Published on October 8th, 2013 | by Greg0
Sennheiser Momentum On-Ears: Sharp New Materials, Colors
When you make some of the world’s best headphones, it can be a tricky act to release new models. There is always a dedicated audience that prefers the old classics, and several groups of people that have mutually exclusive desires- smaller and more portable versus larger and more powerful, comfort and quality versus price. It’s a balancing act that goes to show it’s impossible to please everyone, and trying to do so is often a recipe for a muddle.
The Sennheiser Momentum On-Ears, then, are somewhat of a risky piece of gear. They aren’t headbanging over-ear cans that will block out all other sounds and they aren’t earbuds that you can put in a pocket and take anywhere. They don’t feature active noise cancellation like some of the higher-end sets, and the headband might be too tight for many people with larger heads. But we strongly suggest trying them out, because they’ve inspired more questions and compliments that most other sets, both in terms of pure aesthetics from those passing by and positive remarks from those who listen.
Let’s start with initial impressions, which are quite positive- ours were a lovely faded blue, but the Momentum On-Ears also come in several other colors, from ivory to pink, red, brown, green and perhaps the least impressive, the black ones. We normally like black for sound equipment and audio gear, since it feels sleek, but the Momentum’s design highlights the colors and prevents them from being too bright, shiny, glossy, or girly. A good part of the reason comes down to the choices in materials, with the aluminum band being a sharp consistent theme that provides a contrast with the earcups and padding, Speaking of which, both of those parts are made from a new material, Alcantara, which is sort of a suede or leatherette that felt great- fuzzier than leather, warm and supple, but not as prone to cracking as leather. Even the stitching appears selected to make a great impression, as does the fairly light weight, only 160 grams.
Putting them on, our delight faded a bit. They push fairly hard into your ears, and even after some burn-in and wearing, still press a bit uncomfortably for many staff. If you wear them for less than an hour at a time, you might not notice, but longer listening sessions do cause a bit of fatigue. The included pouch is nice, but better still were the pair of included cables, one for smartphones that is iPhone-compatible and another for other devices without a microphone. The built-in remote on the former cable was excellent, responsive and easy to use, though the mic was nothing too get excited about.
Finally, we should discuss the audio quality. First, the drivers are clearly superior to most- instead of the typical 20-20K range, these cover 16-22,000 Hz. Very little distortion and minimal cable noise were positives, and these Sennheisers offer a ton of bass, surprising us as they held their own head to head against hip-hop models. They don’t block out much external sound though, and do leak quite a bit, thanks to the smaller on-ear cups. We threw on some Au Revoir Simone for synth and electronic tests, and tried out some Cassius, and found these to be our new favorites for EDM, chillwave and low-fi sounds, where the added lower-frequency performance can shine through. On acoustic music, the Momentum On-Ears can sound a bit boosted, and some rock tracks felt a bit harsh. They stack up nicely against any others in their class, offering a new balance of portability and comfort, quality and sound performance. They look nicer than just about any competitor, and especially for those with smaller ears, are a great option with style and substance.