REVIEW: SENNHEISER MOMENTUM WIRELESS IN-EAR HEADPHONES
Click below to open the StereoNET Digital Magazine review, otherwise read on.
Founded in 1945, Sennheiser is one of the largest headphone manufacturers in the world.
Their headphones and microphones alike are highly regarded for their sonic qualities and versatility, and their products can be found in multiple categories including professional use in aviation and marine communications, through to domestic headphones.
When Sennheiser first released their stylish “Momentum” headphone range in 2012, many interpreted this as an exercise in muscle-flexing in response to the ever-increasing popularity of the Beats brand.
Since then, the Momentum range has evolved and earned its stripes by its own merit. It combines the three pillars of a killer headphone: affordable pricing, excellent build quality and outstanding sonic capabilities.
The Momentum line comes in a variety of formats: In-Ear, On-Ear and Over-Ear – and more recently Sennheiser have been releasing wireless versions of each.
The cabled version of the Momentum In-Ear has proven to be a success for Sennheiser so far, with generally positive reviews and a reasonable price tag at just $169.95.
Sennheiser have now released a wireless version of the In-Ear and coming in at $299.95, it’s nearly double the price. This could be a difficult pill for potential customers to swallow – especially considering that this wireless version offers the same drivers and housings as the cabled variant.
The question is, have Sennheiser made enough improvements to justify the price increase?
A Closer Look
Included with the Momentum In-Ear Wireless is a hard-carrying case, USB charging cable and four pairs of olive-style tips.
True to the Momentum line, Sennheiser seemingly have their sights aimed firmly at the portable luxury market. Evidence of this can be found on the neckband, which is covered in sheepskin leather and features bright red stitching.
The IEM housings are made from stainless steel, with a clean polished finish. What little plastic remains visible on the assembly is contoured and sleek, in a flat-black paint.
The carrying pouch shares the same black with red stitching theme as the neckband, and is very lightweight. Upon opening it for the first time, the silver coloured rear of the IEM housings peek out, displayed like delicate pieces of jewellery.
The overall design is classy, and the build quality is immaculate. There are no awkward noises or creaks when flexing the headband, and all the connectors are firm and solid.
With a closer look, you realise that there is an absurd amount of technology employed with this release. For starters, Bluetooth 4.1 (with A2DP + AVRCP + HSP + HFP profiles), 170mAH battery, NFC pairing, and Sennheiser have even built-in a vibration motor for notifications from your phone.
Just like the Over-Ear Sennheiser PXC 550, the USB port is not only for charging, but also for USB audio. Whilst this is a neat inclusion, it comes with a hefty trade off - this is the only product in the Momentum range that does not include a standard 3.5mm audio option.
It’s worth noting that the included microphones are for phone calls and voice commands only, not noise cancelling functionality.
Even with these minor drawbacks considered, the feature list here is outrageous given very few IEMs at this price come close to boasting such gadgetry.
The original cabled version of the Momentum came in both iOS and Android versions, whereas these wireless versions do not discriminate and will play nicely with both.
On the Road
Delving right in for a listen it was immediately apparent that the neckband is incredibly light and flexible. It doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort even after long periods of use. There is little to no clamp, even on my relatively chunky neck.
Switching on the earphones gives a handy voice prompt indicating that the power is switched on. The voice guides you through the pairing process, and (when prompted) will conveniently give an estimate of remaining battery life (in hours).
The neckband itself transmits very little microphonic noise through the IEM housings, but sadly that’s not the case for the cables running between them. Even a slight rub on the cable is deafeningly loud and the cable is not removable (unlike KEF’s Motion One IEMs).
It’s not all bad news, however. Pairing to multiple devices is a neat surprise and I really wish more manufacturers realised how useful this is. It’s incredibly handy to be able to swap between my smartphone and my laptop without having to awkwardly force the headphones to make the change.
The vibration motor is also a unique inclusion - happily buzzing away when a phone call is received. It’s certainly an odd feeling on the neck, but trust me - you’ll certainly know when someone is trying to contact you.
In a market where manufacturers are constantly churning out juggernaut flagship IEMs with multiple drivers and complex crossover designs, Sennheiser have remained true to their winning recipe - the full-range, single dynamic driver. This same configuration is shared across the range from their popular entry level CX 1.0 IEM through to their highly-esteemed flagship IE800 IEMs.
The Momentum In-Ear wireless uses the same driver and housing as the regular Momentum In-Ear, so I wouldn’t expect major sonic between the two. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to compare them head to head.
Upon hitting “play” on my Pixel XL, the first thing that I noticed was the explosive punch of the low end – it’s deep, driving and strong. There is a focus from 40Hz to 125Hz, which draws plenty of attention to the low end. It not only gives electronic basslines plenty of kick, but also shines plenty of body and tone to cello, tuba, and bassoon instruments in recordings.
Above 200Hz is where things started to dip, with some recession in the lower midrange. It didn’t get uncomfortably muddy, but there was a little bit of a drop-off from the looming bass, which I can’t help but feel overshines the lower mids a tad.
Things start to perk back up again around the 2kHz mark where the signature starts to develop some steam. The mids and upper mids have plenty of whack and sparkle, giving plenty of deep-reaching detail. Thankfully, and truthful to the Momentum line, there wasn’t any painful sibilance or shouty vocals.
Soundstage is ample for an IEM, offering more than enough space between the ears, but only offering a few “out-of-head” moments.
Isolation is decent, but not too suffocating. I felt comfortable wearing these on public transport or walking around. They won’t be able to compete too strongly with much higher prices custom IEMs or noise cancelling offerings in this regard, so keep this in mind when selecting headphones to use with travel.
Lastly, there is little to sound leakage at all, so there’s no issues using these in a quiet office environment.
The Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless edition is an incredibly well priced offering, packed full of features and technology. It has salivating levels of midbass and is great fun to listen to.
Paired with excellent build materials and battery life, there’s no doubt that Sennheiser are onto another winner at this price point and application.
For more information visit the Sennheiser brand page.
Constantly keeping himself busy, Matthew is a production manager, Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt, Head-Fi fanatic, coffee enthusiast and all-round cool Dad.
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