Headphones and Earphones
- Written by Stephen Hornbrook
- Published on 14 May 2013
Design, Use , and Rating of the Sennheiser Momentum Headphones
The design of the Momentum usher's in a totally new approach for Sennheiser. These phones are sleek and sophisticated and the first thing I noticed was the unique metallic brown finish. It stands out from the common black or silver finish, while not being too bright and loud, attracting unwanted attention. Accenting that metallic brown is the brushed metal headband with brown leather padding. The earpads slide up and down the metal band to adjust for head size and comfort. For connection the Momentum comes with two cables, both with 1/8" connectors on each end. One cable includes iPhone/iPod controls and a very cool adjustable 90 degree 1/8" plug, while the other is simply a cable with plain straight connectors. A ¼" adapter is also included for plugging into headphone amps and whatnot.
After picking up the Momentum and examining their design, the second thing that really jumped out at me was their weight. At just 190 grams, they are light. A light, compact design is of critical importance if portability is any concern of the designer. These are easily among the lighter of the headphones I have reviewed. Comfort-wise, the Momentum should please most wearers. Even though the ear cups aren't big enough to fit fully around most ears, I give that a pass since making them too big means no one will want to take them on the go. There was occasional pinching at the top of my ears, which I am overly sensitive to, but the light weight was enough to offset that. The leather material on the ear pads and headband is soft and of good quality.
Included with the Momentum is a nice hard case to protect your investment when traveling. The case is an interesting brown color that I would describe as milk chocolate. My only complaint would be that its bulkiness might make me think twice about taking it with me on a plane, but for going back and forth from home and work, the case is quite handy and very sturdy.
The Sennheiser Momentum sound quality is full, uncongested and overall, especially for a pair of $350 headphones, well-balanced. My overall preference in headphone design weighs heavily in the open-back, planar magnetic court, so to switch things up with the closed-back, dynamic driver Momentum, I felt the need to keep my expectations in check.
After throwing on some Coltrane via my iPhone (no special portable amps here, just a direct connection from iPhone to Momentum), I was immediately greeted with a warm and inviting sound. Coltrane's sax was positioned apart from the bass and piano with enough weight to his stage presence to create an almost tangible image. When the piano solo takes off in "Too Young To Go Steady", the right hand melody pops with excellent dynamics.
The Momentum is an easy to drive headphone with its 18 ohm impedance and that in turn makes it ideal for portable use. I have to say that when directly connected to my iPhone, the Momentum was capable of playing louder than I would ever want to listen. As I sat back and kicked up the volume on John Mayer's "Gravity" track on Where The Light Is, I couldn't help but think how wonderful it was to be enjoying the Sennheiser sound again. The upper range is crisp and delicate without ever sounding too harsh. I suppose in a perfect headphone, I would want a bit more airiness and detail, but what the Momentum did deliver was satisfying. I think a big reason why the Momentum satisfies in the aural department is its solid bass. On the Mayer track, bass drum kicks had a nice pop and bass guitar was full and clear. If there is anything I hate in a headphone, it is muddy congested bass as having poor quality bass that close to your ears is an unpleasant feeling. This is never an issue with the Momentum. The soundstage is fairly wide considering its closed-back design, but front to back imaging was limited compared to more expensive models. For $350 you won't get the very best performance available, but the Momentum will get you most of the way there.
After listening to the Momentum for several weeks, I can safely conclude that my return to Sennheiser has been very satisfying. The market for headphones in the $300-$400 price point is getting quite crowded these days. It certainly feels like everybody and their mothers are selling a pair, but, fortunately for Sennheiser, the Momentum's sophisticated look and lovely sound give it an edge over the competition. The Momentums deliver the kind of sound that allow one drift off into their music and that seems to me like what we are all looking for. I wholeheartedly recommend the Sennheiser Momentum as an excellent value in the headphone market.