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Sennheiser Momentum On-ear Review – A basshead’s Delight!

Sennheiser Momentum Onear boxshotThe explosion in portable entertainment gadgets have created a thriving market for suitable accessories to go with. The classic “white earphone & cable” is still a style statement for most iPod owners (though at the cost of sound quality!). The headphone market has lately been going towards this “Signature style” with either celebrity endorsements or distinctive styling. Sennheiser, not long ago released it’s Momentum, a premium circumaural headphone for on-the-go use and has made a follow-up with the Momentum On ear version. I tried out the Momentum On ear during my daily commute and used it as my primary headphone for listening to music (Spotify premium, Google Music etc.) over a fast broadband connection and my impressions follow.

Design & Comfort:

              If you have already seen the Momentum over-ear model, you know what to expect. A very tastefully done design, goes great with casual and formal wardrobe ;-). The sliding earpieces are nice but I always have the nagging feeling that they tend to move from their optimal position during the regular handling of the headphone. General disclaimer : I have never had a good experience with On-ear headphones!

The Momentum on-ear comes with a plush earpads made of Alcantara – a soft breathable material. The stainless steel headband running across the drivers provide the frame with good grip and a nice look as well. The cable is detachable (a comfort for portable headphones) and  remote for the microphone seems to be made of metal as well. There is an additional regular headphone cable with no microphone provided as well. The amount of detail that has gone into the design is once again reflected in the audio jacks as well, though they are not the wonderful self adjusting Momentum circumaural type, these look like works of art. The colorful hologram on the jack is an eyecandy in itself 😉 – this is the best designed headphone in my opinion – “drool-worthy” .

The comfort of the Momentum on-ear is good but nothing to write home about. The general comfort levels of On-ear models depend on the clamping force as well as earpad material on the headphone. Considering this is a mobile accessory, noise cancellation has to be a priority as well – the clamping pressure was on the stronger side for me and at about the half an hour mark I had to remove them (would have been worse without the Alcantara earpads I suppose!). I have to say that passive noise cancellation could have been better but I believe Sennheiser allowed the tuning of the headphones to do the rest. The robust low frequency presentation actually helps cut down on some noise that I experienced – traveling in trams, trains and generally in other public spaces. Though On-ear headphones have never been my thing (guess I’m sensitive to pressure on the ear lobes ;-)) due to comfort issues – the Momentum On-ear is the least uncomfortable on-ear I have tried.

Sound:

 This isn’t anything like it’s elder brother, the full size Momentum.The Momentum on-ear is a departure from Sennheiser’s house sound and is definitely aimed at audience who would otherwise be gravitating towards say, the Vmoda M100, Beyer Custom one Pro, Bose, Beats, AKG Tiesto and so on. All competitors of the On-ear Momentum pay special attention to the needs of the “bass minded” and genres such as Hip-hop, electronic, pop & EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and good looks ofcourse. I believe this introduction is necessary to put in perspective the tonality of the On-ear Momentums.

Sennheiser Onear MomentumI have to start with the BASS! of the On-ear Momentum, which is the most prominent aspect of it’s presentation. The lower frequencies are very strong (and overwhelming!) for such a small driver unit. The bass is actually quite good in tracks where it is reigned in, everywhere else there is bass”plosion” – highly unlike Sennheiser! The closed architecture tends to add to the bass tuned driver to push out more than required low end punch with some loss in musicality and fidelity in other parts of the presentation. As a HD650 fan, I can immediately realize the speed of the bass, its fast!  makes this good accompaniment to pacey, fast and bassy music. However, the Momentum On ear seems to have been designed to perform best with regular mp3 quality audio rather than high resolution music. As a portable headphone, I do see the wisdom behind the decision but sorely miss the bliss of playing high resolution or even lossless tracks through the headphone to bring out much subtler nuances in the music.

The mids are the least prominent part of the presentation, recessed and without much say in the overall musicality of the headphone.The highs are well extended and don’t appear too shiny, though pushed forward in the soundstage. The details that the treble presents is really overwhelmed by the pulsing strong low end, so there is nothing to complain about the higher frequencies here. Overall the Momentum On-ear carries good resolution in its presentation, the details are nice and clear, only distraction is the bass.

There are probably just a few headphones that can be on the shopping list with the Momentum on-ear. The fabulous Vmoda M80, rugged style and build with a very well balanced presentation and comes customizable accessories as well. For stronger bass the Vmoda M100, again has all of the above but with a presentation that leans to bass (more than I would like). The Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro has an adjustable bass control – design is much more industrial. It is safe to say if you enjoy a reasonably balanced musical presentation go for the Momentum (Circumaural) – love thumping beats and bass, Momentum On-ears could be your best company!

Conclusion:

Sennheiser has probably taken into consideration the tastes of the Vox Populi and fans of Rap,Hip-hop, EDM etc, for whom the On-ear Momentums may be a great choice. If you are a basshead as well, I highly recommend trying them – but I prefer a bit of balance in my basshead can as well!. The On-ear Momentum is a great headphone for audience looking towards the likes of the Vmoda M100, AKG Tiesto, Beats & Bose but would prefer a more sophisticated design sense.

Here is a video review from a fellow head-fi’er

Now available in additional colors!

Sennheiser Momentum Onear new colors!

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Lasmex H75 Pro – It’s Sweet!

Over at HeadFi, fellow headphone nuts often dig out some of the best audio gear worth owning. Sometimes, the gear tend to be quite expensive and/or difficult to source (unless ofcourse one is prepared to make their wallet suffer !) but the Somic MH463 is neither!. Somic is a Chinese manufacturer of headphones and other associated communication equipment and are quite popular in that part of the world. The headphone is available on Ebay from sellers in both China and Hong Kong. I like shopping closer to home (saves time on shipping and customs procedures) and was on the look out for a dealer in Europe. That is when I came upon the Lasmex H-75 Pro, a rebranded version of the Somic MH463 sold in Europe by the Chinese OEM brand Lasmex. There do seem to be other branded versions of the MH463 available as well with some slight modifications in the cable and styling.

         Lasmex H-75 Pro

Build & Comfort

     At budget prices there is not much one can expect from headphone manufacturers. These budget headphones have to balance pricing and performance to be competitive but the Lasmex H75 Pros seem to have found a decent balance. They don’t look overtly “plasticky”, maintaining a reasonably reassuring build. The metal band that runs across both headphone frame is pretty sturdy and the remaining parts are made of tough plastic. A three year guarantee is greatly admirable and definitely helps the buyer to be more confident with the headphone, ofcourse this may depend on the rebranding vendor. The headband also seems to add considerable weight to the headphone, which makes it heavy over extended listening sessions The markings on the metal band help in making quick adjustments and are much appreciated by users like moi! The headphones have an impedance of 45 ohms and have a 50 mm driver. The large driver makes the headphone quite substantial to look at and most definitely also plays a role in the well resolved sound the headphone puts out (more on that later…). The headphone has an open type construction meaning, there is going to be leakage of music to the surrounding, the size and open nature of the H-75 Pro will mean you would ideally be using these indoors. A 3m cable terminating in a 3.5mm stereo plug with a 6.5mm adapter completes the Lasmex H75 Pro.The earpads cushions are unusually too soft and do tend to compress too much. Though that may not affect all, users like me (not small ears!) have comfort issues. The earlobe tends to rest on the hard plastic containing the drivers and causes comfort problems during extended listening periods. Yet another discomfort is  the sheer weight of the headphone itself! The plastic lining bearing the branding “Lasmex” covering the headband seems to be the culprit, you can always remove that to increase comfort and probably replace it with a third-party headband cushion.

Sound

The H75 Pro weaves magic with vocals! I had been listening to the HiFiman HE500 for a few months ago and then moved on since, I did not have the right amplifier and the H75 pleasantly reminded me of that headphone.Yes, the HE500 is in an altogether different league but the H75 does truly have a good, no Great (for the price!) presentation in the mids. Can’t wait to try it on with a tube amp, unfortunately don’t have one at the moment :-(. The headphone portrayed a very natural and sweet mid frequency presentation that is portrayed in an intimate manner than the bass and high frequencies, when supported by the Burson HA160 & the O2 amp the vocals were very good. Ideally, alternative, pop, vocal Jazz and other mid centric content shine with this headphone.Though when the volume is pushed beyond reasonable levels I did not notice some distortion in the mids. The performance of this headphone rests so much on this part of the sound that it is not as impressive with genres like dance, techno and electronic where not much attention is required in the vocals.

A beautifully resolved and airy presentation with the right amount of shine. The treble is definitely one of the strengths of the H75 pro. A very rich but untiring treble as observed in other higher end & expensive headphones. The amount of instrument separation and air in the high frequencies is just unheard of at this price point! Though the H75 does not beat the AKG K550 in the details  and the treble section, the H75 is definitely more “natural” sounding.The H75 Pro has just the right amount shine without making the listener feel strained. The clarity and resolution in the higher frequencies can be felt in several stage recordings and its also smoothes some treble peaks in bright recordings that were previously a bit difficult to listen to.

I procrastinated commenting on the H75 Pro’s bass for as long as I could. Coming from the HD650 it is quite difficult to get used to a presentation that does not put as much intensity and richness into the low-end. The bass on the H75 Pro is quite linear and neutral with some presence of sub bass as well. It does have enough quality, but definitely seems to lack  in midbass quantity for my tastes. This perhaps, has to do something with the presentation style that the headphone adopts. The beautiful mids in the foreground with clean and clear highs seem to demand a suitable amount of low-frequency (midbass) support to really anchor the presentation, unfortunately that’s where the Lasmex H75 pro let me down. One cannot plainly complain about the bass of this headphone, its does make itself felt when called for by the music, but feels slightly anemic.As mentioned before this observation could also be due to the time that I spent with the HE500/HD650 and somehow fixing that presentation as the standard to judge similarly voiced headphones.

The open nature of the headphones coupled with the excellent high end makes for a truly wonderful experience with vocals. The vocals provide more of a “sweetness” and may probably offer good pairing with amplifiers with a lush presentation style. The pace of the H75 Pro is again slightly faster than the HD650 making it a good accompaniment for most music styles. Though most music genres would benefit from a bit more weighty lower end, on the Lasmex H75 Pro it is all about mids!.

Final words..

The Lasmex H75 Pro or the Somic MH463 is a well executed headphone design with very little drawbacks. The comfort problem is something that would be a pain for some listeners, the lack of a slightly weighty bottom  may as well leave some listeners unsatisfied. Ofcourse, it is quite possible that the lower region of the sound spectrum has been restrained to suit the presentation style adopted by the headphone. The H75 Pro sure has the pace, rhythm and timing (PRaT) going for it which also makes the listening experience pleasurable. The H75 Pro is in my opinion as very niche headphone, but a very good one. Remember that in the comparisons above I have been talking about the HE500, HD650 and AKG K550 – these are high end products from top manufacturers,  talking about them in the context of the H75 Pro is itself great praise. No, that also does not mean that the H75 Pro bests all of them or is equally good! The H75 Pro aspires for exalted company and has the “sound sense” to match, if not the prowess. I can heartily recommend this headphone as a great match for vocal lovers and anybody who shares a craving for beautiful mids. The Lasmex H75 Pro retails for around 50 bucks and is a good headphone to have in an audiophile’s headphone collection. 

Tip! The Somic Ef 82 Mt is another offering that seems more appealing than the MH 463 in terms of sound, review coming up…..!

Review Gear

Cambridge DAC Magic – Burson HA160 – iPod Classic – Fiio E11 – DIY O2 amp – MP3 320 Kbps – 16/44 & 24/96 Lossless.