Sennheiser Momentum preview
We've often said that Sennheiser is a reliable name in headphones. And it's mainly because it has always cared more about sound than style. However, now that headphones are in fashion, it has finally had to move with the times. The £259 Sennheiser Momentum are the company's first style-driven over-ear headphones, but has Sennheiser thrown away its heritage for the sake of a cool look? Of course not.
The workmanlike, industrial design of most of Sennheiser's headphones is long gone, though. The Sennheiser Momentum are clad in brown and silver tones rather than the blanket black that covers most Sennheiser cans. It's a softer look, and for a first effort in this field it's very impressive.
The Sennheiser Momentum headband is made from a single piece of aluminium, and its top is covered by a carefully-designed headband. Sennheiser was keen to big-up how the leather that goes into its manufacture comes from a carefully selected British tannery, from hares and sheep. But as we're not too keen on the image of a head animal atop the bonce, we'll stick to how it performs.
You'll notice that the padding in the headband is actually quite minimal. As style-conscious headphones, Sennheiser has made sure they don't stick out too far in any direction, ensuring you don't have to be as cool as a Callipo to pull them off.
There are a number of neat, carefully-chosen design tweaks, though. The stitching on the headband is meant to stand out, and looks good. Also, Sennheiser has eased up its branding regulations, letting the Sennheiser logo pop up without the “Sennheiser” word. They're quite possibly the best-looking over-ears headphones Sennheiser has ever produced.
The padding may be slight, but the Sennheiser Momentum are very comfortable – far more than the classic commuter favourite Sennheiser HD 25. It's part down to the careful design of the headband, which uses a split arrangement to improve weight distribution, and part because these headphones are very light. We'd happily use them as an everyday on-the-go pair.
The Sennheiser Momentum are closed-back headphones, without any of the fancy noise cancellation you'd find in the Sennheiser MM550 Travel or the more popular Bose QuietComfort 15. We – thankfully – got to try out these new headphones in a quiet room rather than the busy IFA 2012 show floor (where they were unveiled), but they block out voices pretty well, suggesting they'll do the job for public transport.
They should also heat up your ears on hot days less than some rivals too. The earpads are topped with protein leather, but the inner part is fabric, avoiding the hot stickiness of leather and its plastic-derived impersonators.
One last design win for the Sennheiser Momentum is that they use a fully removable cable, which plugs into just the one earcup. The cable uses a twist-to-lock design that's common to several Sennheiser pairs, and otherwise uses a standard 2.5mm jack – the dinky version of the normal headphone jack.
To go with the brown 'n' silver design, the Sennheiser Momentum come with a neat semi-hard brown carry case. You also get a 3.5mm-to-6.3mm jack converter and two cables. There's one with a 3-button iPhone remote, and one without.
The cable ends in a rather unusual jack plug. It has a hinge that lets you switch the cable between straight and 90-degree angle arrangements.
They look good, they feel good – but how to they sound? Having too often heard style headphones over-do the bass to the extent that they'll never please anyone looking for a proper balanced sound signature, we were a bit worried about the Sennheiser Momentum. It turns out we needn't have been.
The driver in these headphones is based on that of one of the HD 25 series models, and the family resemblance will be pretty clear to anyone familiar with that stalwart pair. These cans offer a great compromise between fun and an audiophile-friendly sound.
They're punchy and lively, without excessive low-end or over-done mid-range warmth to artificially sugar-coat the sound. They're less lush-sounding than the B&W P5 headphones and the sound stage isn't as wide as some, but to our ears they seem more audiophile-friendly than almost every other style set around. One of the only bad bits about the HD25 - a popular alternative to the style crowd - is that aren't all that comfortable. These headphones are.
We only got to listen to the Sennheiser Momentum cans for a short while, so our opinion may change during the full review testing. But as-is, these could well become our very favourite “style”
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