Sanctuary with the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless M2 AEBT

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless M2 AEBT($499)
The audiophile in me was disappointed when I learned that Sennheiser's big reveal at CES this year would be some physical changes to, and wireless versions of, their Momentum and Urbanite lines. What hot blooded headphone enthusiast doesn't yearn for the next Sennheiser flagship? The pragmatist inside me understood the move perfectly, Sennheiser is invested in the two brands and is strengthening them for the long haul. Fair enough.

To my eyes the changes and additions to the Momentum line were quite welcome. A folding mechanism was added to the headband...something this headphone desperately needed as there were no folding features at all, which made for a fairly large carry case. The size of the ear-cups were significantly increased and the swivel fitting that attaches the ear-cup to the headband improved—very welcome improvements as the first iteration of the Momentum had some fitment problems. I very much appreciate Sennheiser's careful and considered improvements to the line, the changes are modest but absolutely spot-on.

On the other hand, extending the Momentum line to include a wireless product is big step, made much bigger by including noise canceling with these headphones. Adding the electronics to the ear-cups for wireless operations can mess with the acoustic design and degrade performance. Adding noise canceling, in my experience, is usually devastating to sound quality. Let's take a look and see how well Sennheiser has done.

Styling, Comfort, and Build
The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless is a full sized, sealed headphone with noise canceling and Bluetooth wireless operation. The overall design is simple and elegant. The sweeping arc of the real leather covered stainless steel headband is perfectly proportioned to the ear-cups. Two colors are available (black and ivory) and the mix of materials and colors on each is tastefully understated. This is a very handsome pair of headphones.

Sennheiser_MomentumWireless_Photo_Hinge

Headphone hinges are often a weak point, but the hinge on the Momentum is solid stainless steel and confidence inspiring. A clever detent is built within the hinge allowing it to hold its position nicely when open, and to close easily on demand.

Ear-cups are attached to the headband with a swivel fitting and slide up and down the headband smoothly, but with enough resistance to remain securely in place when wearing or while removing from or replacing them on your head. This swivel seems to have been redesigned to allow greater range of motion than the previous model, and this revised model does seem to fit better on my head.

Sennheiser_MomentumWireless_Photo_Pad

Ear-cushions have been fairly dramatically redesigned. The leather has an extremely pliable, almost "gooey" feel—really nice. Not only are they larger in circumference and depth than the previous model (55x38x19mm vs. 48x34x17mm LxWxD), they're also angled. The result is a very comfortable fit; I easily wore them for many hours on a plane recently. I will mention, however, that because of the larger pads they are less comfortable when worn around the neck than the first version. Cushions are replaceable, but fair warning, they are not easy to put back on. The groove is very narrow and the fit tight.

The headband pad...just isn't. There doesn't appear to be any padding whatsoever under the leather of the headband pad, and frankly, I don't think it matters. I spent quite a bit of time pondering this and came up empty; I'm going to have to talk with the Sennheiser engineers next CES and get a bit of schooling on the subject. I think this is one of those times when there's a lot I don't know that I don't know I don't know. I've had headphones with soft cushions that hurt the top of my head, and now I've experienced a headphone with no cushion at all that's perfectly comfortable. I suspect, in this case, that the low weight of these cans (258grams) and having twin spars on top to distribute the weight between two places makes cushions unnecessary.

Sennheiser_MomentumWireless_Photo_PlugsThe included cable is plenty long for mobile use at 57", and is relatively thin and pliable. It's terminated at the headphone end with a 2.5mm TRRS connector with locking detents molded into the connector body. The player end of the cable is terminated in very compact and stylish metal-bodied 90 degree angled 3.5mm TRS plug. If you're wondering why there's a TRRS (tip-ring-ring-sleeve) plug on the headphone end and a TRS plug on the player end, well, join the club. Not sure what's going on here, it's certainly not going to provide remote functions through the cable. More on that in a moment.

Included with the headset is a very nice stiff-sided, clam-shell carry case (picture on next page), a fabric storage pouch, USB charging cable, and an airline adapter.

Features and Functions
The Momentum Wireless M2 AEBT has three modes of operation: wired passive, wired active, and wireless active. When the power is on, noise canceling is active; you cannot turn off the noise canceling while using it in Bluetooth or wired active mode. Oddly, in any wired mode, the M2 will not act as a smartphone headset. There is a work-around for this: simply buy a cable for the regular Momentum On-Ear (Part#556941 $50.23) as it has a remote and mic in-line. Unplugging the wire when powered on will activate the Bluetooth electronics.

All the external mics, indicators, and controls for the Momentum Wireless are mounted in the dark ring around the ear-cup next to the pads. The two controls are the power on/off button and a multi-function switch.

Sennheiser_MomentumWireless_Photo_Controls

Controls act very much as expected for a Bluetooth 4.0 device. It does have the aptX codec, and is compatible with devices that support the following profiles: Hands Free (HFP); Headset (HSP); Audio/Video Remote Control (AVRCP); Advanced Audio Distribution (A2DP); and Device ID (DIP). Powering it on will cause the M2 to try to pair with it's last two paired devices. Powering it on and holding down the power button for about seven seconds causes the M2 to enter pairing mode and will search for a new device. An NFC (near field communications) chip is in the left ear-piece for fast Bluetooth pairing with NFC enabled devices. Pairing was always quick and painless.

The other control is a multi-function switch that can be momentarily slid up or down (usually to control volume) or momentarily pushed in (to answer calls and, with music playing pause/play, or with multiple pushes, track forward and back). Voice prompts from a female robot with an English accent keep you updated with statements like: "power on"; "device connected"; "pairing"; "max volume"; etc.

Throughout the entire period using these headphones—about two months of fairly regular use—the Momentum Wireless M2 has operated flawlessly and I've had no problems whatsoever. Battery life on a full charge is about 20 hours; it takes about three hours to fully charge from a dead battery. Unlike some other noise canceling headphones I've used, the acoustics of the noise canceling seem stable—I have had no problems using it with my head on a pillow or with the cans blocked by the hood of my jacket. (Some noise cancelers will go into low frequency oscillation in those cases.) Controls are intuitive and ergonomically placed on the headphones. (For complete details see instruction manual here.) Top notch styling and comfort, and simple functionality makes getting comfortable with the Momentum Wireless M2 AEBT very easy.

Flip the page and we'll have a listen.

COMPANY INFO
Sennheiser USA
1 Enterprise Dr.
Old Lyme, CT 06371
(860) 434-9190
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
tony's picture

I doubt that anyone could find a more comprensive description of any product in any industry, anywhere.

Alex Dykes's Car reviews are you're equal but that's it among reviewers/presenters/sales staff.

I doubt that even the Sennheiser people could put things into context or perspective as well as you've just done.

If I'm the Sennheiser's Global Sales Director I'd be training all sales people using your videos and I'd be hiring you to do Videos on every single product in production.

Nice going,

Tony in Michigan

Lego7663's picture

Hi Tyll,
Would love to hear your opinion on the Momentums vs PM-3s. The general consensus on Head-Fi seems to be that the Oppo headphones are the best in their respective class.
Thanks'
-Al

BarbecueGamer's picture

I'm curious, do these in wired mode sound the same as the wired Momentum M2?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I'm sorry, I haven't gotten the Momentum M2 in yet to compare.
BarbecueGamer's picture

Ah, I see. So does that mean you will eventually? I certainly hope so. Nonetheless, this was a great review Tyll as always. I was definitely very excited when I saw this on the home page.

Gooch's picture

Hi Tyll,

I got UE6000 and Bose QC20i after reading your reviews and am very satisfied with both of them. Though I don't use UE6000 much anymore since UE6000's noise cancelling, as you pointed out, isn't really great. (I mostly use headphones while flying or on noisy bus/metro.) and also wearing over-ear in summer days is a torture.

I wonder if the on-ear version of Momentum Wireless M2 is also a good option. Also how about B&O H8? The noise-cancelling and comfort might be a bit higher in my priority list. Any chance to do a full review on either of these?

Cheers,

Gooch

Dadracer's picture

I am generally a fan of Sennheiser headphones but I have never found myself able to enjoy the Momentums. This resulted in me looking at alternatives for portable phones. I have bought a pair of QC25 for general/noisy travel and they are excellent. The comfort and noise cancelling is perfect and the SQ is good enough for use while travelling and I prefer it to the original Momentums. In terms of best SQ and reasonable noise cancelling I think the PSB M4U2s are best. They are better than the QC25s in SQ but not as good as noise cancellers so I guess it depends on your main priority. I think they are closely related to the NAD Visios but look much better and have noise cancelling.

dp's picture

There is a solution to make QC15/QC25 and Momentum (wired) wireless with an adapter.

DarthGore's picture

Measurements clearly indicate the Bose QC25s to be better at sound cancellation. Sorry Sennheiser, but this effort is not good enough to make me part with my hard earned cash.

Canfan's picture

How do these compare to the Phiaton Chord? They both seem to do everything well but nothing great.

obsidyen's picture

Good, solid review. Nevertheless, I'm fed up with lifestyle headphones. I wish Sennheiser had introduced some new flagship.

bogdanb's picture

Why not put the electronics in the headband? (for better acoustics)

Mr.TAD91's picture

I ditto what Tony wrote. And for noise cancelling on planes I take with me my Pioneer SE-NC21M. They have an incredibly clear sounding mid-range and are mid-centric with a polite bass presence and recessed treble. I think their sound signature suites the average user for movies and music. Noise cancelling is excellent; I couldn't hear what my brother was saying at all and he was sitting right beside me. As well, they're useful at College to tune out (very)noisy students.

I don't think its practical to do any serious headphone listening on an airplane. Due to their frequency imperfections, I find myself analysing the lyrics of tracks and determine the their meaning, instead.

Awesome review as always, Tyll.

Mr.TAD91

Dadracer's picture

Dear Mr TAD91
Are these on ear phones? I had some AKG 490NC which were on ear and a replacement for my then Bose QC3s (also on ear) but the QC25s were a big improvement on both in terms of noise cancelling and SQ. They even image reasonably well and are fairly neutral so certainly you could do some almost serious listening on planes, trains and lectures!!!

Mr.TAD91's picture

They are on ear (supra-aural) headphones. They're fairly comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. BOSE headphones are excellent with respect to noise cancelling and their sound quality is respectable for their application - but the price puts me off. I'd rather buy another listening can for my spotless separates rig.

Mr.TAD91

Gu1b0's picture

Hi Tyll,
nice review

You can compare it with Solo 2 wireless?

Thanks

M.A.T.'s picture

Thanks for all your reviews. Have you taken a look at the Definitive Technology Symphony 1's? They were also premiered at CES this year. I was really impressed with their sound and ended up buying a pair when they came out recently. They are definitely the best sounding wireless/ANC headphones I've heard.

Matt

neoterix's picture

I would echo this; I would love to see the Symphony 1's go head to head with these Sennheisers. I've found the noise isolation and ANC to be the best I've heard thus far.

Mrip541's picture

Did you experience any Bluetooth signal dropout? When connected to the Galaxy s5 in my pocket I get frequent static and dropouts, but the signal is fine when connected to my pc. I think there's something about wind noise (even slight) that throws the noise cancelling for a loop. It sounds like a signal loss but might just be the anc losing control.

Tmegs's picture

I have the mom wl. I think they're overrated. Buy any decent phone and Auris BT instead. Sounds much much better. And you will avoid the flimsy buttpns too. Hype......

hannakimmi's picture

I was looking for this kind of information and I had enjoyed reading this one.Keep posting. Thanks for sharing.
--increase soundcloud reposts

thefitz's picture

As of about a month ago, Sennheiser has fixed the bluetooth issues for the Momentum Wireless. There's a new REV02 serial number on the boxes of the fixed units. I've received mine, and can confirm that the connection issues are gone.