Every headphone has its strengths and weaknesses. At any given price range, there is rarely one individual headphone that is perfect for anyone and every type of music. Some headphones aren’t practical for mobile listening, while others benefit more than others from stellar amplification. The Sennheiser Momentum ($300) takes a stab at the more mainstream consumer market with its closed-back design and eye-pleasing aesthetics. While it may be a small departure from the heavily audiophile HD 800/650/600, it manages to keep a firm grip on the sonic purity that makes Sennheiser headphones so well received in the head fi community.
The Momentums swing it at a low 16-ohm impedance and can be easily driven directly from your portable audio player of choice with hardly an issue to be had. The headphone cord is detachable and comes packaged with two cables, one with and one without external player controls. Overall I thought the wire was a little on the thin side for such a stellar pair of headphones, but I didn’t detect any issues (sonic or otherwise) with the stock wiring. In fact, the smaller wire allowed for easy packing and storing within the well-built carrying case. The case that comes with the headphones is fairly robust and has a small compartment for storing said cables. The overall size is about as small as you can get with a pair of non-foldable headphones and should fit nicely in any travel bag.
The headphones themselves are an on-the-ear design and not around-the-ear like its older HD siblings even though they share the same oval-shaped ear cup. This is where I really found the Momentums to shine. The fit was absolutely perfect for my head/ears. From my experience, comfort is often and area where personal preference is at its most influential. Head size, ear size and any other number of external factors may greatly impact the feel for the wearer. But for my head, these Senns were a perfect storm of clamping pressure, size and pad comfort. The pads my review pair came equipped with were just the right fabric so they didn’t feel too sweaty during long listening sessions. Interesting enough, during an A/B comparison with another pair at a head fi meet, I noticed the pads from a fellow attendee where actually made of another material, so your experience may vary. Even so, I would to go out on a limb here and say that my pair of Momentums was perhaps the most comfortable headphones that have graced my head to date. For that factor alone, I think these babies are worth an audition. But, fit is not everything, but it isn’t nothing either.
The build of these headphones was just as solid as some of the top contenders out there. Sometimes even the greatest headphones can feel a bit shaky in your hands. The leather clad band and metal connectors were impeccably robust and solid. The weight still felt light in your hand and on your head, but you definitely get the feeling they would be able to take a tumble and not shatter into pieces. Good looks and a great build to boot. When given the choice, I actually found myself reaching for them on more than one occasion among the pile of headphones (from all pricepoints) I am currently working with.
The Momentums sound like a good closed-back headphone should. While their design restricts them from having the nice open sound of the 800/650/600 they continued to perform admirably giving their technical shortcomings. The tonal balance was remarkably flat. It avoided the all-to-often inflation of bass that plagues so many other good closed-back headphones. It also manages to avoid overdoing the highs, which can often come off as a little crispy or piercing. The Momentums manage to sound very natural in an unnatural environment. The bass has depth and balance. Its there when the music calls for it and doesn’t blast you in the face with low-end frequencies when its not supposed to. The bass has thump to it in an area where it feels most natural, on the lower side of the spectrum and not sloping up to the mid section. Even though these headphones feel very balanced, I still would recommend them for pop or dance music for everyone but the biggest bassheads. The overall resolution is on par with other $300 headphones in the market. I did notice better articulation and soundstaging through the HD650s, but that fell in line with expectations given the design and cost differences. Simply put, their sound is as fun as it is practical. It provides the flexibility for a wide genre bandwidth and manages to do so without seeming too pious about the whole endeavor. Nothing too fancypants, just a natural presentation with a nice kick at the very bottom.
The Sennheiser Momentums are a smoking pair of headphones for everyday use. They make a great complement for travel with their closed-back design and well-executed carrying case. Their comfort level with my head performs on a plane that very few headphones can compete with. They get a lot of things right, without sacrificing too much in other arenas. Their sleek external looks should draw less stares than many of the audiophile designs, especially in this current “Beats” day and age. Added altogether, the Momentum is my current recommendation for closed-back headphones in the $300 range.
On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AYT62FO/