with is a leather brown that oozes class while still having a shimmer to the cups. The headband seems to be leather that always looks great and there is a bit of the modern day with the shiny Sennheiser logo bringing something new in a rather retro look. I do want to take time to mention that I love how Sennheiser have gone down a different route in terms of design than most companies because there is no denying a lot of new cans are clearly inspired by Beats, the Momentum is clearly not and I love that.
The cable you get with these is detachable and you get two included for good measure. One cable is extremely simple. It has the same connector that twists into the headphone to lock but the cable has nothing on it and the jack is straight with a slim rubber housing. It is all black and has a strong feel to it but I am very disappointed by the nickel-plated jack, I do sort of expect it to be gold plated. The second cable is a bit more fancy and although it uses the same cable so it still strong you now get a shiny, metal three button remote with mic and a chunky metal jack. The jack is great because not only is it really solid being metal but it also is both a straight jack and right-angled jack. Yes that is right because you have the ability to rotate the jack round which makes it really usable. However again it has a nickel jack and this sort of put a taint on the awesome cable, I just wish it were gold plated as it prevents that crackle on insertion.
Moving on to the build of the headphones them selves and I have little to complain about. The chassis is metal and it is strong while having a little give to it. The headband adjustment is smooth and well done and the cups are made of a nice plastic that does not give me any worries. The beautiful leather pads are removable all though leather has never caused me any problems in the past. The only real niggle is the little bits of cables coming out the top of the headband and I worry in case they get clipped.
For accessories we get the spare cable that I have already mentioned as well as the case and a ¼ inch adapter that like the cables, features a nickel jack. The cable I wish to discuss more because while it is beautiful to look and other positives are present, the negatives do show a balance. It is a lovely case that is strong and protective with great functioning zips. Inside is soft and velvet and you also get a little compartment for an accessory that has a Velcro cover. All pretty nifty BUT, yes there is a ‘but’. It is huge and also heavy making it not very portable for a portable headphone. It is because the headphones do not fold down but will fill a lot of your space in a bad for example. Another problem is that when it is inside the case, you have to readjust it to its smallest size to fit in the mold so after every use, I adjust the headphone and pack it away, and then I have to readjust on removable, rather annoying.
The first thing I noticed these is that your ears do not sit completely inside them like they might with the HD650 or D2000 but they do sit in a lot more than a super aural headphone. Two thing I noted from this first experience where, ohhh these are so comfortable and man it is so easy to get a seal. Yes because they still do engulf your ears you get a seal so easy like you would any other circumaural headphones.
I am still finding them as comfortable as the first time I used them mainly due to the small size keeps them light on your ears with just the right amount of clamping force that is helped by the soft leather pads. The headband is also light and although not to padded, I have yet to have a problem with it.
Isolation is only so so. For my uses with them they are just fine as I can always hear when my parents want to get my attention or if I am ever needed but I would not say these would make to good travel phones because they would not keep out train noise or a noisy airplane engine. If you want isolation for travelling then your better of with an IEM but for most general out and about use these will get the job done but they do let noise in. Just don’t try to counter act this by maxing the volume, as this is not healthy for your ears.
Microphonics (Cable Noise):
No problem at all here!
By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so don’t make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.
The sound on these quite simply is very impressive, completing the package and Sennheiser have done a very nice job here. That is not to say that it is without faults. They have gone with a signature that matches the look of these and is also very versatile and that is a nice warm and mellow sound that is smooth and laid back and just never fatiguing. You can listen to these or hours in pure comfort. The bass is slightly boosted and a bit loose to make it warm and bouncy, the mids are a tad recessed but always easily heard and present with perhaps a slight veil over them at times (but not like the IE8 had for example) and you are finished with a beautiful laid back top end presentation.
Soundstage and instrument separation:
Something that the Momentum just cannot match a good open headphone in is soundstage size and sheer openness but we do not have too bad an effort here. It easily beats out the V-Moda M-80 and HD-25 as far as I am concerned which both really lack size and more importantly height and depth. Although the size is not huge with the width barely getting out your head, I found the height to be nice and realistic in correlation to the width with and a slight bit of depth for support. It is not completely three-dimensional because a bit more depth would be needed for that and overall the sound lacks any sort of airiness. If you were to get these expecting similarities between these and your open headphones you may find them claustrophobic but if not you may be a little surprised. Imaging I did not find to be too realistic and live music did not sound too natural. However this did not fuss me as imaging is very hard to get right and you need more depth than these can offer for that.
Instrument separation is done very nicely with these headphones having great speed and keeping all the instruments away from each other so that they do not sound like they are coming from on top of one and other. As I have said earlier however, they do not sound like they are to accurately position.
We have a slight dominance in this area and these are rather bassy headphones, not in terms of huge, uncontrollable bass but more that they have enough bass to satisfy the most needy and likely those who do not like too much, it is a good medium and this all starts from a slight bump in the mid bass. It is smooth and well bodied and does give a fairly large punch. It is very warm and bouncy, with resemblance in presentation to a stage monitor like my ACS T2 and although the mid-bass is a bit loose with a tad overdone decay, I would not say it is slow by and means and far from sloppy, it is like this on purpose and it has great results because the bass is lovely.
Getting on to the extension and how these do getting down to the deep, sub bass regions, we again nail it and it is rather a linear extension although I still would say that the mid bass has a slightly more emphasis. That is not to say that the sub bass does not offer a real sense of rumble that is not overcooked but is still plentiful, because that is just what it does.
Behind the bass sits the midrange but it is far from hiding. There are times I wish it had just a bit more presence and that the bass slightly veils and washes over the mids but this all very rare and for 90% of the time, not a problem. One of the best things I have found about the mids is the balance though out giving it a natural tone and timbre. This is especially nice on vocals as female vocals do not sound manly and vice versa and vocals really do have a tone of honesty to them. The midrange is also full and well textured. There is no lack of character or thinness from the slight recession that the mids have and overall I was very impressed with the mids, just wish they were a tad more forward at times.
The low treble is very smooth coming off of the mids and retains a nice balance with them and it is heard nicely at all times without ever being too much. This continues as a them of the highs as because the further up we get the spectrum we always have presence but never enough to be fatiguing or too much. Sparkle is present but only just but it is enough to appreciate and show off detail without being too much and of course never being sibilant. One thing I have picked up with the treble is slight times of uncertainty and light distortion. It is hard to point out where but I would say in the low highs with really high vocal notes and high hat hits. This is something that I have noticed on extremely revealing and well recorded songs and with most stuff I throw at these they do not show up this. Extension into the real deep treble is not bad but we do never reach the real sizzling and airy treble that we cannot here but it affects the sound as a whole.
I have never liked a portable headphone so much sound wise or as a complete package. The UE900 was fun through gimmicks but the sound does not match and the same applies to anything else I have owned including the m-80. The price is a fair bit but I think it is justified here and Sennheiser should be patted on the back for this impressive effort. However I still do not think these match a good open backed headphone like my Sennheiser HD580 but can be as enjoyable.
Edited by Swimsonny - 12/4/12 at 5:00am