Sometimes there’s this manic impulse that takes hold and makes me buy stuff at the drop of a hat. I wrestle with it all the time. A horrible need reveals itself for that missing piece of your system, and suddenly you can’t sleep until you place that order.
I can’t give you a logically compelling narrative as to why I bought these headphones. I’m just glad I did.
Most of my listening is done at the office, where I sit at a bench all day working with my hands on electronics, testing, repairing, etc… Most of the time it doesn’t take a great deal of thinking. For the first nine months at this job, I was alone with naught but my thoughts, day after day, as my hands toiled. There are no words to describe how darkly weird and kinky it is inside the rickety confines of my psyche. So it became necessary to always, always, ALWAYS have a means by which to distract the villain who governs my subconscious. There would likely have been global ramifications had I not decided to put something in my ears to help the days pass.
Slowly, I’ve upgraded, piece by piece, to Summit-fi territory, and currently use the JH Audio Angie for most of my work/mobile listening. At home, hooked up to my fully balanced desktop rig, are the Audeze LCD-2.2 Fazor, and the Sennheiser HD600.
As diverse as they may seem, these headphones share a lot in common. They are all capable of warmth, without ever losing their air, detail, and imaging. This is the signature I look for in all of my equipment. I am neither a bass nor treble-head. I want everything in balance, with a nice rich timbre tying it all together. The mids are primarily where I find this happens. So perhaps I’m a mid-head?
At times I simply don’t want to put something in my ear. Maybe I’m not up to messing with fit and seal, or there’s earwax I just don’t feel like dealing with. Or maybe I’ve just had Angie in for too long. She never grows painful, but after four or five hours your ears do get tired. The point is there are plenty of reasons I desire a portable over-ear solution. On-ear was never an option. No matter how soft the padding, that constant pressure inevitably turns to white-hot agony after about an hour.
For a time I thought the B&W P7 was the headphone for me. Certainly, the Oppo PM-3 has a strong allure. Indeed, I’ll most probably get the Oppo eventually. As I researched the matter, the Sennheiser Momentum 2 kept calling to me. Worshiping as I do at the altar of the HD600, I can’t imagine where this attraction came from. Also, that retro aesthetic is killer.
What clinched the deal was when the price suddenly dropped all across the internet, from $349 down to $249. On top of that, I had accrued $50 worth of Amazon credit. So from a certain perspective, I got a set of phones, which I was willing to spend full retail price on, for only $200. That’s half what those other two choices are going for.
Upon first laying hands on them, I was filled with wroth and dismay, for I was certain they had sent me the On-Ears by mistake. These things are just so small! Then I tried them on, and my ears fit perfectly within the circumference of the pads. The Momentum 2.0 is comfortable. They have a luxurious feel. Genuine Leather, stainless steel, highly sturdy construction. I never fear accidently breaking these. Is it possible? Probably. But a normal fall shouldn’t do it, and you’d have to really work at it to snap off the cups or destroy the headband. Again, stainless steel.
I must admit, at first the M2 sounded underpowered playing from my Astell & Kern AK120II. Not that it couldn’t be driven loud enough. By 90/120, the SPL was already where I like it. No, it merely seemed hollow to my ears. Angie presents a fuller sound, as does my backup IEM, the ATH-IM03. The LCD-2 and HD600 are powered by the beefy Audio-GD NFB-28, so they too are driven to their fullest. The Momentum felt like it had untapped potential from a DAP. Yet the whole bloody point of this purchase was to use it with my AK! As you might guess, I was distraught.
It took a few days before I grew accustomed to its sound. Call it hardware burn-in or brain burn-in, but I eventually discovered a lust for the Momentum’s sound. On my desktop amp the music is meatier through the Senns. What I hear from a DAP is a lesser M2. Nonetheless, there’s still that sparkle, engaging bass, and glorious timbre. In other words, the Sennheiser sound is intact.
The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 renders an almost loose, sort of raw, easy-going sound. It’s the Jefferson Airplane of headphones. It would take very little to make this signature awful. For these Senns, though, it’s all brought together with that sweet character as the fabric of this tapestry. I can understand why someone wouldn’t like these. They’re not tight or controlled, or all that smooth. They aren’t dark or bright. They’re just a little warm, reckless and wild. If you’re akin to me in any way, that fun, effortless sound that never fatigues is surprisingly welcome.
On the Shanling M2, which I have here for testing, they lose some of their vibrancy while growing warmer and somewhat creamy. The combination is lovely.
You may find this rather predictable, but no less than three of my co-workers own Beats. Solos, I believe. I gave two of them a little time with the Senns. They know nothing about them, probably never even heard of Sennheiser, and I told them only that I wanted to hear their impressions on how they stacked up. The first co-worker said the M2 sounded clearer. He thought it must be because his Solo was a few years old now. I merely smiled. The other man said it sounded pretty good if you don’t mind sacrificing bass. I nodded knowingly, thanked him for his impressions, and took the Sennheiser back.
I don’t have extensive experience with Beats, though I do try them out every time I find myself at BestBuy or MicroCenter. The M2’s bass is more textured, and though not as exaggerated, quite fun and heavy in its own right. The mids are clearer by a large margin, with a degree of detail and personality Beats can’t match. Neither is great with treble. Where the M2 really dominates Dr. Dre is in tonality, which is Sennheiser’s specialty. Both the HD600 and M2 possess this natural, earthy quality other manufacturers would kill to achieve.
The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0, like Beats, is great for mobility. The carry case fits inside my messenger bag, along with two IEMs and my AK120II, and all the non-audio boring stuff. I take these cans whilst walking or jogging. Often I’ll wear them on my long drive home from work, instead of using the car stereo. When I’m out shopping or doing errands, you may see a hairy man with cream-colored cans bound to his head. They even sound surprisingly capable and bass-y from my Galaxy S6.
Yes, I’m awfully fond of these babies. They’ve proven to be everything I needed, filling that over-ear void in my arsenal of portable gear. To pull me away from IEMs like Angie, they have to be comfortable as hell and sound really ********* good. And while Angie sounds better in a lot of ways, the Momentum 2.0 holds its own, and offers that singular full-size over-ear flavor that IEMs can’t match.
I still desire to try the Oppo PM-3, or maybe something bigger and better yet. We’ll see. Right now, this niche is met, and by the sexiest of the lot.
You’ll see that custom cable goes through some changes in these photos. I was honing my DIY craft and figured this was a fine headphone to experiment on.