The Very Adult Sennheiser Momentum

Tyll Hertsens's picture

The Sennheiser Momentum ($349)
There's long been frustration amongst Headphiles with getting good quality sound from sealed headphones. It's hard to make a good sounding headphone with the rear of the driver pumping sound into a small, sealed chamber. Historically, the good sounding sealed cans really didn't seal all that well (Denon AH-DX000 for example). Earlier this year, when Denon discontinued its D-X000 line, a collective groan was heard from the headphone faithful: there simply weren't any other good choices. When Denon's replacement cans arrived another groan was heard. The new cans weren't anywhere near as good as the previous line. Headphonedom had the sad.

Recently, the pendulum has begun to swing. First Logitech UE released the UE4000, UE6000, and UE9000 series of sealed headphones. All of which sound pretty darned good for the money. (As long as they were used in passive modes---the noise canceling features of the 6000 and 9000 are pretty bass heavy.) Then V-Moda released the M-100, which was a rocking good sealed headphone...for bassheads. But your average, ordinary, everyday headphone geek was still a bit bummed. The Logitech UEs didn't have quite the resolving power of high-end cans, and the M-100, while fun as hell, don't have the fidelity audiophiles desire for acoustic music.

Well...take heart! The new Sennheiser Momentum is a strike right down the middle, and does a lot more right than just delivering good sound. This is the headphone many have been waiting for.

Styling
Simple is so good...when it's done well. A simple headband arch with ear capsule that slide on the arms has been done many times. But never so tastefully, in my opinion, and never quite so comfortably. These are very elegant and understated looking cans, very adult.

The headband itself is a thin but sturdy brushed stainless steel arch with a slightly warm tint. A handsome real leather pad/cover is sewn over the top of the arch, which includes a modest but appropriate pad. Small metal name badges ("Sennheiser" on one side, "Momentum" on the other) are affixed to the ends of the leather headband with four flathead Torx screws, which securely capture the wire that goes between the top of the two earpieces and within the leather pad.

The capsules are a made of high quality, glass fiber filled plastic, and are a lovely semi-gloss deep bronze color. The earpads are also leather. The overall impression is warm and brown, a perfect match for whiskey and cigars. Again, very adult.

I've got a couple of gripes though. While I enjoy the brown color scheme, I think the brown of the carry case is pretty gross. I'd like to see a second color option in black and grey. Pulling off a good looking product in shades of brown is quite a trick---and I think Sennheiser has done so here---but I think a black, gray, and silver version would really pop.

I also think the ear capsules are just a tad boring, and would benefit from a bit of stainless steel trim to resonate with the headband. However, being a critic allows me to make comments like this without any real effect. I'd bet Sennheiser had something like that on the drawing board at some point, but axed it in order to make the $349 price point---and if that was so, I think I'd have to agree with them. These are very good looking cans, my comments notwithstanding.

Comfort
Theoretically, lighter headphones should be more comfortable, but in practice it's not quite so easy. As headphones become lighter they tend to become less durable, and will have fewer moving parts that allow for adjustments and swivels that aid in providing a good fit. Many very lightweight headphones tend to be uncomfortable due to poor fit, or may move too easily around on your head giving a poor sense of security while moving vigorously.

The Momentum is very lightweight (177grams (w/o cable) vs. 293 for UE6000, 232 for Sony MDR-1R, 284 for V-Moda M-100, 334 for Denon AH-D5000), and Sennheiser appears to have made some very subtle and important design decisions that result in a very comfortable wearing experience...for many, but not all. By most any measure, the Momentum is a small headphone, which is good because it keeps the weight down, but not so good if you've got big ears. My head is slightly larger than average size (23.5" vs. 22.5" for the average male head), but my ears are just slightly smaller than average, which is 65mm from top to bottom. The inside dimensions of the Momentum earpads are 50mm X 35mm. That means there's 15mm of something that's got to give. Fortunately, while the outside of the ear cushions are leather, the inside circumference if the ear cushion is made of a very stretchy fine mesh knit fabric covering the soft memory foam that does provide quite a bit of give to accommodate the ear within the cushion. For me it was cozy, but very, very comfortable. But I have heard from many others online that claim the pads simply do not accommodate their ears, and who returned the Momentum due to poor fit.

For reference, inside dimensions of UE6000 60mm X 37mm; Sony MDR-1R 59mm X 40mm; V-Moda M-100 57mm X 35mm; Denon AH-D5000 64mm X 42mm. Here's the weird thing, though, the Momentums didn't feel that much smaller than the others due to the very soft internal mesh of the earpad.

The other comfort issue I had was that it seemed like the top of the earpads clamped against my head with a bit more force than the bottom of the earpads. I found, after quite a bit of experimentation, that I was simply adjusting the earpieces too high on the headband. I was used to feeling a little more pressure on the top of my head from wearing heavier headphones, which lead me to misadjust the ear pieces slightly. Sennheiser wisely chose a continuous friction adjustment as opposed to one with detents. I found that when I adjusted the earpieces slightly too low it felt like the ear cushions were hanging on my ears, but the excessive clamping force at the top went away. When I adjusted the ear pieces in between these two positions everything fell into place nicely. The measure between too high and too low is a matter of just a millimeter or two. Care in making this adjustment spot on is rewarded with a very comfortable fit.

To summarize: the Momentum is a very light and comfortable headphone, but they must be adjusted carefully, and your ears can't be too much larger than average size (70mm top to bottom is probably the max size ear for these headphones).

Features and Accessories
Sennheiser_Momentum_Photo_PlugAngleThe Momentum comes with two cables. The iDevice compatible cable is 4.5" long and includes a handsome metal 3-button remote and a very cool adjustable angle 1/8" plug for insertion into your player or phone. I'm a big fan of V-Modas 45 degree angle plug, but I think the Momentum's plug edges it out as the coolest I've seen. A very nice touch.

The plain cable is about four inches longer then the iDevice cable and is terminated in a straight 1/8" connector with a body slender enough to reach through cover cases on smartphones and pads. Personally, if headphones are going to come with a second cable, I prefer that cable to be substantially longer than the one for use with mobile devices. An eight foot cable in the home or office provides much better mobility around the desk or kitchen while listening. Both cables attach to the headphones with a smaller 2.5 mm plug that includes a molded locking feature to secure it to the headphones.

Both cables are fairly thin and pliable, and resist cable-born noise. I've heard many Headphiles complain about thin pliable cables like this, preferring a heftier cable. I think this is a misguided opinion. Just because a cable is thin doesn't mean it's going to sound poor, and for today's use with portable devices of all kinds, a thin flexible cable is going to get in your way much less and have much less cable-born noise than a thicker, stiffer cable. A 1/8" to 1/4" adapter is also included.

A hard sided carry case is included. While the Momentum is a small headphone, it doesn't have any folding features that allow it to get smaller or thinner for storage and transport. The case for them is therefore fairly large...quite a bit larger than the carry cases for other headphones in this category. It's also, to my eyes, a rather unseemly milk chocolate brown color, having little redeeming design value in terms of it's bulbous shape. On the other hand, it appears to be quite sturdily built with dual zippers, each having nice pulls attached. The interior is covered in medium brown velour shaped nicely to accommodate the headphones, and will allow you to store the headphones without having to remove the cable---a rare feature these days. There is also a cable well with a cover that Velcros into place.

After thinking about it for a while, I've begun to think a somewhat ugly carry case might be a good thing. It may be somewhat less attractive to those that might pilfer your beloved headphones...and believe me, after hearing these headphones for any period of time, they will be beloved.

Yeah, let's talk about that, turn the page for sound quality evaluation.

Company Info
Sennheiser USA
1 Enterprise Drive
Old Lyme, CT 06371
(860) 434-9190
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Comments
asgiov's picture
Thanks for the Review!

Hey Tyll,

Thanks for letting us know about these headphones. I've been hunting... buying and retunring so many different headphones in the last month...  I just got these... this morning and I really love them a lot. They remind me so much of the HD 650s.. which I also loved... but could never bring them outside the house. 

Totally agree with you 100% on your review of them....

WolfOx101's picture
Momentum belong in the on ear, ear pad section

I tried out the Momentums for several days, but had to return them.  They simply won't fit as an over ear headphone. I tried them in on ear configuration but they hurt your ears after a while, which is a great shame.

I don't consider myself to have larger than normal ears (which is obviously subjective). But I think it is strange for a premium brand, premium priced product to be designed at the expense of a good proportion of the target market.

I would suggest to any potential purchaser to ensure you buy them from a source that allows an easy return as you too could find you can't use an otherwise great set of cans.

I strongly believe that the Momentum should be classed as on-ear.

mrchrisroden's picture
Completely agree

I struggle to see how most people can fit into these so as to properly class them as over-ear. I had no chance and it made them quite uncomfortable after only a short period of time.

Luigi's picture
Amperior or Momentum.

Hi Tyll, I use headphones to enjoy music and to mix some home recordings. I had the ath-m50, I sotituite with akg K167, but because of their poor construction I have returned it. I heard both (amperior and momentum) and i like both over almost all the headphone in this price range, but i ask to you: Which headphones are best suited to studio work for you? Which it is better balanced for you? excuse me for the english, i'm italian.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
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I think the Momentum is better balanced, but the Amperior has better isolation and will stay on your head while moving around better, it's a tad strident sound-wise but just a bit.

dumbo's picture
The Momentum is certainly has a "prettier sound".

Hi Tyll,

I've heard both the Amperior and the Momentum. While I agree that Amperior is more strident I think it does it a great disservice not to mention the fact it utterly trounces the Momentum in terms of bass and rhythmn. While the Momentum has a nice velvety "pleasing" sound the bass is so completely without character (no texture, transient attack or prat to speak of) I had to let them go and went with the Amperiors (for my own tastes). 

grizzlybeast's picture
for recording

Hi i would really appreaciate some advice. In advance I want to thank you very much for taking time to respond. To make it as clear I need some headphones for recording vocals but that can also dual as a portable can. I bought the COPS for that purpose but was extremely disapointed. I like the sound signature of the hdj 2000's (warmth and mid range) but they leak to much to record.

I have been looking and looking and its been really hard. I keep coming to these momentums. Do they have:

deep reaching bass (not quantity)

clear and solid mids?

minimal leakage?

durability?

thanks again. I see above they isolate fairly well. I was thinking of the hd25-II but they say the mids are somewhat recessed. From reading your review of them I see that these are the closest but how would they fair for recording (not bleading into the mic) since they are built for portable use. 

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Yes.

I think this headphone is about as close as you'll get to what you're looking for.

Corpsemaker's picture
Tyll, awesome review, and i

Tyll, awesome review, and i just have one more question, compared to the durability and ruggedness of the Amperior (HD25), how do the Momentum-s fare? 

Tyll Hertsens's picture
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The Amperiors are pretty bullet proof. While I think the Momentums are well built and plenty durable, it wouldn't surprise me if an Amperior survive getting driven over by a car.

jcheadphone's picture
Compared to the DT-1350

Tyll-wondering how you would compare sound of the Momentum to another sealed headphone that you really liked-the Beyerdynamic DT-1350.  I own both the DT-1350 and Beyerdynamic T70p.  Both of which in my opinion are good sounding sealed headphones even when used directly out of a portable device but even more so with a portable headphone amp like the Fostex HP-P1.

CloakedYoshi's picture
Comfort fix!!!

 

This fix will make the earcups *slightly larger circumference* and have much, much more height

Before I got these headphones i had the bose QC3's and boy were they comfertable, making the transition  to the momentums was rough, my ears, while very small, and fitting in the momentum cups no problem, still rubbed against the cloth on the drivers and the sides, in a way that was causing tons of disconfort, i could not wear them for more than 30 minutes before my ears wre throbbing, idk why maybe my ears are to sensitive, OK so heres my fix, There is a small gap on the inside of the cup between the cloth and driver, so started putting some rolled up tissue paper in there which in turn made the rim taller, thus my ears not hitting the scratchy driver cloth anymore, after some use it started heating up, so then moved to my final solution, i got some cyrindrical foam i found in my house, the picture linked here has a pot in the back round but ignore it (i just grabbed this from google search)

http://collectionsconversations.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/pot-and-poth...

now one last thing i should metion is that , since human ears left the head at a diagonal, you should have more room in the back of the ear cup, so, cut the foam into a half cirle and shoved that in the front part of the earcup, and the whole foam circle, in the back. Once they are inserted i noticed that they make the circumference slightly bigger because the foam forces the inside of the cup to pulll away from the center a tad. If anyone has any questions i can post a pic or two of my headphones

shandy's picture
Terrible

I had an extended listen of these recently and to be honest I cannot for the life of me see who anyone can say these are a balanced sound. They have an awful bloated bass and the overall sound presentation is akin to listening through several layers of cotton wool.

When I saw your review I questioned my hearing so had a few friends with good home systems take a listen. Did not promt them but just waited for their thoughts. To a man they all thought the same as me!

 

Mind, your the person that says the T5P's are too bright and unlistenable where as I find the treble one of the best I have heard and the sound warm and transparent.. Go Figure!

icebds's picture
Trying to figure out which headphones to get.

Hello,

I am trying to purchase my first pair of headphones and i have been given a budget of 400 dollars. I will be travelling this summer and will be on planes for a very long time as well as travelling by boats to islands. Style is very important so can you recommend me a good set of headphones? I was looking at momentum, parrot zik and as well as ue 9000. Any stylish headphones will do as well. I have tried variety of headphones from p5, p3, harman kardon (too big and heavy), bose, and etc. I found parrot zik sound not as good as harman kardon p3, maybe because the one i listen to the headphones wernt burn-in and were new set of headphones.

I am 22 years old and listen to vareity of music and good bass is always apprecieated. I listen to r&b, hip hop, rock, dubsteps music such as alex clare, pop songs such as pink and ballad (extremely slow song with vocal focus. I sometimes listen to classical music as well, such as bedrich smetana. But my 2 favourite generas are hip hop and ballad. Two very different generas (love songs with good beats).

Thank you for reading

Ice

vick_85's picture
AKG k550 vs Sennheiser momentum

 

@Tyll Hertsens

Hi

K550 vs the sennheiser momentum, which is better??

I want to buy one and will be using them exclusively with the audioquest dragonfly. The headphone will be a part of my desktop setup & will be used for listening pretty much everything from music to youtube vids.

P.S. what is your take on the audioquest dragonfly??

Thanks

wyd4's picture
Thanks!

Firstly I would like to thank you for your reviews.

I was moments from clicking purchase on the vmoda website to get the m100's.

A friend has these cans, and as I listen to a lot of metal and dance genre's they fit my needs well enough, and having already owned the LP2's from VModa I knew the build quality was second to none.  

I do however, also like listening to old rock, acoustic and classical music, which the vmodas left me feeling a little neglected.

Enter the Momentums.  After stumbling across your m100 review, I spotted the Momentum review. Having owned Sennheiser headphones in the past that lasted me 8 years of daily abuse before faulting, I went straight to the nearest hifi store to check them out.

WOW!

I was instantly impressed with what I was hearing.  I am no audiophile, but I like my music to sound good. (I spent countless hours playing with EQ settings before being somewhat happy with the LP2's, and still I was missing something).  I was missing these headphones.

I disabled EQ immediately on my portable device and I can not be happier the sound.  Sure they dont have the Bass of the Vmoda's, but to be honest, in general listening, its definately not lacking and is much more balanced.  The sound quality is fantastic and low and high volumes, meaning I no longer have to go deaf in order to enjoy the potential of my headphones.

Thank you so much.  

One question, they already sound fantastic, would you recommend a portable amp for these or leave them be?

Scott

Tyll Hertsens's picture
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They seems to sound pretty good right out of the player, so I wouldn't say they NEED a headphone amp.  But getting one would likely improve the sound a bit. Kinda up to you.

The Headphone Viking's picture
DT1350

Hey there, could you by any chance give a few thoughts on this compared to the DT1350? 

Cheers

Nikovitch's picture
DT1350

Hi, 

I'm also interested in your opinion on Momentum compared to the DT1350.

I tried the dt1350 once, it was great with vocal music and jazz but not so good with hip hop and electronic music. Is the Momentum more versatile? 

Thanks

Nisck's picture
loving these

Must say I absolutely love these headphones, I think I like them more than the HD650 and Denon D2000 which were my 2 previous favourites. I think these are FAR better headphones than the V-moda M-100.

Pheerix's picture
Nice review

Very helpful. Well you be reviewing the new Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear headphones coming out this this month? I'm curious to see how close the sound quality matches the Momentums. 

donunus's picture
Overrated and overpriced if based on sound quality alone

I finally got around to listen to these. Very overrated cans IMO. They sound like a px200-II upgrade in that they have a similar presentation in the mids and highs but with bigger bass. I find these to have a honky, cuppy coloration that even the much cheaper and better(to me of course) hd280pro doesn't have. Overall, they are decent cans but I don't understand why Tyll loves them so much Laughing out loud

jt9843's picture
Hey Tyll

Have you had a chance to review the momentum on-ear?

erlendsp's picture
Opera and the Momentums

Thanks for the review Tyll!

I am finding myself increasingly drawn to opera and while I know closed cans are generally not considered ideal for classical music I am currently looking for a pair of good on-the-go cans and do need the sound isolation (London Underground is no place for open backs). Would you say the Momentums handle opera (and classical in general) well or would you recommend anything else in particular?