Quarks rating explanation here.
Sennheiser announced this year the second generation of the Momentum series of headphones, and this time they went wireless. It was definitely a bold movement, especially for a high-end headphone manufacturer like Sennheiser as traditionally wireless headphones are not expected to provide the same level of high fidelity as wired offerings.
In this review I won’t be going through technical charts or DB graphs showing how much the signal is attenuated at different frequencies. I won’t use pompous adjectives to define the sound characteristics either. This will be a straight-to-the-point review based on how the headphones feel and perform when playing different music genres.
You don’t see this level of quality in headphones often, not even in high-end offerings, category which is definitely occupied by the Momentum headphones. The metallic head band is wrapped in yellow-stitched leather. Although the ear cups are made of plastic, it’s high quality and feels very solid. The matte finish helps repelling those nasty fingerprints we’ve come to hate.
The parts of the cups touching your ears are made of a very soft and pleasant leather. The included cables (yes, there are cables, more on that later) are not extremely thick (i.e. not like the ones you would find on Shure earbuds), but that’s not a bad thing. The case is made out of leather, very soft to the touch but sturdy at the same time.
If I had to criticize something about the quality, it would be related to the play/volume/skip button. It has a plastic feel that somehow seems out of place in headphones like these.
The design of the Momentum headphones exudes minimalism, thoughtfulness and good taste. It’s really hard to pull that off without being austere or overly simplistic.
Buttons are almost hidden in the right can. However, they are very easy to reach out to thanks to the raised dots and ridges in the cup. The included cable doesn’t have the fancy stereo connector the original Momentum headphones had. However, it makes sense to do away with it for a headphone that is meant to be used primarily on wireless mode. One thing to note is that you have to properly align the stereo plug before inserting it in the right cup hole, then twist it so that it stays in place. I guess Sennheiser went for this design to prevent the cable from being accidentally pulled when in wired mode. A decision I must say, I’m not a fan of.
The new Momentum Headphones can be folded before being stored in the included case, which is great for travelers. Talking about the case, it perfectly complements the looks and feel of the headphones.
You can’t talk about design without talking about comfort. On that department the Momentum headphones also excel. The headband provides just the right amount of pressure in your ears, and the leather lined cup cushions effectively go over the ear without leaving areas uncovered, not even while using eyeglasses. These are also much lighter than similar offerings from competitors, which is a huge advantage when using them for long periods of time.
Let’s get to the really important part: sound performance. The Momentum headphones can be used in two independent modes: wired and wireless (i.e. Bluetooth 4.0). In each mode, Sennheiser’s proprietary noise reduction technology NoiseGard is used. You can also use the headphones turned off in wired mode for passive noise isolation.
If I had to describe it with one word, it would be balanced. I couldn’t sense a particular range being prominent. Lows are bold and well defined, mids and highs are crisp and clear. Daft Punk’s One More Time is great for testing the bass performance at the beginning of the song and high frequency response towards the end. The guitar and vocals in Creedence’s Fortunate Son and Travelin' Band are nice and detailed. Diana Krall’s voice in Glad Rag Doll sounds crisp and clear (all these songs were played in their lossless format)
As mentioned above, Sennheiser uses their proprietary technology - NoiseGard - for noise reduction. I have never been a fan of active noise cancelation as it seems to drown music when the canceling signal is introduced, especially low frequencies. I have noticed it with several pairs of Bose headphones and it’s not pleasant at all. I’m happy to say that I didn’t get the same feeling with the Momentum wireless.
I also performed some tests using the headphones in wired mode and turning NoiseGard on and off (by turning on and off the headphones as a whole), and although there was an noticeable difference in performance, I wouldn’t say it was considerably detrimental.
Ease of Use
Using the Momentum wireless headphones is pretty straight forward, for the most part. Operations associated to the Bluetooth connection like pairing, pausing music, skipping tracks, making calls and adjusting volume, are made by clicking/sliding one of the only two buttons in the headset. This is pretty standard for wireless headphones and Sennheiser has included graphical instructions on how to perform these tasks.
This section is intended to account for features not usually found in similar products. In the case of the Sennheiser Wireless Momentum headphones, NoiseGard is definitely one of those features. As explained above, it’s basically active noise cancelation that really works.
Sennheiser included a 600mAh Lithium-ion polymer battery inside the headphones. They claim it lasts 22hrs, but I could only get 18 hrs out of them. Although it’s a good amount of time, I’m disappointed I couldn’t get the rated duration. Also, it takes approximately 3 hrs to charge them, which it’s just too much for such small battery.
These headphones will retail for about $500, which is a pretty high price. You can find similar offerings from other manufacturers for much less than that, but you would obviously lose on quality and most likely features.
The Momentum Wireless have a rating of 5 Stars at the time of this writing. However, since they were released recently, there aren’t many reviews currently posted. This rating was included as part of the Quarks calculation.