Sennheiser Momentum In Ear (iOS version) - Black Chrome

General Information

MOMENTUM In-Ear brings together elegant appearance and high-performance sound. Created for individuals who follow their own path, MOMENTUM In-Ear celebrates mobility, freedom, ambition and excellence. Available in high-gloss black with red accents and mirror chrome detailing, these new earphones capture the style and sound of Sennheiser's acclaimed MOMENTUM headphones in a compact in-ear design - powerful bass, detailed vocal projection and great sound stage. Ear adapters in a range of sizes combined with a new slim stainless steel enclosure ensure a perfect fit for excellent attenuation of external noise. A newly designed oval cable geometry imparts a solid feel of quality while contributing to superior sound quality. Momentum In-Ear will be available in Apple iOS and Samsung Galaxy versions featuring convenient three-button in-line remotes with integrated mic for controlling music and taking calls. A premium carry case is included, finished with the same attention to detail and styling as the earphones. MOMENTUM In-Ear delivers an incredible listening experience in the smallest, most compact form.

Latest reviews

Pros: Fluid, musical sound, build quality
Cons: Flat soundstage, uncomfortable ear tips
I bought these when my Klipsch S4i started dying (volume is cutting out on the left channel). Fair enough – 7+ years is a long service life for a pair of inexpensive earbuds. My first priority was compatibility with my 3G iPod Shuffle, which needs a 3-button remote to operate. The second was to get a sonic upgrade – I thought 8 years was a long time for headphone technology to improve. The third priority was form factor – I loved how small the Klipsch S4i and the iPod Shuffle were together, so I didn't consider non-earbud headphones for replacements.

There aren't a lot of "value/quality" earbuds left in the market. I paid about $80 for the Klipsch S4i in 2009 and Klipsch don't seem to make iOS (3-button) products in that price range any more – online reviews describe the descendant Klipsch S6i as bass monsters, which is too far from neutral for me. I can't afford to buy expensive earbuds because of the high probability of damage/theft with portable use. Klipsch and the other manufacturers (Sony, Sennheiser, Grado, Shure, etc.) offer mid/high-end earbuds and IEMs for hundreds of dollars, but nothing much good below $150. Other headphones I considered: Jays q-Jays (not available in Canada), Klipsch x6i, Beyerdynamic Byron (not available yet), Etymotic hf5 (no remote), Koss IL200k KTC, Shure SE215m+, and V-Moda Zn.

The M2 headphones should be easy to drive from any device with an impedance rating of 18 Ω and a SPL of 118 dB (1kHz/1Vrms). They have dynamic drivers where other manufacturers use single-driver balanced armatures. I am using the 3G iPod Shuffle and Panasonic SL-CT820 portable CD player as sources.

More specs here: http://en-ca.sennheiser.com/hd1-headphones-in-ear-with-mic

* Note: I think Sennheiser is in the process of rebranding the Momentum In-Ear (M2 IEi) headphones as HD 1 In-Ear – specifications and design appear to be identical.


Physical Appearance
The M2 comes in a nice zippered carrying case and it has 4 sizes of silicone ear adapters (XS, S, M, L). The earbuds are lightweight – not as heavy as the "stainless steel sound funnels" might lead you to believe. I bought the Black Chrome variant, which matches nicely with my equipment. The in-line microphone/controls are on the right headphone cable and they are easy to operate. The headphone plug is a slim L-shaped connector that should work in most 3.5mm jacks. The "elliptical" (flat) cables are tangle-free and not particularly microphonic – the cable is slightly long so tuck it away to prevent catching it accidentally. There is no shirt clip included with these headphones.

Comfort
The silicone ear adapters had a good seal, but they were hurting my ears after an hour (the medium size is slightly too big for me, small is too small and doesn't seal properly) – Sennheiser's circular-shaped ear adapters aren't as comfortable as Klipsch's oval ear tips. I switched them with Comply Foam Tips and now I'm able to keep them in for hours. Initially, I was hooking the cable over my ears like I did with the Klipsch (uncomfortable), but the M2 stay in without a problem with the cable running straight down – you just have to rotate them a bit until the angled enclosure lines up with your ear canal.

Isolation
Sound isolation is moderate with either type of tip (silicone or foam). The M2 aren't as quiet as full IEM designs, but they are fine for listening in medium-loud environments.

Sound Quality
Extended highs, rich bass – the Momentums have a pleasant frequency response, but I wouldn't call them reference-quality. Treble tuning is noticeably increased without being painfully bright – I noticed higher-pitched instruments and effects jumping out at me where they were previously lost in the mix with the Klipsch headphones. Bass doesn't extend to subterranean depths, but it is slightly boosted. The Comply tips seem to be less overtly bassy than the silicone tips, which is a good thing. The coloration doesn't seem to affect well-recorded acoustic instruments or vocals much. Some reviews mention a slightly-recessed midrange, but I'm not hearing that on my equipment.

Overall, the Momentum are more lively-sounding where the Klipsch were dull. Resolution is moderate – I'm not getting the same detail I'd hear on my home equipment (Arcam FMJ CD36 + Headsave Classic OPA627x3 + Grado HP-2), but they are smoother and more pleasant-sounding than my Koss Sportapros. Compared to my Alessandro MS-1 headphones, they're missing a bit of that midrange magic, but they are surprisingly close. I'll update this section as the headphones burn in. I'm not expecting them to change much.


Recommended Listening
Bran Van 3000 – The Garden
Chromeo – White Women
Groove Armada – Vertigo
Kylie Minogue – Body Language
Jane Monheit – Home
Röyksopp – Melody A.M.
St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend
Various Artists – Songs from the Cool World
The White Stripes – De Stilj

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