Just one day before the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphones were released, I received my review unit. Here are my first impressions.
Made from premium materials such as a sheepskin leather headband and Sennheiser's signature steel arms, and with a loads of features crammed inside, this over-ear solution is the manufacturer's answer to the likes of the Sony WH-1000Xm3 and Bose Quiet Comfort 3. It looks less fragile compared to the other two, but how do the Momentum Wireless ‘phones fare in actual use?
Rather than have arms that slide into the headband, the Momentum Wireless' earcups themselves slide up and down the stainless steel arms, which attach directly to the headband. The stainless steel is really sturdy, but also really slim so it doesn't add an enormous amount of weight to the product and looks rigid with an industrial feel to it. This is great for day-to-day commutes, especially if you're on and off busses and subways and need to put them on and take them off much more often than, say, if you're using an Uber or on an aircraft. Yet, however, this combination of leather, steel and a minimal, slim look still makes for an elegant headband that's attractive to look at and doesn't bulk up your head.
Because the earcups slide smoothly up and down the arms, it's really easy to get a fit that feels just right; it's never overly snug or skull-crushing, but more snug for on-the-move than the more laidback fit of the aforementioned Sony headphones. It's a comfortable and close fit, which makes wearing these ‘phones for hours on end a breeze, although I found them a bit too tight after wearing them for a six-hour flight.
As for portability, that's not much of an issue either. The two arms are hinged so can easily fold inwards to fit them inside the round carrying case. The case is made of fabric, which means it's flexible and pretty soft - so while you don't get the same protection you might from a hard-shell case, you can stuff the headphones inside a bag more easily, unlike with the Sony pair I reviewed earlier this year. And with the sturdy build and materials, durability was never really a worry for me anyway.
The headphones are missing a very important switch, the power switch. That's because they use auto power-on and power-off. Just unfold the headphones to switch them on, or power them down by closing them up again. There's no denying it's convenient. Being able to take these ‘phones out of the case and just sit them on my head without searching for the power button is definitely quicker and more efficient than trying to remember where the power button is. This is a gigantic plus for me. It has been almost a year for me wearing the Sony headphones and I still have difficulty fumbling for the power switch.
There are essential controls for other features. There's a Bluetooth pairing button, play/pause, volume up and down, plus a button to control the ANC and audio transparency features. And you can seamlessly switch between music and making/answering calls, and link to voice assistants via a button.
The Sennheiser Momentums also has a proximity-based auto-pause/play feature. As soon as the headphones detect removal from your head, the music pauses then starts playing again once it detects you've put them back on. This is great. I don't need to keep reaching to my iPhone to start/stop playing my music collection. Another huge gigantic plus for Sennheiser.
In terms of noise-cancelling, it's not just a plain single filter ANC. Rather than automatically adjusting to the audio types around you, it has three stages (High, Mid, Low) that you can switch among, depending on how sealed off from the world you want to be - Transparent Hearing lets you listen to tunes while still having a level of situational awareness. I used it primarily with the Max mode activated, which, for the most part, is as good as any other that I've tested.
The headphones also have a built-in Tile tracker so if you're like me, constantly losing your headphones or forgetting them in your hotel room, you can find them easily using the Tile app and crowdsourced information from the network of Tile users, or GPS. Another huge plus.
Sennheiser promises up to 17 hours of playback with ANC switched on, from a full battery. In my testing, it wasn't too far off from that. I wore the ‘phones at least an hour at a time and the combined usage was approximately 15 hours. Remember, the rating for battery life is based on continuous power on with medium volume setting.
As for sound quality, if you like booming, powerful bass, you're going to love the Sennheiser Momentum headphones. The boominess (loud but not tight bass) wasn't too overpowering to make me hate it but I wouldn't use them for long-term music listening for my annual trips to Indonesia or Australia; but that's an individual preference. Despite that, I found vocals, mids, and highs all nice and clear, while subtle details in the background remained. Sound is closer to the way I calibrated my Pioneer Car Audio system instead of my home theatre's SMPTE house curve.
Sennheiser's accompanying app, available for both iOS and Android, does have an equaliser (EQ) setting, so you can adapt the sound to match something close to your own preferences. So if you don't want as much bass, you can reduce it. But fine-tuning is tricky, as instead of individual frequency controls, Sennheiser has gone with a supposedly more intuitive EQ where you drag a single point up and down to adjust the overall curve.
I didn't specify a comparison with my Bose QC3 (which used to be my ANC reference ‘phones before I moved on to my Sony 1000Xm3s) as every facet of the Sennheiser is better.
The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless noise-cancelling wireless headphones come packed with plenty of customization and high-end features and look great thanks to being made from high-end materials while maintaining Sennheiser's signature industrial look that I love. The noise-cancelling works well on busy subway journeys and on buses, while the sound profile has rather boomy bass. It has many strengths, and lots of cool added features that make them a great choice for on-the-go listeners.
The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphones sell in Canada for an MSRP of $529.95.