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Sennheiser Momentum Sound Quality Tests

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The meat and potatoes of any headphone review is how it sounds. Well, in short, the Sennheiser Momentums sound fantastic. At the $300 price point, they easily trump any other headphone I've reviewed. EASILY. Now go buy them.

Wait, you wanted more? Okay.

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These are the headphones you're looking for

Sennheiser claims a 16Hz to 22kHz frequency response with the Momentums to which I respond. "Really? That's the story you're sticking too? Alright then." I see such frequency response claims all the time and, while they may be technically true, the question I would always like answered is "At what volume?" I played some test tones and it seemed to me that the usable bass dropped off somewhere closer to 25-30Hz. If that sounds disappointing to you, you've spent too much time on the forums worrying about whether your wife will divorce you if you buy a sub big enough to serve Thanksgiving dinner on.

I paired the Sennheiser Momentums with the Emotiva Stealth DC-1 DAC and headphone amp. I also tested them with my phone and directly connected to the headphone output of my laptop. While the Sennheisers aren't the easiest to drive headphones, they certainly will get loud enough with any device. On my computer I never felt the need to max out the volume though I spent most of my time in the upper third to quarter of the volume control. My phone was about the a bit higher. This means that while the Momentums will benefit from some external amplification, they certainly don't demand it. The Emotiva simply allowed me to feed the Momentums the cleanest signal, free of jitter, with all the power the Sennheisers could want.

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SWEET!

To answer the most important question to most Audioholics and audiophiles - the Sennheiser headphones sound very linear through the bass and midrange to me. There is a dip near the top of the frequency response but that is pretty standard with headphones (take a look at literally any graph of headphone frequency response and you'll see a dip). The top end is definitely laid back but not at the expense of detail. Too often headphones will get shrill as they get louder and I end up having to temper the volume not on what I think is safe, but on where the headphones make me wince. That never happened with the Momentums.

While the bass wasn't extended as low as I might have wanted, it was very well controlled. Even with the test tones, I could tell that they had done a good job keeping any fluttering or noise out of the playback. When the bass was present, however, it is quite impressive. More than once during the course of this review I checked the headphones to see if they were physically vibrating. They weren't but I still checked. At times they feel like they want to jump off your head.

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Still shiny!

But the best part of these headphones is how they get out of the way of the music. Nothing really sounded out of place or garbled. The bass, in particular, wasn't overdone or distorted. On the top end, there were moments when I thought the extension could be better but the smoothness of the presentation had that complaint quickly forgotten. The Sennheiser's were particularly responsive to very quick sounds. Trills on the top of a piano came through clearer (if softer) than any other headphone in my arsenal. At lower volume levels the bass dropped off as you would expect but the Momentums still sounded very clear.

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I wonder if they wish they had gone with a shorter name so they didn't have to make the font so small

Imaging and soundstage were also very impressive. Pans from side to side were convincing though I was most impressed when a pan went not just side to side through my head, but also over the top as if it had followed the headband. I happen to know through an experience with some $20k a pair electrostatic speakers that this was by design of the recording artist - I was just surprised to hear a pair of $350 headphones do it.

Lastly, the real reason I like headphones with a flatter frequency response is because you can use them with any music. The bass emphasis on just about every headphone being released these days make highly compressed as well as very specific types of music sound good. But once you step away from those genres and you find the bass distracting. That never happens with the Momentums and that means they are a great all-around headphone - something that is hard to find these days.

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Think how much smaller this zipper pull could be if their name was SH or Senn

Value

During the course of this review, I've seen the price of the Momentums vary from full down to $300. Our practice is to only consider the MSRP in the value rating. I have a number of $300-$350 that I can use to compare with the Momentums but the V-MODA Crossfade M-100s are the most direct competitor. I found the Crossfades to have a lot going for them but they are a bass heavy headphone. From a sonic standpoint, the Momentums are a clear winner to my ear. There is less bass bloat, better detail, and an overall more "audiophile" sound. But in nearly every other category, the M-100s win. They are more portable, they earcups are bigger, the band is softer and more comfortable, and their detachable cable uses the standard 3.5mm connection. But if I want to listen to music and have both headphones sitting on the same table, which will I reach for? Yeah, the Sennheisers win because, in the end, sonics are what is most important to me. Note that with these two headphones, it is a game of inches and you may very well feel differently. I urge you to try both and let your ears decide.

Conclusion

The Sennheiser Momentum headphones are not the most expensive headphones that Sennheiser makes. Not by a long shot. But for $350, you're going to have a hard time finding something that sounds much better. While they do have small earcups for an over-ear headphone and the headband isn't the most comfortable, the sonics more than make up for these issues. I've reviewed a lot of headphones but these are the first from Sennheiser. If this is the quality of headphone they put out, I can see why they are one of the biggest names in headphones. The Momentums are a great headphone and you should give them a listen.

Sennheiser Momentum Over-Ear Headphones

MSRP: $349.95

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www.sennheiser.com

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStarStar
SoundstageStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarhalf-star
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star
About the author:
author portrait

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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Recent Forum Posts:

AVisualGeek posts on December 13, 2014 20:53
I was in a deep search for some good headphones First I thought, maybe the beats, but then I didn't want to look like one of the poser kids walking around with headphones on that are more about design than they are function. I started to read some reviews, and the Bose sounded like a good option but I know they are known for being over-priced and not always worth it. Then I saw these and the on-ear model and read some reviews. Not only did they claim they sound really nice, but they look exquisite (fancy and not in the trendy kind of way). Reviews (like: http://pocinc.net/blog/product-reviews/review-sennheiser-momentum-on-ear-headphones/ - on-ears model) painted them as being better than your normal pair of headphones and I needed to see for myself. What does “better than normal” sound like? I have to admit, my ears are liking these! They sound super expensive hah. I am pretty happy with the choice.
WDesmet posts on August 15, 2014 14:18
Purchasing Sennheiser Momentum

When I bought the Momentum I was already surprised by it's looks.
What a nice design. I bought the ivory version with alcantara on top of the headset.
It was the first time I bought an on-ear headset so I was curious.
The first time I used it I was flabbergasted by it's sound. After all, it was 20 years ago that I bought
a new headset.

+ Clear sound
Good bass
Nice design

- The Price
robertotey posts on July 22, 2014 07:25
Sennheiser Momentum v Final Audio Design Pandora IV

It's quite a big step up price wise, but after auditioning I went for the Final Audio Design Pandora IV.

I use headphones mostly on the road (hotel rooms, trains, etc), so the extra size of the Final Audio Pandora is no problem.

I can highly recommend auditioning the Pandora IV before taking the plunge.
lillyblack82888 posts on July 15, 2014 18:44
Sweet! Sometimes comfort isn't the most important thing.
Steve81 posts on April 24, 2014 20:07
I'm not a big headphones guy, but I picked up a set of these to try out to replace my Grado SR225s and some Klipsch in-ears. Mostly just listening at home, but I wanted a closed back so I don't disturb my wife at night and I didn't really want another set of in-ears. Enjoying them so far breaking them in with Hell Freezes Over.
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