Until last year, Sennheiser tended to make pretty bland-looking headphones. However, that all changed with the stylish Sennheiser Momentum set.
The Sennheiser Momentum On Ear are, as you might guess, the on-ear alternatives to the over-ear Momentums. And they’re cheaper too at £170. Just like their bigger brothers, they have shot straight up to become one of the best sets in their class.
The headphone market is one of the few healthily growing areas in tech, and it’s largely down to style headphones like the Sennheiser Momentum On Ear.
However, the Momentum range is designed for a slightly older audience than something like the Beats by Dr. Dre range. You don’t need to be all that hip to pull them off.
Their design is even less intimidating than the original Momentums, in part because of the colours they come in. Four shades are available – pink, pistachio (green), blue and cream – and all are mellow-looking. Sennheiser has hinted that a winter collection that’ll contain bolder red and black versions is on the way.
While, like any good portable headphone, the Sennhesier Momentum On Ear are quite light, they’re also very well-made. The headband is a single piece of flexible steel, the cups are high-quality moulded plastic and both the pads and headband padding are topped with something called Alacantra.
It sounds like the hide of a mysterious creature, something that might look a bit like a camel in our heads, but it’s actually a clever man-made fibre.
It’s close in feel to suede or velour, but is more durable and resistant to the strains of everyday life than either. Alacantra is tough, water resistant and – more important of all – a pretty comfy material to have resting against your ears. It’s also the material found on the Sennheiser HD 800’s pads.
All on-ear headphones cause a slightly comfort issue, as their pads rest directly on your ears, with enough force to keep them there, but the Sennheiser Momentum On-ear are certainly among the comfiest in their class. The Alacantra, the mid-firm pads and the split headband team-up to make them a pleasant wear.
However, the Alacantra does cause one big problem. It’s the most serious problem of the Sennheiser Momentum On Ear – their noise isolation is poor.
On the London Underground, they seriously struggle to compete with the noise. On-ear headphones as a whole often struggle with noise isolation, but it’s particularly bad here. Performance on ‘normal’ trains rather than the Underground isn’t too bad, but if you’re primarily going to use the Momentum On Ears during a particularly noisy commute, you should think twice before buying.
Otherwise, there’s very little to dislike about the Momentum On Ears design. They use a handy removable cable with a 3-button iOS device remote, they look good, feel well-made and have none of the design obnoxiousness of some style headphones.
Sennheiser Momentum On Ear – Sound Quality
The drivers of the Sennheiser Momentum On Ear offer no surprises. They use 40mm dynamic speaker units, and have a closed-back design.
As style-conscious portable headphones, it’s also no surprise that they don’t have a sound that’s designed for the studio. These are not completely neutral, flat headphones. But they are lots of fun and hugely enjoyable.
They have a minor bass bias and the same cracking sub-bass performance that we loved so much in the original Momentums. Although they’re significantly cheaper than their big brothers, there’s not a catastrophic drop in sound quality.
What’s particularly commendable about the Momentum On Ears is that while they’re not entirely neutral, they are exceedingly well balanced. The bass kicks like a mule when needed, but bass control is far, far better than almost all other style-infused headphones. It doesn’t pull focus, trampling the mids and treble like the rival Beats Solo HDs do.
There’s plenty of treble clarity here too, although the top-end is fairly easy-going. These headphones are more about fun than the rendering of high-frequency micro detail. And, as is pretty common in mainstream headphones like these, the mids are slightly recessed – but a slight V-shaped sound is very easy on the ear.
In terms of sonic character, the Momentum On Ears are very similar to the full-size Momentums. And that’s a very good thing.
Our reaction to the Sennheiser Momentum On-ear headphones is much as it was for their full-size brothers. We like them a good deal. They sound fun and exciting while avoiding all the sound pitfalls of style headphones.
However, they do have a problem – their noise isolation is not good. It’s a problem when many people are likely to buy these headphones for a journey to work that includes noisy streets and public transport. These headphones do not block out the world much. It didn’t put us off using them, but if you’re looking for a set with good isolation, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The Sennheiser Momentum On-ear headphones look good, sound good and feel good for a pair of on-ear headphones. There’s just one problem. Noise isolation isn’t great, so they’re not well-suited to noisy environments.
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