Sennheiser Momentum Wireless Review: Shameless Favorite

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Nearly two years after the launch of the original Momentum, the German audio company has been thrust into the pop consumer spotlight. Critically acclaimed for their design and audio performance, even here, the Momentum have been for a while, the high-end headphones to strive to have, beat, or meet. Or rather, they’ve had momentum. Ah, puns.

Well, the bar is being raised again. Sennheiser has added Bluetooth/NFC connectivity, noise cancellation and a foldable design to the package.

Truly, a venerable piece of equipment, but is the increased price worth the increase in product functionality?

Price as Reviewed: $499 at Sennheiser (in black or ivory)

Aesthetics

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The design’s details are simply put, beautiful but minimal. Four screws fasten the drivers and their housing to the leather headband, which now allows for a compact foldable design, while staying as authentic over-ear headphones that hug one’s skull comfortably.

Also, while the headphones are mounted on a rail of sorts to adjust for different head sizes, the cups can still articulate, so it truly fits to form. Intelligent design, indeed. Oh, and an included soft cord pouch and hard carrying case mean that you can take your pick of storage; it’s thoughtful.

One major aesthetic change that has occurred with the new generation of Momentum has been the aesthetic quality of the ear cups. Leather, that I was initially, not too fond of, but soon grew on me. The texture felt when pressed around and against the temples, is relatively grippy. It turns out that they are premium leather tanned by Pittards. One can conclude that Sennheiser chose this texture on the material so that the ears feel more comfortable; encapsulated inside of the headphones — which is positive reinforcement for the design and user.

Other than all that, only slight changes have been made to he hardware: yellow instead of red stitching, a dual-microphone setup, volume rocker, and an on/off/pairing button. While of course, the Momentum Wireless is wire-free, it can be used with a provided cable that connects to a 3.5mm aux port — like any other contemporary headphone, really.

But to me, the best of all: it uses a simple micro-USB charging port (wire is supplied) — life made much easier.

Using It

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So, there are three ways to go about wielding the Momentum Wireless. NFC (my least favorite, and one that you (I?) won’t really use), Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX tech (preference), and wired (sometimes). Let’s focus on Bluetooth performance then transition to wired.

The setup is perfect: the Bluetooth connectivity is fast to pair (as it should be), and very much stable. I bring up the concept of connection stability because in certain areas in Manhattan I’ve had audio interference — probably the residual effect of so many signals and devices in the same vicinity — and would experience clicks or skips. Anecdotally, when tested in a home environment and/or away from so much commotion, the issue didn’t repeat itself.

As for Bluetooth sound quality? It’s above average, nearing some of the best wireless audio in headphones available. There was no lack of tone or intensity of sound (including the ever-lovable bass), while the 22 hours of rated battery life stood true, if not better. Depends on your usage of it, of course (for reference I listen hours of music, everyday).

Now, to speak to wired quality. Obviously, there’s no point in worrying about battery life. However, a cable in the way, no matter how thin or well-suited just doesn’t sit right with the emergence of better wireless audio tech. But! It does sound ever so slightly crisper. Like tea left to brew, only a minute of additional steeping makes it taste sharper and bolder. That’s how using the wire with the Momentum Wireless is — it’s all great, but it gets better.

But, there is a gripe to be had: the 3-way multifunction button. There’s no play/pause/skip controls on the included wire or the headphones, but the 3-way button attempts to fulfill that purpose. Triple-pressing gets you a battery status report, while single presses or double or in different combinations can rewind, play, pause, skip or accept/end a call. Too complicated, but all methods are outlined in page 10 of the PDF instruction manual (meh).

Conclusion

Score: 9/10

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A steep price, even in comparison with competitors (hello, Beats and Harman Kardon). But, I call it for how it is: there really isn’t a pair of headphones out there that blends a stellar look, quality, sound performance worthy for use in a studio, connection adaptability, and portability — while also being a respected name brand. I’m sticking by the Momentum series, please and thank you.

Pros:

  • Outstanding build quality
  • Aesthetically delightful
  • Sounds great, battery life is solid
  • Being foldable makes it a travel companion

Cons:

  • It’s expensive (duh?)
  • Bluetooth does (but seldom) glitch out
  • No play/pause/skip controls on wire or itself
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