Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Stereo Headphone Review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    Youtube review: Sennheiser Momentum On Ear stereo headphone review by Dale - YouTube

    Sources: iPhone5 alone, iPhone5 with FiiO E07k using LOD, iPhone5 using v-moda Verza DAC/amp, various computers using HRT Microstreamer DAC/amp.

    First impression of the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear (MOE): A smooth treble rolloff, easily fixed with the iPod/iPhone/iTunes Treble Booster EQ. This EQ boost is perfectly matched to the MOE's treble shyness, so I will be using that EQ for this review, and every comment I make about the MOE's sound will assume that the treble boost is ON. Some users have commented about peaks or roughness after boosting the treble, and there may be a very minor peak or two that will show up as significant on a few tracks (less than one percent of my tracks), but in those rare cases I just adjust the volume. Most headphones that I've used have treble peaks to one degree or another anyway when played flat (no EQ), so the mere mention of that is more a disclaimer than a criticism.

    The MOE's bass is fantastic and amazing - I've also heard a complaint or two about the bass from certain users, but those users were not boosting the treble, hence the bass sounded 'off' to them because it wasn't properly balanced by the treble. The mids are Sennheiser good - warm and lush, like the best kind of live performance. Realizing in advance that many reviewers will ding the MOE for various technical shortcomings, I'll make a bold statement here: The MOE is one of the best sounding headphones I've heard below a thousand dollars (USD), its build quality and appearance is a ten out of ten, and the comfort is superb - the earpads for example have the cloth-type covering that doesn't get nearly as warm as plastic and pleather earpads. The treble is perfectly balanced from top to bottom (noting EQ as above), it has good harmonic detail, and the bass has great impact and control with a decent amount of detail. The overall experience is marvelous - highly recommended.

    Soundstage seems at least average or better for a good closed headphone, and it improves noticeably with a good headphone amp. Note that Sennheiser specifies the MOE's impedance as 18 ohms, so headphone amps that have a high output impedance may act unpredictably with the MOE. Isolation seems good - average or better for a closed headphone, but leakage is such that if you're in a very quiet office in a cubicle right next to other cubicles, the adjacent co-workers will likely hear some of the sound when played at audiophile volume levels. That should be less of a problem on public transport, since the ambient noise will mask the leakage unless the user is playing the MOE at dangerously high volume levels. The MOE's earcups don't rotate, but they're small and they pull down far enough for ideal portable use, so I can wear the headphone around my neck all day long when not listening. A semi-stiff cloth case is also provided.

    The MOE has a stainless steel headband with an under-pad that's stiff, but the headphone is so light and the earcups easily support its weight that I don't think it would be a problem for anyone. If so, just pull the earcups down some and let them support more of the weight. The headband clamping force is enough to keep the MOE in position when moving around, as long as your head doesn't make extreme movements such as tilting far forward or backward, in which case the earcups may slide off of your ears. The earcups are just like the Momentum's - high quality metal, but available in much better colors than the original Momentum. The cables, one with Apple connectors and one with standard connectors, are single-sided and detachable, with 2.5 mm plugs going into the earcup (left earcup only). The 2.5 mm plug has a locking connector on its sleeve, but since the cable snaps in securely a generic cable could possibly be used, but note that both cables' earcup end has an extra ring compared to generic 2.5 mm plugs.

    Summarizing, and as an owner of several Sennheiser headphones, the MOE is easily my favorite. Certain other Sennheiser headphones cost more, but along with whatever advantages they afford comes their own imperfections. I've seen where other reviews mention a "fun" sound for headphones they consider less than ideal in terms of their fidelity or hi-fi accuracy, but I can't subscribe to that notion because it leaves too many holes for unpleasant colorations to get through. The MOE isn't just a good sound after I got used to it, it impressed me favorably right out of the box, or more accurately, after letting the headphone warm up for a few hours while I finished the day's work. Outside of the Sennheiser product line and comparing to other brands, headphones that I find comparable without regard to price include: ATH ESW9a (soft treble); B&W P5 (soft bass and treble); Grado PS500 (slightly brighter with upper bass hump); Philips L1 (bassy); Senn Momentum (uneven highs); and v-moda M100 (bassy).

    In previous reviews I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to those other reviews and see how the MOE compares with each individual track. Note that the comments below apply to the MOE's sound played with Treble Booster EQ as noted above.
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear review part 2 - music tracks.

    Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has very good detail and tone, and both male and female vocals sound natural, without favoring either. The MOE plays this perfectly.

    Ben Heit Quartet - Suite-Magnet and Iron (Jazz with a Bebop flavor): The piano that leads off sounds realistic and the saxophone sounds appropriately soft. Overall, the MOE plays this music extremely well.

    Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The MOE reproduces the space and detail convincingly.

    Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine is clearly identifiable.

    Crystal Castles - Wrath of God (Electro-Pop): The bass in this track has a strong impact but little detail, while the ambient electronic effects are clear and distinct. The MOE plays this track very well given the limited quality of the recording.

    DJ Shadow - Building Steam With a Grain of Salt (Electronic/DJ): This track opens with what sounds like very high and very low piano notes, and the MOE renders those notes extremely well. The ambient voices are slightly indistinct though.

    Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses (Pop-Rock): The moderate level of bass in this track is played with good detail by the MOE, and the percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced. This track has a huge amount of high-frequency energy, but the MOE plays it very smoothly.

    Halie Loren - Sway (Jazz vocal): Bass instruments here may sound boomy on some headphones, but the MOE is better than average in this regard. The trumpet sounds natural but soft, and the voice is done just right.

    Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound and feel that indicates an excellent deep-bass response. Overall, the MOE plays this music extremely well.

    Kaskade - 4am (Electro-House): The bass that kicks in around 1:01 into the track is subtle, but the MOE plays it well. The percussion and female voice balance well with neither overwriting the other - the MOE gets this right.

    Katy B - Perfect Stranger (R&B-House-Garage): The heavy bass that begins at 0:27 into this track is played very well by the MOE. The voice is slightly forward, but it doesn't overpower the instruments or get lost in the mix. The MOE balances the different elements in this music very well.

    Machine Gun Kelly - All We Have (Rap/Hip-Hop): The heavy bass beats that begin at 0:23 into the track do sound like drum impacts, although they're not sharp impacts. The male and female voices have a good balance, and the MOE plays this very well given the limited quality of the recording.

    Massive Attack - Angel (Trip-Hop): This track begins with a steady low-frequency sound and some slightly soft deep-bass impacts. The voices blend well with the music and have just the right presence, although the recorded quality of the instruments isn't great. The MOE plays this very well given the limited quality of the recording.

    Morcheeba - Bullet Proof (Trip-Hop): Bright percussion and medium-strength bass impacts make up most of this, with some dance-club spoken intonations thrown in. The MOE plays the percussion pretty well, and the voices sound good too.

    Peter Tosh - Get Up Stand Up (Reggae): The bass here has a fairly strong impact, and the lead and backup voices have good separation that's not too narrow or wide. The MOE renders the bass with good detail and the voices sound very natural.

    Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that may lack clarity and proper harmonic detail on some headphones, and although the MOE makes those effects audible, the 'clop' sounds light (for lack of a better term) - i.e. the effect should have a more-or-less hollow quality, but with the MOE the sound is higher pitched, lessening the hollow effect.

    Rachmaninoff - Prelude in C-Sharp Minor Op3 No2 (Classical, Piano): Grand piano played mechanically from an original recording by the master himself. The bass is unusually light with most headphones, but the MOE renders the notes with enough weight to be convincing.

    Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the MOE renders the tones and transients superbly.

    Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are unusually strong, and work very well with the horns and other instruments. The MOE delivers the impacts with proper weight and great detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.

    William Orbit - Optical Illusion (Billy Buttons Mix) (Electronic): This is about as close as I want to get to easy-listening music. The string tones beginning at 0:18 are fairly soft, and while the bass isn't very deep, it still adds a good underpinning to the music. The short poetic rap at 4:14, preceded by an etherial female voice, works very well with this track.
  3. john-hifi

    john-hifi Super Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 27, 2012
    Great review Dale!

    I love these headphones too... and for such a low price! :)

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