The 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.
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.
I 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!
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 grows Momentum family with on-ear model, available in four colors (engadget.com)
- Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Impressions (Head-fi.org)